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Career change at 60: Tips to do it right

June 21, 2024
Last revised: June 25, 2024

Making a career change at 60 can be challenging but rewarding. Gain practical tips, actionable steps and encouragement as you start on a new professional path.

4.15.32 Mature man and woman looking at their phones
Maskot/Getty Images/Maskot

Key takeaways

  1. Find out what you need from a job by updating your finances and defining your vision.
  2. Understand the job qualifications and gain additional skills or certifications for your new career.
  3. Research typical salary ranges in your desired role to align your financial expectations.

Sometimes, you just need a change. But switching your career, particularly later in life, can be intimidating. There are many personal and financial factors to consider. As someone who's reached age 60, you may have much more at stake now—but also more resources—than you did when you were in your 20s.

When you start a new career at 60 or older, you can use life experience to your advantage in many different roles. Plus, you likely know yourself, your professional abilities and your finances better now than ever. As you weigh a career move, here are some considerations for finding a new job and the tips for approaching your finances at this time.

Is 60 too old to start a new career?

Starting a new career at 60 is not only possible; it can be incredibly rewarding. Your ability to learn and adapt is just as important—if not more so—than your age.

Plus, at this stage of life, you may have a level of financial stability that allows you to take more calculated risks. This can provide the freedom to pursue a role that offers more personal fulfillment even if it doesn't come with the highest salary.

Remember that starting a new career later in life doesn't have to mean changing industries altogether. It also can mean using your breadth of experience to move into a different type of role in the industry you previously worked in.

6 tips for how to find a new career at 60

Changing jobs, or starting a new one after being out of the workforce, can take time and energy, so it's important to be patient while you find the perfect fit.

1. Define your career vision

Take an inventory of what you like and dislike about your current job. Focus on what it is about your work that makes you excited to get to it. This will help you identify career paths that suit your strengths and interests.

2. Research working conditions in your chosen field

Before you make any decisions to leave the job you have or decide to unretire, learn as much as you can about up-to-date work conditions and pay ranges for the career you're considering. Gain a strong understanding of the day-to-day experience and how the opportunity aligns with your goals and needs. Especially if you're motivated by growth and advancement, explore how your career path might unfold in the coming years and how that could affect your overall financial strategy so far.

3. Learn about necessary job qualifications

It is essential to educate yourself about the qualifications needed for the role. Start by researching the educational background, certifications and skills commonly expected in your new field. You may need to take online courses, attend workshops or earn certifications to get a foot in the door.

4. Make sure you know how much the job pays

The compensation structure for your new career is essential for financial planning. Research typical salary ranges for the positions you're interested in using salary aggregation sites and job postings. Also pay attention to factors that could influence your earnings, such as location, experience level and company size.

5. Get the inside scoop with informational interviews

Find people who already do what you want to do (or have inside knowledge of the industry) and ask to meet with them to get a deeper sense of the role or the field. You can learn a lot even during a short discussion. Taking this step also potentially can accelerate your job search—if the person you're meeting with is hiring, they might let you know about an open position and consider your application.

6. Prepare for the job search and start networking

If you haven't already done so, update your resume. Highlight the skills and experience that are most relevant to your new career.

If you have a professional social media profile, update it to reflect your decades of acquired strengths and background. For any other social networks, ensure you're putting your best foot forward in case hiring managers search for you online.

Let friends, family members and colleagues know about your job transition plan. They might be able to open doors in your new career. Applying for positions online also can be helpful. You're more likely to get your foot in the door with a combination of strategies.

Self-employment also could be an option, although it's not right for everybody. If you go that route, you control your schedule and who you work with, which can be satisfying. However, you're also responsible for your own health care and retirement benefits, and income isn't always immediate or regular.

How money impacts starting a new career at 60

Being wise about your money is critical for a career change—especially later in life when many people are adjusting their asset allocations to be more conservative in preparation for retirement. The decisions you make can have an impact on your household's financial security as well as your planned retirement income.

Here are some key ways to get your finances in order and explore all avenues before deciding:

Safeguard your household finances

Start by making sure you and your family will be financially secure. It's always wise to have emergency savings on hand, especially as you start a new career that may have some unpredictable financial impacts. Being a new employee or business owner can increase your financial risks, so having the safety net of an emergency account can provide comfort as well as funds for any surprises. If you take a pay cut when you change jobs, evaluate the impact on your household budget, ensuring you and your loved ones have sufficient resources.

Manage your assets wisely

If you have savings in a workplace retirement plan, like a 401(k), decide how to handle those assets. After leaving your current job, you might have several rollover options, and it's important to choose wisely when your life savings are at stake. You might leave the money where it is, roll assets to a retirement account you control or move funds to your next job's retirement plan.*

While cashing out is also an option, any pre-tax contributions you made would be taxed as income, and you would wipe out the progress you've made so far. Plus, with decades of work behind you, you likely have a substantial amount saved, and the tax consequences could be significant. Carefully analyzing your options and finances can help you make the right choice. Ideally, you can continue moving forward on your financial goals—and avoid losing ground—during this transition.

Continue contributing to your retirement savings

With a new job, you may need to choose how you'll continue saving for retirement in the coming years. You might be required to wait before you're eligible for the employer-sponsored retirement plan, so you'll want to know what your options are in the meantime. Depending on your income and other factors, saving money in IRAs and brokerage accounts could make sense.

If you start your own business, you'll have additional options, such as small-business retirement plans. Individual 401(k) plans, SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs and other programs allow for significant contributions and may offer other features.

Plan for your ongoing health care

Health care is increasingly important as you age, so it's crucial to understand your benefits. Out-of-pocket costs could change, so carefully examine your new coverage. You might be able to join a spouse's health plan or continue your current coverage temporarily. Starting at age 63, your income can affect future Medicare premiums, so make sure you're thinking about how health care will work for you in retirement.

Consider the pros and cons of different coverage options, including high-deductible health plans. Those plans tend to have low premiums and typically allow you to contribute to a health savings account (HSA). If you're eligible for HSA contributions, you potentially can save on taxes by adding pre-tax money to your account and having the funds grow tax-deferred. Withdrawals are tax-free if they're used for qualified medical expenses.


Making a career change at 60 can be rewarding both personally and financially—and it can be intimidating. At this stage in life, with more time and likely more money invested, you may have more to lose than when you were younger. Fortunately, you also probably have more wisdom to make confident financial choices. Take some time to gather information as you explore this transition, and begin taking steps toward your next career.

Financial advisors can offer ideas and identify issues that affect your household finances. Consider speaking with a Thrivent financial advisor, who can guide you in making a game plan as you move into the next chapter of your life.
*There may be benefits to leaving your account in your employer plan, if allowed. You will continue to benefit from tax deferral, there may be investment options unique to your plan, fees and expenses may be lower, plan assets have unlimited protection from creditors under Federal law, there is a possibility for loans, and distributions are penalty free if you terminate service at age 55+. Consult your tax professional prior to requesting a rollover from your employer plan.

Thrivent and its financial advisors and professionals do not provide legal, accounting or tax advice. Consult your attorney or tax professional.