Career change in late 30's. Anybody done it?

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  • Career change in late 30's. Anybody done it?
  • philsimmo

    I know there was a similar thread about this but its a couple of years old now so here goes:

    I have been becoming increasingly bored with my desk job over the last year or so. The pay is decent enough (£30k+ PA) and its fairly secure but im sooooooo bored its unreal. I’m an account manager which means talking about leases, figures, compliance blah blah blah and a large element is sales.

    I think at heart i’ve known sales / desk job etc etc isn’t for me for a long time but have always used the security blanket of decent salary to stay put.

    Well no longer!!

    I’m at the stage now where ive become sufficiently comfortable about giving up the security of a half decent salary and have the balls to do something i really want to do.

    I have a few ideas batting around my head but have very little experience in anything other than retail,leasing, sales, bit of management and compliance.

    Ideally i would love to become a live sound engineer or even retrain as a sparky.

    Has anybody else done jacked it all in to go and do something they really want to do? How hard was it? How did you go about it, did you favour more education over a hands on approach. Anybody want a general dogs body to work in a recording studio / live music venue for free!?


    Do you have kids? If the answer is no, I’d bloody go for it. What do you have to lose. If you stay where you are you’ll only regret it in years to come.


    I lived with a guy a few years ago who was a live sound engineer. For some big bands too – Nine Inch Nails, Lou Reed etc.

    Now he wasn’t the most cheery person about life in general but he did say the music industry wasn’t the nicest to work in.

    From what I could gather he was good at what he did (must’ve been to work with acts at that level) but he got thrown off a tour (can’t remember who, some Liverpool indie band) because the lead singer threw a paddy as he didn’t like the way he’d set the monitors up… obviously the ‘talent’ have the power. In ‘normal’ life that would be illegal…

    So my recommendation would be to go and check it out yourself in your spare time and get talking to people who’ve been there and done it. Which I guess is why you’re on here!

    I’m trying to make a big career change (aged 40 this year) too – so good luck 🙂

    Premier Icon Jerome

    Just do it mate.
    You want it enough you will make it happen.
    Hopefully someone on here will respond who is in the business.
    You need to find out what the latest thinking/ technology is, and read up on this..
    Good luck.


    Seems to be a bit of a theme around here recently – Yesterday’s thread

    Is it something to do with the long hard winter combined with a cr@p economy?


    I’m early 30’s (well 30 to be precise) and am contemplating a change of career albeit not as vast a change as you – Facilities Management to more Building Surveying.

    My thoughts on career changes are its better to make any changes whilst my fiance and I have no other major comittments such as mortgages, kids plus we’re free to move location without too much disruption.

    As my working life has rolled on over the years I’m find I’m more motivated by job happiness and satisfaction rather than financial gain. After all you will spend the majority of your time each week in work 🙁 So if the sums work out I say make the jump before its too late and you look back with regret.


    Thanks for all the comment guys – keep em coming and thanks for the encouragement so far.

    I don’t have kids so i know this will make the decision easier.

    I think everyone knows a sparky! (or knows someone who knows one) and luckily i have friends who are involved in the “creative” industry that may be able to give me pointers, and i also have a contact who works as a live sound engineerr albeit at a low level.

    It would be useful to hear from someone whos done it and what challenges they faced, luckily at 38 you tend to have had a fair old chance to acquire some good contacts from most walks of life!


    I’ve just done it at 30, I’m now a student paramedic after years sat behind a desk. I reckon at least 1/3 of the people doing my job started so in their 30s and 40s. The youngest person on my course of 11 was about 25, the eldest was about 50.

    If its a possibility you should go for it, don’t waste your life doing a job you hate, there’s more to life than money (obviously I’m not suggesting money isn’t important, just that it doesn’t have to rule your life)


    retrain as a sparky.

    Gf’s uncle did this, he’s struggling at the moment…He still enjoys the work even tho he’s doing jobs he didn’t expect to be doing.

    Premier Icon bigjim

    I am in the same boat, 35 now and sitting in front of a computer all day in a office feels like a prison sentence, the weeks, months, seasons and years fly by looking at a glowing rectangle in front of me. I’m quite glad I didn’t start working like this until 2007, but still keen to get out.

    I used to work in the music industry but in the music software side of things – v hard to make a living out of it but I do know people who do.

    I’m currently trying to think how I can either work outside more, or work in the Alps, or do something with my hands instead of a computer.


    If you’re fed up and want a change, go for it if you can afford too…life’s too short!

    I’d been working for my dads business for 15 years and while I couldn’t really say I hated it, was really bored and knew I didn’t have enough interest to take it over at some point. Anyway, I left last summer not knowing what I was going to do. After looking at the job market realised I was going to have to re-train if I wanted to do something different. I’m currently at uni studying something I’m interested in and really enjoying it. It’s been hard work at times as I hadn’t written an essay since I was at school. It’s been a different kind of stress though and have enjoyed the challenge. Will I be able to get a job at the end of the 3 years? Who knows, but at least I’ll have tried.

