F. Scott Fitzgerald observed, "There are no second acts in American lives." While that remark is debatable, a related one isn't; there are plenty of second careers in American lives today.
More people are embarking upon second careers for many reasons, whether it is to supplement income, fill some time, or make a change. No matter what the person or the reason, there are important factors to be considered when considering a career change.
One of the first things to examine is what you want out of a new career, according to Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs.
"What do you want: more money, a job you're passionate about, a connection to the community? If you're retiring, part-time jobs during retirement can offer fun, flexibility, and opportunities for socializing and personal/professional growth," she says.
"Telecommuting jobs offer retirees the chance to earn money and stay current without the hassle of a daily commute or worrying about weather conditions, and telecommuting jobs are available for almost any profession."
Another important consideration is your values, says Rita Friedman, a certified career coach.
"Not just your personal values but what values you want in the workplace. For example, when it comes to corporate culture, do you prefer a place where employees hang out together or one where you come in, do your work and go home? Know what you want or you might end up in a new workplace and say, 'I hate it here' and have to get a new job."
The experts also suggest that you identify personal priorities in pursuing a new career. "It could be the money, hospitalization, work hours; you have to have a clear idea of what is important to you," says Friedman.
"Serious thought should be given to the type of work you might enjoy, such as some of the jobs you've always been interested in pursuing but never had the chance ... and go from there.
"Many folks want to maintain a connection to their communities and find happiness in a job that helps others through nonprofits, education and philanthropy," says Fell.
"Some of the listings we see at FlexJobs that would be great as retirement jobs include consulting, development and philanthropy, counseling, writing, clerical support, retail and teaching," she says.
"It will give you a close look at the day-to-day operation and the type of skills." For people looking into a new field, Friedman recommends scheduling informational interviews with people already in the field, as well as possibly shadowing one for a day.
Those considering turning an interest into a second career should do research before jumping into the job search, according to Fell.
"Look at job listings in your areas of interest, and see what the employers require. Do you need special training or experience? And because you want this to be a job, you'll need to consider the average pay versus what you need to support your lifestyle," she says. "Even though this might be more of a 'fun' career choice, you still have to take into account all those things involved in career decisions. Try to meet people who work in the area you want to break into, and get their take on what jobs are available, what the requirements are and what the pay is like."
Physical considerations may also be a factor. A job where you are on your feet all day or have to work a lot of overtime may not be the best choice for some people, including seniors, according to Friedman.
"You also need to find out what technology is used in the job area you are interested in. It might be worth taking a course or some kind of brush-up training," says Friedman, who added that technical questions are always popular with the people she works with.
Those considering re-entering a field they worked in years ago should keep in mind changes that have occurred in the interim.
"You should ask how things have changed in the last 15 years," advises Friedman, who gives the example of a client who worked as a nurse.
"She left nursing to raise her family, and then decided to return. We looked at how things had changed. When she was a nurse, everything was written by hand; it was now all computerized. She was always on her feet as a nurse. Could she still handle that long shift?"
"Yet many of her skills and experiences were transferable to a number of fields. This will be the same for many people," says Friedman.