5 great second careers for baby boomers
How to keep busy and keep earning in the next stage of your life.
Baby boomers — generally defined as those born between 1946 and 1964 — are beginning to retire. Many of them, however, are looking at starting second careers and finding ways to keep working.
"When it comes to baby boomers and second careers, these are generally known as ‘encore careers; and, given the increase in longevity and an expected retirement of 20 to 30 years, more people are looking for new meaning and an interest in contributing something to the greater good,” says Jim Craft, professor of business administration at the University of Pittsburgh's Katz Graduate School of Business. “These encore careers can be sources of income for older persons; while it's helpful, financial outcome is not the key reason for their participation.”
Craft says many careers tend to be in education, nonprofits, healthcare and faith-based organizations as this generation seeks to “self-actualize and make a meaningful contribution in their life.”
If you’re approaching retirement age and looking for something to do in the next chapter of your life, consider these five ideas of second careers for baby boomers.
Using the experience you’ve gained over a long career is a great way to start a new career, and consulting is an ideal outlet. “If you are a professional who has recently retired, you still probably have enough good business contacts to become a consultant in your chosen field,” says Jim Stedt, president and founder of Hartley and Associates. Consulting offers a flexible schedule and the opportunity to take on only the clients you want to work with.
“By mid-life you have solved many problems,” says Ellen Mastros of New Work New Life. “Most likely other people have those same problems and you can help them solve them too. One can become a consultant in just about any industry or career field.”
Baby boomers still have some of the idealism that set their generation apart, and nonprofit work is a good way to use it. “Many baby boomers want to give back to the community and end up working for nonprofits,” Stedt says. “Some of these positions are for pay and some are only for volunteers.”
Whether it’s in a traditional K-12 school or at a community college, teaching can be an ideal outlet for boomers. “Many trade schools are looking for instructors who have real-life work experience in the careers they are teaching,” Stedt says. Community colleges are also good places to for teaching positions, and some colleges offer a fast-track teaching license for people who already have a bachelor’s degree.
After working for someone else all of their careers, boomers can finally work for themselves by buying into franchises and becoming franchisees. The variety of franchises available make it possible to find one that fits your work style, whether it’s hands-on and involved or managing from afar. “For those who always wanted to work for themselves, this is an excellent way to fulfill that entrepreneurial spirit,” Stedt says.
“People are now earning income in ways that we never could have even imagined just a few short years ago,” says Nancy Collamer, author of “Second-Act Careers: 50+ Way to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement.”
“Selling on the Internet, self-publishing books on demand, and teaching webinars online,” are all options, she says. “Jobs we aspired to when we were younger have become obsolete, and new careers — like virtual assistants, app designers, social media consultants, and bloggers — have filled the void.” And many of these kinds of jobs can be done from home and on a flexible schedule.