    For anyone wanting to change though, you will need to re-train if wanting to do something different. At least if you want to earn a half-decent wage.

    I’m considering my options for 3 years time when the mortgage is paid off. Ideally I’d like to do something outdoors, but I have time to plan!


    Unfortunately i have 18 something years left on the mortgage but our place is up for sale so moving to another part of the country is an option.

    As we dont have vast reserves of cash in the bank a full time uni course isn’t really an option but part time is.

    I’m sitting down with a sound engineer on Thursday over a beer or 4 to get his view. He will no doubt tell me i’m mental but a job i really want to do vs more money is a no brainer for me.

    An “industry” course is a preferred route at the minute but mixed with some actual hands on experience.


    I have a similar job to you philsimmo just in a different industry. tedious beyond belief and looking to do something about it.

    Have a look about taking a payment holiday or cutting payment temporarily for your mortgage if it makes life easier for a little while if you have to spend time studying/training. Found yesterday for us it’s easier than we thought with no financial penalty, lowers the outgoings for the 9 months or so that I’ll be training and earning nothing.


    Mate of mine quit being a fire-fighter 18 months ago, did a Health and Safety degree and is now a Health and Safety advisor for Crest Nicholson. He is 38 with loads of years left on his mortgage but somehow made it work, quite inspiring really. Really honestly there’s no time like the present, you’re a long time dead, its not a rehearsal etc etc go for it

    I used to be a IT contractor myself and 20 years ago felt the urge to do something new.
    Rented out our house to cover the mortgage and a bit over to live on, packed up the car with all our essentials and headed to Southern Spain, with no idea about how to make a living.
    I´ve never regretted it so good luck.


    Go for it !!
    Wont alus be easy but if youve got a scratch …. etc.etc.
    I fancied retraining as a sparky due to redundancy but the actual training costs to get the relevant qualifications were pretty steep,(dont expect any govenment help-working or not) on top of that legislation goalposts seem to move every few years so its better to get into a company thatll pay for that side of things rather than be self employed.
    Currently got a nice sideline repairing white goods – much more interesting than the proper job … 😉


    Career change in late 30’s went from being a deck hand on a dive boat to sitting behind a desk for 4 years for our lovely government. Drove me mental so did City and Guilds Painting and Decorating at college part time. All part of a plan to find work after me and the mrs spent a year biking and climbing round the world. Before we went I had loads of work now don’t have much. Its a struggle at the moment and I do miss the regular income but I don’t miss hating the job and myself for doing it. Sparky would be ok if you have the cash to pay for courses. I met too many people sat in an office wishing their lives away to retirement. You never find out if you don’t try and do you want to be were you are now in 5 years?


    Do it Do it Do it.
    Look at it this way – you have another 30 years of working life before you get to pensionable age. Wouldn’t you rather be spending that time doing something you actually want to do??

    Premier Icon Teetosugars

    In a similar postion here.. LAte 30’s bored at work..

    I guess since leaving the Army, I’ve never really found my vocation.. and that was 10years ago..

    If someone could offer me the 3 in 10 a la Ken Bruce, but I had to answer all 3 in 10 seconds, like Where to Live? What Job to do? etc, then I guess I’d fail.

    Its all a bit spank really, I feel I’m turning Beige.

    To say I’m struggling is an understatement.

    At this rate, I’ll be liking Coldplay and cheering on Andy Murray soon. 👿

    Premier Icon Onzadog

    Yep. Late 30s, dead end job for local authority. Now coming towards the end of two year training course to be a power engineer. So far, I think it’s one of the best things I ever did.


    At the age of 42 last year I was facing redundancy.

    I set up my own business with a good friend and former colleague in the same industry that we had always working in.

    We didn’t pay ourselves any money for the first 6 months even though we were starting to get a few small projects underway. Our customer base is now expanding and we have met our first years target.

    However be warned that working for yourself or running your own company is hard work but ultimately very rewarding.

    Wish we had done this 5-10 years ago.

    If you have the chance do it.


    A wise man called Morpheus once told me to stop trying to hit him and actually hit him.

    The point I am trying to make is, decide to change. Make an uncomfortable decision and do what’s right for your head. The rest will into place once you make the step into that place.

    A real life person who I respect massively has mentioned many times he wishes he had more time so he could do more. You have this. Don’t make yourself look back when older and regret not making the most of what you want to do.


    Thanks all, i’m actually genuinely touched by all the support an replies on this. It just goes to show there are some genuinely nice people still left in the world so thank you so much and i have some thing to think about but the overiding thing is JUST GO FOR IT!!…..which i intend to do.
    There are lots of things i want to say but which are more eloquent in my head than i can say here but suffice to say thank you and i will keep you updated on progress.

    Here goes……………………………


    {job mode] I work as a careers adviser

    Feel free to e-mail

    It really depends on what you want to do
    Three things
    1. What do you want to do
    2, What training do you need to do – can you afford it do it locally/voluntary work
    3. Labour Market Information – basically are there any jobs at the end of training

    Some training “guarantees” jobs at the end such as paramedic some require you to find work
    Anyone selling training to you is SELLLING training to you – ask them how many get work in the industry oon finishing and see if they have actual records of this – I bet they dont , are vague or lie tbh.

