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Has anyone made a big career change after 30?

prhymeateprhymeate Posts: 792
edited May 2016 in The cake stop
I work in graphic design and have freelanced for the last couple of years. Work has really dried up since the start of the year though and part of me is wondering if I actually want to spend the rest of my working life sat behind a computer. I'm 31, so young in some peoples eyes, but also old to be starting a new career from scratch... I just wondered if anyone out there had done it and how they found it?
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  • Garry HGarry H Posts: 6,639
    My wife went from radiographer to accountant.

    I think it depends on the length of time it takes to "qualify".

    What do you want to do? You're too old for the Army ;)
  • prhymeateprhymeate Posts: 792
    Garry H wrote:
    My wife went from radiographer to accountant.

    I think it depends on the length of time it takes to "qualify".

    What do you want to do? You're too old for the Army ;)

    Yea.. that's the stumbling block really, the time and money to qualify. I'd like to get outdoors I think, I looked into becoming a cycling instructor but from what I've learned, the pay/workload is erratic. I've also looked at jobs in horticulture and am meeting up with the head gardener at a nearby Royal Park tomorrow as he said it would be good to go and have a chat with him, so it'll be interesting to get his perspective on things. I don't have a specific job in mind, maybe something to do with conservation, nature etc. I've just been asking myself if I really want to sit at a computer for the next 35-40 years and wondered if anyone else had had the same thoughts. The Army is definitely not my cup of tea :lol:
  • orraloonorraloon Posts: 7,544
    I left the world commercial and became a landscape gardener.

    On one of my RHS courses, my course buddy was a girl who had been a GP but got fed up with prescribing drugs to alleviate social problems.

    Find something you enjoy doing, else you'll spend a large part of your life doing something you don't.
  • webboowebboo Posts: 3,148
    Retrained as a Mental Health nurse aged 31, 30 years ago this September. I was unemployed Mechanical fitter, builders labourer, bus conductor, plastic factory operative and assistant lift engineer at the time.
  • finchyfinchy Posts: 6,689
    I currently freelance as a proofreader, translator and English as a foreign language teacher.

    I love teaching English, but with other countries improving their language teaching in primary and secondary schools, I don't think there's much of a future in it. Proofreading can be interesting, depending on what I'm working on. Translating isn't particularly interesting in itself, but I have had some good, very useful projects to do in the past - renewable energy, medical procedures, energy efficiency, etc. - but these seem to have dried up and the work I'm doing now seems really pointless. My last big project was translating a computer games manual. The satisfaction I got from knowing that I was, in a small way, helping to save people's lives or cut CO2 emissions has been replaced with a sense of "if I got knocked over by a car, it wouldn't actually matter to anyone other than my family".

    So I'm going to start looking for a new career later this year when I finish my OU degree. I'm a bit nervous about it, but I want to avoid looking back later in life and thinking "I wish I'd done....". You should adopt the same attitude. At 31 you aren't too old to start a new career, don't spend the next 3-4 decades doing something don't enjoy. Just go for it.
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    I re-skilled but a little younger than you, i found college fun and the move to a new part of the country quite hard, but it was a different age where the state helped out.

    Have you thought of volunteering for the National Trust? a neighbour got FT employment this way and is now some sort of area manager.
    or looking the Environmental Agency ? there is lot more money going into them over the next few years, having skills in working in moving water might help ie swift water rescue training etc a good friend of mine recently went from Lyreco Delivery driver to flood defence with EA but he was an ex Para and a canoe instructor.

    dont hang about though, it doesnt get any easier :)
  • finchyfinchy Posts: 6,689
    Also bear in mind that jobs like graphic designer might not exist once artificial intelligence is sufficiently advanced to take over jobs like that. Whereas I don't think you'll get many robots taking over in horticulture/conservation any time soon.
  • prhymeateprhymeate Posts: 792
    Thanks for all the encouraging replies, I really appreciate it. It's good to hear that quite a few people have done it.

    orraloon, it's interesting that you retrained as a landscape gardener as that is one of the jobs that I've looked into, given my background in design. Did you start by doing some of the RHS courses or gain experience elsewhere first?

    mamba80 thanks for the suggestions. I contacted the Royal Parks about employment opportunities through volunteering which is why the head gardener said I should come and have a chat with him tomorrow. I'm keeping an eye on the National Trust website, The Environmental Agency is a good shout too, I'll check there. Thanks
  • orraloonorraloon Posts: 7,544
    Prhymeate, good luck with the career change.
    Everyone's experiences will be different, and there is no single right way to go about these things.

    For me, I had decided to jack in the career I had and took my gap year, which I had not done after university so was about time I thought. Lots of cycling, lots of getting fitter etc, but by the 2nd half of that year I was starting to come around to better do something with the brain, for interest I signed up for a RHS course at local FE college.

