If you're in your late twenties, you may find it difficult to picture someone of the same age looking towards retirement and thinking ahead to their next professional move. However, there are a number of jobs that rely on youth and the fast accumulation of wealth. These careers may be the ones that we dream about as children but their short life spans make them more laden with complications than they appear at first glance. (Experience and hard work go a long way toward securing a position in this challenging field. Check out 10 Steps To A Career In Hedge Funds.)
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At 41 years old, NFL quarterback Brett Farve may boast a 20 year career in football but some teams in the NFL have half of their players at the young age of 26. From tennis players to basketball stars, athletes are picked and trained young so that they peak early. Their bodies have to be able to cope with their exhausting training and performing schedules as well as the myriad of sports injuries that assail them every year.
Although press is often given to their mammoth salaries, their high incomes are balanced by incredibly short career spans. According to professional athlete legal advisor, Brian Heidelberger, 60% of NBA players are broke within five years of retirement.
A dancer's career is similar to that of other professional athletes and similarly dependent on their individual body and how successful they are at avoiding injury. According to the Atlanta Ballet, most students begin at age 7 and are heavily involved in 10-15 classes a week by the age of 14. A typical career peaks before their 20th birthday and lasts until the early thirties.
Once they have retired from the stage, they can use their hard earned experience to continue in the industry as an instructor or choreographer. The superstar Cuban ballet dancer, Carlos Acosta, may be a glaring exception to the rule as he continues to make guest appearances past his 38th birthday. However, Acosta is now telling reporters that his retirement is approaching and it is time to look ahead to creating his own company in Cuba.
Hollywood has long seemed the land of 20-something female ingénues. Although male actors have not faced the same glass ceiling, older actresses have been traditionally cast increasingly in supporting roles, forced to play second fiddle to their younger counterparts. There may be signs that the age range is changing. Natalie Portman, the 2011 Oscar winner for best actress, had almost reached her 30th birthday while nominees Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, and Michelle Williams were 53, 44, and 30 years old , respectively (final nominee Jennifer Lawrence was 20 years old).
According to Forbes, Angelina Jolie (36 years old) and Sarah Jessica Parker (46 years old), are now the highest earning actresses in Hollywood with annual salaries of $30 million each. Neither actress has been forced into early retirement and both make significant portions of their earnings from both film credits and endorsements. However, Hollywood can be a tough employer. These high-earning ladies are the exception, and careers can fizzle before they have fully begun. (The glitz and glam of Hollywood could help put some more glitz in your pocket. Check out Analyzing Show Biz Stocks.)
The fashion industry is not known for being kind to wrinkles. Model's paychecks are reliant on their beauty, and time is not on their side. However, with consumers once again spending on luxury goods, the market is ripe for couture models. According to Forbes, the 10 top-earning female models on the planet made a combined $112 million from May 2010 to May 2011. The majority of this was made by the top three super models who are all in their 30s: Gisele Bündchen, Heidi Klum and Kate Moss. But these women have branched out of the traditional model role and use their talents to foster careers in business, television and clothing design.
Runway models tend to be between 14 and 27 years old (though there are, of course, exceptions). As with most industries that rely on physical appearance, the older you are when you start, the harder it can be to break into that line of work.
The Bottom Line
Retiring young and being forced to switch careers at the moment when most people are settling into theirs may sound idyllic but it can be a difficult change to handle. Loss of both identity and earnings, combined with the decreasing media spotlight, can weigh heavily on those used to fame and fortune. Before their young retirement, those in careers with short life spans have to start planning their long term finances and looking towards future roles that can capitalize on their skills. (If you want to retire ahead of schedule, it'll take some extra planning. See Early Out: A Realistic Plan To Retire Younger.)