Career Advice Returner to Work

Retraining at 40

Returners Careers Team
17.11.23

There are many different reasons you may want to retrain at 40, be that to prepare for a career change, return to work after a career break, or even make the transition from the military into a civilian role. Whatever your reason, it is never too late to get back to business or find a new career path. Whether you need to update your skillset or gain further qualifications, there are many valuable resources available to help you retrain for a new career at 40 and find success in the professional world.

In this blog, we will cover the following topics:

What is retraining?

Retraining involves learning new skills to help you improve at your job or enhance your existing skill set so that you can pursue a new role. This could include updating your industry knowledge, communication skills, or learning how to use role-specific technologies. Remember, when it comes to retraining, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It would be best to find something that works for your learning style and the career you wish to follow.

Some possible routes include completing an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree, an online training course, or a specific retraining course, like the FDM Returners Programme or FDM Ex-Forces Programme. Some jobs may not require professional training or qualifications but instead ask for real-world commercial experiences, such as apprenticeships or internships. Work experience provides a fantastic opportunity to learn on the job and is excellent for practical learners. 

Is 40 too late for a career change?

So, can you switch careers at 40? Absolutely! It’s never too late to make a career change at the age of 40 or older. In fact, you can change careers at any time as long as you have the right training and attitude. While change can be hard and takes some preparation, retraining at 40 can come with great success.

Re-entering the workforce after a career break, making a career change, or delving into a new civilian role after military service can all seem daunting at first. You may fear that you have an outdated skill set or inadequate experience. Perhaps you are worried that you won’t fit in, earn enough money, or feel that you are ‘too old’ to learn new skills. Becoming a mature student may seem scary, but it is certainly worth it and will open so many doors and help shape your future. It is essential to take the time to acknowledge these fears and find a solution to help you overcome them. For example, suppose you are studying at university. In that case, you could join a society to help you meet people in a similar situation to you or with similar interests, or you could take an online course if that makes you feel more comfortable.

How much does it cost to retrain?

There are plenty of resources out there for retraining, some of which are free and some paid, such as university tuition fees. But there’s no need to fret: the UK government offers  loans and bursaries  for students over the age of 40 to support you during your study period. It is also important to remember that not all costs are necessarily monetary. Some time and effort will be spent doing your research and finding the appropriate training. 

At FDM, we take the legwork (and the costs) out of the retraining process. Our training programmes are free and will provide you with a paid job with our industry-leading clients after completion. It’s a win-win situation!

What are the benefits of retraining in your 40s?

Retraining and re-entering the workforce should be a positive experience that provides you with a secure job, a sense of self-accomplishment, and the opportunity to do what you love every day. We recommend choosing a position that works for you. For example, working for a company that accommodates flexible hours or remote working will benefit parents or  carers, or an organisation that offers paid leave to attend an annual camp would be ideal for military reservists.

What do I need to consider when training for a new career?

You should consider a few things before retraining for a new career and there are some questions you should ask yourself before starting your journey back to work or into a new field. This includes everything from the additional skills required and the costs and time needed to retrain, to the qualifications or experience required, and more. Such questions include:

For instance, if you love working as part of a team, go for a role that follows  Agile Scrum methodologies or if a 9-5 office job doesn’t suit your lifestyle, find a flexible role that works for you. Use these questions to guide you in deciding how you want to retrain and what role you would like to retrain for. 

How do I find retraining opportunities for over 40s?

Finding new opportunities to retrain and exploring new career paths takes a lot of research. We recommend that you look up different universities, online courses, qualifications, and job openings. Alongside actively looking for opportunities, it is also vital to engage with your professional network as you may meet someone, either at a networking event or on LinkedIn, who can help you find an apprenticeship, work experience, or volunteering opportunities. 

When finding new job opportunities, you should think about your strengths and skills you have gained in your previous role, during your career break, or while serving in the military. Military skills and parenting skills can be highly valuable in the workplace.

Lastly, we recommend updating your CV and online professional platforms in preparation for applying to jobs, as well as preparing for interviews. We’ll go into these tips in more detail later on.FDM Ex-Forces Programme

How do I start a career at 40 without a university degree?

You don’t need a university degree to start a new career at 40. If you have transferable skills or previous experience, you are sure to be successful. Additionally, specialist programmes are available to help adult learners change jobs or get back to work in a career they are passionate about.

For example, the FDM Returners Careers Programme and FDM Ex-Forces Programme provide fantastic opportunities to start a new career without a university degree or previous experience. The FDM programmes will provide comprehensive training, equipping you with new skills and updating your existing capabilities, ultimately providing you with a job working with FDM’s world-renowned clients. We also offer a range of support and development programmes to help you throughout training and working within client teams.

