What To Know About Making a Career Change at 30

Factors you should consider before you take your next step

30 year old coworkers talking
Photo: Morsa Images / Getty Images

By age 30, you've likely been in your career for a few years, have a good idea of your strengths and weaknesses, and may be looking for more from your work than you did just a few years ago. All of these factors make 30 a common age for people to consider a career change.

You have learned a lot about yourself since first choosing your career. If there were a chance to do it over again, perhaps you would pick something else. The good news is, you can do it over. This could be the best time in your life to make a career change.

Key Takeaways

  • Changing careers becomes increasingly difficult as you get older, but at age 30 you still have 30–40 working years ahead of you.
  • Making a career change may require you to quit your job to acquire the appropriate education and training for your next role.
  • Ensuring you have sufficient savings will make your career change easier.
  • You should consider your next career's job outlook, common career path, and whether or not you possess any transferable skills.

Why Age 30 is a Good Time for a Career Change

At 30, you still have anywhere between 30 and 40 working years ahead of you. It makes sense to find an occupation you will at least somewhat enjoy for at least another three decades.

Making a career change at any age will, without a doubt, affect your life, relationships, and even health. As you move away from doing work you dislike toward a satisfying career, the impact will be a positive one.

Changing careers becomes increasingly more difficult, but not impossible, as we get older because our responsibilities typically increase with age. Many individuals don't have as many responsibilities at age 30 as they will potentially have when they turn 40 or 50.

Millennials are putting off many of the life-changing events that require more career stability. For example, the median age for marriage in the United States is now 29.9 for men and 27.9 for women. The average age of having a child has also increased. The percentage of women having children in their late 30s and early 40s has doubled between 1990 and 2019.

Expenses are also much lower for 25 to 34-year-olds than for those in the subsequent age brackets. Housing, food, and other expenditure categories grow higher as Americans age into retirement. That being said, while age 30 can be the best time to make a career change, that doesn't mean you can't do it at a later time. But making the leap now will be easier than making a midlife career change.

How to Change Careers at Age 30

Determine What Career to Pursue

After deciding to make a change, your next order of business is to determine what career to pursue. Don't be discouraged if you don't know what to do next. There are steps to take that can help you figure it all out. 

First learn about yourself by doing a self-assessment, an essential part of the career planning process. Look at your personality type, interests, aptitudes, and work-related values. Even if you did a self-assessment when you were younger, do it again. As a 30-year-old, your responses will be much different than they were when you were younger. Upon completion of this step, you will have a list of occupations that are a good fit based on your traits.

Job Outlook and Typical Career Path

Next, explore the occupations within that career path. Whether you think you know what career you want to pursue—even if it's something you've always dreamed of—or it's one you've never thought of before, learn everything about it. You should research the job outlook, typical salary, and common career path for your potential new jobs. Is the career you're choosing to move to a dying industry? Is the salary much lower thus requiring you to make a lifestyle change? Does this career offer good opportunities for growth? Or is it stagnant? Having a firm answer to all these questions will give you a clear sense of whether or not your career change to this particular occupation is something you want to pursue.

Day-to-Day Job Duties

Consider every factor. Learn about typical job duties because if you don't like the tasks you have to complete every day, your work won't be enjoyable. While money isn't the most important contributor to job satisfaction, make sure your earnings will at least cover your expenses and allow you to live the way you desire. Seriously consider doing an adult internship to get a firsthand look at an occupation before committing to it.

Education and Training

When choosing a career, education and training must be part of the equation. With many years of work ahead, it is not necessary to cross an option off your list only because it will take a few years or more to meet the qualifications. Your decision will come down to how much time and effort you are willing to make, and, of course, whether you can afford it financially.

Transferable Skills

You should also consider whether you possess any transferable skills. Your talents and skills acquired through working for several years can be used in a variety of other occupations. Some employers may even allow you to substitute them for formal training, which will make your transition a lot easier and faster. If you have to choose between a career in which you can use your current skills and one that requires additional schooling, choosing the former may be the better option because it will allow you to get into your new career sooner. Since time is on your side, however, you can take the longer route if that is more desirable.

Drawbacks of Changing Careers at Age 30

Making a career change will come at a cost, regardless of your age. If you have your eye on a career that requires additional schooling or training, it may require quitting your job to free up your schedule. That means you may be unemployed and therefore without a regular income until you are fully prepared to enter your new occupation. 

You will also need to fund your education. Before embarking on a career change, make sure you have savings or another means of financial support. It may be worth spending a little more time in your current occupation while saving up the money to finance your transition.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Is 30 too old for a career change?

Although it becomes increasingly difficult to make a career change as you age, 30 is still young in the larger scheme of things. At age 30, you still have 30-40 working years left. If you do your research, have sufficient savings, and are confident you'd be happy in your new role, age 30 is a totally appropriate time to change careers.

How do you change careers at 30?

Changing careers may seem daunting, but it's not impossible. Ensuring you have sufficient savings while you transition into your new career, choosing a career that has a positive job outlook and for which you possess transferable skills, and doing research by soliciting informational interviews or even doing an internship are all good steps to making a career change at age 30 and beyond.

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  2. United States Census Bureau. "Stable Fertility Rates 1990-2019 Mask Distinct Variations by Age."

  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Consumer Expenditures—2020."

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