Many people are quick to assume older adults are retired, but the fact is, millions of Americans age 55-plus work either full or part time. According to the National Council on Aging, over 40% of Americans in this age group will be employed by 2019, making up over a quarter of the U.S. labor force.
The reasons for remaining in the workforce – or going back to it – vary. For many, it’s a matter of necessity, especially in the aftermath of the Great Recession, when many people lost their jobs, homes and retirement savings. For others, it’s a matter of choice – to stay active, challenged and engaged in their communities. (You may also be interested in Why Most People Need to Work Past the Age of 65.)
Popular Jobs If You’re 65-Plus
Most people who work beyond retirement age – which is 65 years old, according to the U.S. Census Bureau – do so in “bridge” jobs that span the period between leaving a career and leaving the workforce altogether. Thinking about working after retirement age? Here are six popular jobs for people 65 and older.
• Accounting/Bookkeeping – Accounting and bookkeeping clerks use specialized computer accounting software, spreadsheets and databases to post financial transactions and produce financial reports, such as balance sheets and income statements. About 1 in 4 workers worked part time in 2016, and the median pay in 2017 was $18.87 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
• Adjunct Faculty – Part-time faculty (“adjuncts”) accounted for about half of the instructional faculty at nonprofit colleges and universities nationwide in 2016 – and you don’t always need a Ph.D. to snag one of these teaching jobs. While the pay is generally low – perhaps only a few thousand dollars per course – many retirees find the work fulfilling. Plus, once you’ve taught a course a couple of times, you won’t have to devote as many hours to class prep.
• Event Coordinator/Planner – Even if you’ve never worked as an event planner, you may have planned (or helped plan) dozens of events over the years – birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries and the like. You can put this experience to work to find a job or start your own business, tapping into your network of friends and family. Job growth between 2016 and 2026 is expected to be 11%, compared to an average of 7% growth across all occupations, and the median pay was $23.22 per hour in 2017, according to the BLS.
• Project-Based Consultant – Rather than filling a full-time position, many companies will find a consultant to help with a specific project. This can be an excellent way to put your decades of experience to work without committing to a full-time job. Depending on your skill set and experience, it’s possible to earn upward of $50 or even $100 an hour.
• Retail Sales – Retail sales workers held about 4.6 million jobs in the United States in 2016, according to BLS data – in clothing stores (21% of all retail sales workers), building/garden stores (10%), sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (8%), automobile dealers (6%), and electronics and appliance stores (5%). One in three workers was employed part time in 2016, and the median hourly wage was $11.16, as of May 2017. These jobs may have an added perk: employee discounts.
• Teacher Assistant – Teacher assistants (or aides) work under the supervision of a licensed teacher to give students extra attention and instruction. They may work with an entire class, in small groups or one-on-one – in elementary, middle and high schools, preschools and childcare centers. The BLS estimates job growth of 8% between 2016 and 2026, and the 2017 median pay was $26,260 per year. About 1 in 3 teacher assistants worked on a part-time basis in 2016, and in most school systems, you’ll get your summers off.
The Bottom Line
More people are working past retirement age – for extra cash, to stay active and challenged, or some combination of reasons. Some switch to new jobs within the career fields where they worked for years. For others, however, a retirement job means trying something entirely new.
While the jobs listed here are popular among the 65-plus crowd, there are, of course, many other options for older adults – including working as a member of an event staff team (think: music and sport venues), a tour guide/docent, a patient advocate, or an online or in-person tutor.