6 Great Second Career Options that Pay Off

*Updated December 3, 2018

By Kate Collier

If you’ve hit your 30s or 40s and you’re thinking about a career change, you’re not alone. It’s pretty common for people to switch careers, especially in their 30s.

Are you asking yourself if you can afford to change careers now? Maybe you’ve bought a house or started a family. You might think it’s easier to stay put in your current career, even if you’re not happy.

But what if you could find a career that could allow you to have it all? Take stock of your goals and skills and explore new career options, just like you did when you were younger.

“It’s still the same process as an undergraduate goes through, but you’re going through it with more sophistication,” says Mary Beth Barritt, assistant director of the University of Vermont Career Center. “A self-assessment is highly important.”

Mid-career changes have an advantage, she says. “More seasoned job changers generally know about their values. What’s important to you? Where do you find joy?”

As you begin exploring new career options, think about the additional training and education you might need. In some cases, Barritt explains, you might not need another degree. “Some people may just need to take a course or two. Others might sign up for a certificate program,” she says.

To get you started, here are a few career options to consider.

Physical Therapist/Occupational Therapist

If you like working with people and you like science, then check out physical therapy. As baby boomers age, demand will grow for physical therapists, who help injured or ill people overcome pain and improve movement; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 36 percent increase in physical therapy jobs over the next decade. Although you need a doctorate or professional degree, you’ll be entering a profession that pays well; median pay is around $85,400, according to the BLS. You also might consider occupational therapy. The median income for occupational therapists – who work with injured, ill or disabled patients on developing skills — is over $81,910, according to the BLS.

You’ll need a master’s degree to enter the field. If you need more science courses, then consider UVM’s Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program, which helps students pursue medical, dental, veterinary, pharmacy, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, physical therapy and other health professions.

Digital Marketer

Digital Marketing is the most important part of an organization’s marketing mix today, and typically where the largest portion of a marketing budget is allocated. Far more than being able to use Facebook and Google Analytics, Digital Marketers are responsible for analyzing company performance, understanding consumer habits and desires, communicating with clients, researching, analyzing, planning, and executing multi-channel campaigns, and more. According to glassdoor.com, Digital Marketers and Digital Marketing Specialists can look to make approximately $50,912 annually, with Digital Marketing Managers earning around $68,234 per year. The University of Vermont is now offering a number of top-ranked, fully online Digital Marketing programs for individuals seeking a career in this growing field.

Project Management

Are you good at getting things done and work well with people? Then explore project management. You might already be managing projects in your current job without getting paid for it. By obtaining project management certification, such as UVM’s Project Management Professional Certificate, you not only can gain credibility and get paid more, you also might be able to find your next job. It’s also a career that pays well: according to the PMI Project Management Salary Survey, the median annual salary for certified project managers in the United States is over $108,200. Project managers can be found in a variety of fields, from architecture and building construction to information technology and health care.

Public Health

If you like science and current issues, and you want to solve problems and make a difference, then consider the ever-evolving field of public health. You’ll work on implementing prevention measures, promoting healthy behaviors and researching global and community health. The field spans a variety of academic disciplines and professions, from epidemiology and biostatistics to environmental public health and health policy.

The three fastest growing jobs in public health include:

  • Biostatisticians, who gather data and oversee surveys;
  • Epidemiologists, who work in health departments, universities, laboratories and out in the field, collecting samples, conducting interviews and laboratory analysis, and analyzing data;
  • Global health professionals, who work with organizations and agencies dealing with disaster relief, immigrant/refugee health, maternal and child health, bioterrorism, disease prevention and more.

The median pay in public health can be $70,820 (epidemiologists), $80,500 (biostatisticians) and more, especially if you pursue management or policy.

End of Life Care Doula

For those seeking fulfilling, unique employment out of the office, consider a career in caring for the dying. In a recent State of Aging & Health in America report, the CDC indicates that the population of American adults over age 65 will double in the next 25 years to about 72 million. The study adds that two-thirds of older Americans have multiple chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer, and treatment for this aging population will account for 66% of the country’s health care budget. To address this growing need, UVM established the End of Life Care Professional Certificate.

End-of-life doulas complement the work provided by palliative care professionals and hospice professionals, providing care for patients in hospitals, senior care facilities, and homes. End-of-life doulas support clients with compassionate care in a number of ways, including emotional, spiritual, informational, and physical support, which greatly helps to ease the burdens faced by both the client and the family.

Read a recent article in AARP, ‘Death Doulas’ Serve Dying Patients at Home, in Hospice.

Listen to Vermont Public Radio’s broadcast on Death Doulas Provide Support and Compassion at End of Life.

Actuarial Science

Do you love working with numbers? Then try actuarial science, which uses statistics and theory to analyze the financial impact of risk in areas like insurance and pensions. It also happens to be one of the hottest careers right now; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says actuarial jobs are expected to increase 27 percent over the next few years. Actuarial science is low-stress, highly paid (averaging more than $100,610) and requires only an undergraduate degree. You may just need a few more courses to pass the first two or three professional exams and land a job; your employer may pay for your remaining training and exams.

Find more courses, including a masters degree online, workshops, and certificate programs that can fit your lifestyle and help advance your career.


  • http://www.zeviiontechnology.com/ Zeviion Technology

    I really agreed with this post and i am now thinking about fourth career option computer software.

