Retiring at age 65 is a dream for many. However, for those lucky few who are on a career path that they truly love - and that welcomes an aging workforce - it's never even a consideration. While not everyone is cut out for earning a paycheck well into their 70s and 80s, it's nice to know that there are occupations that allow and even encourage it. Here are some of the top callings for today's perpetual worker. (It's not too late, but if you want to retire comfortably you'll have to be aggressive. See 6 Late-Stage Retirement Catch-Up Tactics.)
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1. Clinical Psychologist
Due to the number of years of schooling it takes to work in this field, psychologists with a masters or doctorate in a clinical setting will often start later than many other professions. Add in the fact that almost 17% of current workers have over 20 years of experience under their belts, and it's easy to see why this career can easily push people past retirement age. While some settings can cause quicker burnout than others, those with private practices (and more control over their working hours and clientèle) may enjoy greater flexibility, allowing them to work for many more years. The average salary for these jobs will vary wildly (between $40,168 - $126,297), but those in the higher brackets may find themselves able to retire much earlier.
2. Teachers and Professors
If there is one word often associated with the field of education, it is "tenure." While often thrown around to politicize the economy of the field, it helps to drive home the point that teachers can, and do, work significantly longer than many other types of workers. According to a 2007-2008 report from the U.S. Department of Education, there were slightly more teachers aged 55 and older than those younger than 30 across all schools in the U.S. This shows that the tail for this type of career is long, and, unlike careers that have been accused of ageism, teaching may actually harbor more respect for the more experienced. In the college arena, a lack of mandatory retirement age has helped to create an older segment of full professors, some waiting until 68 or later to fully retire.
When it comes to spiritual advice and leadership, there seems to be no limit to the years you can contribute. Pastors, teachers, and members of the clergy make a significant chunk of the over-65 workforce, party because this spiritual communities seem to place a value on their elderly population in ways other social segments may not. In 2008, The Urban Institute calculated that over 11% of the "over-65" workforce had a focus in spiritual guidance, putting it in the top 10 career areas for the age group. Money may not be the motivating factor for long-time workers in the field, of course. Many workers in the spiritual professions find the work fulfilling - even with reports of longer-than-average workweeks of between 55-75 hours per week.
4. Retail Managers and Associates
As it turns out, the stereotype of the retiree working part-time at a local book store, franchise coffee house or big box store isn't all fluff. The same Urban Institute report acknowledged that workers over 65 are finding a home in retail, whether they prefer ringing up your purchases or managing other employees. Seven percent of older workers are employed as retail salespeople or their immediate supervisors. This is striking considering that, as a whole, only 5% of the entire American workforce do these same jobs.
5. Farmers and Agricultural Specialists
While farming is a bit difficult to get into, those that are already in the field may find a longer road ahead of them. Farmers tend to have extended careers, with the Urban Institute reporting that ag workers make up over 25% of the 65-and-older workforce. Whether they are tilling the earth or just overseeing the family business from afar, their involvement as laborers and managers is significant. While some experts cite a lack of retirement planning as a major reason for a failure to let go of a farm career, many of those in rural areas understand that it's a culture that appreciates longevity.
The Bottom Line
While there are many other careers that seem to appeal to a largely veteran crowd, many of those jobs may be obsolete in the coming generations. For the most part, it can be expected that the above-mentioned fields will continue to rely more on older staff than others, bringing a true appreciation to some of the most experienced in our workforce. (Find ways to save money and increase your nest egg for the fast-approaching golden years. Check out Top 3 Retirement Savings Tips For 55- To 64-Year-Olds.)