How Old is Too Old to Change Career?


Here I am at the Gala Dinner of the 2009 Conference Dinner on Sunday Night (yes, we felt the earthquake, the lightfittings swung for about 5 minutes afterwards, and the hotel lifts were shut for 3 hours after the quake).  I’m with my gorgeous friend and colleague Jan Fisher who is an image consultant in Hamilton, New Zealand (about an hour out of Auckland).  

I was 35 when I retrained to become an image consultant, she was 53.  Jan had a background in rubbish recycling, which is a long way removed from image, but she’d always had a passion for clothing and helping others.
In fact, I believe, that a past and some life experience is excellent for becoming a consultant, I don’t know many 50 year olds who want to take advice from a 20 year old.  It’s interesting how many successful consultants started later in their life.
Have you had a radical change of career direction?  Has it helped or hindered your career?


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  • I started off as a journalist then added some PR consultancy work and two years ago became a writer in residence at a prison.
    In 2010 I intend to complete a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education)which means I will be able to teach in High School when I will be 45.

  • I think any age is a good age to find what you love! I quit teaching last year to become a freelance writer for a newspaper, write a style blog and make hand-stamped jewlery- I am the happiest I have ever been!

  • This is SO GOOD to hear, Imogen! I’ve been wondering if changing careers now, at 32, is unwise … but Jan’s change is an inspiration. And a motivator to get moving on my dreams.

    • Hey, I know this is a late response but….
      I was an engineer from 25 to 32, then ran a painting company from 32 to 40 then became a fulltime standup comedian at 41. It never ends, there is no time in the equation of life. Just do what you want to do and focus on the now. Good luck!!

  • Jane – it’s great that you’re changing up your career at this stage – are you planning on teaching full time or just part time?

    Christina Lee – so great your change is making you so happy.

    Sal – 32 is YOUNG you can definitely change career!

  • Imogen, I’ve been struggling with how to say this discreetly but will give up and only say the men of my household say you are smokin’ hot.

  • Duchesse – thanks – I’ll take that compliment in the way it was intended!

    I don’t normally get the girls out, but when you’re told to frock up, they tend to make an appearance.

  • I didn’t go back to finish my BA ’til I was almost 40. I got hooked, did my MA, then my doctorate, and, at 56, I’ve been teaching for six or seven years now, and imagine I’ll keep going ’til mid-60s. Before going back to school, I was raising my kids and teaching music (piano, theory, music history, etc.) — so I’ve had a few changes and enjoyed each one very much while I was in it. Who knows what possibilities are still ahead? A change is as good as a rest, my grandpa used to say . . .

  • One of my favorite professors went for her PhD at 70 and she didn’t start her career until 75. She is 90 and still teaching. She is a constant reminder to me that it is never to late to do what you love.

  • I feel like I’ve been through more changes than a backup dancer for Cher. (Thank you! I’ll be here all week!)

    I’ve been an actor, film editor, second assistant to the assistant to a studio exec, screenwriter, copywriter, legal word processor, and freelance writer. I’m exhausted. But damn, I can’t let some 90 year old make me look like a wimp. I guess I’ll have to keep searching until something works out. Reading about everyone here is a great inspiration to keep going.

  • Book editing was my first serious job, which I did for many years. Then I started a Masters of Teaching when I was 36, but shortly after I qualified as a teacher, I became a copywriter. Now I do all three … But I’m sure I’ll do something else too, one of these days. I’m thinking about going back to university AGAIN. Never too late!

  • I got certified as a Personal Trainer at age 38 after teaching all kinds of fitness classes for 10 years, then I got certified as a Home Stager and Interior Designer at age 50! It’s never too late, just follow your heart! I’m 52 now and loving life. Getting ready to go on a week long bicycle ride.

  • I never dreamed I’d be starting a career at 45 after working in the financial industry and then raising kids for 15 years. It’s great. There’s still some life in me yet!

  • Mater – it’s great to see so many inspiring women out there who don’t let age hold them back.

    Belette – she is a great woman – my grandmother learned how to use a computer at age 90 – if she could at that age, there is no excuse for anyone else!

    Dollcannotfly – you are so hilarious – I can’t wait to find out the next installment of your life.

    Tiffany – options – that’s what I like!

    Renae – I’m glad that you continue to grow and develop your skills! What an inspiration.

    Karen – it’s never too late – and that is the joy of life.

  • I studied and worked in IT for 10 years before going back to uni and studying medicine. I'm now a first year doctor which is a bit of a change. I love reading others people's stories too, its inspiring!!

  • Yublocka – it's inspiring that so many people change directions through their life. Good luck with medicine, I'm sure you'll be the best dressed Dr out there.

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