    As a founder of Zeviion Technology ( http://www.zeviiontechnology.com ) i think its well paid career option as you said but for whom who have passionate about..

    Nice post, i got your points and more with computer science..

    Thanks for posting

  • http://physical-therapy-assistant.org/ Steve Johnson

    This article offers good insight on some great career options, thanks for writing and sharing it. Over at the PTA Guide people often ask us about open PT and PTA positions, so we decided to create a PT and PTA Jobs Search Tool for physical therapy jobs that updates hourly with open positions across the country.

  • adam sammy

    There are lots of things which a person can do but first he have to look what are his qualities when you realizes what are your pros and cons then you can easily choose a second career option
    There are few career option which are easy to learn and highly paid.
    1) Web Programmer
    2)Seo specialist its a vast field and easy to learn just read this link it will help you out https://www.udemy.com/seo-tutorial/learn/v4/t/lecture/2694724
    3) Fitness instructor

  • http://www.yourapphero.com/ John Cornar

    Software testing is a great field and it could be great for 2nd option. It is well paid off and requirement of these job are day by day as applications and websites are developing day by day. It look easy to do but it is very repetitive so which makes it hard to find errors.

    • MARKL67

      I did find several grammatical errors in your post! Sorry…I couldnt help myself.

      • http://www.yourapphero.com/ John Cornar

        My apologies i have grammar issues from the beginning. = )

      • Dan “Gun toting Pilot” R

        You didn’t put an apostrophy in “couldnt”. It should be “couldn’t” Sorry… I couldn’t help MYSELF.

        • MARKL67

          You didn’t put a period after “couldn’t.

          • Dan “Gun toting Pilot” R

            You didn’t put an end quote after “couldn’t. It should have been “couldn’t”. :)

          • Spartan2814

            No. It should have been “couldn’t.”

        • Spartan2814

          You mean apostrophe.

  • Mike Melenich

    Need a second career option? Nondestructive Testing might work for you. On average a level I tech makes about $65,927 per year at $20.97 per hour. And that’s something you can achieve in months, not years. You do not need a degree to do this job. In fact you can get your entire education for around $7,000.00-$9,000.00 dollars and in less than 8 months. NDT Technicians do inspections on the vital infrastructure of our country; from Bridges and railways to oil/gas pipeline, brake pads, landing gear and plane wings. Our daily safety is dependent on these technicians. If you want to learn more about how to become a Non-Destructive Technician try googling “NDT online school” and check out what’s available. We need high quality people in this high demand high paying career field.

    • captaindash

      To make 3143 hr per year. That’s over 60 hrs per week, 52 weeks per year. No thanks.

    • Jamie Rellis

      Level II techs can call their own shots. Most make $30 /hr or better. In SanFran they make $50/hr. I have tried to recruit NDT/NDI inspectors/techs and it is a hard to fill position.

      • Stephanie S

        Is NDT a good 2nd career choice for a woman in her 40′s?

        • Jamie Rellis

          Maybe not, if you aren’t used to industrial settings. However, certified American Sign Language ASL Interpreters can make very good money either free lancing or working for an institution. They are in very high demand. (Yes I am in HR recruiting)

  • Brook

    Hi. I am 35 years old. I have been in education my entire life. I started testing students with my father at 17 years old; taught at the elementary, middle, high school and college level; and served as an administrator. I’m burnt out. I want a new career. I have always taught English but I’m actually extremely good at math (all math). I am also extremely tech savvy. I was very successful as an administrator. I thrive when I am in charge and crazy busy. I have no idea what I want to do, but am tired of the school setting. I learn very, very quickly and take pride in learning new things. I am great with people and can build teams to problem solve like no other. My biggest downfall is I get bored. I’ve been so focused on my current career, I don’t even know what is out there! Any suggestions?

    • Alexandra Rojas Garcia

      OMG. I feel like I am reading about my life. I am also in education and I’ve also taught all grade levels

    • Melissa Candelaria Sotelo

      I suggest maybe you could work with the senior population. I’m not sure where is your home state. Humm, well in MD they have jobs for people who direct activities at a senior center facility. Those are county level jobs that belong to the recreation department. Most seniors who participate in these programs are still independent with minor health issues. However, there is another venue in which you could adventure to work at like nursing home facilities, adult day programs, or assisted living in. In that type of setting you will be an activity director who designs recreational programs that enrich the lives of the senior residents. Anyways, I belief with the credentials and experience that you have, you will be a perfect match. Some of the skills needed will be: creativity, organization, and good communication. Don’t forget you kind of still be dealing with kids. Good luck.

  • Maria Smith

    Million older people struggle without the support they need with everyday tasks and want care that is tailored to their needs. The strong support systems are required which can provide personalized and flexible care with people who can respect them as individuals. Be the part of this welfare !

  • Atul Wadhai

    I found your blog to be very informative and interesting. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your post and I collect some idea on career options .

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  • nidhi das

    This actually a great and helpful piece of information regarding career option. I am satisfied that you simply shared this helpful info with us.
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  • Khatri Saloni

    hi..! selecting agood career option accpording to ones interest is a great and most important aspect of ones life. there are maNY OPTIONS AVAILABLE FOR COMMERCE, SCIENCE, ARTS FIELDS.