Best Careers To Pursue When Going Back To School at 30 and Up

Updated January 30, 2023

Going back to school at 30, 40 or even 50 can improve your career opportunities and job satisfaction. Continuing your education as an adult allows you to change careers after gaining valuable life experience that can be applied to almost any job. If you already hold a bachelor's or advanced degree in one field, you may be able to apply certain credits and training toward schooling for a new career.

In this article, we list some of the best careers you can pursue when you go back to school as an adult.

Careers worth going back to school to pursue

The following list includes jobs with higher earning potential with proper schooling and are grouped by industry. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link for each job title below:

Health care

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), healthcare is an industry with one of the highest predicted growth rates at 15%. Going back to school for a degree in health care may prove to be a smart career move with plenty of job opportunities.

Here are some jobs to consider in this high-growth area:

1. Health information technician

National average salary: $46,452 per year

Primary duties: Health information technicians oversee and maintain both physical and electronic medical records. They are responsible for patient information systems.

Education needed: There are several ways to earn the credentials needed for this position. Some positions may require an associate degree in the field while others may require a bachelor's in health management, health information or another related field.

2. Substance abuse counselor

National average salary: $59,007 per year

Primary duties: A substance abuse counselor works with those facing addictions to provide help and offer support to end substance abuse.

Education needed: First, you'll need to pursue a degree in counseling. After gaining practical experience in counseling, you'll need to earn a state license to counsel substance abuse clients.

3. Registered nurse

National average salary: $62,013 per year

Primary duties: A registered nurse provides extensive care to patients in a variety of settings. They perform diagnostic testing, administer medications and assist doctors with medical procedures.

Education needed: You'll need to pursue a degree in nursing and go through extensive certifications and training. Entering a nursing program can be both challenging and competitive, though it is possible to become a nurse at the associate's degree level, perhaps building upward in schooling from there.

Related: Learn About Being a Registered Nurse (RN)

4. Dental hygienist

National average salary: $78,769 per year

Primary duties: A dental hygienist performs basic and advanced dental cleaning. They also capture and study images of patient teeth and gums to advise dentists of necessary oral care. A hygienist may also be licensed to administer types of anesthesia.

Education needed: A two-year program certified by the Commission on Dental Accreditation may provide you with enough training to start work as a dental hygienist, though additional licenses and certifications may be required depending where you live.

Related: Learn About Being a Dental Hygienist

Information technology

Another growing field, information technology (IT), offers job potential within a range of positions involving emerging technology and digital platforms. Here are some ideal jobs in IT:

1. Web developer

National average salary: $77,282 per year

Primary duties: Web developers work with web designers to create websites for clients. They use coding and programming skills to build a website from planning to publishing on the internet.

Education needed: Earning an associate degree in web design may help you begin your career in this field. More specialized web design can require you to pursue a bachelor's degree in computer science, programming or another related field of study. Additionally, there are many coding camps that provide training that could set you on this career path.

Related: Learn About Being a Web Developer

2. Information security analyst

National average salary: $94,844 per year

Primary duties: As the need for cybersecurity increases, so does the need for professionals who understand how to protect computer networks from outside attacks. Information security analysts create and implement cyber security measures for organizations.

Education needed: To work in this position, you'll need a bachelor's degree in computer science or information technology.

Related: Learn About Being an Information Security Analyst

3. Software engineer

National average salary: $107,860 per year

Primary duties: Software engineers create software systems used for business and personal applications. They may work on databases, operating systems or even games.

Education needed: Software engineers need at least a bachelor's degree in a computer programming-related field.

Related: Learn About Being a Software Engineer

Business and finance

Going back to school for a job in business or finance offers a range of possibilities in both corporate and small business environments. For those with an affinity for mathematical and analytical skills, finance may present exciting career opportunities. Other business positions include sales and administration. Below are some business and finance careers you can pursue:

1. Accountant

National average salary: $54,775 per year

Primary duties: Accountants oversee the financial records and monetary transactions of a business. They create important financial statements like a balance sheet or income statement and help file taxes for a company. They help generate financial reports that guide business decisions.

Education needed: A bachelor's degree in accounting will prepare you for an accounting career. To increase your earning potential and become a Certified Public Accountant, you may need to pursue a master's degree in accounting. You can also earn accounting certifications, such as business valuation, which can open you to more more career opportunities.

Related: Learn About Being an Accountant

2. Financial advisor

National average salary: $70,424 per year

Primary duties: A financial advisor works with clients to provide expertise and support to guide financial decisions. They advise about savings, investments, taxes, risk management and estate planning. Financial advisors may also contribute to the monetary decisions of businesses as they seek to improve shareholder earnings.

Education needed: To become a financial advisor, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree in finance or business. You can also choose to specialize in a particular area of financial advising like taxes or investing. Earning an MBA may be important addition to your education, especially if you plan to work with large corporate clients.

Related: Learn About Being a Financial Advisor

3. Human resources manager

National average salary: $71,801 per year

Primary duties: A human resources manager oversees the policies of the HR department as well as all HR staff members. They handle the hiring and training of new employees, coordinate benefits and manage employee relations.