    Had always been a hobby gardener, but got chatting on this course to others who were doing client work, reckoned there was a market there, started advertising my own business, and here we are many years later. I did further RHS courses, the format has changed now but I did what was the old RHS Advanced, did not do the final Diploma bit as got too busy with client work, did garden design courses, and various NSTC courses on equipment handling, pesticides handling etc, so have the official 'tickets' to handle chemicals and other nasties.

    I guess it's a case of decide what you would like to do then seek out opportunities to get there. The first step is the difficult one, to jump from the safety of what one has now with no real view on how successful one might become in the new world.

    Best wishes.
  • surrey_commutersurrey_commuter Posts: 12,683
    If striking out on your own do as much as you can ( training, market research, finding clients) before quitting as that way you still have money coming in. A lot can be done evenings, weekends and holiday time.
  • joelsimjoelsim Posts: 7,552
    Yep, I was in advertising for 15+ years and just got to the point that I was resenting going in to the office every day. Then got made redundant and the thought of applying for another job filled me with horror.

    So I set up a business selling headphones (hifi has always been a passion). That was harder than I expected it to be, far too much competition from tax dodging giants and far too many people selling headphones. So, I started cat sitting and it's grown really well so far, touch-wood.

    Much happier now (albeit have struggled financially over the past 3 years paying a London mortgage on my own and 2 lots of child maintenance. Only just got on top of things in that respect).

    If you're having doubts at 31 then you probably do need to change.
  • ballysmateballysmate Posts: 14,790
    joelsim wrote:
    Yep, I was in advertising for 15+ years and just got to the point that I was resenting going in to the office every day. Then got made redundant and the thought of applying for another job filled me with horror.

    So I set up a business selling headphones (hifi has always been a passion). That was harder than I expected it to be, far too much competition from tax dodging giants and far too many people selling headphones. So, I started cat sitting and it's grown really well so far, touch-wood.

    Much happier now (albeit have struggled financially over the past 3 years paying a London mortgage on my own and 2 lots of child maintenance. Only just got on top of things in that respect).

    If you're having doubts at 31 then you probably do need to change.

    Is musictoyourears no more then? If so, sorry it didn't take off.
  • team47bteam47b Posts: 6,424
    So you have about 10 years experience as a graphic designer, do you enjoy the subject of design or is it that you hate the business aspect?

    If you enjoy design but don't want to sit in front of the Mac, why not teach design on a degree course at an arts institute or university?

    You don't actually need to retrain or have teaching qualifications to teach adults, it's their responsibility to learn.

    You can do this part time under contract, whilst you make up your mind what you want to do.

    I did this for ten years (whist still doing my freelance work when it came in) during this time I could have done an MA and a teaching qualification, but I didn't want to get sucked into 'education' I only wanted to get paid to study, learn and share my design knowledge and experience. :D

    I then decided that having done my 30 years as a designer I made a big career change, I gave up work at 51 and left the country to have time to do whatever I wanted which was my best career change...so far!

    If you need any specifics about lecturing, PM me, but now I must stop staring at this Mac and get up out of bed and suffer the bright sunshine and go out on a bike :D
    my isetta is a 300cc bike
  • I was office bound and kept thinking about getting out of it but didn't have the courage to strike out on my own. The end of my office job, (company went down) forced my change really. Started doing painting & decorating for friends & family and it took off from there (had always been a keen diy person).

    The only downside to a more manual job is that as you get older it does get harder.
  • prhymeateprhymeate Posts: 792
    team47b wrote:
    So you have about 10 years experience as a graphic designer, do you enjoy the subject of design or is it that you hate the business aspect?

    If you enjoy design but don't want to sit in front of the Mac, why not teach design on a degree course at an arts institute or university?

    I enjoy the subject of design, but I find that for the most part I'm just moving things around on a screen at the request of others, no matter how little design experience they have. Whether that's the sales team, marketing team etc. I don't really feel like a designer as such. I think the fact that all of my work is digital doesn't help. I did some brief product design and seeing something turn into a tangible product was a lot more rewarding. I have looked into shifting my focus from digital to something different, but at the moment it seems places are looking for junior designers who are masters with all software and already have years of experience.

    I don't think that lecturing would be the right path for me but I really appreciate your offer of more advice. Enjoy your ride, I am not at all jealous! :D
    I was office bound and kept thinking about getting out of it but didn't have the courage to strike out on my own. The end of my office job, (company went down) forced my change really. Started doing painting & decorating for friends & family and it took off from there (had always been a keen diy person).

    The only downside to a more manual job is that as you get older it does get harder.

    Yea, this is one of the things that I've thought about. How long can a manual job last as you get older...
  • peatpeat Posts: 1,242
    Currently in the transition phase here, although that's a generous term.

