Making a Career Change in Your Thirties: What to Know

Is your current job unfulfilling, or are you ready to mix it up? The good news is that making a career change in your early 30s can be easier than you might think. That’s because you still have a few more decades left to learn your craft, work for a company, and become a valuable member of your organization.

Even though finding a new career can be simple, transitioning to a new job can be a struggle, even at 30. Make sure you know which career you’d like to transition into and if the position is something you can handle. Some questions that you should consider before deciding to pull the trigger on a career switch are:

  1. Am I frustrated with my current job or just my company?
  2. Do I understand the career I want to move into well enough to decide if it’s for me?
  3. Do I have the skills needed to be successful in my new position?
  4. What will my financial situation be if I decide to switch jobs?
  5. Does this career have a path that will lead me to an ideal level in the company?

If you can answer these questions and have considered other consequences unique to your life situation and still decided that a career switch is still right for you, keep on reading! Let’s take a look at some situations where you may want to consider a career change and how to go about positioning yourself for your new job.

Scenario #1: Getting a new career at 30

What to Research

So you graduated from college, got the dream career you studied for, and now realized after all these years that your job makes you miserable. It happens to American workers every day. The good news is that you are aware of your situation and ready to make a change. The first step to getting out of your current job is to think about and decide what kind of career you want. This can be done in several ways, including:

  1. Interviewing current professionals
  2. Meditating on the likes and dislikes of your current job
  3. Doing research on job descriptions and overviews of careers
  4. Discovering what career paths come with your new job
  5. Looking at local companies and seeing what jobs are available

How to Earn Your New Career

Once you’ve determined the right job for you and have done the due diligence, it’s time to start your career path. If you already have some experience in the job you want to move into, such as basic computer skills, and you only need to learn a few concepts or tools in order to qualify for that role, that is where a certificate program or training course could be the answer for you. A certificate program is usually cheaper than a traditional degree program and narrows down on teaching students a few critical job skills or tools in a short period of time.

Another strategy for moving into a completely new career is to talk to your current manager and human resources manager to inquire if you would be able to transition into that role in the company. This is especially a great move if your company currently has a need for that job role and welcomes department switching. Of course we do recommend you take into consideration what your company policy is on this and what the company culture is before you make this move. Some companies welcome you to try out different positions within the organization while others may be more rigid.

If you are in a situation where you have no related skills to the job you want to go after and you do not have the option of moving to that role in your current company, then pursuing a college degree could be the ideal option for you. There are many careers that require you to have at least an associates or up to a master’s degree. Depending on how high you want to move up the corporate ladder, you should research which degree program would be the right fit. You can also check out our career database center to get a better idea of what degree you should pursue.

Scenario #2: Getting to a similar career at 30

What to Research

Sometimes the career you want to move into can be very similar to your current job. For example, if you want to become a computer security specialist instead of a computer programmer. Moving into a similar career can be an easier process than a completely new career switch.

A major first step to moving into a similar career is to make sure that you have a clear understanding of what skills will be needed in order to qualify yourself for the position you want. It is important to know which tools and skill you need to know in order to qualify for the role. This is where researching job descriptions, looking at career websites like this one, and talking to recruiters can help.

After you gain a comprehensive understanding of the related role, take a look at what experience, skills, and education that you currently have. Make a list of the skills and knowledge you have and what is needed for the new job. Then map out any gaps that you currently have and look at the best course for picking up those skills.

How to Earn Your Related Career

Sometimes the skills that you need to learn in order to obtain your ideal career can only be learned through real world experience. If your current company has this job position, and there in an opening, then talk to your manager or human resources manager about how you can transition your career within the company. Some alternatives asking for a career switch in the organization are suggesting a gradual transition into the new role by slowly taking on related responsibilities and shadowing someone who currently is in that position. Another alternative is to take on a more junior title for that job and slowly working your way up in the organization. If you cannot learn your needed skill within the organization, and still want to stay at your current company, then talk to your human resource manager about what learning opportunities exist for you. Many companies have programs to pay for their employee’s education at a local college or online school.

If your career switch cannot happen within the company, it’s a good idea to look outside the organization. There can be a number of limitations to overcome when going to both a different career in another organization. One way to overcome those weaknesses is to sell yourself on the related skills you have performed and to let the employer know that you are really willing to work hard to learn the skills you don’t know. If the skills you lack for the new job are critical to the organization for you to start right away, then you may need to seek additional education. Usually you can learn that skill through a certificate program or a continuing education program. You can also consider going to a local college to take a class; however, that may not be as impactful for employers.


In Summary

There can be many more unique challenges to overcome than the ones listed above. Going through a few obstacles is always worth it as long as you’re striving for a career that makes you happy. In order to make sure you’re taking the appropriate steps towards positioning yourself for your related career switch or new job transition, make sure you talk to recruiters, research your job online, speak with current employees in the field, and write in job support forums to get advice.

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