Planning For A Second Career


The most successful career switchers take years to learn new skills, network and prepare financially. Here’s how to plan for a second career.

1. No rash moves. No one makes a move into a second career overnight. The most successful career changers I have met built their plan out over a period of a few years. They dreamed, saved, added skills, apprenticed, and more. Start working at age fifty on a career you might not get around to until age sixty. If you have lots of time, you can try out some ideas and possibilities.

2. Cast a wide net. Look at your skill set and past experience as transferable to lots of different challenges and fields. Think of it as redirecting or redeploying many of the skills you already have in place. Retired Navy captain Don Covington, who became the company manager for the Big Apple Circus in his mid-50s, told me: “When you think about it, the military and the circus are not that different.” What he meant is that the leadership and management skills honed in his Naval career translated to moving a circus troupe of 100-plus from town to town. Look inside and answer some important questions: What am I best at? Ask friends and colleagues too. They might see things that you take for granted.

3. Research. Look for jobs and opportunities that leverage experience. Check out job web sites like,,, to get a flavor for what others are doing and what jobs are out there now. Investigate fields like healthcare, the clergy, eldercare and education that have a growing demand for workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook is a good reference for the fastest growing occupations.

4. Get financially fit. For most people, a career restart comes with a financial price tag, particularly if you don’t have the cushion of a partner’s income or a retirement or severance package. It might mean a sizable pay cut to pursue work in a more altruistic field, the costs of a start-up if you’re launching your own business, a hefty tuition bill for more schooling, or a temporary loss of medical and retirement benefits.

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Related article: 5 Great Second Career Options that Pay Off


Author: Erica T.

I am a human resource professional specializing in helping people start second careers in the health care field. In my spare time I enjoy street photography, baking and volunteering.

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