Has anyone here started a second career?

If so why and how old were you at the time? How did you realize that it was time for a change and what prompted you to pick your new career. As well, how has it worked out? I can see myself perhaps shifting careers someday, but I want to do it when I know what I want, yet still young enough to have an impact.

Since this is in GQ, I’m obligated to give a factual answer.


Oops, should be in another forum.

Sorry bout that, can someone move it to IMHO (I think thats where it’s supposed to go)

I was in full time law enforcement for 10 years when I had enough bullshit. But what can one really do with a degree in Criminal Justice but…?

So I became a security consultant. Better pay, less politics. But does that really count as a career change? Especially since I also took a part-time position as a police officer with another department.

Like I said, “sort of”. This is in the wrong forum anyhow.

I’m getting old enough to have a second career and I haven’t started my first one yet. Damned frustrating, it is. Unfortunately, I squandered my education on a subject I no longer have any use for and haven’t been able to use it for anything else, either. :frowning: Be grateful for what you have.

I was in retail management for five years in my late 20s. I was not particularly delighted with my job, but I found that I was very good at figuring out what the companys’ computers wanted from me or how to get them to surrender important information to me. Since I already had a college degree, I borrowed money from my Mom and went to a trade school that taught programming. At age 30, I began a new career at a 40% salary increase and was on my way.

Yup. I’m 29, and realised about 5 years ago that the career I had chosen wasn’t right for me. Got out of it 3 years ago, but wasn’t too sucessfull at getting exactly what I wanted. So I took a job that allowed me to switch to management (I was in automotive R&D), and worked in a position relevant to what I eventually wanted to do. I quit this job in December, and am moving to Dubai in a few days to join a new company. This new position is much more in line with what I want to do.

Or two, or three…

I got a degree in Chemical Engineering. But unemployment in Spain back then was 24% (officially and without counting people who’d graduated from college or tech school in the last 3 years) and if I went to grad school in the US they’d pay me enough to live on.

So I became a Theoretical Chemist. For 3 years.

Then I moved to being a Lab Tech With Some Manager Functions, both in the US and in Spain, for 3 more years.

Then the factory where I worked had to implement SAP, the lab manager didn’t want to do his piece, and I was asked to. By the time I’d spent 3 months badgering consultants to optimize processes (I don’t believe in saying “this doesn’t work” or “dunlike it”, I say “I don’t like how this works for suchandsuch reason, I’ve done some thinking/run some tests and think this way works better and would like you to recheck and maybe change the official process, ok?”), they offered me a job with the consultant team (if you can’t beat them, hire them).

Been implementing SAP for 5 years now.
Of course, you could also say that I’ve never changed careers: I’m just a technical mercenary :slight_smile:

(I just started a new SAP project three weeks ago; in this time I’ve been contacted by 4 different companies with job offers/interviews… including Blizzard to join their Spanish team, which would pay less than consulting but have better hours and allow me to place an orc in my sig! If it hadn’t felt so much like “group-hopping” I might be in Paris now…)

This is a great question. I’m trying to figure it out now. I started off in Engineering, graduated into management of manufacturing companys. I’m in my 40’s now and was frustrated that I saw people working half as much and were making twice more. Money can buy happiness because it buys time. I changed to mortgage banking am making twice the money but now I’m half as happy. :smack:

here I’m in my 40’s and I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. :smack:

I think one needs to find a balance between their passion, financial goals, significance, interest and where they can be most useful.

You know when to change when something is bothering you.

The best thing I have found is to write out a 10 year plan with a certain goal and lifestyle at the end. I then plan backwards with how I’m going to achieve it. Each year I re evaluate if I am on track or drifting off track. I change accordingly to get back on track.

IMO if one is relitively smart they can do anything they want.

couple already and only 45.

Guidebook write, free lance writer and publishing biz for a few years. Got an MBA to make a change.

Went into investment banking for 8 years. Quit when the 97 crash wiped out both my asset class (asian equity derivatives) and majority of customers.

Been in business related software type gigs for the past 8 years.

I’m on my fourth career now.

I graduated college with a degree in agriculture and worked as a research tech on a poultry farm for a couple years.

When the research money ran out I found out there weren’t a lot of jobs for chicken scientists in the area, so I got a job at Ace Hardware. I became the store manager and stayed there for two or three years.

From there I moved into accounting, and worked in accounts receivable for about five years.

After a while I realized I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, and made a move over to information systems, eventually becoming a database administrator. I’ve been in IT for about 10 years.

Someday I’ll figure out what I really want to do when I grow up (I’m 45).

I’m 38, and in my third “career”. I got a masters degree in psychology, but my first serious job (field-inventarisations) I got because of the extensive knowledge of botany I had picked up during my life-long botany-hobby.

I had had that botany-job for six years or so, when I got to be asked more and more to do research based on the outcomes of the botany-field inventarisations I did before. So there I was, working with D-base, and writing reports instead of walking around with my clipboard, maps, magnifying glass and Flora-determination-book.

Two years later, I could fill a position (at first temporary because of pregnancy leave, but my replacement didn’t come back) with my Provincial Government to make environmental policy for natural wetlands in my Province. I’ve been doing that for five years now. Making policies, dealing with politics, government grants, scientific reports, conflicts of interest…Knowing a bit of psychology and ecology comes in handy for this job.

All three “careers” flowed quite naturally into one another. I’m lucky.

