Too old for an apprenticeship?

I thought I wanted to work in the music industry but now I’d like to retrain. Am I too old at 23? Not at all, says our elder. Start exploring new careers and networking to find something you love.


Dear EWC

Hi, I think it’s best I start with myself. I am 23 living in Bristol. I finished a degree in Professional Musicianship last year and have decided that this is an industry I will only ever have a hobby in. I’ve been working in pubs and clubs for the last five years and I’ve got to the position of manager and it’s dead – I hate it. I’m barely paying my rent and this is as far as I can progress in this industry. My attention has gone a complete 180 and my focus is now on becoming a welder or working in some kind of mechanical/fabrication/engineering trade. Or even something like working as a tree surgeon or arborist. I’m great with my hands and pick skills up very quickly. My concern is that I am way too old to be going back to college or starting an apprenticeship. Most people start apprenticeships around the age of 16, not 23. I think its also worth mentioning that my mother died of cancer in the last few months of my degree. I am now going through life with no support from any adults and I seriously don’t know what it is I want to do with my life. Or even if I did have an idea of what it is I want to do. Where do I even start?! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


Gabriel-A replies

Thank you for your letter. I give you credit for wanting to spend your working life doing something that you love. Most people are not that fortunate and of course many don’t risk the chance to find it. Although it’s easier to do it when you’re young, I’m reminded of Colonel Sanders, who created Kentucky Fried Chicken here in the US when he was in his sixties; hence, it’s never too late. I would recommend the following:

Make a list of potential careers you might want to explore (which you’ve already started). Think through the pros and cons of each and list them on a spreadsheet. In my experience, writing this kind of analysis down helped to give me clarity on which way to move forward.

As for thinking you may be too old, put that thought completely out of your mind. My nephew started college for the first time in his thirties while working full time, and didn’t complete his bachelor’s degree until his forties. He’s doing fine.

For your musicianship, it appears that you believed in your passion and gave it a try for a reasonable period of time before you’re now considering a Plan B. Give yourself credit for trying. Most people don’t and regret it to some extent for the rest of their life. Also, keep it up as a hobby. Some people have surprisingly succeeded while they worked their day job. You never know. Perseverance often wins the day.

One thing I would recommend is to try the career that you think you will be happiest in first. Within reason, I’ve found that being happy in your work is much more important than how much money you make. I’ve known many people over the years that were prosperous and miserable. Make sure that you at least reasonably enjoy your work. We all spend much of our life there.

I’m sorry to hear about your mom. It’s important to have other adults you can talk to. Certainly family is helpful, but friends are also crucial. My guess is that there are other people or groups that you can fit in with. For fun things you enjoy, there are clubs or groups that often get together around that mutual interest. For work, nowadays there are professional groups for most professions. They have a number of resources and most importantly, you can develop a network within your potential field. It’s never too early to network, even if you’re just exploring an area. Also, many times job opportunities are found this way. Google can help you look into these opportunities.

Thanks for contacting the EWC and I hope this is helpful. 

Career #460199

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