Is It Too Late To Make A Career Change At 30? - Skillcrush (2023)

Is It Too Late To Make A Career Change At 30? - Skillcrush (1)

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If you’re looking to make a career change at 30, you probably have some concerns. You may be asking, am I too old for this? Did I miss my chance at my dream career? What will my friends and family think?

Before you get too overwhelmed, let’s take a step back. Imagine this:

You’re 22 and just out of college. Ramen is still your go-to meal and your bedtime is still 3:00 or 4:00AM. As you get older, there’s no turning back. You keep cooking ramen and staying up late because you made the decision at 22 to live that way. This is the only path forward.

Wait, what’s that? You mean you aren’t still surviving on ramen or staying up until all hours of the night?

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You’ve grown? You’ve learned? You’ve changed? And that’s ok?

Of course it is!

It’s only natural that, as you get older, you change your mind, you make new decisions, and your cooking skills improve beyond simply boiling water. And when you do make these changes, no one second guesses you. No one questions why you stop sleeping until noon!

So why do people question making a career change at 30? Why does this feel like such an unrealistic idea?

The truth is, unless your new professional goals include something along the lines of becoming a gold-medal-winning Olympic gymnast, a career change is entirely possible (especially at 30).

The chart below created by author and artist Michelle Rial highlights one of the biggest barriers to a career change over 30: your perception.

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Changing careers at 30 is 100% possible. So what’s holding you back? And what are some steps you can take to push past those barriers? Let’s take a look.

What’s Holding Back Your Career Change at 30?

  1. Fear of Change

One big reason that could be keeping you from pursuing a new career is fear of change. As psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky determined in their 1981 study, when faced with two options that have similar outcomes, humans are wired to choose the safer option over the riskier option.

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What’s even more interesting here is the fact that it’s not the riskier option itself that’s stressful. It’s the uncertainty. As this 2016 study discovered, not knowing what will happen can actually cause more anxiety than knowing something bad will happen.

So when it comes to making a career change, simply being unhappy isn’t enough to motivate you to make the change. The feeling of “not knowing” is so uncomfortable that it can cause you to stay stuck in a job you don’t enjoy.

  1. Pressure From Friends and Family

Did you grow up constantly hearing this outdated career trajectory?

  1. Go to college
  2. Pick a major
  3. Graduate
  4. Get a job
  5. Stick with said job until you retire

If so, the thought of making a career change at 30 can be hard to swallow. You may have family members or friends who are happy that you’re on this type of “safe” career path. Or you may see others successfully and happily following this path, which can make it even more difficult to make the career jump.

Perhaps you even have friends or family members telling you exactly what they want your career to look like. And unfortunately, their ideas may differ wildly from your ideas about your ideal career.

  1. Putting Pressure on Yourself

You may also be putting pressure on yourself and creating false narratives. If you’re experiencing self doubt or imposter syndrome, you may have negative thoughts or unfairly compare yourself to others. You may even tell yourself that you don’t deserve any of the success you’ve achieved or more success to come.

Know that this is all too common. But also know that giving into self doubt is a huge disservice to yourself.

  1. It’s Too Late

Feeling that it’s too late or that you’ve missed your chance is another false narrative you may be telling yourself. When you see other successful 30-year-olds, you could easily think you’ve wasted time on your education and career thus far. You may feel like the clock is ticking, so thinking you have to start over can feel extremely daunting.

How to Change Careers at 30

Now that you’ve acknowledged your fears and doubts, how do you actually make the leap and change careers? Let’s dive in with some ways you can push past all the pressures you’re feeling.

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  1. Learn to Embrace Change

One of the most constant aspects of life is change. And while change may be scary, in the case of a career change, it can end up having a huge positive impact on your life. So why not focus on these positives?

Whether it’s more money, more job satisfaction, or more flexibility, a career change can be beneficial to both your career and your life in general.

If you’re still worried about making such a huge change, break it up into smaller steps to make the transition more manageable. One step might be enrolling in a skill-building course. Another might be updating your resume or attending a networking event.

As psychologist Susan Heitler puts it, “The #1 strategy for reducing stress is problem-solving, that is, finding a plan of action to address and resolve the problems that are causing your stressed feelings.”

Once you have a transition plan, the change won’t seem as overwhelming.

  1. Don’t Get Distracted by Others’ Opinions

You don’t want to disappoint your loved ones, of course, but that doesn’t mean you should end up disappointing yourself (and your career dreams!) in the process. If someone close to you has certain career aspirations for you that don’t align with your own, first realize that this person does care about you. And, though misguided, any negative advice they gave was most likely given with good intentions.

But at the end of the day, you’re the only one who knows what’s right for you, so stay true to yourself! And understand that, no matter what, you’ll have the whole Skillcrush community here to support you and cheer you on!

  1. Kiss Self Doubt Goodbye!

Self doubt is human nature. We all get down on ourselves at times, but there are practical ways to silence self doubt and remain positive.