    The risk is that you can do everything right but if no one offers you a job you are stuffed

    I know little of the music indistyr tbh but i imagine there are way more qualified folk that folk wanting work/qualified in the industry so the risk of not getting a job is greater than other professions – loads of folk will want to do it and i suspect contacts is as important as talent. you may also find yourself up against the no experience cannot get a job and cannot get experience without a job conumdrum

    As for sparky – plenty of unemployed ones about at the minute
    I would not really consider construction tbh at the minute, the training is long and you need an employer to get Level 3 which is what you would need to be able to get work

    E-mail in profile if you want personal information / a chat
    I can probably put you in touch with a Careers adviser locally if you want to discuss stuff

    I worked in music related stuff (developing software), and met quite a few ex engineers – I would say that it’s more the sort of job people get out of at your age than into. Rubbish and unreliable pay, long late nights of work, if you do live sound it is a lot of travel, and if it’s like most areas of entertainment, quite likely very high car insurance premiums just in case you might put a celebrity in your car!

    If you are one of the ten people in the UK who does interesting production work, sound engineering is probably a fun job, but otherwise it is a very poorly paid way of getting to listen to a load of crap indie bands on a repeated basis.

    Premier Icon totalshell

    Late 30s ..your too young.. at 43 Married two very young kids i left my safe well paid employment of 22 years to become a gas enginer. The best days work I ever did
    Sat having breakfast in bed now, will drop kids at school at 8:40 first appointment 9am expect to be home for 4. 7 years ago I would have been at work over an hour already and not home till 7.
    Don’t have a merc or pay top rate tax anymore but life is so much better

    Premier Icon coolhandluke

    Changed at 42.

    Gave up my corporate “poking poo uphill with a pointy stick” job and became a land surveyor. To be fair I was a Land surveyor in the early 90’s. same princes but the kit is a million miles apart and GPS makes things pretty simple.

    Now seem to be more of a freelance engineer / project manager as that’s what my clients need me to be. Had a quiet period in June so went on holiday. Not stopped since then or looked back.

    I now look forward to the end of the month as I write invoices instead of reports!

    Premier Icon cardo

    Great thread… I am so bored at work it’s soul destroying….39 and been with this company for 7 years , I don’t particurly like the industry I’m in and think it’s future is diminishing due to Chinese imports and a severe lack of copyright in China. The straw that did break the camels back was after being told last year that there were no pay rises because the company is skint, for the 3rd year in a row, the bosses went to St Lucia on holiday for 2 weeks.. hmmmm…. it’s time to do something for me I think.


    The straw that did break the camels back was after being told last year that there were no pay rises, for the 3rd year in a row, then the bosses went to St Lucia on holiday for 2 weeks.. hmmmm…. it’s time to do something for me I think.


    At my old firm, there were pay freezes and redundancies every year from 2008 yet the profits per equity partner did not drop below £900k. Stings a little bit when the person who tells you in a salary review that they can’t even raise your salary by inflation (because conditions are so tough) is actually still taking their full £900k+ each year. The people at the top of law firms will do ANYTHING to protect PEP.

    Premier Icon simmy

    I changed at 30 and started my own business. It’s not easy, and the money’s not brilliant but better than I got in my last job but it gives me freedom to work more or less when I want.

    Suppose I’m just lazy but I now prefer to work to live not the other way round.

    Like everyone, there’s good and bad days, but most of the time I enjoy work so much I can’t believe I get paid for doing it.

    That sounds like its illegal lol it’s not I run a Driving School and love seeing the pupils develop skills and having a laugh with them.


    I did it at age 41 (3 years ago).
    Was an electrical engineer (industrial automation and controls). Packed it in because it was making me ill.
    Decided to retrain to become an occupational therapist. I finish my degree and qualify next Summer (2014), hopefully.

    Should have done it years ago!

    Premier Icon ononeorange

    Can’t offer much help but I changed career in my late 20s from something I loved doing (engineering) to something that seemed to have some vague notion of job security (finance). I also moved some way to London.

    With the fantastic benefit of hindsight, I am still in two minds about whether it was the right thing or not. On the plus side, I have been in employment, which was the prime motivator for doing it. On the downside, I have not exactly been a resounding success at it, aside from keeping a job down – probably because my background and education was utterly non-financial.

    In sum, I put the hard-headed economics of life ahead of happiness in my career and many years later still haven’t the foggiest whether that was the right thing to do or not!

    Premier Icon davetrave

    Will be suffering enforced career change, at age 39, in next couple of years. Fortunately, doing what I do now has involved regular (every 2 years or so) changes in role so have some idea about where to go and what to do, plus some experience; I’ll also qualify for re-settlement, which will be used for a mixture of professional qualifications/bodies, education and practical courses…

    Mr Woppit

    Has anybody else done jacked it all in to go and do something they really want to do? How hard was it?

    Exactly the other way round.

    Complete hell until I got used to banging a keyboard for a living as opposed to banging drums…

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