How to Change Careers at 30 (and Why It's the Best Age to Switch)

There aren’t many people who start off in a career right out of college and stay with it their entire lives. Even though that’s the way career choices are sometimes presented in school, it doesn’t reflect the realities of life.

As our Addition Financial clients change and grow, they sometimes ask us for advice on how to change careers. After all, there are financial considerations to a career change as well as personal and professional ones.

We’ve noticed that a lot of people change careers around the time they turn 30. There’s a reason for that – it’s actually the best time to switch! Here’s what you need to know.

Why Change Careers at 30?

Changing careers is a big step – so why are so many people doing it? It turns out there are lots of reasons to switch careers at 30.

By the time you’re 30, you likely have a much better idea of who you are and what you want out of life than you did when you were 21 or 25. You’ve got some years of work under your belt. You’ve probably made some observations about the kind of work that you enjoy and the kind that drains you.

It might be that you hate your current job – or maybe you like parts of it. But either way, you’re ready for a change.

Assuming a retirement age of 65, you’ll have 35 more years of professional employment ahead of you when you turn 30. Which would you rather do? Resign yourself to three and a half decades in a career you don’t love – or bite the bullet and make a change?

There are personal considerations as well. A lot of people in their 30s are still single and many have not had kids yet. These considerations can simplify the financial part of a career change.

At 30, you are more likely to have the self-knowledge and financial stability to change careers. You’re still young enough to be willing to start out in an entry-level job if that’s what’s required, but old enough to be mature and practical about how you switch jobs.

Tips for Choosing a New Career

Perhaps you already have a new career in mind. If that’s the case, then you can skip this section. But for people who may not know which career is right for them, here are some tips to help you narrow it down.

Make a list of the job and life skills you’ve acquired. Sometimes, people underestimate their own value because they don’t stop to think about all the things they can do.

  1. Make lists of the things you like and don’t like about your existing job.
  2. Take a career assessment test like this one. Keep an open mind and remember that the test is only an assessment – you can ignore the results if you think they’re wrong.
  3. Think about your friends and decide which one you’d trade careers with, if you could.
  4. If you had college to do over, would you major in the same thing or something else? Asking this question might reveal a strong interest that you can pursue.

Using the information you’ve gathered, you can make a list of professions and industries you’d like to explore. Then, you can use your list as a jumping off point for research. Some things to check out include:

  • Job descriptions
  • Job market in your area (and other areas)
  • Educational requirements
  • Professional licensing requirements
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Average salaries for the job you want

You can use this information to narrow your choices until you’ve chosen a new career.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Relocating and Starting a New Job

Practical and Financial Considerations

Of course, you’ll also need to think about some practical and financial realities when you change careers at 30. These tips may help:

  • Be prepared to take a cut in pay. It’s not always necessary, but if you’re starting over in a career where you have no experience, you’ll probably need to start in an entry level position.
  • Make sure you have enough saved to supplement your income as you get started. (Using our budget calculator can help.)
  • Be realistic about what you can do and how quickly you can do it.
  • Create a five-year plan to help you get any professional training or certifications you need to get your new career on track.

On your five year plan, make sure to break long-term goals into short-term goals. These will help you track your progress in your new career. It’s helpful to have milestones and checkpoints – they provide a sense of movement and accomplishment.

Choosing a new career can be difficult and exciting at the same time. If you’re wondering how to change careers at 30, the tips and tools we’ve provided here can help you get through one of life’s big changes and into a career you love.

Want to know how Addition Financial’s checking accounts can help you prepare for your new career? Click here to learn more!