    I quit the job, stuck the flat up for rent and disappeared to New Zealand on my bike hoping to find that moment of clarity. Anyway, now i am back, an unemployed 32yr old living with Mum & Dad and not a frigging clue what i want to do!

    The thought of going back into an engineering/drawing office makes my balls leap back into my groin, but i have no other ideas. I may spend the summer driving tractors, but it's only a stop gap. The farming life isn't for me.

    Moral of the story - Have an idea of what you want to do before you jack it all in.
  • joelsimjoelsim Posts: 7,552
    ballysmate wrote:
    joelsim wrote:
    Yep, I was in advertising for 15+ years and just got to the point that I was resenting going in to the office every day. Then got made redundant and the thought of applying for another job filled me with horror.

    So I set up a business selling headphones (hifi has always been a passion). That was harder than I expected it to be, far too much competition from tax dodging giants and far too many people selling headphones. So, I started cat sitting and it's grown really well so far, touch-wood.

    Much happier now (albeit have struggled financially over the past 3 years paying a London mortgage on my own and 2 lots of child maintenance. Only just got on top of things in that respect).

    If you're having doubts at 31 then you probably do need to change.

    Is musictoyourears no more then? If so, sorry it didn't take off.

    Yep closing it down now. 3 years and made nothing basically. Made more money feeding cats over the Easter weekend than I made selling headphones over the last 12 months.
  • stu-bimstu-bim Posts: 406
    Just turned 40 and feel the same way about accountancy

    Ready to jump but not sure what to

    Granted I have felt this way for a long time

    Vowed to give it all up when I qualified but didn't, then every two years would be last two years and still haven't

    Still not moved
    Raleigh RX 2.0
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  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 6,014
    Herdsman to music teacher at 36. Long story.

    Glad I did though, and glad to have had different priorities in my work. At least I don't have to wear wellies and walk around in censored at work now. Well, apart from in the staff room, obviously.
  • Jay_FormeJay_Forme Posts: 132
    Both myself and the Mrs have changed over the last few years, both after our 30s.

    We moved to Lincolnshire from Essex in 2011.

    Living in Essex I was a Sparky and the Mrs was a Graphic Designer.

    Now I am an Estimator for a trenchless drilling company and the Mrs retrained to be a Midwife.

    Since then we also had 2 kids.... busy few years!!
  • tlw1tlw1 Posts: 18,899
    joelsim wrote:
    ballysmate wrote:
    joelsim wrote:
    Yep, I was in advertising for 15+ years and just got to the point that I was resenting going in to the office every day. Then got made redundant and the thought of applying for another job filled me with horror.

    So I set up a business selling headphones (hifi has always been a passion). That was harder than I expected it to be, far too much competition from tax dodging giants and far too many people selling headphones. So, I started cat sitting and it's grown really well so far, touch-wood.

    Much happier now (albeit have struggled financially over the past 3 years paying a London mortgage on my own and 2 lots of child maintenance. Only just got on top of things in that respect).

    If you're having doubts at 31 then you probably do need to change.

    Is musictoyourears no more then? If so, sorry it didn't take off.

    Yep closing it down now. 3 years and made nothing basically. Made more money feeding cats over the Easter weekend than I made selling headphones over the last 12 months.

    :( had a great service when I dealt with you
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 14,194
    tlw1 wrote:
    joelsim wrote:
    ballysmate wrote:
    joelsim wrote:
    Yep, I was in advertising for 15+ years and just got to the point that I was resenting going in to the office every day. Then got made redundant and the thought of applying for another job filled me with horror.

    So I set up a business selling headphones (hifi has always been a passion). That was harder than I expected it to be, far too much competition from tax dodging giants and far too many people selling headphones. So, I started cat sitting and it's grown really well so far, touch-wood.

    Much happier now (albeit have struggled financially over the past 3 years paying a London mortgage on my own and 2 lots of child maintenance. Only just got on top of things in that respect).

    If you're having doubts at 31 then you probably do need to change.

    Is musictoyourears no more then? If so, sorry it didn't take off.

    Yep closing it down now. 3 years and made nothing basically. Made more money feeding cats over the Easter weekend than I made selling headphones over the last 12 months.

    :( had a great service when I dealt with you
    Most people today want cheap over service. Unfortunately. :cry:
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,139
    No but with the oil price as it is and after last week I may be forced into one...

    Fancy opening a bike shop or something? There must be someway we can be paid a million pounds for cycling...??
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,683 Lives Here
    ddraver wrote:
    No but with the oil price as it is and after last week I may be forced into one...

    Fancy opening a bike shop or something? There must be someway we can be paid a million pounds for cycling...??

    Winning the Tour would do that ;).

