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Wednesday, February 25, 2015 3:03 PM

In Search of the Magic Wand: Career Change at Age 45 Possible?

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Reader Mark has a career question. Mark writes ...

Hi Mish: I am 45 years old. I have worked in the grocery business for 20 years. I am starting to have back problems. I would like to move on. Do you have any suggestions as to a suitable career for someone my age. I do read your blog, and I can relate to the money business. Thanks, Mark

Formal Education is No Magic Wand

Hi Mark

Unfortunately, and in spite of what the education industry would like you to believe, I present a  sobering reality: A career change at age 45 or even 55 is possible, but extremely difficult.

Traditional education is highly unlikely to give you the skills you need. Occasionally someone hits the jackpot, but most likely you would waste money, and lots of it trying. Don't believe hype from places like the University of Phoenix.

From information technology (IT), to banking, to writing, to market analysis, to dog catching, corporations will want experience. Even college interns have difficulty finding jobs.

In IT, there are hundreds of thousands of skilled workers out of a job and competing with programmers in India or Russia.

In banking or finance (if not everything), my honest assessment is that someone would look at your age and experience and pass you over for someone younger, someone with more experience, or both.

Your safest plan is to make an effort without spending much, if any money. I suggest some free courses at the Khan Academy, Coursera or elsewhere. That would put something on your resume of relevance, and more importantly would show prudent motivation.

Instead, if you drain your savings on training, the most likely thing is you will be exactly where you are, but without your savings.

Please don't pick a career for the money. Selecting a career based on pay is not the road to happiness. Find something you really want to do. That has to come from within.

In the meantime, if you have physical issues, you should strongly consider mentioning them to your current employer, perhaps asking for a different type of position that is less physically demanding.

Finally, please be realistic about your expectations. Consider anything that gets your foot in the door at a company you would like to work for.

Good luck to you.
And please keep reading. I have more below.

How to Find an Authentic Career

A Gallup Study that reviewed 25 million responses in 189 different countries shows 30% are happy with their job, 20% are miserable, and the rest are going through the motions, at best.

Finding a new career is very difficult but not impossible. I have written about this before.

Please consider Majority Hate Their Job but Only 25% Looking; How to Find Your Way to an Authentic Career

In the above link, I describe my own career change thrust upon me, and a career change by Adam Taggart, co-founder of Peak Prosperity with Chris Martenson.

A career change at 45 is possible, I managed to do it at age 50. Adam tells me he was a reader of this blog and he decided that if I could make a career change, he could too.

Others can make a career change as well, but it takes lots of dedication and motivation, and likely a good dose of luck as well.

Many helped me along the way as noted in Financial Blogger Profile of "Mish" on Equities.Com.

By the way, I failed to mention one extremely helpful person in the above link. His name is Neil, a hedge fund manager in the UK.

At the time I made my career change, I knew nothing about the stock market, nothing about investing, and nothing about the economy.

Fifteen years ago, if someone told me I would have an income from writing and being an investment advisor I would have thought they belonged in the loonie bin. Yet here I am, and hopefully it's obvious that I really enjoy what I'm doing.

Education was important for me, and I had many good teachers along the way, all online, all free. It can be done, but it is not easy.

Good luck!

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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