The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Career Change

SwattUp Career Change Blog

Deciding that you want to change careers is both a very exciting and daunting experience. The fear of the unknown, the hit in the paycheck, the added pressure to adapt to your new industry and learn new skills, all of those stressors will inevitably come with changing careers regardless of whether you decide to make the switch early on in your 30s or late in your 50s.

If you’re confident you want to make the switch, then this career change guide is for you. In this read, we’ll not only explain why one may need a career change but also discuss the whole career-changing process. After that, we’ll take a look at how its career-changing differs for different age groups and professions before we close off the guide with the biggest pros and cons of taking the leap and starting work in an entirely new industry.

Why Someone Might Need a Career Change?

There are several different reasons why a professional might decide to change careers in their 30s, 40s, or even late 50s. In this section of this guide, we’ll discuss some of the most popular reasons why people decide to take the leap and leave their old career for a new one.

Achieve a Better Work-Life Balance

As they age, a percentage of the people who have been working a high-stress and high-pressure job with a ton of responsibilities over the course of their career eventually want to put an end to it in order to achieve a better work-life balance.

Truthfully, some professionals only last a decade and make the switch in their early 30s, while others ride out their stressful career of choice until their 50s, which is when they decide that it’s enough and they need to start taking it slow so they can enjoy life a little more.

Make More Money in the Long-Term

One of the biggest driving factors for moving from one career to another is related to making more = money. Statics show that people who choose to shift careers generally have better growth in earnings.

With new emerging and high-paying industries, it’s not uncommon for a professional to realize their earning potential in a new industry and want to make the switch to simply make more money.

For example, the tech industry created over 15,000 jobs in the UK in 2021 alone. These new opportunities could present brighter career paths and more fulfillment for many professionals, which is why career changes are becoming a more and more viable option for many employees from all over the country.

Learn New Skills and Meet New People

When you work in the same industry all your professional life, it becomes part of your daily life to meet the same people and use the same skills that you’ve been learning over the course of your career.

While that can help make you a true expert in your field, for many, it can also get quite boring, and become a driving factor for wanting a change. So, it’s not uncommon for people who want to learn new skills and meet an entirely new set of people to want to change careers.

Follow a Passion

While many professionals chase the thrill of making more money or achieving a better work-life balance, a selected few individuals who have found themselves might want to change careers in order to pursue a passion of theirs. At the end of the day, we all should work in a career that makes us happy and gives us the fullest sense of fulfillment.

A Shift in Values and Priorities

It’s not uncommon for professionals to decide that they want to change careers simply because their values and priorities have changed. For example, the current Russia-Ukraine conflict has had a lot of people change what they prioritize in their careers. Currently, around 31% of employees in the UK would have a higher chance of working for a company that opposes Russia.

The Entire Process of Changing Careers

Not everyone dedicates their life to working the same job in the same industry, and because of that, the process behind changing careers can look slightly different for everyone. However, as a general rule of thumb, below you can discover the entire process of changing careers regardless of the industry, you want to get into.

1. Determine the Reason Behind Wanting to Leave Your Current Role

Before you start planning your career change or take any actions towards it, the first thing you need to do is determine the reasons behind why you want to leave your current role in the first place.

Finding the answers to that question will prevent you from taking on the wrong role and finding yourself in the exact same position in the future.

2. Review Your Core Values, Skills, and Interests

Once you know why you’re leaving your current role, it’s of fundamental importance that you carefully review all of the core values you want to translate into your new career as well as determine your skillsets and interests.

Knowing all of this information will not only help you find a fulfilling job that satisfies your core
values and interests but also get into a career that allows you to use at least some of the skills
you already possess.

3. Consider the Industries You Are Interested In

Now that you have a solid foundation beneath your belt, it’s time to start noting down all of the
different industries, fields, and sub-niches that you would be interested in working within. You should allocate a very decent amount of time to doing your proper research as certain industries, such as the medical field are extremely vast and have hundreds if not thousands of sub-niches that you can focus your professional life on.

The goal of doing proper research during this stage of your journey is to make sure that you are aware of all the possibilities. That way, you won’t find yourself working in a career that isn’t as suitable for you as a career that you only realized existed at a later stage.

When you do proper research and leave no stone unturned, you will be aware of all potential opportunities and that’s when you can pick the one that you want to pursue.

4. Research Potential Job Opportunities

Once you come up with a list of industries that you would be interested to work in, the next step is to start researching potential job opportunities and positions that you can apply for. It’s important that you focus on job opportunities that closely relate to your findings when you do a bit of soul-searching regarding your core values, existing skills, and interests. That’s the best way to filter out any unsuitable job opportunities and narrow down your selection to positions to that you would be interested in dedicating your working life.

5. Research and Obtain the Necessary Qualifications, Certifications,
and Skills to Become a Valuable Prospect

If you plan on making a move into a completely new industry, chances are that you will need extra qualifications and certifications in order to become eligible for employment or at the very least, a valuable prospect for potential employers.

The qualifications and certifications you’ll need will vastly range on the career change you plan on undertaking. For example, if you’re currently an engineer but you really want to become a doctor, then chances are that you need to go to medical school, which can take anywhere from 5 to 10 years, depending on the area of medicine you want to get into.

On the flip side, if you were a doctor who wants to work in marketing and advertising, then chances are that you won’t need anywhere near enough qualifications and certifications to obtain. All you need to build on is your skillset in order to become a valuable prospect to employers and do your job well.

6. Make an Action Plan

Once you know that your new career of choice is what you really want to do, it’s time to plan out everything to do with transitioning from your current role into your new one. Planning your career change is absolutely essential, as you want to make the smoothest transition possible and easily overcome all the obstacles that come with changing your career.

