Remaining in the Workforce

Many people are quick to assume older adults are retired, but the fact is, millions of Americans age 65-plus work either full or part-time.

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.

Key Takeaways

  • For many people, reaching age 65 means retirement. But for others, working later on in life is necessary to maintain their financial security or to avoid boredom.
  • If you do continue to work past age 65, not all jobs are going to be as desirable for you - or from the perspective of employers.
  • Here, we go through just a few of the most popular jobs for those older individuals in the workforce.

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. 

Adjunct Faculty

Part-time faculty (“adjuncts”) accounted for a significant portion of the instructional faculty at nonprofit colleges and universities – 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 2019 and 2029 is expected to be 8%, compared to an average of 4% growth across all occupations, and the median pay was $24.33 per hour in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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 upwards of $50 or even $100 an hour. 

Retail Sales

Retail salespersons held about 4.3 million jobs in the United States in 2019, according to BLS data – in general merchandise stores (19% of all retail salespersons), clothing stores (16%), building material and supplies dealers (10%), sporting goods, hobby, and musical instrument stores (6%), and automobile dealers (6%). Nearly one in three retail workers was employed part-time in 2020, and the median hourly wage was $12.14 for retail salespersons, as of May 2019. These jobs may have an added perk: employee discounts for the products your store sells.  

Teacher's 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 4% between 2019 and 2029 and the 2019 median pay was $27,920 per year. Many teacher assistants work on a part-time basis, 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.