The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use our anonymous form, and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact information is here.


In the last few weeks, I received two letters from people wondering if they are too old to go to college:

Dear Career Doctor:

I am 33 years old and work in call center. Am I too old to return to college and get an accounting degree?


Dear Career Doctor:

I am a 54 year old female who is tired of dead end jobs. I am enrolled at a community college and the classes like chemistry and biology are killing me. I just don't grasp things as easily as I once did. Any advice about a field I could go into that would be worth it at my age?


Dear EK and BJ:

You are never too old to learn new skills! But let me also add that I certainly empathizes with you, BJ, about not learning those skills as easily as you used to! Short term memory usually deteriorates with age, so memorization and sometimes comprehension can take longer. However, think of the wisdom you have built up with all the life experience you have that younger people in the classroom lack.

That said, there is a shortage of accountants, so E.K., you are probably selecting an excellent field. But before you decide to major in accounting, contact the career placement center at the college you want to attend and ask about their placement rate for accountants. I would never go back to school and invest all that time and money without knowing what kind of jobs (and odds of getting those jobs) graduates have. There can be a large difference in the placement rates for different colleges. Go to the best one you can get into.

BJ if you don't want to be an accountant, go to the career counseling professionals at your college. (They often have offices in the placement center.) They can give you vocational interest tests and tell you what the job market is like for graduates your age in various fields. There is age discrimination for people over 45 in some fields -- so find out which fields have a shortage of trained professionals and can't afford to be stupid enough to practice age discrimination.

Why does The Career Doctor say that age discrimination is stupid? Because turnover rates for older employees are often far lower -- and motivation, not to mention "wisdom," is much greater!

The Career Doctor

The Career Doctor cannot answer every question here, and she does not respond to personal emails. Please use this form to ask your question.

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The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.