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how to change careers at 30

So you’re in your thirties or maybe your 30th birthday wasn’t that long ago. You feel like it’s about time to truly climb up that corporate ladder and you know you’ll spend about another 35 years in your career.

And yet, it just doesn’t feel right.

Maybe it’s just a subtle feeling in your gut. A small voice that keeps asking you: is this it? Is this what I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life?

Or maybe it’s more like a scream that goes something like: I HATE THIS JOB!

Either way, you know it’s time for a career change. Maybe you’ve known it for quite a while. Or maybe the feeling was just creeping up recently.

But one thing is clear: you don’t know how to go about a career change. All you know is that your current career isn’t right for you.

But what’s a better option?

Or is it maybe too late to change careers at your age?

Well, these are only some of the questions we’ll answer today. In this article you’ll learn everything you need to know to make a successful career change at 30.

Is 30 too old to start a new career?

Okay, let’s start with one of the most common questions. And it’s actually not only common for people in their thirties.

I hear people ask this question at about every age. Whether they’re 22 or 55, the most burning question career changers have is: is it too late?

Before we continue, let me share a secret with you: it’s never too late!

Yep, never!

Changing careers often means to get your happiness back. It might not be the whole reason why you’re feeling like you’re not living up to your full potential. But it’s certainly a big aspect.

Think about it: You spend so much time in your job. If that doesn’t feel right, it’s gonna be very difficult to make the rest feel great.

And you’ll certainly agree with me that it’s never to late to be happy, right?

Well, then you’ve already answered your own question.

No, it’s not too late to start a new career at 30.

No, 30 is not too old to make a career change!
No, 30 is not too old to make a career change!

How many times does the average person change careers?

You might be surprised to find out that the average person actually changes careers about 4 to 7 times in their life!

So, as you can see, transitioning from one career to the next is completely normal. It’s always a process that takes time. And if done it right, you’ll be happy in your next career until you feel ready for something new.

Stumbling from one thing to the next can be dangerous, though. That way you’ll probably become a job hopper who’s never happy with their career because you’ve never asked yourself what you actually want.

More on that later.

When is the best time to change careers?

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s never too late. Likewise, there isn’t a perfect time to change careers.

The best time to change careers totally depends on your unique situation. I would say the best time is when you know for sure that you don’t want to be doing your job or your boss’s job 5 years from now.

That’s a very clear sign that you’re on the wrong path. And that makes it a good time to start a transition.

Personal reasons why people desire a career transition

I’ve already quickly touched on possible personal reasons why people desire a career transition. Let’s dive a little deeper.

You can’t imagine doing your boss’s or your boss boss’s job

If you can’t imagine doing your boss’s or your boss boss’s job, you’re probably in the wrong place.

Now it doesn’t necessarily mean that this career isn’t right for you. Maybe you don’t want to do their job because you don’t like your company’s structure or because you don’t like your boss’s coworkers etc.

But if you know you also don’t want to do their job at a different company, then it’s definitely time to make a change.

If you can't imagine doing your boss's job 5 years from now, it's probably time for a change
If you can’t imagine doing your boss’s job 5 years from now, it’s probably time for a change

You feel unfulfilled in your current job

Another very common reason why people want to change careers is because they feel unfulfilled in their current job.

It could be that it all just seems pointless. You might feel like you’re not making any impact in this world. Or maybe you feel like someone else could do a much better job because you’re just not that interested in all your career stuff (I definitely felt that way).

Or maybe you’re even bored because you can’t use your full potential as you’d like.

You struggle to get up because you dread going into work

Do you often feel miserable the minute you wake up because you’re already thinking about work?

Yep, no good sign.

Sure, work isn’t always rainbows and roses. But if you’re dreading it every morning, you’ll definitely desire a career change.

You’re constantly exhausted and only live for the weekend

Another reason why people want to start a new career is because they’re constantly exhausted from work. Not only that, they seemingly only live for the weekend.

During the week, they do nothing but work. And when they get home they’re simply too exhausted to do anything else.

That’s definitely not how you should spend the best years of your life!

How to change careers at 30

Okay, now let’s get into the nitty gritty: how do you change careers at 30?

Well, the process is very similar no matter your age. But it might be that you’re asking yourself these questions for the first time.

So, take your time with this, this is a long process and you won’t get clarity overnight.

Here’s my proven process how I found my dream career. Also make sure to check out my article on how to find a career you’ll truly love to get even more useful tips.

Determine your values

First and foremost, you need to get clear on your values. This is a point many people skip because they feel like it’s clear anyway.

Don’t make that mistake!

