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How to Make a Career Change at 30 & 5 Creative Careers to Think About Pursuing

Making a career change in your 30s can seem daunting, like really daunting. But we’re here to tell you, it’s not. As a graphic design bootcamp that has been helping people change careers for the better since 1997, we’ve seen plenty of 30 year olds come through our doors in search of a new creative career. Let us explain to you how you can become one of them.

If you’re planning a career change at 30, there’s a few things to consider:

Can I change my career at 30?

As the old saying goes, there’s no time like the present. And that definitely rings true for a career change at 30. We’re going to explain some key reasons why now is the perfect time for a career change.

Lots of Time Left to Do It

You’re only 30 so you’re young! You’ve still got your whole life ahead of you to learn new skills and forge a new career—you have between 30 and 40 working years left. The whole idea that you want to change your career shows that it is a step in the right direction—you’ve been working in one industry or another for a few years and clearly it’s not you for so why not do something that will make you truly happy?

Find Your Dream Career

A career change at 30, the stage you are at in life, you know your likes and dislikes—much more than you did 10/15 years ago when you were starting out working. This means that a career change at 30 means you can find your dream job, doing work that you know you like and know you will enjoy. 

Shillington Teacher Kym Rohman, who changed career and became a graphic designer at 30, told us: “My boss at the time was excited about my decision to go back to school. She wished she’d had the courage to do the same.

Experience and Transferable Skills

One of the major fears about a career change at 30 is not knowing as much as people who might be younger than you. But, you’ve already got years of experience on your side—years where you’ve been learning and learning. Those skills and knowledge you’ve learnt from doing what you do now are only going to help you in your new career as well—so many skills are interchangeable and important in other careers. 

Learning New Skills

Another common concern is that you don’t have a degree in the new field you want to go in. While that is a totally understandable concern, the good news is that you don’t necessarily need a degree to change careers. There are loads of other options for learning new skills and knowledge—and bootcamps and online courses are increasingly common for a lot of industries. 

At Shillington, we’ve been allowing people to make a creative career change at 30 with no degree with our innovative graphic design courses. With Shillington’s graphic design course you can go from not knowing what InDesign is to a full fledged graphic designer complete with your own graphic design portfolio ready to join in the industry in just three months full-time or nine months part-time.

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Should I take a year off to find the right career?

There’s no right way to make a career change at 30 and how you want to go about it is completely up to you. Though nowadays there’s no reason to take a year off—or any time off at all for that matter—to find the right career for you.

Now you might be wondering how to make a career change at 30 without taking any time off. Well, there are plenty of study options that allow you to supercharge your new career whilst staying in your job—namely, part-time courses that allow you to work while you study or online courses that allow you to study around your existing job. 

In a post-pandemic world, a lot of industries have taken much more flexible approaches to work so if you’re lucky enough to work somewhere that gives you flexibility then it should be a breeze preparing yourself for a new career. Also, if you’re looking for a creative career change at 30 and becoming a graphic designer or the like then an employer may look favorably on previous flexible working or work from home skills when you get to applying for jobs (more on that later).

Should I take an online course to get educated in my new career field?

In short, yes. If you don’t have the skills or knowledge you need for your creative career change at 30 an online course, like Shillington’s graphic design course, is the best way to learn. 

Most online courses are part-time, so you’ll be able to learn without a break in your career and keep earning. For instance, Shillington’s online graphic design course is three classes a week taught in real time with four different time zones options so you can study around your own schedule.

Taking an online course also means that you’ll be able to learn from wherever you are, making it an extremely convenient option for the time poor. Shillington’s course is taught between 6:00pm and 9:00pm in four time zones—GMT/BST, EST, PST and AEST—so you can learn graphic design after work or before you start your day. The choice is yours!

Finally, an online course is an essential part of a creative career change at 30 as it’s the best way to learn the specific theory, knowledge and skills you will need to embark on your new career. Shillington’s online graphic design courses does this quickly—just nine months to learn everything you need to know.

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Creative Careers You Could Explore at 30

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers are responsible for a lot of things we see and use everyday—from the apps on your phone to the advert you see on your commute. Though, graphic designers do more than just make things look nice—they’re all visual communicators, taking concepts and ideas and turning them into something visual. Graphic design is like its own language. 

If you’re looking for the perfect creative career change at 30, graphic design is the one for you. Combining creativity and specific graphic design skills with other skills such as problem solving, strategising and communication, a career in graphic design is a great way to combine your passions and expertise from a previous career. 

Graphic design is also a great job for a career changer as there’s clear set graphic design career paths that allow you to see your way into and through the industry. Also, with Shillington’s graphic design course, you are able to get working as a graphic designer in as little as three months so you’ll be wasting no time changing careers for the better. 

