In your late twenties and early thirties, you may begin questioning your career path. You’ve likely been in the workforce for nearly a decade now, and you might find yourself yearning for a different line of work. Maybe your job isn’t as fulfilling as it once was, or maybe you’ve found more inspiration in other career options.
Whatever the reason, know that embarking on a new career trajectory at 30 is possible— and surprisingly common. Surveys have shown that nearly three-fourths of professionals in their 30s are interested in changing careers. However, it can still be a daunting undertaking that can call for a little guidance and support.
In this article, we’ll break down four tips on how to make your career change.
Is it okay to change careers at 30?
Absolutely! We’re not saying that it’ll be easy, but it’s possible and absolutely worth it if you truly aren’t happy with what you’re doing now.
Changing careers doesn’t mean that you’ve failed in any way. If you aren’t enjoying or finding purpose in your line of work, it just might not be the best job for your skill set and personality. Even if you loved your job at one time, it’s normal for your passions, interests, and needs to change as you grow.
At 30, you’re still young. You likely have at least thirty years of work still ahead of you if you plan on retiring around 60. You’ll want to spend those next thirty years doing something worthwhile.
How to change careers at 30
Everyone’s journey will be different depending on what career you’re coming from, what you’re transitioning into, and your particular life circumstances. For instance, your road may look a little different if you have a family to support than if you are single with fewer responsibilities and commitments.
However, there are a few general steps that everyone should consider when making a career switch.
1. Know what you like— and don’t like— about your current career
First, consider why you are seeking a career change. Think about the aspects of your job that you enjoy and those that you don’t like. What are the parts of the day that excite you? What tasks cause you dread? You’ll want to know these things before you go searching for a new line of work.
You might even discover that you actually like what you do, but there are other factors about your job that aren’t meeting your needs. You may learn that:
- Your hours aren’t as flexible as you’d like them to be
- You feel stuck and don’t see opportunities for growth
- You would prefer to work remotely
- You don’t feel a sense of purpose or belonging in the workplace
- The work culture isn’t inclusive where you are at
- You’d like to earn more money or get better benefits
If this is the case, you might want to consider a job change instead of an entirely new career. For instance, if you are lacking a sense of purpose in your current marketing role, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t find purpose in marketing at another company or a non-profit. If you are happy with the work itself, consider researching other employers to see if other opportunities match what you are looking for in a job.
But if the work itself doesn’t excite you or there are no employers in the industry that match what you are looking for in the workplace, it’s time to start exploring your other career options.
2. Explore new careers
Switching careers can be a time-consuming, stressful, and costly process— so it shouldn’t be something that you do on a whim. Instead, take time to thoroughly research your career options and what you will need to do to pursue them.
As you go through this process, it’s important to get past any idealized versions of what you think a certain career may look like. One of the best ways to do this is to talk to people who are currently in the career field to get firsthand accounts of what you can expect. Look at your personal network to see if you know anyone that you could reach out to. If not, check in with your LinkedIn network and find someone that you may be able to set up an informational interview with.
There are also tremendous resources available online for just about any career path. Join communities on social media and start conversations. Chances are, you may find people in your exact shoes.
3. Get the right skills and education
Once you’ve narrowed down the new career you’d like to pursue, it’s time to get the right skills. Though the nature of your new career may mean going back to college for a new degree, that won’t always be the case. There are a few ways to gain relevant skills, experience, and education leading up to your career change.
- Shadow a different department at your current job: You may be able to get a head start on your next career without even having to leave your job. Some employers are happy to let their employees shadow and learn from other departments. In some cases, you may be able to completely transfer once you’ve learned the ropes.
- Look for a mentor: A mentorship is a great way to get firsthand experience and learn from someone who has been in the industry for a while.
- Search for online programs or boot camps: There are a plethora of learning opportunities online nowadays. From free certifications to intensive “boot camp” programs through universities, you can find educational opportunities in just about any industry.
- Get required industry licenses: Some professions, such as real estate or insurance, require that you obtain a license before you can go into business. Oftentimes, industry-specific licenses and certifications have required coursework that you must complete. Many approved course providers across industries allow students to take classes online or in person.
In addition to your new skills, you should be thinking about your transferable skills— that is the knowledge or experience that utilize at your current job that will be useful in the next one. Knowing your transferable skills will be important when it comes time to apply for new jobs.
4. Start the job hunt
Once you have the skills, it’s time to polish up your resume, write some stellar cover letters, and start applying to new jobs. Brush up on interview tips if it’s been a while since you’ve sat in the interview chair, and be ready to let hiring managers know why you’re right for the job, despite not having as much experience in the field.
Throughout this process, thoroughly research employers and job opportunities to find ones that value what matters most to you. Remember— the change might not happen overnight. Don’t go into the job hunt expecting to come out with your new dream job. Though it’s possible, it’s also likely that you’ll have to work your way up. But with a little perseverance and a can-do attitude, you’ll be firmly planted in your new career in no time!
Get started on your career change with JobSage
At JobSage, we’re setting out to build an employer review site around things that matter most to jobseekers— inclusion, growth, purpose, feedback, flexibility, and compensation. We want to help you find the right employer by getting answers to the questions you care about. Join JobSage for guidance in your job search or to leave a review for your current employer to create a more open, transparent conversation in and around the workplace.