How to kickstart that second career

Second careers are a real option, even if the idea may seem daunting at first. Maybe you’ve been out of the workforce for a while. In the not-so-distant past, finding a job and remaining in it for the long-term was the norm and expected, but today college graduates anticipate changing jobs at least a handful of times in their lifetime.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that people change jobs an average of 12 times throughout their careers. Sometimes, that job change might just mean moving to a different company for a similar position, and other times, it means a whole new second career. For those who move on to a second career, the average age is 39, with 49% indicating they made a significant career shift, like moving from engineering to communications or marketing to accounting.

Reasons for changing careers

Individuals move on to second careers for several reasons. You might:

  • Desire a better or more flexible work schedule
  • Want to pursue a job that feels more purposeful
  • Be unhappy in your current career
  • Need a less stressful job
  • Desire better perks and benefits
  • Want more pay
  • Want to move to an industry or sector that better aligns with your values
  • Be seeking remote work
  • Desire better work-life balance
  • Feel underappreciated in your current industry
  • Not feeling fulfilled where you are
  • Be at a point where you’d like to take on more responsibility

Impact of changing careers

When people change careers, they often achieve the benefits that led them to want to move on to a second career in the first place. Higher pay, less stress, better work-life balance, more fulfillment, and increased flexibility are all benefits many boast of attaining after making a career move, with 88% of career changers indicating being happier since they made their career move.

How to start a second career

It can take an average of 11 months to launch a second career, including finding the right job fit. So, patience is required. It takes time to clarify the type of career you want to transition to, develop the materials, fill in any skill gaps, and land a new job. To help you succeed:

Assess your interests and skills

When thinking about how to launch a second career, the first thing you want to do is assess your interests and skills, including what you didn’t like about past jobs you held.

Enhance your skillset

If you have gaps in the skills required for your new career path, take a live or online course to gain expertise and certifications. You can also choose to shadow other professionals and seek short-term or volunteer opportunities to gain a better appreciation of the new career path, which also provides the benefit of clarifying if you still want to pursue that career choice.

Seek expert support

Career coaches and advisors can add valuable guidance to support you from the onset of your decision to make a career change. They can help you determine the best career path for you, as well as how to build up your skillset, identify transferable skills, update your resume, develop the right messaging, and land your ideal next job.

Top second career choices

If you’re on the fence about your new career direction, it can be helpful to identify careers that work well as a second career choice based on your current goals, aspirations, and skillset. Some of the best second career options are outlined below:


If you enjoy writing and you had to do a fair amount of writing in your past, then a writing job might be ideal as a second career choice. Maybe you were on point to draft all corporate communications, HR communications, develop presentations for the team, or proofread and edit any emails before they want out from your department. These would all be transferable tasks for a writing position.

Salary: The median annual salary for writers was $69,510 as of May 2021, according to the BLS.


There are consultants for many disciplines and functions. If you love your industry or the type of work you do but desire to do something different or apply your expertise in a different way, then a consultant job might be ideal.

Salary: The median annual salary for consultants varies depending on the discipline, with a starting salary of $90,000 going well into the six figures, according to data from Management Consulted.


If your goal is to make a difference in your next career, teaching or tutoring might be a good choice for you. The Urban Institute shows that, for older workers, teaching is a common second career choice.

Salary: According to the BLS, as of May 2021, the median annual salary for high school teachers was $61,820, and the median annual salary for tutors was $41,780.

Private detective

Those who love to apply critical thinking and investigative skills might enjoy a second career as a private detective. Private detectives work for various companies and individuals to conduct background checks and investigate assignments or cases. You’ll need to be licensed in your state and might need years of relevant experience for this career choice.

Salary: The median annual salary for private detectives was $59,380 as of May 2021, according to the BLS.

Real estate agent

Becoming a real estate agent only requires a high school diploma and meeting the licensure requirements in your state to get started. For licensure, you’ll also need to take some real estate courses and pass an exam. This second career path is ideal if you enjoy sales, enjoy real estate, and like interacting with others.

Salary: The median annual salary for real estate sales agents was $48,340 as of May 2021, according to the BLS.

Tax preparer

You don’t need to hold a CPA certification or extensive experience to become a tax preparer. If you enjoy working with numbers and analytics, this could be the perfect second career choice.

Salary: The median annual salary for tax preparers was $51,080 as of May 2021, according to the BLS.

Another great aspect of all the jobs listed above is that many positions offer flexible and remote working conditions if that’s something of interest to you. Regardless of why you want to make a career move, it is possible to successfully kickstart your second career, beginning with the insights provided above.