12 People Who Successfully Switched Careers

If you have ever had second thoughts about your chosen profession but you worry you are too old to start over now, rethink that idea. Here are a dozen people who decided to switch careers after age fifty and found tremendous success. Some had more resources than others, but others owe their success to persistence and luck.

Ronald Reagan

This 19080s President of the United States is probably the most prominent example of swapping careers successfully over the age of fifty. Reagan was a well known stage and screen actor who later served as a spokesman for General Electric, and even served as president of the Screen Actors Guild. He turned to politics in 1966, successfully winning the gubernatorial election in California, and going on to win the Whitehouse in 1981 as the oldest elected presidents to serve in the nation’s highest office.

Jack Cover

As a nuclear physicist, Coer worked in the defense and aerospace industries for many years. One of his most important jobs was as a parts supplier for the Apollo project for NASA. Around 1970, Cover started working on a new project, attempting to design a non-lethal weapon capable of incapacitating hostile threats. He went on to invent the Taser, which has since become ubiquitous among police forces in over 45 countries as of 2009.

Edmond Hoyle

While he may not necessarily have changed careers successfully, Edmond Hoyle definitely started later than most who find great success. His best known work, A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist, is credited as the first document setting down the various rules for games of cards. Hoyle was 70 years old when he started his writing career, and he continued to write and publish work for the remaining twenty-seven years of his life.

Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Founding the Hare Krishna movement around 1965 in New York City, Prabhupada originally started his professional life as a Sanskrit scholar and a chemist. Born and raised in Calcutta, he came to America to expound the teachings of Lord Krishna with the world. He was 69 years old in 1965, and he gathered many followers to his teachings in his lifetime.

Grandma Moses

Anna Mary Robertson Moses was passionate embroiderer and artist throughout her life. However, at age 76 she had to give up needlework because her hands were too arthritic to continue. Not one to let the grass grow under her feet, she took up painting as a way to continue her artistic expression. She lived to the ripe old age of 101, and each of her canvases has been valued at more than $10,000 each.

Taikichiro Mori

This one-time Japanese economics professor quit his job at age 55. Four years later, he went into the real estate investment business, mostly because he had inherited several properties from his late father. Mori began by putting his money into the Minato ward, and years later he would be called the most successful real estate investor of all time. Despite being listed by Forbes magazine on two separate occasions as the world’s richest man, Mori maintained a modest existence and was uncomfortable with the fortune and fame he gained during his second career.

Tim Zagat

A former corporate lawyer, Zagat had an ongoing interest in designing restaurant guides and surveys. At age fifty-one he left his position at Gulf & Western to begin building his second career. In 1986 he started managing the restaurant guide that bears his name. Today, Zagat’s is an online resource that was acquired by Google in 2011.

Laura Ingalls-Wilder

Publishing her first book at age 65, the author of Little House on the Prairie was an instant success and became one of the most beloved children's authors worldwide for generations. Wilder wrote an additional twelve novels, a few of which were published posthumously.

Ken Jeong

A medical doctor with a successful practice, Ken Jeong made the transition to Hollywood in 2007 after a string of successful stand-up comedian jobs on the side. Jeong is best known for his roles as Mr. Chow in The Hangover franchise Senor Change on Community, but his first film role was actually in Knocked Up playing--of course--a doctor.

Colonel Sanders

The successful owner of a motel and restaurant on U.S. 25 in Kentucky, Harland Sanders was doing a booming business until Interstate 75 opened up and traffic diverted elsewhere. Undaunted by the possibility of bankruptcy and closure, Sanders perfected his fast cooking technique and spice blend to produce his now famous fried chicken in 1952. Harland Sanders was 65 years old when he founded what is today known as KFC.

Walt Disney

A newspaper editor by trade, Walt Disney wasn’t always in the business of making dreams reality. He was fired from his editorial position because, according to his boss at the time, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Clearly, that man did not know Walt Disney well at all.

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