During this stage, you need to plan out not only what extra qualifications you need and when you need to obtain them, but also the financial burden that you will most likely experience by going into a new industry that you’re most likely not going to be an expert at.

As the planning phase is of extreme importance, it’s also very stressful, and that’s where having a career-changing mentor can come in very handy. If you would like to use the services of a mentor who has a proven track record of helping professionals just like you transition smoothly into their new careers, then Swattup is a great place to check out.

With Swattup, you can find a Swattup mentor who will help you through your entire career-changing process. And if you’d rather handle the process alone, you can also use the Swattup solo feature, which is where you can become part of a community, ask questions, create a network, and learn new skills.

7. Shadow Employees From Different Companies

No matter how much you think you’re going to like a particular career, it’s always a great idea to shadow employees from a number of companies that you’d like to work for within the industry to see what the job is really like.

That way, you will not only gain a fair amount of experience and build up your expectations but will also confirm with yourself whether you can see yourself being in this new role for the many years to come.

8. Rebrand Yourself

The next logical step in transitioning from your existing career into a new one is to completely rebrand yourself. It’s time to leave your old identity, irrelevant work history, and non-transferable skills in the past as you build your professional profile for your new chapter in life. There are many ways to rebrand yourself, some of which include updating or writing up a new CV from scratch, changing your interests and skills on the job and on social media sites like Indeed
and LinkedIn, networking, and introducing yourself to people within the sphere of your future

9. Decide on Whether You Want to Do a Hard or Soft Transition

Arguably the hardest decision you’re going to have to make when changing careers is whether to go for a soft or a hard transition. Both have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. If you’re someone who wants to mitigate risk and reduce it to a minimum, a soft transition would be best. A soft transition means approaching your new career on a part-time basis while still doing your old job. And only once you feel confident and ready, that’s when you make the full shift into your new career.

If you don’t want to waste any more time in your existing career and want to make a start in your new career, then a hard transition would be more suitable for you. A hard transition basically means lining up a few job offers, accepting a contract with a company, and leaving your old career all at once with no transition period. However, if you decide to approach your career change, consider these risks before making any decision.

10. Start Freelancing or Start Looking and Applying for Your New and
Exciting Role

Once you’ve determined whether you want to do a hard or a soft transition from your existing to your new career, it’s time to start looking for opportunities in the field. Depending on your industry, you could either seek employment through a company or simply start freelancing. For instance, if you’re a doctor wanting to move into digital marketing, making a living freelancing can be just as (if not more) profitable than working for a company. This is where you need to take a look at your priorities and decide what route to take.

The Journey of Changing Careers in Your 30s, 40s, and 50s

Changing careers is both an exciting and challenging process, no matter whether you decide to do it in your early 30s or late 50s. You still need to put yourself out there and out of your comfort zone to learn new skills, meet new people, and work on different things. When it comes to the journey of changing careers, it is going to be slightly different depending on your age group. For instance, if you’re looking to change careers in your 30s, you likely have more energy and fewer responsibilities (both financial and personal), which will make your journey easier than if you were 43 and are responsible for taking care of your three children and elderly parents.

Your career-changing journey isn’t only determined by your age group and level of personal responsibilities. It will also depend on your existing and new career you plan on undertaking. For instance, a career change for nurses in the UK will be different from a career change for teachers in the UK. Both parties have a very unique set of skills, 80-90% of which are going to be non-transferable if they were to change careers for a role in an entirely new industry. If you’re a nurse looking to get into event management, being able to speak to people and perform under pressure are two great transferable skills to have. However, being able to take care of patients is a very important but useless skill to have strictly when it comes to event management.

And this applies to everyone looking to change careers, irrespective of what they’re currently doing and what they want to do in the future. The chances are that the large majority of the skills you’ve obtained over the years will be non-transferable, so you’ll have to pick up and learn all the new and important skills necessary for doing your new job.

Pros and Cons of a Career Change

Changing careers in your 30s, 40s, or 50s comes with a set of advantages and disadvantages. And in the section below, we’ll take a look at some of the most relevant positives and negatives that you should pay the most attention to.


  • Changing careers might give you the opportunity to earn more money.
  • Can contribute towards growing as a person and achieving a work-life balance.
  • Allows you to get out of your comfort zone and forces you to learn new and meet new people.
  • You might be able to reduce your stress level by moving away from high-pressure environments.
  • Can open doors to a range of working opportunities you would have never had access to in your current industry.
  • Allows you the chance to follow your passion.


  • Taking a leap into the unknown can be very scary.
  • You have to adapt to an entirely new work environment.
  • You may end up unemployed if you fail the probation period.
  • You may feel quite insecure due to the extensive knowledge colleagues your age in the industry possesses.
  • You have to establish and prove yourself all over again.
  • You will most likely have to take a hit in your pay at the beginning of your new career


It’s never too late to change careers. Regardless of whether you’re in your 30s, 40s, or 50s, everyone deserves to be happy and fulfilled in their career. Only then can they live a great life, become great at what they do, and provide value within their industry. With that being said, the process behind changing careers can differ depending on the stage of life you’re currently at. And understanding these differences will ensure that you go into the new market with realistic expectations and the right mindset.

When changing careers, the most important thing you need to do is have a bulletproof plan that will make the transition as smooth as possible. That’s why most professionals looking to change careers end up hiring a professional from Swattup to get the necessary career advice. On Swattup, you can find a mentor to guide you through every step of your career change, including helping you plan your finances, navigate the new job market, and more. They can answer all questions related to career change that you might have. That way, all the pressure and stress of entering an entirely new field will be alleviated.

Table of Contents

Related Posts