Eric Watkinson Hall is living proof age is no barrier to successfully changing careers.
Mr Watkinson Hall had an established career in interior design but last year took the plunge and started something completely different.
By the end of 2019 he had graduated with a Certificate III in Hairdressing from TAFE NSW Wollongong West campus and launched his own salon and barber business.
"Making a career change in your 50's can be daunting, but it is exciting," he said.
"After gaining the knowledge and experience at TAFE I had the confidence to open the doors to H & H Hair Salon and Barber in Corrimal in March last year.
"Within seven months I had a five star Google rating and 78 reviews."
Mr Watkinson Hall timed his career change and choice well, with the industry expected to grow over the next five years, driven by increasing demand.
Career transitions are in fact not uncommon, with McCrindle Research finding the average person will have about five career changes and 17 different employers.
Making a career change in your 50's can be daunting, but it is exciting.Eric Watkinson Hall
Mr Watkinson Hall said he chose to become a hairdresser/barber because there was an "element of creativity" which he enjoyed.
He also enjoyed learning new skills, once past the initial shock of walking into the TAFE teaching salon mostly populated by teenagers.
"It was very hands-on, we had real clients who we had never met, so we didn't know their hairstyle or anything about them. As I was a full time student these consultations offered valuable experience for me," he said.
Mr Watkinson Hall added learning from TAFE teachers who have current industry experience gave him confidence in his growing skills.
"After graduating I went back and attended a TAFE NSW course in barbering, something I see as a vital component to my business. Barbering is growing and makes up about 50 per cent of my business," he said.
TAFE NSW Hairdressing and Barbering head teacher Jenelle Charlton said Mr Watkinson Hall was motivated to gain the skills and qualifications he needed to start his own business.
"As his business grows he can capitalise on his knowledge with the Certificate IV in Hairdressing which offers skills in technical leadershp and managing a salon," she said.
Visit www.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601 to enquire now about semester one courses.