A modern career path typically doesn’t follow a straight line.

The truth is that people are multifaceted. And their careers can be too. It’s becoming more and more common for people to make a career change – or two – throughout their working lives.

Maja Paleka is the co-founder and director of Juggle Strategies, where she helps organisations, and their team, thrive in the future of work. As someone who has been through a few career changes herself, Paleka understands the value of positive career change – no matter your age.

“I have a mixed background in terms of the things I’ve done,” she explains. “I started off as an electrical engineer, then moved to telecommunications, in both technical roles and managing teams. After this, I moved into sales and general management, running P&Ls. I started a company of my own, which I later sold, and eventually co-founded Juggle Strategies.”

It’s not surprising that Paleka’s extensive experience across various industries has contributed to her success along the way, each time adding to her skill set and embracing career change.

It’s never too late for a career change

A career change can be daunting at any age, but Paleka says you’re never too old to make it happen.

“I have seen many examples of people who have made that pivot and made it successfully,” she says. “You have to start with the realities of your life and situation. You may have a mortgage to pay or kids to look after. Whatever it is, you need to be pragmatic about how you make that shift.”

A career change doesn’t need to be a dramatic shift. It can be gradual and involve multiple lateral moves until you reach your end goal. If a riskier move is outside your comfort zone, Paleka suggests having a conversation with your current manager.

“Many organisations these days will support people in trying new things,” she explains. “I’ve seen an example of someone who was a tax accountant but wanted to move into HR. She spoke to her organisation, and they supported her through retraining and secondment opportunities within the company. That’s a really safe, risk-averse way to approach a career change.”

Career change at 30

By 30, you’ve got about a decade of your career behind you. You may have climbed a few rungs of the corporate ladder and have a good handle on your industry.

It’s also a time when it’s common to get itchy feet within your career. If you want to change your career but can’t afford the costs, Paleka’s advice about making an internal move may be pertinent. If you don’t yet have financial commitments or a family, you may also have the option to retrain in a full-time capacity.

Career change at 40

By 40, you’ve likely got a well-established professional network around you. If you’re thinking about making a career change at 40 in Australia, this network will be very useful. You likely have contacts who are experts on how to change careers themselves and who may be able to help you through your career move.

Find a career change mentor who can be a positive support person as you make this shift.

Career change at 50

By 50, you may have 20+ years ahead of you in your career, and you want to make them count. With more and more people expecting to work into their 70s, a career change at 50 in Australia is becoming more common.

At this age, a career change may be about chasing a dream that you’ve never had the opportunity to pursue. Or it may be about moving into a career that better aligns with your values. Whatever the case, there’s no shortage of career-change ideas or possibilities.

How to change careers

If you want to make a career change into a profession that requires training, such as a data analyst or an accountant, you’ll need to start with a career-changing degree. There are many postgraduate options available online, including many options for online MBAs.

“Not everyone has the luxury of being able to focus on intense, full-time study,” says Paleka. “If you do, that’s great. If you don’t, there are other options. There are many flexible education options available these days, including online learning. Universities are getting really good at making postgraduate education accessible and pragmatic.”

Before you make any moves in your career change, first, sit back and assess your skills. Identify the gaps in your skills and look at the different training options available to you.

An MBA is a popular option because of the broad leadership and management skills you will develop. You can also study an MBA with a specialisation, which gives you both a generalist leadership base as well as a specialised knowledge area. If you want to know how to become a CEO, an MBA is often the way to go.

Consider the cost of your MBA an investment into your career change. Quite often, MBA graduates receive higher salaries and broader career opportunities.

Depending on how dramatic your career change is, you may also get recognition for prior learning from your undergraduate studies or work experience.

Using your existing skills in a career change

As you’re thinking about how to make a midlife career change, Paleka encourages you to take a serious look at your current skill set. While you may be working in an unrelated industry or role, many of the skills you already have are likely transferable.

“Look into the role you want to move into and understand the skills and experience you’ll need in order to be successful in the role,” she explains. “You might be surprised at how much overlap there is with the skills you already have.”

Paleka also shares an example of a business that was researching different career pathways. They found that it’s often not as big of a jump as people might think.

“It can actually be much cheaper for organisations to provide basic skills training to an employee who wants to make a career change, rather than needing to hire new people. Never underestimate the skills you already have and how useful they can be.”

According to Paleka, there’s never been a better time to make a career change. To make the transition into your new career a bit easier, she suggests looking at freelance work or contracts. This way, you can still maintain your current role while you build the contacts and skills you need for where you’re heading in your career.

“It’s also a great time to look at flexible work options,” she adds. “You can negotiate with your employer to cut down to three or four days a week so that you can create some time for re-skilling.”

Build your future career with an online MBA

If you want to take your career in a different direction, an online MBA is a smart choice. You can more easily balance your studies with your professional and personal life while preparing for the next step in your career.

When you’re ready to take the next step and start an MBA, we’re here to help. We can guide you through the course options so that you can choose the right online MBA for you. Want to discover more about how an MBA can help facilitate your career change? Start your journey with us.

Speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor

Whether you’re ready to enrol, or just have a quick question, simply fill out the enquiry form below to speak directly to the university’s enrolment team. They will be able to guide you through:

Course eligibility and recognition of prior learning

Course structure and what you will study

Next intakes and how to apply

Fees and time commitments