Start a New Career at Any Age

Start a New Career at Any Age

Check out these hot options for career switchers of all ages.

By Chris Kyle   

Looking to change careers and think your age may limit you? You may want to revisit that line of thinking...

"Age really has no bearing," says Michael Brandt, chief operating officer of BrightMove, a Florida-based company that designs recruiting and staffing software. "The only thing that really matters is the skills that you have," says Brandt, who estimates that 95 percent of his clients do not use age as a search criterion.

People of all ages believe they will change careers at some point in the future, according to a November 2010 survey by Kelly Services, a Michigan-based workforce solutions company.

The study, which polled 134,000 workers worldwide, found that:

  • 69 percent of Generation X (people born in the '60s and '70s) expect to change careers
  • 67 percent of Generation Y (people born in the '80s and '90s) expect to change careers
  • 63 percent of Baby Boomers (people born in the late '40s and '50s) expect to change careers

So how can you successfully pull off a career change? Going back to school is one way you could gain the right skill-set to help transition to a new career.

Keep reading to see which degree and certificate programs can help you move into these hot careers...

#1 - Health Information Technician

The only date of birth that matters in this career is the patient's. Health information technicians enter, update, and manage medical forms and data. The recent push to convert paper medical records into electronic form is creating a bigger demand for health information and medical records technicians, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which is good news for those considering a career change.

Education: Technicians with an understanding of the latest technology and software programs used by hospitals and doctor's offices will have the strongest employment opportunities, according to the Department of Labor. On average, completion time for medical billing and coding certificate programs is about one year, though this could vary depending on the student.

Average Earnings: $35,010*

Search for Medical Billing and Coding Certificate Programs

#2 - Computer Support Professional

Forget about age. The ability to get the job done in a helpful and courteous way is what counts for computer support professionals. Any sales or customer service experience you have could come in handy when preparing to transition into this career. Experience with computers can be another plus since you would be assisting individuals and organizations with their IT-related questions and concerns.

Education: If you want to switch into this career and don't yet have a degree, an associate's or bachelor's degree is required for some computer support specialist positions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. If you already have a degree or want to target a faster-paced career program, certification could also help prepare you for a career as a computer support professional.

Average Earnings: $49,930*

Search for Technology Support Programs Near You

#3 - Paralegal

Reliability is likely more top-of-mind than age in this profession, since lawyers depend upon paralegals to assist them in just about every part of the legal process. Strong written and verbal communication skills are important, so any prior work history that demonstrates this may come in handy. In addition to researching and interviewing witnesses, paralegals often help proofread documents and prepare contracts.

Education: If you're considering a career change, take note that an associate's degree in paralegal studies is the most common qualification for a paralegal, according to the Department of Labor. If you already have a bachelor's degree in a different subject, consider earning a certificate in paralegal studies to prepare for this profession.

Average Earnings: $49,640*

Search for Paralegal Certificate and Degree Programs Near You

#4 - Computer Programmer

In this profession you are forever young as long as you're current on the latest IT trends. For those considering a career as a computer programmer, you'll need to show employers that you're skilled and up-to-date on the latest technology and software programs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Education: Computer programmers usually have a bachelor's or associate's degree in computer systems or technologies, according to the Department of Labor, which adds that computer and IT certifications could give you a real competitive advantage in the current job market.

Average Earnings: $74,900*

Search for IT Degree and Certificate Programs

#5 - Health Services Manager

Since this is a management position, prior work experience should come in handy here and it doesn't have to necessarily be in health care. Maybe finance is your specialty. Or maybe you have experience in PR, HR, or sales. Whatever your background, health services manager could be an exciting role to target. Health care features 10 of the 20 fastest growing jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which adds that strong business and management skills could help you find work as a health services manager.

Education: An MBA is the most common credential for management roles in the health care industry, according to the Department of Labor, though sometimes a bachelor's degree is enough to get into this line of work. When getting your MBA or bachelor's degree, it may be a good idea to specialize in health care administration.

Average Earnings: $93,670*

Search for Health Care Administration Degree Programs

*All earnings info comes from the U.S. Department of Labor using 2010 salary data.

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