How to Change Careers at 30

Thinking of but unsure how to change careers at 30? Check out this guide to gain the confidence you need to do so!
how to change careers at 30

The Ultimate Career Changing Guide for People in Their 30s

You choose a career in your late teens or early 20s. By the time you’re in your 30s, you’ve already worked for more than a decade. That’s enough time to figure out whether it’s working for you. If it hasn’t been working out, it’s alright to wonder how to change careers at 30.

It’s not only natural but also recommended to change careers at 30 if your job isn’t keeping you happy. This isn’t a reflection of your expertise, commitment, or skillsets. If you’re routinely asking yourself “Should I change my career in my 30s,” it’s due to a combination of several external factors, all of which make you uneasy about continuing in your present job.

But it’s understandable why the thought would settle someone. After all, we’re not discussing jobs or companies here. We’re talking about changing professions. So, before we get to “How do I change careers with no experience,” it’s good to know that what you’re feeling is completely natural. In fact, it’s a good thing that you’re realising it now.

Even if you haven’t explicitly asked yourself how to change careers at 30, there are some telltale signs to know that it’s time. These may not happen all of a sudden but would have been building up for years, irrespective of your age.

What age is too late to start a new career?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in your 30s or 50s. If you’re in the wrong career, sooner or later you’ll realise that it’s time to embark on something new.

Top 5 signs that it’s time for a career change in your 30s

  • You didn’t consciously choose your career: When you’re in your late teens and choosing a subject to specialise in, you don’t have complete information. You’re focusing on the academic course and whether it would make it easy to find a job. You were interested in the topic and were delighted to get a job. But later you realise that you were only interested in studying it and not pursuing it professionally.
  • You’re exhausted: Not by the daily commute or the workload but by the overall nature of your job. It isn’t due to any particular reason but it’s clear that you feel physically, and psychologically tired. “Exhausted” is your constant state of affairs. To put it another way, you hate Mondays.
  • It’s not a natural fit: Maybe you realise that your work doesn’t come naturally to you. Sure, it’s a chore for everyone but others get some pleasure out of it once in a while. In your case, however, your work doesn’t excite or energise you. Or, the number of good days has been shrinking for a while.
  • You evolved: You’re not the wide-eyed grad anymore. Your passions and interests have What interested you in your late teens or early twenties doesn’t interest you anymore. It’s illogical to presume that it’ll interest you ten years from now.
  • You’re not growing fast: Your career isn’t going as fast you would like. You’re not getting growth opportunities or invitations to projects that can make a visible difference to your career. What’s worse, you’re not even sad to lose out on those chances. This is one of the clearest signs that it’s time to discuss how to change careers at 30.

Top 5 signs that it’s time for a career change in your 40s

  • You’re coasting along: “Should I change my career in my 30s” doesn’t apply to you anymore. Probably you thought about it years ago but didn’t do anything because your job was, well, easy. But with time you learned that there was nothing challenging in it either. These days, you’re just doing the bare minimum.
  • You’re not getting promoted: Your peers from 20 years ago have either been promoted within the organisation or moved to take on plum positions in other companies. Your career, unfortunately, hasn’t been on the fast track. While others may compliment you on your loyalty to the company, you know that the truth is that you don’t get as many opportunities to grow within or outside the system.
  • You’re not learning anything new: Your skillsets are what you learned in your 20s. While the industry has surged ahead, you’ve been managing with those until now. You haven’t been given an opportunity or felt the need to undertake any upskilling or reskilling courses. What you know isn’t dramatically different from what a fresher in your field would know. Whenever you think of changing professions, you ask yourself “How do I change careers with no experience?”
  • Money doesn’t compensate anymore: For most people, monetary compensation takes care of the drudgery associated with their jobs. Probably, you too were willing to overlook all the problems because of the money. But now you know that it doesn’t compensate for the loss of job satisfaction. To put it another way, even with a sizeable increase in your salary, you can’t imagine yourself being in the same profession a decade from now.
  • You don’t know your life’s purpose: You look around and see it in some of your friends, family members, or colleagues. They know what they’re supposed to do. They derive meaning from what they do. No matter how tough their careers get, they don’t complain as much as others. At some level, they know the difference they make to people’s lives. Those are the lucky individuals who’ve found their life’s purpose. In your case, it hasn’t happened so far. And you’ve been working for around 20 years.

Top 5 signs that it’s time for a career change in your 50s

  • You haven’t made enough money: Sure, the going was good for a while but you realise that, unlike your peers or friends, you haven’t saved up enough. And expenses are mounting, from children’s tuition to retirement funds. You also know that you can’t realistically make more money in your present career.
  • Your career has stagnated: You haven’t made it to the C-suite. Unfortunately, you haven’t been getting offers from outside either. You know that this is as far as you can go in your current career.
  • Your job isn’t secure: When your career stagnates, you know that your job isn’t as secure as it used to be. With new management, an acquisition, or a new boss, things can get from stable to bad and bad to worse quickly. You’ve seen it happen to others.
  • You believe you can contribute elsewhere: You realise that your skills aren’t being effectively used in your current career. Since you know that you don’t have decades left in your working life, you want to contribute somewhere else.
  • You want to pursue something else: Maybe it’s something you were passionate about but had to drop because of work and family-related pressures. But you know that it’s now or never. If you don’t pursue your true interest now, you may not ever get a chance.

What is a good age to change careers?

