When is the best time to change careers?

Aside from those fortunate enough to be wealthy or enjoying early retirement, most of us here in the UK spend a large proportion of our adult lives at work. Some of us revel in our employment, but for others, heading into work can feel like a bit of a chore.

A recent survey revealed that 16% of people either disliked or hated their jobs, with another 20% harbouring no strong feelings either way. So, what is the solution for that percentage of the population who dread a Monday morning coming around again?

The most obvious answer is to make a career change, and data from the Office for National Statistics shows that in 2018, 10.9% of people did exactly that. But when’s the best time to take the plunge?


When you’re younger

The pros

In your late teens or early twenties, you’re likely to have less commitments in your personal life, which gives you greater freedom to move around, perhaps get some work abroad and try your hand at a range of jobs before you find your true calling. Additionally, it tends to be easier to pick up new skills at a younger age, so you’re likelier to hit the ground running in any new position.

The cons

The flip side of changing careers is that you may be a little indecisive and impulsive, perhaps more prone to making rash choices based on a couple of bad weeks at work, before you’ve really given yourself chance to settle into a job and look at the long-term picture.

When you’re older 

The pros

In contrast, the added maturity that comes with greater life experience means you may be better placed to make an informed decision on whether your current role is right for you and if you’d be happier making a switch. Additionally, if you’re settled down, perhaps with a partner who also earns a steady income, you may be in a stronger financial position if your new job involves a pay cut while you retrain.

The cons

The other side of that coin, of course, is that you may have financial responsibilities that would make a career change tricky, in which case you may need to consider alternative funding options to help you through the situation. Making a move later in life means you could find it hard to get to grips with a fresh skillset compared to some of your younger counterparts, but if you feel like a change is desperately needed, there’s only one way to find out!