Older workers who are age 50 to 65 aren’t so different from their younger counterparts. Flexible schedules and meaningful work are priorities that transcend generations. What’s more, relationships with colleagues, work environments and the work itself can all be key to attracting and retaining workers of every age.
However, older Americans may be in a better position to pursue their dream job. With years of workplace experience under their belts, they may already have savings, benefits and retirement plans from earlier jobs as well as the insight to know what type of work appeals to them.
“Older workers may be in a unique position,” says Iris Waichler, a social worker and writer for Choosing Therapy, an online therapy platform. “Some may be more financially stable and are seeking work for altruistic reasons, doing something they love which they may not have been able to do when they were younger.”
Whether you want an encore career or are simply looking to make some extra money while semiretired, here are 10 job options for over-50 somethings to consider.
— Local elected official.
— Public communicator.
— Retail salesperson.
— Financial planner.
— Health care worker.
— Temporary worker.
— Any job that captures your imagination.
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A top concern for older workers is having a job that provides meaning, and no job scores as more enjoyable for older workers than that of clergy. That’s according to a 2017 survey of more than 6,000 workers age 62 and older conducted by the Urban Institute, a think tank. Nearly two-thirds of seniors in this profession say they really enjoy what they do. This career ticks off a lot of boxes when it comes to what older workers like about employment. It provides social connections, offers a meaningful line of work, can be flexible and provides opportunities to help others.
Local Elected Official
Local governments rely on elected officials such as trustees, commissioners and council members to make smart decisions on behalf of their communities. These positions can be ideal jobs for people over 50 who have extensive life experience and knowledge.
“We need good people who have the time, the talent and the interest,” says Diane Jones, a 51-year-old Kent County Commissioner in Michigan. However, before running for office, Jones suggests attending the body’s meetings to better understand the duties involved in the position.
Pay for local officers isn’t likely to be enough to live on, but it can supplement retirement or other income. If money isn’t a concern, local governments also have a need for qualified residents to serve on various boards. Some of these may pay a stipend while others are volunteer positions.
The best jobs for older workers often involve interacting with the public, according to James Essey, president and CEO of New York-based The TemPositions Group of Companies, which provides staffing services in five states. “They also like to share their experience,” he says.
As a result, older workers seem to thrive in positions such as museum docents, tour guides and hospitality hosts. Essey’s company coordinated COVID-19 vaccination clinics for the New York State Department of Health and found seniors were eager to fill jobs greeting people as they arrived. “Older workers were very helpful for us,” Essey says.
Older workers are also often hired as product demonstrators and promoters. According to 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 44% of demonstrators and product promoters are older than age 55, and 27% are at least age 65.
Working in a retail store isn’t the most lucrative job available to older workers, but it’s hard to beat when it comes to flexible hours. What’s more, retail sales positions can be found in a variety of stores, making it possible to find a job that matches a person’s personal interests. These jobs also allow employees to interact with customers as well as share their knowledge, two attributes that can make the work appealing.
Schools value experienced educators and are often willing to accommodate their work needs. Retired teachers are often welcomed back as substitutes, while postsecondary schools may look for experienced professionals to teach on a part-time basis. With the advent of online education, some teaching jobs may not even require instructors to travel to campus.
For those who have experience with investing, one of the best jobs for older workers may be that of a financial planner. “They can offer (their) experience and expertise to others,” Waichler says. What’s more, it’s a job that lends itself well to flexible working arrangements and can be done on a part-time basis for those who want to be semiretired.
A related option would be to consider an encore career in insurance sales. Since the industry is all about building relationships, older insurance sales agents benefit from the large network of connections they have acquired throughout the years.
Health Care Worker
Older workers did more than greet visitors at the COVID-19 vaccination clinics staffed by The TemPositions Group of Companies. Many also filled roles as health care workers and helped administer vaccines, Essey says.
Nursing and caregiver positions can be a good fit for older workers who want to help others and have meaningful jobs. Even those who don’t have a health care background can be ready to work as medical assistants, physical therapy aides and other occupations after completing short-term training programs.
If someone enjoys their current career, there is no reason to change fields when they get older. Instead of leaving their profession, they could switch from being an employee to a consultant. “Doing freelance consultant work in an area of expertise can be a good option and can help (someone) control their schedule,” Waichler says.
Companies in a variety of fields, such as business, IT, management and accounting, may use consultants. In some cases, workers will be brought on to help with specific projects while others may be asked to mentor new employees. Older workers who have a good relationship with their current employer may be able to continue as a consultant for their firm even after they retire.
Temporary work can be a good option for older workers who don’t want the hassle of trying to find a job themselves or who prefer short-term assignments to a permanent position.
“There are lots of companies now that are desperate for workers,” Essey says. That means a strong job market for seasoned professionals who bring extensive experience to the table. Job counselors at staffing firms can help people determine the best positions for their skills, and workers are free to take or decline positions based on their needs and preferences.
“That’s the beauty of a staffing firm,” Essey says. “You work when and where you want.”
Any Job That Captures Your Imagination
Don’t make the mistake of thinking only certain jobs are appropriate or enjoyable for those older than age 50.
“At 50 plus, you can start a whole new career that can last some 25 years,” says Michael Clinton, former president and publishing director of Hearst Magazines and author of “Roar Into the Second Half of Your Life (Before It’s Too Late) .” “Stop thinking about age-appropriate occupations and focus instead on person-appropriate ones that let you follow your passion or a dream that you gave up in your younger adult life.”
Consider your personal goals and needs to find a position that will be the perfect fit. Any job can be an enjoyable job for older workers, and everyone needs to figure out what that occupation is for him or herself.
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Update 06/24/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.