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The best careers for starting over after 55

Updated March 23, 2017

As the population ages, people are working longer and sometimes even launching new careers at a time when they once might have thought about retiring. Employers who might have been resistant to hiring older workers are rethinking those attitudes. Whether you want to work to supplement your retirement, to keep your brain active or to give back to your community, there are opportunities for age 55-plus workers to consider.

Health Care

Health care is one of the fields where demand is high and expected to grow over the next few decades. Look for home care positions or work as an aide for those with special needs. Consider becoming a patient representative. If you’re prepared to go back to school, nursing can be a rewarding career, paying up to £39 an hour for specialised care. Financial aid also might be available for training as a health care worker.

Education

A lifetime of work experience can be transferred to the classroom. Teachers’ aide positions in state schools are often flexible and part time, though the pay can be low (about £5 to £7 an hour, as of February 2010). Private tutoring could be a more lucrative option, especially if you have the expertise to tutor at the high school level. If giving back is more important than earning potential, there are volunteer mentor programs such as Experience Corps that can use your expertise to help underprivileged kids.

Retail

This is one of the sectors that has been most forward-thinking about employing seniors--think of Wal-Mart greeters. Many other major chains also recognise the value of harnessing the experience and people skills of older workers. Home Depot, Borders, Walgreens and Target are companies known for their flexible approach to hiring seniors. While pay can be low in the greeter/cashier type positions (about £7 an hour at Wal-Mart, as of February 2010), if you have relevant experience you may be able to make more in management positions.

Entrepreneurship

Bypass the whole hiring marketplace altogether by launching your own business. You likely have savvy in your field and ideas for a niche that hasn’t been filled. With Internet marketing, it’s easier to strike out on your own. If you aren’t as computer literate as you’d like, there are courses aimed specifically at seniors.

Real Estate

Getting your real estate license can be a flexible career option, and especially appropriate for those who enjoy dealing with people. While it does require an upfront investment in course and exam fees, if you approach your new field with energy and enthusiasm, it can pay off. In addition to sales, there are other positions to consider in the industry, such as becoming an appraiser.

Non-profit Work

If giving back is an important element as you contemplate your second career, consider the non-profit sector. There are charity organisations that likely could use expertise and judgment. Organizations like Encore.org are working to connect seniors with meaningful work in their second-act career.

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