Seasoned Business Woman [Featured]

Drastic Career Change at 50 Years Old… Should I Bother?

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Seasoned Business Woman“JT & Dale Talk Jobs” is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com.

Dear J.T. & Dale: I am 50 years old. I’ve been in the financial arena all my life but had some terrible tragedies this past year and have done a lot of self-reflection. I’ve been thinking of selling my house, moving into another, less-expensive property I own and using the capital from the sale to go to a two-year program for radiation therapy. What do you think of a drastic career change at my age? What do you think about getting hired at age 52 or 53? — Cynthia

J.T.: I’m a big fan of the Big Change, but only when it is done with thought and planning — and it seems like you’ve done just that! The fact that you have a plan to reduce living expenses sounds smart, as does getting into health care, a booming industry. I would suggest that you speak to the placement officers at the school you’re considering and ask about their placement rate for graduates. But don’t stop there. Find out where the students are finding jobs, and ask to speak to two or three recent alumni so you can hear first-hand about their job searches. Get a good response on all those items, and I’d say go for it!

Dale: Agreed, although I’d add in one more test of the plan: Try to talk to people who’ve gotten into the field in ways other than the schooling you are considering. There may be a better school or a better alternative. I recently was a speaker at a conference for people who run medical labs. I was there to talk about leadership, and in conversing with the lab managers, some had initiated their own training programs, including on-the-job training. My point is that you might just discover that there are better ways to implement the Big Change. As for your other question, Cynthia, about getting hired at your age, the B.C. will give you the energy and curiosity of a beginner — you’ll be younger in two years than you are now.

J.T.: I know what you mean. When you show enthusiasm and flexibility, age doesn’t matter. My mom went back into nursing at age 50. She’s now in her 60s, and her employer begs her, “Never retire!”

JTandDale.com LogoJeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the job search blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

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J.T. & Dale

“JT & Dale Talk Jobs” is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country. J.T. O’Donnell and Dale Dauten are both professional development experts.

6 comments

  1. I made a “voluntary” career change at 47 and so far, so good. However, looking back, I think I focused too much on “what could possibly go right?” and not enough on the opposite case. A change of perspective can be a humbling experience.

    For example, it looks like Cynthia has researched lifestyle and financing options to support her career change plan. However, once the training is completed and if no suitable job is within commute distance of her other property, what is plan “B”? Go back to finance? Live off savings and a part-time job, etc.?

    I wish you success in whatever you choose.

    “Be well and be happy.”

    • Hello, can anybody comment on going into IT industry being at the age of 49, please? I’ve been a freelance musician and music tutor for many years, but there is no actual income there, I can barely survive. I realised I have to change career, and because I’m interested in technology, especially computer hardware and software, I’ve decided to start a professional networking course with a job guarantee. I’m very capable, technically adept, and determined, but I’m worrying about my age – if anyone employs 50-year-old woman?

      Please, give some advice about what you think.

      • Lucie,

        If you are who Google thinks you are (!), then I’d recommend the following steps:

        – Contact some of the students who’ve been through the course and find out the + and – (and details of the jobs they landed.)

        – Look at how you can combine your existing music (technology) skills with the newer IT networking skills.

        – Update your LinkedIn Profile with info on the course you’re studying, the skills you’re developing and what you’re looking for in a position (London? SE?)

        – Start a blog and/or a twitter account that sets you and your knowledge apart from the crowd. There are lots of networking admins out there… but you have an opportunity to ‘pre-sell’ your experience, aptitude and enthusiasm for tech/music etc. Make sure any online content is positive and helpful, since the idea is that potential employers will see you as a safe pair of hands, and not as a burning fuse. ;-)

        – All of the above will be secondary to any personal introductions to potential employers from friends or colleagues… but a living, digital billboard will be an interesting part of any resume or interview.

        Finally, while the stats may be against older IT admin workers, remember that an individual is not a number. There are older workers in IT, more than you think.

        In whatever path you take, be well and be happy.

  2. Through a radiation therapist friend I also heard that a couple years ago that RT programs were trending with limited prospects, but while that’s un-ideal, we’re nowhere near ideal. I can’t speak for other areas, but in my area health care has been at best flat. Other than select tech fields and low paying service positions, there hasn’t been much growth to speak of in my city of a half million. I’m more and less optimistic in that I think opportunities exist for the right person, but I would maintain currency in your current field until a prospect is in sight. If seeking alternative credentialing, consider sharing professional networking from traditional programs.

  3. I think career change is great, but I caution the questioner about going into radiation therapy. Check out the forums on Indeed, and ask around about job availability. The word on the street is that there are NO jobs in the field. Years ago there were, but colleges overenrolled students and now even veterans don't have jobs. I'd hate to see you get into something and not have any available jobs.

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