Education needed: To become a human resources manager, earn a degree in human resources management or a similar field like business or communications. You can also earn a wide range of HR certifications to help prepare you with industry knowledge.

Related: Learn About Being a Human Resources Manager

4. Project manager

National average salary: $82,609 per year

Primary duties: A project manager is responsible for overseeing the completion of a project from beginning to end. They use organizational skills to optimize the time and resources spent on a project. They lead teams to solve problems and empower team members to create their best work.

Education needed: To become a project manager, you'll need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in business, management or another related field. You can also obtain certifications in project management. Work experience in business related positions is also important to earning this title.

Related: Learn About Being a Project Manager


Working in marketing may be an easy transition for those with business or communication experience. However, anyone with a desire to work with consumer trends using creativity and analytical skills can choose this career path. With some additional training, you may find a position in marketing to be both challenging and rewarding. Here are some common marketing jobs that are accessible to those pursuing a second career:

1. SEO specialist

National average salary: $44,208 per year

Primary duties: Search engine optimization specialists work to increase the amount of user traffic to a webpage. They do this by studying algorithm changes and search trends through search websites. SEO specialists combine social media strategies with website content and advertising to create the best possible exposure for a website.

Education needed: Working as an SEO specialist requires experience with SEO and internet marketing. A bachelor's degree in marketing or a related field can help prepare you for a career in SEO as would a certification in SEO.

2. Market research analyst

National average salary: $56,048 per year

Primary duties: A market research analyst is responsible for compiling data about consumer buying habits. They also look at the performance of company and competitor products in the marketplace. Their data is used to drive marketing decisions and create ad campaigns.

Education needed: To work as a market research analyst you'll need a bachelor's degree in either market research or a related field like marketing, business, communications, or even mathematics.

3. PR specialist

National average salary: $60,066 per year

Primary duties: Public relations specialists act as liaisons between an organization and the public. They work with members of the press to provide information, hold interviews and oversee the public image of a company.

Education needed: Professionals who work in PR usually come from a background of communication, journalism or other relevant training. PR positions require strong written and verbal communication skills as well as presentation abilities.


If you're ready for a new career but want to use your industry knowledge, consider a job teaching others. Going back to school for education is a way to use your professional experience to instruct new learners in your field. In some cases, you may be able to become a classroom teacher in a related field by passing state qualification exams, earning a temporary teaching certificate and passing a program with additional schooling for those lacking a degree in education. If you have a bachelor's degree and are interested in teaching at the K-12 level, you could pursue a credential within the education department at a university. Here are some other jobs available in education:

1. Professor

National average salary: $51,732 per year

Primary duties: A professor instructs at the collegiate level. Professors often come from a diverse background, using their real-world experience to teach and inspire learners. Professors are involved in planning, delivering and assessing instruction. Most professors will have to begin as adjuncts, teaching one or more sections as hired on a per-semester basis before becoming tenured faculty.

Education needed: To teach at the level of professor, you'll need at minimum a master's degree in your area of focus. If you already gained a degree in something you are passionate about, furthering your education so that you can teach at the university level could be a fulfilling career.

2. Training and development specialist

National average salary: $64,097 per year

Primary duties: Training and development specialists may work in a business or technical environment to instruct other professionals in company policy, career enrichment or other job-specific trainings. They conduct training seminars, compile educational materials and act as coaches to employees.

Education needed: To pursue this career path, you may need to earn a second degree in education, human resources or instructional design.

3. Education specialist

National average salary: $65,089 per year

Primary duties: An education specialist acts as a consultant to provide analysis for curriculum development and design. They offer coaching about educational best practices to classroom teachers and school other staff. If you already have educational experience and are looking to make a change from classroom teaching, this position may be a good career move.

Education needed: Working as an education specialist requires a degree in education and educational experience. You'll also need to complete a master's in education and take leadership classes in an EdS program.

Related: 26 Degrees in Education You Can Pursue


This growing field offers a diverse range of jobs within the field. Biotechnology offers opportunity for skilled professionals to use their training in many different industries including health care, environmental science and even business. Here are some of the most popular jobs within the biotechnology sector:

1. Biomedical technician

National average salary: $52,082 per year

Primary duties: Biomedical technicians collect and analyze biological samples in laboratories. They use sophisticated equipment including software, robotics and other medical devices to determine the properties of fluids, tissues, viruses or bacteria.

Education needed: Most biomedical technicians can find work after earning an associate degree through a training program offered by many accredited colleges and universities. In some cases, a bachelor's degree in the same or a related scientific field is necessary.

2. Microbiologist

National average salary: $63,908 per year

Primary duties: Microbiologists study viruses and bacteria to analyze how they cause illness and how the immune system interacts with these germs. They use laboratory experiments and analysis to create reports and products that combat infectious diseases.

Education needed: If you plan to invest time in a career as a microbiologist, consider earning a master's degree in biotechnology or a related program. This would be a rewarding field for someone who has already studied and excelled in the hard sciences for their undergraduate studies.

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