The Best Career Changes for Women Over 40

By Beth Greenwood
Portrait of a Mature Student at Graduation With Her Son and Husband in the Background
Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

When you’re over 40 and considering a career change, your idea of the best career could differ radically from that of another woman the same age. You might want to earn more money, while your peer could be looking for a job with less stress. Perhaps you once had a career dream, but money issues or marriage sent you down a different path. Each woman defines her own “best” career.

What Women Want

An October 2009 article on the Daily Finance website reported that mature women want jobs with meaning, a high level of control and freedom, a chance to work a flexible schedule, and a job in a growing field with a bright future. Nearly 80 percent also wanted a job that is appropriate for a woman over 40, but that could be different from one woman to the next. Your personal skills and talents might steer you into a new career. Women who have good communication and presentation skills, for example, might become training and development specialists.

Evaluate Your Situation

Considerations in choosing a new career after 40 include education, certification or licensing issues, financing for your education, available time, your personal skills and qualifications, and your ability to meet the physical requirements of the job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In some cases, a woman who has spent years working on a hobby might turn her experience in that field into a new career. An amateur singer, for example, might turn that experience into a professional career, as 48-year-old Susan Boyle did with her performances on "Britain’s Got Talent." A university professor who has always enjoyed writing might become a full-time fiction writer, as Diana Gabaldon did when she wrote "Outlander."

Money Matters

If you have the financial resources to pay for your education and go to school full time, you may be limited only by your personal interests and abilities. Medical school, for example, is expensive – the median debt for medical school graduates as of 2014 was $180,000, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges. It is also a lengthy process that takes a minimum of four years in medical school and three in residency. If you’re a nurse with a bachelor’s degree who always wanted to be a doctor, you could be eight years away from achieving that dream, but you might practice for another 20 years.

Physical Challenges

In some cases, the physical aspects of her current job might become too much for a woman over 40. Law enforcement and firefighting, for example, are physically demanding. A police officer might choose to go back to school for a paralegal or law degree. A firefighter could stay in the field by specializing in arson investigation. If you’ve been a full-time farmer all your life, you might want to scale back to a smaller, specialized market garden. A nurse might further her education so she can move into an administrative job. Your individual circumstances, interests and goals will determine what's best for you at this time in your life.

About the Author

Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.