The Midlife Career Change

More and more Americans are switching jobs to pursue lifelong passions, better their economic future, or simply to find their true calling.

Entrepreneur Juliana Lutzi tapped into her passion to empower women by creating products that boost self-image and confidence. Photo courtesy Juliana Lutzi

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Art Burns. Photo credit: Andrjez Janerka © 2013 SEPS
Art Burns left a lucrative job in advertising to turn his “someday dream” of opening a restaurant into a reality. Photo credit: Andrjez Janerka © 2013 SEPS

Today, the very notion of a career that goes in a straight line for 30 years and ends with a gold watch and a polite retirement party is so rare as to be almost a joke. The average person born between 1957 and 1964 held 11 jobs from age 18 to age 44, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Let’s say that again. Eleven. Some change jobs for money, some seek greater satisfaction, still others realize that their present career is headed toward a dead end. “Because of the rapidly changing economy, even those with good jobs are forced to look around these days,” says Amy Conlon, Ph.D., L.P., co-director of the University of Minnesota’s department of psychology Career Counseling and Assessment Clinic.

Whatever the reasons, at any given time, as many as 55 percent of people are attempting to change careers, according to a recent survey.

Which puts you in good company if you’re thinking about making a change. But how does it work? What does it take? Will you make more money after the change? Be more satisfied? Every case is different, but our profile of five Americans who made the swap will help you get a feel for moving on to your own career 2.0.

Art Burns wasn’t happy with his career at a Madison Avenue advertising agency, even with a salary in the stratosphere and top-shelf clients…

Elizabeth DiFebo felt stuck. She’d gone as far as she felt she could in her career as a graphic designer…There were further rungs on the ladder, but she realized she wasn’t inspired to climb any higher.

53-year-old Joseph Brodell worked in a sales support job for a construction company. He survived two rounds of the company’s layoffs–but not the third.

Rob Sherwood, a 44-year-old NASA engineer, knew he needed to explore other avenues. During his 17-year career, he’d been on the team that supported seven flight missions, including the Mars Observer.

At a mere 26 years old, Juliana Lutzi started Fire Solutions Inc., a company that teaches finance and insurance regulation. From its inception in 1999, the company grew to be a multi-million dollar business. She sold it in 2004, ran it for another two years, and then found herself looking for something else to do.

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