DEFINITION of 'Encore Career'

A second vocation in the second half of one's life. An encore career seeks to combine a sense of purpose with public-service passion and a paycheck for people in their 50s and 60s, according to Encore.org, a nonprofit organization founded by social entrepreneur Marc Freedman. While encore careers can be found in any sector, they tend to be clustered in five areas – healthcare, the environment, education, government and the nonprofit sector. The term "encore career" is believed to have been popularized by Freedman.

BREAKING DOWN 'Encore Career'

The increase in encore careers is being driven by a potent combination of factors: a massive demographic shift (that will result in the number of Americans over the age of 55 exceeding 100 million by 2030); longer life expectancies; and an increased desire to "give back" to the community.
 
The trend toward encore careers may seem like a win-win all around. Experienced and educated older individuals can add to economic activity by making a meaningful contribution to society; they can also stay gainfully employed well beyond the normal retirement age. The problem is that encore careers are paid jobs, not volunteer positions. Many people in encore careers may be already receiving handsome pensions from their previous jobs. The logical question, then, is whether they need additional income at a time when unemployment is much higher than normal, especially for fresh graduates who are just entering the work force (many with a sizeable student debt loads). Encore careerists may be "crowding out" younger people that may be as qualified as them, but without the same depth of work experience.

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