How to change careers at 40

1. Carry out a self-assessment

The first step to restarting your career journey in your 40s is to identify your strengths and skills. You can do this by listing your professional skills, experiences, and achievements, and then recognising which can be applied to different industries. That being said, it’s important to also take into consideration what you truly enjoy doing, and find the right balance between your passions and competencies.

2. Do your research

Your job search cannot begin without some initial industry research. Take the time to look at the industries that align with your skills and interests. We recommend you check out growing sectors with a demand for your skill set as this will present the greatest opportunity for progression, earning potential, and fulfilment.

3. Identify required skills

You’ll need to conduct a skills gap analysis by comparing your current skills with the requirements for your target job. Once you’ve identified the gaps, you can start prioritising the skills you need to acquire.

4. Engage in training and upskilling

Choose a retraining path that works for you. This will depend on your identified skills gap. In some cases, you may require formal education, while other online courses, workshops, or training programmes may be better suited to you.

5. Update your CV and other professional collateral

Tailor your CV to highlight relevant skills and experiences, emphasising accomplishments that showcase your value and capabilities, Remember, if you’ve had a career break, don’t shy away from talking about it! This is the time to talk about your experiences and transferable skills from your time off and show potential employers what makes you a valuable asset to their team.

6. Gain practical experience

In some cases, upskilling will not be enough to get your foot in the door. Gaining practical experience can be the ideal next step to enhance your CV, brush up on your skills, and show additional value to employers. This can be done through internships, volunteering, or freelancing gigs.

7. Start your job search

Once you feel confident that you have the skills you need, you’ve updated your CV, and have the experience you require, you can then begin your job search. You can find opportunities on online job portals and company websites, or you can use networking platforms, like LinkedIn. One of our top tips here is to tailor each of your applications, including CVs and cover letters, for each job to align with your specific job requirements.

8. Prepare for interviews

Next, it’s time for interview prep! You may feel a little out of practice, but with the right preparation, you’ll do great. Doing mock interviews with common interview questions can be helpful. Ask a friend or family member to help you out and this will help with talking confidently about your skills and experiences.

You should also research the company to understand its values, culture, and recent news. This can make all the difference in standing out in your interviews!

9. Stay positive and persistent

It’s important to embrace setbacks. Job searches can be challenging, but as long as you stay positive, learn from setbacks, and adapt your approach accordingly, you’ll get to where you want to be. It may take time to find the right opportunity, but consistency pays off.

5 Best careers to start at 40

Choosing a career to retrain for at the age of 40 depends on various factors and will vary from person to person. It will come down to your skills, interests, and demand in the job market. For example, right now, the technology industry is booming and experiencing a severe skills gap, making it the perfect industry to retrain at 40 and restart your career.

Here are just a few examples of brilliant roles you can pursue when you choose to retrain at 40:

1. Cloud Computing Engineering

A Cloud Computing Engineer is responsible for designing, developing and maintaining Cloud Software infrastructure for a business. Since Cloud Computing is mainly technology-based, you often require cloud certification to fulfil the role requirements. Some popular cloud certifications include AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, Google Cloud Certification and CompTIA Cloud+ Certification. 

2. Project Management 

When working as a Project Manager, your primary responsibilities include overseeing projects to ensure they meet specifications, are delivered to a high standard and are completed on time. To become a Project Manager, you do not always require a university degree or formal qualifications; however, they can be helpful. The Project Management Institute offers a wide range of training courses to help you gain the relevant qualifications to become a Project Management Professional (PMP) or Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM).

3. Project Support

A Project Support Officer (PSO) assists the Project Manager, helping communicate with stakeholders and ensure efficient delivery of projects. A university degree or formal qualifications are not strictly required to become a PSO; however, training or previous managerial experience can be beneficial.

4. Business Analysis

As a Business Analyst, you are required to bridge the gap between technology and business, leveraging data to identify areas of improvement for business processes, products or services. To pursue a role in Business Analysis, you do not require any qualifications. If you are a logical thinker with keen attention to detail and a passion for data, then Business Analysis could be the career for you.

5. Software Development

Software Developers use computer software to design and build products to meet user requirements, be that a mobile or web application. Working in Software Development, you will work with various coding languages daily. Therefore, you must have a solid understanding of code, even if you are self-taught. However, taking a software development or coding course can be hugely beneficial to gain more confidence and demonstrate your expertise to employers.

Check out the FDM Returners Careers Programme for more information about retraining at 40 or to attend an open morning.