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Retraining at 40

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Find out everything you need to know about retraining at 40, including the benefits of retraining, career opportunities and much more.

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? 
  • Typical fears of retraining at 40 
  • How much does it cost to retain?
  • What are the benefits of retraining in your 40s? 
  • What do I need to consider when retraining for a new career at 40? 
  • How do I find opportunities for retraining for a new career? 
  • How do I start a career at 40 without a university degree? 
  • What jobs can you get retraining after 40? 

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 masters 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.  

Common fears of retraining at 40 

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 You may fear that you have an outdated skill set or inadequate experience.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. 

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 annual camp would be ideal for military reservists. 

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

You should consider a few things before retraining for a new career and some questions you should ask yourself before starting your journey back to work or into a new field. 

  • What did you dislike about your previous role? 
  • What parts of your previous job made you happy? 
  • Is there any aspect of your military role that you would like to continue in your new career? 
  • What was missing from your military career that you hope to find in your new civilian role? 
  • What do you want to get out of your new career? 
  • What type of industry would you like to work in? 
  • Do you have the appropriate funds to support yourself during training? 

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 opportunities for retraining for a new career? 

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.  

Lastly, we recommend updating your CV and online professional platforms in preparation for applying to jobs, as well as preparing for interviews

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

Specialist programmes are available to help adult learners change jobs or get back to work in a career you are passionate about. For example, the FDM Returners Careers Programme and FDM Ex-Forces Programme provides a fantastic opportunity 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. 

What jobs can you get retraining after 40? 

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

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.  

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). 

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. 

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. 

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. 


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