Retirement Planning, Elder Law, and Senior Finance

10/6/2021 | By Kari Smith

Making a major career change can be difficult and risky at any age. Starting a new career after 50 has its own set of challenges – and its own set of rewards. We look at some pros and cons of taking such a significant jump.

You may be miserable at work. Maybe the hours are long, the stress is high, the pay low, or you simply feel burned out in your chosen field. Perhaps you’re suddenly without a job and need to start fresh. It seems the choice to change careers would be obvious, but is it really? Many adults feel chained to their chosen field of work because of the years of education, the tenure logged for retirement, or even fear of change or the unknown. Changing professions – especially later in life – should be a choice that is carefully considered and weighed.


If your job is causing you undue stress, it may be time for a change. Nothing is worth compromising your health and well-being, even if the transition is temporarily difficult. Carefully consider – and log – your reasons for being stressed at work. Can you change just those aspects? If the stress is caused by the long commute, maybe you can find another job in the same field closer to home. Are coworkers or management causing a problem? It may be possible to change teams, branches, locations, etc. to work with new employees. If it is the long hours, perhaps a conversation with a superior can result in a reduced workload. If the problem is the career field itself, it may be time to consider another.


A change in career may reduce stress.


Starting a new career after 50 may add additional stress as you look for a new job or pursue an education.

Increased Income

Perhaps when you began in your chosen career field, you were convinced that you weren’t in it for the money. Maybe you knew that your profession didn’t offer a high salary, but you were passionate about the work. These feelings may change as you age, have a family, or start to think about retirement.

If your sights are set on an increased income, it may make sense to transition to a new profession. However, consider the fact that it will take time to train for a new position and become established in a new field. During that time, your income could be significantly decreased or you may have no income at all. If you are starting your own business, remember that start-ups typically require a significant investment, so do your research so that you will have an idea of when you will begin to turn a profit.


You may be able to find a career field or job that offers increased earnings long-term.


There will be a time of transition where you may not make as much money as you previously did – or even a time where you are unemployed. You may have to start over again at the bottom and draw a lower salary for some time before your full earning potential is realized. You may also lose any years that you have put in toward retirement.

Following Your Passion

Your schedule is fine, your co-workers are great, you are making the right amount of money, but something is still missing. Perhaps you were passionate about your first profession when you started it. Maybe you had always dreamed of being in that field, but after many years, you just don’t feel the fire anymore. Perhaps now is the time for your second act. “Never too late” is true, but weigh the pros and cons before deciding that passion wins the day. Is it worth the change?


Pursuing a career that you feel strongly passionate about or happy in is likely to be fulfilling. You will probably be excited to go to work, and your stress will be reduced as you are doing something that you enjoy. With reduced stress, your health may be improved with better sleep, lower blood pressure, fewer headaches, and many more benefits that come as a result of reducing stress.


Your new career field may have certain trade-offs, such as more hours, less pay, fewer advancement opportunities, or more travel. You may start in an entry-level position to begin with.

Starting a new career after 50

At the end of the day, we all want to be happy and fulfilled, but we also have obligations and responsibilities that help drive our choices. Before making this difficult decision, talk to supportive family members, friends, or even colleagues in your desired second career. Consider speaking to a life coach or therapist about your plans and your motivation for change. Making a career change – especially later in life – is a huge undertaking, and one that will strongly impact your finances, family, and life. Most importantly, do not burn bridges. Be sure that your plans for a second career are established or well thought out before cutting ties in your current job.

Kari Smith

Kari Smith is a frequent contributor to Seniors Guide, helping to keep those in the senior industry informed and up-to-date. She's a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a songwriter recording her own music. In addition to teaching music and performing in the Richmond area, Kari also enjoys riding horses and farming.

Kari Smith