Determining your values is the first foundation of your “dream career house”.

Click here for a list of the most common values.

Make your own list and get back to it in a few days to add more values that come to mind.

My number one value is freedom. There’s nothing more important than that. And I think my other values mostly derive from this overarching value.

What’s your most important value?

Start with your values and figure out what's important to you
Start with your values and figure out what’s important to you

Figure out your existing skills and strengths

Next on your list is to figure out your existing skills and strengths.

Now you might say: But Caroline, I don’t have any skills or strengths.

Seriously?

If you’re in your 30ies and haven’t spent the last 30 years sound asleep, you’ll have a bunch of skills and strengths!

Here are some ways to find out what you’re good at:

Observe yourself when you’re doing different tasks at home or at work. What kind of tasks do you enjoy doing? When do you lose track of time? When are you in flow?

These are all signs you’re currently using one of your strengths or you’re skilled at what you’re doing.

Another way to find out about your potential is to ask people around you what they think you’re good at. You’ll probably be surprised at what people think your strengths are that you’ve never thought about.

Do some research

Alright, the first 2 steps were mostly about your mindset: you need to get yourself in a position where you’re actually ready to look for something new.

Next, it’s time to do some research.

Go on Google, YouTube, Reddit or ask people you know to find out what kind of careers exist that combine your most important values and strengths.

This stage is all about getting inspired.

I can guarantee you that there is something out there that will fit you perfectly. It might not be something you’ve thought of and it might not be another 9 to 5.

But hey, you’re looking for your dream career, not another boring office job, right?

This step will likely take some time. And that’s completely fine.

Once you’ve found one career, or a handful at most, that sound really good, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Talk to people in your desired career field

Once you’ve narrowed down the list of potential careers, you need to focus your energy on those fields.

This means you need to talk to people who work in your desired career. This can be friends of friends, people in Facebook groups, on Instagram, on Reddit, on Quora or any other place where they might hang out.

Now you need to figure out if such a career is really as good as you imagined it to be. Ask them what they like about it but also what they dislike. Try to get as honest opinions as possible.

Pick a role model

By now, you should have found one career that sounds really good to you.

The next step is to pick a role model. I found this incredibly helpful to stay motivated and be inspired.

This can absolutely be someone online. Just someone who’s done what you’d like to do.

For instance, for me it’s Vanessa Lau:

Try things out

Okay, this all sounds good so far.

But how does it feel?

Yep, not only your mind needs to like this new career idea, your gut needs to be on board as well.

This is why the next step is to try your potential dream career out.

There are lots of ways to try out a new career like volunteering, freelancing or shadowing someone for a few days. This is an important validation process to make sure this is really right for you.

Now, it’s totally possible that you realize that this isn’t what you imagined it to be.

That happened to me a few times. And that’s why it’s so important to try it out before you jump in head first.

If you realize it’s not what you imagined it to be like, just go back to the research phase and try something different.

Take your time

As I’ve mentioned before, this whole process takes time.

It took me a couple of years to really have that clarity and I’m completely fine with that.

I do think that it’s possible to get done much quicker if you get proper guidance by a coach or mentor, which I didn’t have unfortunately.

But even then, it will likely take a few months.

Best jobs for a career change at 30, without going back to school

If you’re looking for a little more inspiration on what kind of jobs might be part of your dream career, here’s a list of the best jobs for a career change at 30, without having to go back to school.

Now, by school I mean getting another degree and spending a few years and a lot of money by going back to college.

You’ll likely need some kind of training. But that’s the amazing thing about the internet. There are tons of courses available online that are laser targeted towards the specific skills you’ll need!

So, here are a few ideas:

  • Yoga Instructor
  • Personal Trainer
  • Wedding Planner
  • Life Coach
  • Social Media Manager
  • Online Teacher
  • Web Developer
  • Data Scientist
  • Writer
  • Business Consultant
  • Realtor
  • Financial Advisor
  • Retail Merchandiser

Conclusion

If you’re in your 30ies and are wondering if it’s too late to make a career change, rest assured, it’s not!

It’s never too late to make a change towards happiness. And if you’re unhappy in your current career, the best thing you can do is get clear on what you want and then start the transition.

I’m not saying burn the bridges and jump on the next best thing.

My recommended strategy is quite the opposite, actually. Instead, it’s much better to take your time to get really clear on what your dream life and your dream career look like. Once you have a better picture of that, you can try out what it feels like to work in your dream career. Only if this experience validates your idea of the kind of work you’d be doing, you’ll start transitioning into your new career.

Check out the 11 things I’ve learned from transitioning careers twice to learn from my mistakes.