If you’ve hit your 30s or 40s and you’re thinking about a career change, you’re not alone. Nowadays, it’s pretty common for people to switch careers, and most people who do are over 30.
Still, you might wonder if you can afford to. Maybe you’ve bought a house, or you want to. Maybe you’ve started a family, or you want to. 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? Are there careers that pay more than your current job but would bring you more satisfaction?
Now’s the time to 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?”
If one of your goals is financial stability, then you may have to dig deeper to find a career. If you explore various options and do a good job with researching opportunities, you are more likely to identify work that both pays well and also brings you fulfillment, Barritt says.
“It’s my belief that it’s not an either/or,” she says. “You are going to do better and be more successful in your career when you find something that you are good at and which matches your goals and your values.”
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 five career options that pay well but which you may have not considered. As you start to assess your goals and skills, consider whether one of these options might work for you.
5 Well-Paid Second Career Options:
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 $87,000) 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.
Are you good at getting things done? Are you organized? Do you 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, you not only can gain credibility and get paid more, you also might be able to find your next job. “Project management is a great skill to add if you are looking to advance in your industry,” Barritt says. “People get thrown into management all the time without having the skills to succeed, so pursuing project management certification will give you marketable skills and the ability to be more successful.” 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 $105,000. Project managers can be found in a variety of fields, from architecture and building construction to information technology and health care.
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 biostaticians, 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; and 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 $65,000 (epidemiologists), $75,000 (biostaticians) and more, especially if you pursue management or policy.
If you like computers, math and solving problems, then consider computer software development or programming. Even if your degree isn’t in computer science, you may still be able to work in the field. You might need to take a few courses or enroll in a certificate program to gain credibility, even if you’ve been playing around with computers for years. The field can be quite lucrative; median annual pay for software developers is around $95,000, and for computer programmers, $75,000, according to the BLS. Software development jobs are especially plentiful; the BLS expects them to grow 22 percent over the next decade.
Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy
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 $80,000, 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 $75,000, according to the BLS. You’ll need a master’s degree to enter the field. If you need more science courses, then consider a post-baccalaureate premedical program, which helps students pursue medical, dental, veterinary, pharmacy, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, physical therapy and other health professions.