It depends on the situation of each individual. Even two individuals of the same age may have different compulsions and circumstances. But the following factors usually determine how easily you can change careers; your educational background, the sector you choose, your savings or financial pressures, family responsibilities, opportunities to reskill or upskill, ability to learn fast, etc.

The good news is that if you’re curious, committed, and willing to adapt, you can change your career at any age. Upskilling isn’t either expensive or cumbersome now. Technology has made it possible to learn from the confines of your home at a fraction of the cost. This means that these days, it’s not difficult to find people going for a career change at 30, 40, or even 50.

Top 5 reasons why you need to act fast if you are thinking about changing careers

Research

If you’re wondering how to change careers at 30, the first thing you need to know is that you’ve got to act fast. Here are 5 reasons why.

Competition

Since it’s become relatively easy, more and more people are opting for a career change at 30, 40, or even 50. The more you wait, the more crowded the job market will get.

Training

You’ll need to train or retrain yourself and expand your skillsets. It may take months to get the necessary certifications if your desired career requires them. And let’s not forget that you may have to reskill while being at your current job.

Savings

The faster you act, the lesser you’ll have to worry about your financial security. The earlier you take up a course and ready yourself for the market, the easier it will be to find a job. That means you won’t have to worry about depleting your savings.

Inertia

The longer you wait, the more you’ll be ready to settle with the status quo. So, “Should I change my career in my 3os?” can soon shift to “Should I change my career in my 40s?”

Is 30 too old to switch careers?

By now it should be clear that age isn’t a barrier to shifting careers. And if you’re worried that 30 is too old, then we’ve got ten reasons why you should be excited about how to change careers at 30.

1. You’ve got decades ahead of you

Although you may have been working for 10 or 12 years, you still have decades left in your working life. Even if you start at something new, there’s plenty of time to be proficient in it.

2. You’re young

In terms of your career, you’re still young. The fact that you can still start something afresh and make it to the top should be encouraging enough.

3. You don’t have too many pressures

You may have a mortgage but chances are that unlike those in their 40s or 50s, you don’t have too many financial pressures. You don’t have to think several times before a career change at 30.

4. You can learn fast

You can still pick up something new and learn it quickly. It hasn’t been that long since you left college.

5. You’ve got the right amount of experience

You’re not an industry veteran, which is good news. If you’ve been in your industry for decades, it’d make it slightly difficult to learn about a new sector. Prospective employers also prefer people who’re not completely immersed in another sector.

6. You’re not cynical

You’ve seen enough but not too much to be cynical or pessimistic about life. Those are the things that deplete your energy. You still believe that hard work and dedication can take you to the top.

7. You bring the right perspective

With the right amount of experience from another sector, you’ll bring a fair, balanced, and objective perspective to your new career.

8. You’re socially active

You need a network to make it easy, especially if the main question is ‘How do I change careers with no experience?” When you’re in your 30s, chances are that you’re socially active and still in touch with those from your college.

9. Your family and friends will support you

The longer you wait, the more questions you’ll have to face. But people tend to support you if you’re looking for a career change at 30.

10. You can still change careers

Let’s take the worst-case scenario; your career change doesn’t go well. But when you’re in your 30s, you can still find a career that will work for you.

Is it worth going back to school at 30?

Pros of going back to school at 30

Upskilling: You can learn new skillsets and get certified in growing sectors that’ll differentiate your resume from those of others.

Income upgrade: The more advanced skills you have, that too in sunrise industries, the higher your potential income will be.

Freedom: Unlike when you were entering college, you’re not under pressure to choose the most popular course. You can choose what you like and learn it on a flexible schedule.

Flexibility: You don’t have to physically attend classes every day. With either a purely online or a hybrid course, you can customise your learning.

Cons of going back to school at 30

Cost: Educational costs are always on the rise and going back to school for a specialised course can be expensive.

Time: While others get to balance their work and personal lives, you’d be busy with your course work for several months if not years.

How do I switch careers without experience?

For those wondering how to change careers at 30, the biggest challenge can be the lack of experience in the new field. So, for all those who ask “How do I change careers with no experience?”

Here are five steps you can take to make the transition easy.

1. Research

Find out about the companies that are actively hiring in your new field. Know more about their current staff and their background. See if any of it aligns with your experience. If so, highlight it in your resume.

2. Rewrite

Now it’s time to rewrite your resume while harping on those overlapping or adjacent skillsets. If there aren’t enough, focus on your sector-neutral achievements like leadership and collaborative skills, and soft skills.

3. Network

Meet people at middle and senior levels in your new sector. Find out how long it would take to reorient yourself in that field with your skillsets. Ask them about the courses they would have taken had they been in your shoes.

4. Intern

Explore the possibilities of working part-time in a company as an intern or in an unpaid position for hands-on experience. Use it as an opportunity to meet new people in the sector.

5. Adapt

Know the category codes of your new industry and try to learn the most common. You don’t have to know everything. You only have to know what it takes to get started. Model yourself after successful middle managers and give yourself a timeframe.

What's next?

So, in case you’re wondering, “Should I change my career in my 30s?”

The answer is a resounding yes if your current career isn’t providing job satisfaction, monetary compensation, or a sense of purpose. 

You can begin by searching for job listings on GrabJobs and then find the necessary resources to help you upskill and get started.

Valentin Berard

COO at GrabJobs. Valentin leads strategic and operational activities regionally. Background in Business Development and Recruitment. Passionate about social innovation, he constantly strives to find solutions to real-world problems through harnessing smart technology. Read more: https://www.linkedin.com/in/valeberard/