One way to combat self doubt is to simply acknowledge it for what it is and realize that it’s something we all experience. You can even turn your self doubt on its head and, as author and coach Margie Warell suggests, “doubt your doubts!“

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She says, “Ask yourself ‘What if just the opposite were true?’ What if, in fact… you had everything it takes to build that business? If what you had to say was extremely important? If you were more than talented/worthy/clever/(fill-in-the-blank) enough to pursue this goal?”

Just as long as you don’t doubt your doubts about your doubts, you’ll be shooting down your worries left and right!

  1. Know That It’s Never Too Late

You might think a career change means completely starting over. But in fact, you most likely already have years of work experience by the time you’re 30. That means you have years of building transferable skills that will impress future employers and years of building a professional network that you’ll be able to tap into when you start your new career.

No matter how old you are, it’s easy to think there’s some sort of cutoff point where starting a new career (or starting anything new in life, for that matter,) is impossible. But that’s simply not true.

Most of us didn’t know what we wanted to do with our lives when we started college or got our first job, and that’s totally ok! Because now’s your chance, not to start over, but to start where you are and make your career dreams come true.

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Is It Too Late To Make A Career Change At 30? - Skillcrush (5)


Is 30 too late for a career change? ›

It's arguably never too late to change your career if you're armed with the right strategies. If you're in your 30s, 40s or 50s, don't despair. We've put together a guide on how to change careers at 30, 40, 50 that includes steps like networking and developing your online presence.

Is it worth switching careers at 30? ›

Is It Too Late to Make a Career Change at 30? No, 30 is still a great age to change careers. You're not late because you still have a couple of decades of professional experience ahead. It'll give you plenty of time to plan your retirement and work on your dream job.

At what age is it too late to change careers? ›

The usual answer to this question is that it's never too late. That may be so, but you can only decide that after thoroughly analyzing your circumstances. A 2021 poll by the US Chamber found that 41% of people are looking to switch industries for their next job, with 32% currently unemployed.

What percentage of people change careers in their 30s? ›

Younger workers were more prone to make the leap. Of employed adults ages 18 to 29 who said they quit a job in 2021, 61% shifted their field of work or occupation, compared to 45% of those ages 30 and older, according to Pew.

How do I restart my life at 30? ›

  1. Stop smoking. ...
  2. Start going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day. ...
  3. Start exercising regularly. ...
  4. Start keeping a journal. ...
  5. Start saving money. ...
  6. Start pursuing a life dream. ...
  7. Start learning to be happy with what you have. ...
  8. Stop thinking you need to satisfy everyone.
Mar 4, 2018

How many jobs has the average 30 year old has? ›

Workers aged 25 to 34 years have an average of 4.5 jobs. Workers aged 35 to 44 years old have an average of 2.9 jobs. Workers aged 45 to 52 years have an average of 1.9 jobs. Workers aged 55 to 64 had an average tenure of 9.9 years.

Why is it never too late to change careers? ›

Changing careers will keep your brain active by presenting you with new challenges. If you feel like you've been stuck on autopilot for a while, maybe it's time to shake things up and take on some new kinds of projects at a totally different job. You deserve a work environment that doesn't stress you out.

What is the best career to start at 35? ›

Business careers are often ideal for people who are good with math and enjoy working with people. Many professionals in the business industry started in different job fields.
  • Financial analyst.
  • Real estate agent.
  • Actuary.
  • Financial planner.
  • Audit clerk.
Jan 30, 2023

What is the most common age for career change? ›

Career change statistics show that most workers change their careers at the average age of 39. The majority of people want to switch careers to have a better work-life balance and more job flexibility.

What age do most careers peak? ›

Although it can be tough realizing you are no longer the youngest generation in the workplace, you are entering your peak earning years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers earn the most when they are between the ages of 35 and 54.

Is 29 too late to change careers? ›

No matter your age, there is always something new you can learn. If you're motivated and passionate enough about what you want to do, it's never too late to embark on a new career path.

What is the happiest job to have? ›

The List: Happiest Jobs, According to Career Experts
  • Physical Therapist. Physical therapists are experts in movement and the human body that often help to rehabilitate people with injuries or disabilities. ...
  • Firefighter. ...
  • Teacher. ...
  • Teaching Assistant. ...
  • Quality Assurance Analyst.
Feb 13, 2023

What can I retrain as at 30? ›

Making a career change in your 30s is something that many people think about, but there are some practical (and not so practical) things to consider before taking that leap into the unknown.
The Best Jobs for a Career Change at 30
  • Sales. ...
  • Web Developer. ...
  • Social Media Manager. ...
  • Consultant. ...
  • Teacher.
Jan 5, 2023

Is it too late to learn a trade at 30? ›

Age isn't a factor.

It's not uncommon for 30-year-olds to get self-conscious about their age when considering a career change. There's a fear that younger employees might be preferable to employers. You don't have to worry about anything like that in a skilled trade career because 96% of the workforce is 30 or older.

What new career to start at 35? ›

There are a variety of fields to choose from depending on your interests. You can be a dental assistant, patent care technician, medical insurance biller, patient advocate or a nurse. Whatever new career you choose at 35, make sure you select one that you will be happy doing for the next 35 years.


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