Ask the Expert: How Can I Turn My Hobby into a Profession?

happy mature woman making clay pot
Article may contain sponsored links

We get your career questions answered by the experts. Today’s question is about turning a hobby into a profession and the best pathway to doing so.


Our Expert: Lucy Standing, Co-Founder of Brave Starts, our personal careers charity partner. Lucy is a psychologist and Vice Chair of the Association for Business Psychology. She was previously Global Head of Recruitment in the Investment Bank and Strategy Consulting sectors across JP Morgan and LEK consulting. Brave Starts is a result of people passionately working together to try and help companies support their employees to work and age better.

55/Redefined Member Question:

"I am keen to turn my hobby of gardening, into my profession and wanted some advice as to whether at the age of 58 I am able to retrain and if so, would my only option be self-employed, or are there companies that would take on an apprentice landscape gardener?! I am currently a marketing executive so it is a complete career shift!”

Lucy’s Answer:

There are a couple of questions here, so we’ll break this down.

1. Do you really want to turn a hobby into your profession? What is currently your escape and your peace could become your nightmare. We’ve had people go and shadow their dream job only to realise it isn’t in reality. Our advice first off is to explore this locally. Ask to spend some time with a gardening business doing the sort of work you want to do. Offer to pay them their day rate to do so (we’ve heard of some year-long garden design courses costing upwards of £25,000 so a day rate is really not an outrageous suggestion).

2. At the age of 58 you are most certainly able to retrain and given this is something you’re already interested in, the likelihood is, you’d do incredibly well.

3. Your work options: self-employment is an option, but it’s not your only one. We’ve just worked with someone who has got a brand new job in a completely new field at 71. There are employers out there who are brilliant and would love an interested and capable older apprentice, but they won’t know about you unless you proactively approach them. Run this thought experiment – you’re an employer. Which option appeals most:

  • Option A: A candidate applies for a job once you’ve advertised it.
  • Option B: A candidate proactively approaches your company and says why they like it. They volunteer to work for free to learn a little about it. They impress you and come up with great ideas. They then apply a couple of months later for a job when you advertise it.

Age discrimination is a major barrier and it’s unrealistic to say otherwise, but this should not deter you and we can confidently say you can level up the odds in your favour by being interested, reliable, available and constructive.

If you have a question related to your career that you'd like Lucy to answer, please email