Starting a new career at 40: it might sound intimidating, but there’s a lot of value in starting afresh if you’ve already acquired multiple years of experience. With a decade or two of work under your belt, making a career change in your forties means you can lean on your previous experience and leverage transferable skills in a new job—even if it’s a totally unrelated field.
In today’s world of work, plenty of industries embrace lifelong learning, emotional intelligence, and project management skills—like the tech industry! With rewarding salaries, flexible work, and the chance to work on innovative products, the tech industry can open up a world of opportunities. And the good news is that getting started in a tech career at age 40 is definitely possible.
With programs like CareerFoundry’s, there’s no need to go back to university or compromise your work-life balance in order to re-train. With online, self-paced learning and personalized mentorship, our career-change programs are designed to help students become tech professionals in a matter of months.
Starting a new career at 40 is not as uncommon as you’d think. In fact, around 47% of CareerFoundry students are aged over 35. Let’s hear from some alumni who made a career change at the age of 40 and are now thriving in lucrative tech careers.
Gaelle Monin, UX/UI Designer
Gaelle had worked in print publishing all her life. But, as the industry waned and the nature of her job changed, she sought something more relevant and creative. At age 40, she decided to retrain for a career in UX/UI design:
“My background is in print publishing and I’d been doing that my whole life, really—I’m 40 now. But in the past couple of years, the nature of my job changed a lot and the need for print had decreased.
My expertise was on the production side and a lot of it was pretty much irrelevant. As the business changed, my job became, to be honest, quite boring, and I wasn’t being challenged anymore. I felt like I was being left behind and I needed to move to something more digital and more creative.”
Being aware of changes in the industry can help you take control of your career. For Gaelle, she knew her expertise wasn’t being put to the best use in her publishing role anymore, so she turned her attention to UX/UI design; an in-demand field with growing career possibilities.
After decades in a completely different position, Gaelle wasn’t sure that she’d be able to successfully retrain as a designer. Thankfully, with the support of her mentor, tutor, and the wider CareerFoundry community, she was able to update her skills and land her first design role after completing the UI Design Program!
She’s now working as a UX/UI designer at Pixel Fridge, a digital agency in London. Check out this article to hear from her colleagues about how she’s thriving in her new career.
Read Gaelle’s full career-change story: From Print Publishing to Digital Design: How I Retrained To Stay Relevant in a Changing Industry
Filipe Monteiro, UX/UI Designer
After ten years in the hospitality industry, Filipe found himself unemployed for the first time in his life when restaurants closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges and uncertainty the situation brought, he used the setback as a force for good and saw an ideal opportunity to learn a new skill.
Being unemployed in Germany meant Filipe was able to study UX design with CareerFoundry for free, with a training voucher provided by the Jobcenter, the Agentur für Arbeit:
“It was not easy because, at the age of 43, I found myself unemployed for the first time in my life. I was just waiting for things to get better, to be honest.
And then one day I was just browsing Facebook and I saw CareerFoundry and the UX Design Program. I looked at reviews, I talked to people who’d already done a course at CareerFoundry and I heard nothing but good things.
That’s when I thought, this is the opportunity to do it. That’s when I contacted the Agentur für Arbeit, as I knew I might be eligible to take the course for free.”
Taking a bold plunge into his career change, Filipe completed the UX Design Program and hasn’t looked back since. Equipped with the right mindset, Filipe knew a rewarding and prosperous career in UX design awaited him after graduating. Through his hard work, dedication, and creative thinking, he’s proof that career change at 40 is possible.
Since graduating, Filipe’s career in design has gone from strength to strength. He’s now working as a UX/UI designer at The Mobility House, an e-mobility company. Read his career change story: From Gastronomy to UX/UI: How I Retrained as a Designer for Free
To find out more about studying at CareerFoundry for free with a Bildungsgutschein (training voucher) provided by the German Jobcenter, check out this article.
Mark Tiddy, UX Frontend Developer
CareerFoundry graduate Mark segued into web development following a decade and a half tenure as a youth worker. For him, making a switch from one industry to another all boils down to motivation, passion, and having a good support system in place.
Mark studied youth work at university but was always fascinated with tech. Compelled to capitalize on his passion for web development and future-proof his career, Mark signed up for the Full-Stack Web Development Program at CareerFoundry. He was able to train for a brand new career while still working around his existing schedule—with no need to quit his job. What’s more, the dual mentorship model at CareerFoundry (students are paired with both a tutor and mentor) meant that he could rely on expert feedback during his studies:
“It comes down to motivation; if you’re studying something you’re genuinely interested in, you just find the time [to learn].
