Table of Contents
- Why Work in Retirement?
- How to Find Your Second Act as a Senior
- 11 In-Demand Jobs for Seniors
- What If You Still Don’t Know?
- How to Become Qualified for Your Encore Career
- It’s Never Too Late
Americans are living longer than ever as more seniors reach age 85 and beyond. The number of people 85 and older is expected to grow from 5.5 million in 2010 to 19 million by 2050. As life expectancies soar and quality of life increases because of modern medical advances, the number of working seniors is also rising.
As Americans start cashing in on their social security benefits, many are choosing to continue working in a second, third, or even fourth career. Currently, almost one-fifth of seniors make up America’s workforce, a rise of six percent from the mid-1990s. Retirement age is an excellent time to evaluate your passions and the kind of work you want to do if the laid-back lifestyle isn’t for you. It’s also a great chance to define what purpose and place you want your work to hold in your life.
If you’re looking for answers, here’s your guide on why and how to start another career as a senior.
Why Work in Retirement?
We wait for decades to finally stick it to the boss, start collecting our retirement benefits, and live a life of complete freedom. So why are so many seniors changing the rules and working in retirement?
People in their 60s and beyond no longer want to idly pass the time in their golden years. They want to maintain their health, keeps their minds sharp, and live an engaged life within their community and social circles. Exercise plays a key role in aging better, but working plays a crucial role too. Taking on new career challenges the mind, keeps you physically active, and reduces one of the most common complaints older seniors have: loneliness.
Purpose and Fulfillment
Sometimes when we’re younger, we do a job not because we like it, but because it’s a stable income that provides for our families. Retirement is a chance to explore and rekindle your professional passions and get paid to do something you love while using your retirement benefits as a safety net. On the other hand, if you enjoyed your career and found purpose in it, saying goodbye might have left you feeling lost or depressed. Getting back in the game or trying on a new job may give you renewed meaning in life.
Relieve Financial Challenges
While many seniors choose to go back or continue working after they’re eligible to retire, some feel obligated to because of financial pressures or because they want to hold out longer to receive their maximum monthly Social Security benefits.
The passing of a spouse or a divorce can also rock your finances, even if there are survivor benefits or if you’re eligible for spousal benefits. Many seniors return to work when those benefits aren’t enough to cover financial needs or provide financial security.
How to Find Your Second Act as a Senior
Depending on your perspective, finding your next career as a senior can be overwhelming, intimidating, exciting, enjoyable, or all of the above. See it for what it is, a chance to find work that seems too good to be true and that brings in the extra income you want. The more you see it as your next adventure, the more fun you’ll have in the process.
Many seniors find a new career based on their passion or by applying their current skills to a new line of work. Others seek entrepreneurial challenges like opening up a franchise or consulting business. To identify your unique opportunities, you’ll need to:
Make a list of your interests
- What activities do you like to do?
- What were you interested in as a child?
- What do you feel you’re naturally good at?
- What kind of work or hobbies do you love so much it doesn’t even feel like work?
- During what activities does time fly by?
- If money weren’t a factor, what kind of work would you like to do?
Write down your skills
- What soft and hard skills do you have?
- What have you learned to do over the years?
- What skills did you learn in school and through professional programs?
- What certifications do you have?
- What skills are you interested in learning or trying out?
Survey the job market
- What jobs match your skills and interests?
- What job markets are hot and growing in your area?
- Is self-employment a possibility?
- Are there volunteer, internship, temporary, or nonprofit opportunities available to get your foot in the door?
11 In-Demand Jobs for Seniors
As you analyze your interests and skills and how they match up with existing jobs on the market, here’s a list of 11 jobs that are trending for seniors.
It’s especially common for women to take on roles as administrative assistants, whether it’s in an office setting or as a virtual job. Virtual assistants are in very high demand, so if you’re a computer-savvy senior, consider going into business for yourself.
If you’d rather work outside of the home but don’t want anything rigorous, carsharing jobs from companies like Uber and Lyft let you work on your terms in an environment that doesn’t require a lot of physical activity. The carsharing market is strong and growing, and is expected to hit $11 billion by 2024.
If you have experience raising your own family or grandchildren, why not get paid for it? Many working parents would love an experienced caretaker looking after their children. Babysitters earn a national average of $30,001.
Your next career can be an excellent opportunity to share your expertise and skills with others in the form of consulting. Business strategy, management, operations, and financial advisory consultants are all popular options. Consultants earn a national average of $77,368.
Counter and Rental Clerks
The constant face-to-face interactions make these types of jobs an attractive choice for seniors. The average pay is $15 to $25 per hour, and seniors can work in a variety of settings, from dry cleaners to automobile dealers and grocery stores.
Education is a popular second-career choice among women over 62. The national median salary is $61,730 for school teachers, though salaries vary considerably by state. Becoming a college instructor is another popular choice, and has a median salary of more than $78,000.