I quit college after one year and got a job driving a truck for a printing company. I eventually did most of the jobs in the printing business, setting type, running presses, estimating, sales. I quit the day job and played rock music for a couple of years. Disco had an adverse effect on my music income, so I went back into the printing business. I kept trying sales jobs which I hated. I was drawn by the income potential, and could always get such a job because I speak fairly well, am presentable, and knew the business, but I hate selling, so I was never successful at it. In 1987, I was fed up enough to move back into my parents’ house at the age of 33 and go back to school. I got an associates degree in computer programming while working as a security guard and became a programmer in 1988. That has resulted in 18 years of continuous employment at ever-increasing salaries. While I was working on the programming degree, I used to tell people I just wanted to find a job I could stand for more than a year or two. It has worked out a bit better than that, I really like what I do now.

I used to work as a field engineer at nuclear power plants. I got tired of moving every few months, so I decided (in 1993, age 30) to get a job, any job, in IT. I got a pretty low-paying job with a small software company. I got raises pretty quickly, then changed jobs a couple of times to get in the profession I’m in now, which is project scheduling. (MS Project gantt charts, etc.) I’ve been doing that for a few years; it’s a niche profession with a decent market here in the DC area, what with all the government projects.

My career change came early. I was a Navy Electrician for 4 years and an HVAC Mechanic for a little over 3. At age 25, during a recession I quit my job and went full time to a computer School for 7 months having realized trying to get and engineering degree at night was not going to work out and I would end up an HVAC mechanic for the rest of my life. Not a terrible job, but being on rooftops in high winds and storms could get kind of old.
I aced the School and landed a job that I started the day after I graduated. It has been about 14 years in the field now. Good pay and mostly challenging work.


My change was from Air Force Officer to high school teacher. Both were excellent jobs in their own way. Now I’m retired and have a third career…if you can count a part-time job as a career.

As for some unrequested advice, don’t be afraid to change careers! Be sure to follow your passions.

I started out as a liberal-arts academic, then spent about five years as a journalist of various kinds (mostly Internet), and now I’m in law school. In fact I just this week started work at my first law-job. It’s great. (I’m 34.)

Curently enjoyig my third and best career.

Graduated, worked writing and producing things like corporate videos (at the time when such things were deemed new and exciting) and handling other creative and commercial media projects. Long hours, low pay, low rewards after the initial ‘hey wow’ factor wore off.

Entirely by accident, fell into the IT industry and discovered the role of ‘technical writer’. Also dabbled in creative and marketing assignments for the main company I worked for at this time. Civilised hours, easy work, good pay. Also uttely soul-destroying (as is everything to do with the IT industry), and very stifling. Tried freelancing for a while, which was more fun, even better paid, and provided more variety. Still not very satisfying because it was still broadly within the IT industry, hence soul-less, stifling and sterile, and because only 1 in 10 projects (if that) ever actually go anywhere.

Which brings me to career number 3. Packed everything in, gave up my job, gave up the big money, told the IT industry where it could shove its scribbled diagrams on white boards and eternally dreary meetings. Got into self-publishing non-fiction books, set up a ‘cash cow’ website to sell them online. Also started performing as a professional magician and speaker, a job which has taken me around the world. Having a lot more fun, meeting more people, financially okay, much more rewarding and fulfilling in every way.

My summary for you:

  1. The best job you’ll ever have will be the one you make up to suit yourself.

  2. The best boss / manager you will ever have is you.

  3. The company says it cares about you and values you. It doesn’t. The company is a machine designed to create wealth for the people who own it. If they could replace you with a machine, they would. In a heartbeat.

  4. Opportunities are around you all the time. You are swimming in a sea of opportunities every day. Open your eyes, open your mind.

  5. Think what you want, aim yourself in that direction, and take action to get there. And never, ever forget that the only good time to take action is NOW. Not tomorrow, because tomorrow never comes. Not ‘when the situation is right’, because it never will be. NOW.

I’m in my early 40s and in my second career.

I started out as a translator and interpreter with a degree in Japanese, and wound up working in Japanese tourism in Hawaii when the Japanese economy was booming. Money was tight, but I was in my 20s, living and working in Japanese. As time went on, the Japanese economy went bust and I found out I could get paid to play with computers. When I’d had enough of the Hawaiian economy and an engagement ended, I packed it up and moved back home.

While I was already good at programming dBase and designing databases, I knew I’d need a degree if I wanted to go further. Fortunately, I wound up with an employer who’d pay for me to go back to school shortly after I came to this conclusion. Ten years later, I’m making a lot more money than I ever did as a tour escort, and I like what I do for a living. Being an interpreter was my dream job when I was a teenager, but this is better.

A lot of my decision to change careers was economic (there isn’t much market for Japanese translation in my city). It did mean I went back to school while working full time, but I was a better student than I was the first time around. I’m better off financially and happier than I was, even if the weather here isn’t as good as it was in Waikiki.


I have a BA in history. From there, I ended up as a corporate internal auditor. Realized that I hated it more a lot (when you’re so stressed that you vomit every morning before going to work, and then wish on the weekend that you could break your leg for some time off…you’re in the wrong field). So I went back to grad school, got a master’s in information (library) science and now I’m a librarian at a university. And I’m mostly happy - sure, there are things I don’t like, but most of the time I look forward to going to work.