Though, Shillington’s graphic design course can lead to many other career outcomes than just being a graphic designer…

Art Director

Another great direction for a creative career change at 30 is becoming an art director. It’s the perfect career for someone who has taken the Shillington graphic design course—as you use all the skills you’ll learn on the course, but also oversee things from an artistic perspective, potentially using skills you’ve gained in your previous career. 

Art directors essentially direct the art of the campaign—they go to photoshoots, film shoots, work with storyboard artists and, overall, manage the art behind the project. They brief in designers and hire freelancers to work on the projects. In a design studio, they also do things like make sure brand guidelines are adhered to and the like. In summary, they oversee things from an art perspective, not a logistics perspective (that’s for the project manager—keep reading!).

Brand/Design Strategist

If you’ve previously worked in strategy—or even if your previous role evolved strategy in some way—an ideal career change at 30 could be brand or design strategist.

A brand strategist, like Shillington Online graduate Emma Cooley who was working as marketing assistant before the course and now works as a Senior Strategist at New York-based BX Brand Experience Design Group, is responsible for ensuring all elements of a company’s brand are working coherently. Using branding skills they learnt on their graphic design course, brand strategists have to get to know a client’s business inside out so they can develop a brand strategy which is then applied to the brand identity. In short, the work they do will completely shape how a brand looks. 

Marketing Designer 

Currently working in marketing? Why not combine what you do now with an amazing new creative career? Marketers and designers often work closely together so why not flip what you do and start creating the content marketing teams need—ads, social media posts and the like.

Marketing designer is a balanced job—working both on marketing strategy and on the creative side of things making it an excellent job for someone making a creative career change at 30. You could spend one day designing ads for Instagram and other digital platforms and then the next day working on the strategy and ideas behind these ads. Shillington Online graduate Brianne Coglon became a marketing designer for e-commerce experts Shopify after the Shillington graphic design course—after previously working in their logistics department, so it’s definitely a great option if you’re looking to change careers at 30.

Project Manager

Another great role for a creative 30-year old career changer is project manager, specifically a project manager within graphic design. It’s one of the best ways to combine project management skills learnt in an existing career with graphic design skills learnt on a course like Shillington’s. This makes it one of the fastest ways to change careers at 30.

What exactly does a graphic design project manager do? They’re responsible for making sure that any projects or briefs that the studio or agency are working on stay on track throughout the process. They liaise with clients, work out timelines and deadlines, plan and organise budgets and choose which members of the team are going to work on specific projects. Ultimately, they’re in charge of making sure that the project is completed. This obviously requires project managers to be very organised and have a strategic brain, but also use their graphic design knowledge to be able to determine the what, how and why of any particular brief. The role also has a creative streak as project managers help to plan and illustrate a brief’s concepts.

How to Find Your New Dream Job at 30

As we’ve discussed, making a creative career change at 30 is a great idea! Now we’re going to run through the 6 easy steps of finding your new dream job:

1. Research

By reading this, you’ve already ticked this one off the list! Make sure you do a deep dive into the new career you want to do. After all we want to make sure this is your dream job, so you want to know what you’re getting into—read blogs, speak to people already working in that industry and find out what you need to know to bag yourself a job.

2. More Research

Now you know what you want to do for your career change at 30, you need to work out how to actually make the career change. What skills do you need? What’s the job market like? Even things like, where you are going to work, dress code, etc. Find out everything you can about your new career.  

3. Learn

Need new knowledge for your career change at 30? Learn any new skills you’ll need for your career so you’re ready to apply for jobs and actually do the work you need to do once you get there. How you learn is up to you, but a bootcamp, like Shillington’s graphic design course, is usually the best way to learn—quick and comprehensive!

4. Prep

Now you know what you want to do, how you’re going to do it and learn everything you need to know, it’s time to prepare yourself to make the jump into your new career. Redo your resume, make sure it’s relevant, and, if you need it for your new career, make sure your portfolio is as good as it can be. For instance, you’ll definitely need a graphic design portfolio if you’re making a career change to graphic design.

5. The Job Hunt

Once you’re all prepared, it’s time to start applying for jobs—which can be really exciting when you’re making a big career change. See if there’s any specialist jobs boards for your new industry, if it’s graphic design, we’ve compiled a list of the best graphic design jobs boards and even have our own. Find a job that sounds right for you and apply! 

6. Start your New Career!

Nail the interview and you’re in. Now it’s time to embark on your new career and change your life for the better. Congratulations—a career change at 30 is no mean feat.

Interested in making a career change at 30 to graphic design? Our graphic design course will teach you industry-relevant skills and help you kickstart your creative career in as little as three months.

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