Life coaching has become mainstream and is projected to boom in the coming years as people seek help on how to live their best life. It’s currently an unregulated industry with no state licensing requirements. Though you can set up shop as a life coach today, there are reputable programs like The Life Coach School and the International Coach Federation that will get you started on the right path. Life coaches earn an average median salary of nearly $48,000.
Just because you’re looking for a second career doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. Many seniors go into management positions because of their skills and years of experience, earning an average salary of $54,830 per year.
The average hourly wage for a musician is $28.15. Musicians can sing solo or with a group at events and locations. They can also give music lessons to kids or adults.
While nurses do need a bachelor’s degree and a license, it can be time and money well spent as registered nurses earn a median of $75,510. There’s also an expected increase of 12 percent in nursing positions in the next eight years.
Real Estate Agent
Agents earn a median salary of $49,000 and typically only require pre-licensing education and passing a state real estate license exam. If you’ve done sales in your previous career and enjoyed it, you might love the real-estate challenge.
What If You Still Don’t Know?
If you still don’t have a clue of what your next career might be or how to begin looking, the below resources will help you gain clarity.
Research the Experts
Many of the resources created for younger people in the job market are just as valuable and applicable to seniors searching for their next career.
Books like the StrengthsFinder 2.0 from Gallup and Tom Rath home in on your unique combination of strengths to help you do more of what you love in any job you have. The book explains each strength in detail and provides an individual code to take your CliftonStrengths assessment online. You’ll get a detailed report of your top five strengths are and how they appear in your life. If you buy the book used or borrow it from the library, you can still purchase the test on the CliftonStrengths website for $20.
What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles is another acclaimed book for career shifters and job seekers. Around since 1970 and updated annually, the guide is a refined resource that will help you pinpoint your passions, get clear on what you want from a job, define what you have to offer, explore possibilities, and find work. Chapter-by-chapter, step-by-step, Bolles holds your hand and leads the way.
Use a Career Coach
Some people get all the help they need from books, but others prefer face-to-face interactions with an expert who can provide clear guidance and input on their particular job search process. Professional career coaches are trained to help you at every level of your job search, from finding what kind of work you want to do to creating a resume and practicing interviewing to strategizing your job search. They’ll help you locate employment opportunities, show you how to network, and get you over any obstacles along the way.
You can find a local career coach by asking friends and family for referrals or by googling “Career Coach near me.” Reviews left on Google or Yelp can help you determine the quality of work the coach provides. Many coaches also offer free first-time consults that you can take advantage of.
Volunteering lets you help others while also helping yourself. People greatly benefit from your time and skills, and you get to try on a variety of different types of jobs to see how you like them. If education interests you, consider teaching Sunday school at your local religious organization, providing tutoring services, or holding a workshop at your local library. If you’d prefer project management, you can contact a local nonprofit organization as they’re sure to need help planning events.
If you’re having trouble finding volunteer opportunities, shadowing is another option. Contact a company that has the position you’re interested in, explain you’re researching a second career, and ask if shadowing someone for a day is a possibility. The worst that can happen is they say no, in which case you can always try again with another company.
One of the best ways to try out a job without actually doing the job is through informational interviews. The point is to get an insider’s perspective on the job’s day-to-day activities, stress levels, enjoyable and tedious parts, work hours involved, and more. The insider’s view can give you a better idea if it’s something you want to research further.
You can ask questions like:
- What do your days and weeks look like?
- What do you most like about your work? Least like?
- In what ways does your job affect your general lifestyle?
- How did you get into this field and position? How do most people get into it, and are there other ways?
- What abilities and soft and hard skills are needed for this job?
- What is a typical entry-level salary in this field?
- Can you suggest someone else I could contact for more information?
Websites like Linkedin are a great way to search people in your area or other parts of the country who are doing what you want. While face-to-face informational interviews are common, you can also do them over the phone or on video calling platforms like Zoom.
How to Become Qualified for Your Encore Career
Getting the necessary education for your next career doesn’t have to be expensive. While many jobs list a degree as a requirement, the truth is people can enter the field through alternative ways. That could mean taking a certification program, working as an intern or volunteer to gain skills and experience, or joining the company in a different position and later shifting to your goal role.
Even if your job does require going back to school, many institutions across the country offer discounts for seniors or an option to take a certain number of classes tuition-free. Financial Aid also has no age restrictions, so be sure to fill out a FAFSA application to see if there are any work-study programs, federal grants, or loans you’re eligible for. Grants and scholarships don’t need to be repaid, so they can cut down on how much you need to borrow.
Other pathways seniors can use to help pay for schooling include:
State-Specific Grants for non-traditional students
It’s Never Too Late
Seniors have more job opportunities in today’s world than they ever did before. They’re also living longer and healthier than at any other time in history. If you crave mentally challenging work and a stimulating environment, then your golden years is the perfect time to jump headfirst into a new career.