Having a tutor that looked through my code was also very useful. Just having someone look at your approach and say, “that’s how I would’ve done it” is hugely validating when you’re learning a new craft.”
It might sound obvious but why shouldn’t you do something you love for a living? Identifying job possibilities that allow you to work on something you’re passionate about is another way to consider a mid-life career change.
By this point in your career, you’ve hopefully identified things you enjoy doing in your work—whether it’s project management, creative thinking, or technical work like Mark. Why not use this as a starting point to identify possible new career paths that could bring you more job satisfaction?
Mark is now working as a UX frontend developer at Jadu, a leading global provider of web experience management software. Read his career change story: From Youth Work To Web Development: Rediscovering My Passion For Tech
Ray Rusli Jr, Business Intelligence Consultant
Making a bold career switch from the fashion industry, Ray completed the Data Analytics Program with CareerFoundry in his late thirties.
For Ray, making a career change to data opened up more doors. Varied work, learning opportunities, professional growth, and financial security are just some of the rewarding elements he is grateful for in his new career.
Now working as a business intelligence consultant, Ray realizes there’s a lot to learn when you move to a completely different industry, but there is also a wealth of experience you can bring into a role to excel in different ways:
“You need to be humble. You are going to meet people who are just graduating from university, and they’re on a different path than you. I have to be honest, in the beginning, I was quite shocked because younger people were teaching me how to do my job. But I’ve learned that the soft skills from my previous job are incredibly valuable.
For example, when I was working in fashion operations doing expansions for the H&M Group, I was being thrown all over the world and had to set up teams that could function immediately. So I became very good at building connections with people. That’s helped me a lot in my new job as a consultant working with so many different clients.”
If you’re starting a new career at 40, consider how you can amplify your previous experience. Do you have good soft skills like Ray that will be beneficial in a new career? Or perhaps you have strong leadership skills that give you a competitive edge? Identifying your transferable skills can help you carve out the next steps in your career move.
Ray is making great strides in his new consultancy career at bdg, but don’t just take our word for it. Check out this article for a glowing testimonial from a senior consultant who told us what it’s like to work alongside Ray.
Read Ray’s full career-change story: From Fashion Operations to Business Intelligence: How Ray Switched to a Career in Tech
Martha Miller, UI Designer
Starting a new career at 40 doesn’t mean you have to make a complete transformation. Martha’s background in graphic design was the ideal springboard to propel her career into a more cutting-edge design role in her forties.
It was the Covid-19 pandemic that forced Martha to evaluate her career path. Despite not being familiar with UX/UI design beforehand, she did her research and discovered that a career in UI design would allow her to put her visual design and design thinking skills into practice.
It’s never too late to learn a new skill, especially in the tech industry where technologies are constantly evolving and lifelong learning is embedded into several roles. Identifying gaps in your knowledge where you might benefit from additional training, or simply being curious and determined to keep your skillset broad are great ways to future-proof your career. Embracing learning (rather than being fearful of stepping out of your lane) will serve you immensely if you decide to make a mid-life career change.
Here’s Martha’s advice on starting a new career at 40:
“If you have an interest in it, go for it! UI design is a great career with so many opportunities for growth, and so much to learn. It’s like lifelong learning with this career, which is so rewarding.
I did this at a time when so many people my age would be looking forward to retirement, not starting a new career. But I have no regrets. I’ve seen people on Slack saying, “I’m 40—can I do this?” But I did it, and I’m older. Age shouldn’t be a factor, and I hope others don’t let it stop them!”
Since graduating from CareerFoundry, Martha is continuing to thrive in her role as a UX designer at The Artcraft Group. Read her career change story: From Graphic Design To UI Design: My Career Change Journey
Hopefully, by now you realize that starting a new career at 40 is possible! Not only does it offer you the chance to learn a new skill and continue to grow professionally, but you’ll also reap the rewards of transferring your previous experience into a new role to make you a valued, unique team member.
For more tips on how to make a successful career change at 40, you might find these resources helpful:
- 5 Ways to Prepare for a Major Career Change
- “I Hate My Job”: What To Do Next
- How to Break into Tech as an “Older” Career Changer
- How to Build a Personal Brand for Your Tech Career
If you’re thinking of making a change but aren’t sure where to begin, book a call with an expert program advisor at CareerFoundry. They’ll help you figure out if a career in tech is right for you and help plan your next steps.
You can also try a free introductory short course with CareerFoundry to get a taste of what it’s like working in UX design, UI design, web development, data analytics, digital marketing, or product management.