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Defying Expectations, Older Workers Finding New Careers

Most older workers who sought career changes were successful, especially when they were able to use skills from their old careers, according to a new study released today by the American Institute for Economic Research. That study was profiled prominently in Money Magazine today.

The findings, based on a national survey of people 47 and older, show that pursuing a new career is a viable option for workers later in their careers, said the author, Nicole Kreisberg, a senior research analyst at AIER. Eighty-two percent of those who attempted a transition to a new career after 45 were successful, according to the study.

“Our research shows that older workers are finding rewarding new careers, not just new jobs, later in life,” said AIER President Stephen Adams. “Employers and higher education institutions should take note.”

The study found:

  • An estimated 16-29 million of the people in America in January 2014 had successfully changed careers after the age of 45.
  • Successful changers generally went to careers that leveraged skills and experience they already had, while those who were unsuccessful tended to seek careers requiring entirely new skills.
  • Nearly 70 percent of successful changers saw their pay either stay the same (18 percent) or rise (50 percent), while 31 percent saw their pay decrease.
  • Eighty-seven percent of successful changers said they were happy or very happy with their change, and 65 percent felt less stress at work.

“Workers should make the transition with a clear eye and a direct focus on the skills and resources that will help them the most,” Kreisberg said.  The nationwide survey of 2,009 people over 47 was conducted during the early months of 2014. Check out the report here.

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