Am I too old for an MBA?

At age 45, does it make sense to leave a job you’ve held for 15 years to pursue an MBA?

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Q:  I’m 45 years old and considering leaving my job of 15 years and going back to get my MBA. Is this a good career move for me? Or am I too old at this point to be dropping out of the work force for 18 months and leaving a good job?

A: The first question you should ask yourself, regardless of your age, is what is your ‘pumpkin date‘? By that I mean, how long can you not work before you run out of money? If you have a lot of financial wiggling room then the 18 months of unemployment may not be detrimental. Keep in mind however that it is typically easier to get a job when you have one.

But specifically regarding the MBA; be sure that the credentials you are after are actually ones that will benefit you in the long run. I have spoken to many MBA students who have no idea how they are going to apply the degree. They are getting it just because it seems like a good idea.

It also helps to you have a good post-degree plan. For instance, it may take you several months to find an ideal job. Will you have adequate emergency funds to get you through several months of job-hunting? Do you have a clear picture of  exactly what type of job you hope to get once you graduate? Knowing what that year after achieving an MBA will look like, and not having to worry about simply taking a job for the sake of paying your living expenses, is crucial to ensuring you get on the path to the career you want quickly and easily in mid-life.

The truth is that many of us will be working into our 60s and beyond out of choice. So getting the MBA in your 40s will make the second part of your work career more enjoyable. That in itself makes getting the MBA worth it.

To help in your search for a good MBA school, visit Canadian Business’s MBA Guide. 

And here’s more info on changing careers in mid-life.

Ask a Career Coach: Leave your question for Caird Urquhart »

Caird Urquhart is a MoneySense columnist and founder of New Road Coaching in Toronto.


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