    Oil won't stay low forever...!
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,139
    No, but I'm giving serious thought to doing something else it will probably take the year or so fo the job market to recover. Genuinely think I could actually do something more useful, or at least something more fun if not
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • prhymeateprhymeate Posts: 792
    joelsim wrote:
    Yep, I was in advertising for 15+ years and just got to the point that I was resenting going in to the office every day. Then got made redundant and the thought of applying for another job filled me with horror.

    So I set up a business selling headphones (hifi has always been a passion). That was harder than I expected it to be, far too much competition from tax dodging giants and far too many people selling headphones. So, I started cat sitting and it's grown really well so far, touch-wood.

    Much happier now (albeit have struggled financially over the past 3 years paying a London mortgage on my own and 2 lots of child maintenance. Only just got on top of things in that respect).

    If you're having doubts at 31 then you probably do need to change.

    That's pretty cool. I'd have never thought cat sitting could turn into a full time job. I'm an SW17 resident myself so if I hear of any friends looking for someone I'll point them in your direction.

    I went for a chat with the Head Gardener at a nearby Royal Park. It was nice of him to meet me and he was pretty helpful and suggested two courses that I should look into doing. The only problem is that I have looked and they are 3 years long and need other horticulture qualifications and experience to apply for...
  • 4kicks4kicks Posts: 549
    So lets see. Ages 18 I was in the Army, worked for five years as a Project Engineer building factories for an FMCG company after my Mechanical Engineering degree (actually built a soap and shampoo factory in Yemen), then was headshrunk to be a management consultant, did an MBA, from there worked for MTV, ran a film studio in Mallorca for a year, and Im now have been running two hotels for the last 10 years, just about to retire (Im 45). I really dont have any advice, apart from the concept of a "trade for life " is now so outdated to not even bear thinking about.
    Fitter....healthier....more productive.....
  • orraloonorraloon Posts: 7,544
    prhymeate wrote:
    I went for a chat with the Head Gardener at a nearby Royal Park. It was nice of him to meet me and he was pretty helpful and suggested two courses that I should look into doing. The only problem is that I have looked and they are 3 years long and need other horticulture qualifications and experience to apply for...

    Which courses were they?

    Depends what sort of job(s) in horticulture you are thinking about. E.g. a staff position in Royal Park, Kew, RHS gardens, big estates etc etc, then yes expectation that you would have quite a lot of practical experience plus formal qualifications. Lot of competition for those slots.

    If you want to set up and run your own business, then need to work out your target market. Lots of blokes with a van and little experience about, competing on price or whatever.

    When I started I was able to play some cards (BSc Ecological Science, the first level RHS exam) so could go for more premium market; did not want to spend my days mowing grass, would do my 'ed in.

    Like every business, work out your market and then how best to access it.
  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 4,015
    My partner left teaching, came back to UK and became a student. Now starting.a research career. Now in 40s. I'm same age and need a change in direction big time. I'd be a bit stuck if there's a cutoff for change at 30! My advise is to save up then retrain. IMHO takes something to make a big change, something like a recognised qualification is good to get before a big change.

    I know someone who had a nice state sector job which was likely to lead to a good career. While I earning the money she retrained and when the time was right left to work on leading trips in adventurous areas. Something to do with kids. A few years on straight back to state sector. Sometimes you follow your heart only to find it's not as good as you imagined.
  • prhymeateprhymeate Posts: 792
    orraloon wrote:
    Which courses were they?

    Depends what sort of job(s) in horticulture you are thinking about. E.g. a staff position in Royal Park, Kew, RHS gardens, big estates etc etc, then yes expectation that you would have quite a lot of practical experience plus formal qualifications. Lot of competition for those slots.

    If you want to set up and run your own business, then need to work out your target market. Lots of blokes with a van and little experience about, competing on price or whatever.

    When I started I was able to play some cards (BSc Ecological Science, the first level RHS exam) so could go for more premium market; did not want to spend my days mowing grass, would do my 'ed in.

    Like every business, work out your market and then how best to access it.

    The course at Kew was the The Kew Diploma in Horticulture, which is 3 years long. He recommended it because they actually pay you whilst studying (£13k). Another was at the RHS Level 4 Diploma in Horticultural Practice at Wisley which is 2 years long and needs experience and a Level 2 qualification in Horticulture. As much as I'd like to do them, I'm not sure if it's realistic. I am looking into doing the RHS courses, although nowhere in London seems to run the Level 1 theory and practical sides, they are all geared towards Levels 2 and 3.

    I was ultimately hoping for more of a staff position than running my own business, although that'd be one way to gain experience.

    I'm thinking of volunteering at the Royal Park where I had my meeting anyway. If I can find the time then I figure it will at least give me some experience and you never know what might happen through the people I might meet whilst doing it.
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