What is a Good Second Career for Someone Over 50?

What is a Good Second Career for Someone Over 50?

After successfully entering the workforce, some women choose to take the nearest exit off-ramp at various points during their career journey. For some, it is to raise children as a stay-at-home mom and for others it might be to care for a disabled spouse or aging parent. Whatever the reason, ramping back up and reentering the workforce might prove challenging, but not impossible. As a matter of fact, this time in your life is an excellent opportunity to explore what is a good second career for someone over 50.

Whether you quit altogether, transitioned to a more flexible career, or pursued a part-time side hustle, now is an excellent time to pursue a second career that aligns better with where you are at right now. In short, it is time for your second act.

Using LinkedIn as a Research Tool

As you begin your research, a major consideration is the experience you already possess. Is there a way to take the skills you already have and repackage them into a new opportunity? One of the best ways to do this is to register for a free LinkedIn account and reconnect with your former colleagues. Analyze their career trajectory, particularly the people who shared your previous job title. What have they been doing while you were out of the workforce?  Are any of these positions of interest to you?

Another favorite LinkedIn strategy is to do a search for people with your dream job and work backwards. Huh?  For example, let’s say you enjoy party planning and always thought you’d make a good corporate event planner. After all, a good second career for someone over 50 would be event planning because many moms have lots of experience throwing birthday parties and volunteer events.

Search the LinkedIn profiles for event planners and review their work experience and job descriptions. Where do you see connections with your work experience and volunteer activities?  What opportunities exist for you to gain new experience in this area?

Find Fast-Growing Jobs

Once the creative juices are flowing, it is time to get to work brainstorming some possibilities. When researching new career options, it is probably wise to consider that you are looking for a position where you will be in demand over the next fifteen to twenty years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook provides a wealth of information on median income, job growth rate, and required education level. Some quick research in the Occupational Outlook Handbook revealed what is a good second career for someone over 50, particularly choices with a faster than average job growth.

Opportunities for College Graduates

Surprisingly enough, teachers and many (not all) trade positions had average to slower than average job growth. When seeking to define what is a good second career for someone over 50, three categories seem immensely important-median annual salary, estimated job growth, and required education level.

College Degree Required

If you already have a Bachelor’s degree, investigate the following fast-growing jobs:  Medical/Health Service Managers, Financial Managers, Social/Community Services Managers, Fundraiser, Event Planner, Training Development Specialist, Cost Estimator, Financial Analyst, Pre-school/Childcare Director, Property Manager, and Loan Officer.

Specific Credentials Required

Some growing occupations worth considering that require specific degrees and/or credentials are an Accountant, Actuary, Personal Financial Planner, or Real Estate Appraiser/Assessor. Considering that an actuary enjoys a median salary of $102,880 and a 22% job growth rate, this one might be worth the time required to gain the additional education.

An important consideration regarding a second career is whether or not you can afford the time required for additional education or training. Assuming you need to get back to work quickly, there are several high growth occupations with a good return on investment.

Although nursing is a well-known option, if you have an interest in medical careers consider becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer. At $67,808 in median annual salary with an Associate’s degree, the pay is not much lower than that of registered nurses who make $71,730 with a Bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, the diagnostic medical sonography field is expected to grow by 17% over the next ten years, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Note that you could become a Marriage and Family Therapist which, while growing at an astronomical rate of 23%, the field only pays a median salary $50,094 with a Master’s degree! With retirement looming, the financial outlook is likely top of mind.

Fast Growing Jobs That Require an Associate’s Degree

Due to the fact that demographers cite the aging Baby Boomers as a looming social trend, medical professions are particularly appealing as skyrocketing growth is expected. Some of these positions pay particularly well and only require an Associate’s degree, such as Physical Therapy Assistant, Occupational Therapy Assistant, MRI Technologist, Nuclear Medicine Radiologist, and Radiation Therapist.

These fields have ever changing requirements for certification based on location so it is important to look into the qualifications needed in your area. At $82,330 in annual median salary, becoming a radiation therapist promises rewarding pay with reasonable educational requirements and a higher than average job growth rate of 13%.

Fast Growing Jobs That Require Minimal Training

If you are feeling that you need to move into a new position as quickly as possible, consider the following options that only require a certificate or minimal training:  medical or dental assistant, massage therapist, optician, medical records tech, private detective, property manager, or pharmacy tech. Each of these have a 10-29% job growth rate and over $32,000+ in median annual salary.

Design Your Ideal Job

As you mull over your options, consider the following perspective. When we were growing up, a familiar question that many of us heard is “What do you want to be when you grow up?” After much reflection, I concluded that this was entirely the wrong question to ask and leads many down the wrong path. Since I’m a firm believer that asking the right questions is pretty much the key to life, I believe a better question is “How do you want to live?” No, really. How do YOU want to live this next act of your life, your Act 2?

Embrace Corporate Life or Start Your Own Thing

Possibly some things that used to work for you, like sitting in a cubicle for 40+ hours per week, just are not going to cut it this time around. You’ve evolved and, hopefully you know a whole awful lot more about your needs, hopes, and desires than you did when you were just starting out.

So before you start getting all practical and thinking about “I just need to make some money” or “I need something to do all day” give yourself some space to think about what you really want. Are you the type of person who simply wants to go to work, put in your time, and collect a paycheck or, frankly, are you open to some ideas that would require you to take more risk but potentially provide more freedom?  This is a time to pinpoint what you really require to feel happy, purposeful, and fully engaged in a career pursuit.

Work Environment is Key

Another important consideration is work environment. Some of us can cope with being inside on the job all day and some of us feel like we are going to crawl out of our skin if we have to be inside all day. Others prefer jobs, such as sales positions, where you are on the road meeting with customers daily. Give some thought to the definition of your ideal work environment.

As we get excited about pursuing something new, it is easy to overlook the importance of workplace culture. Due to the fact that ageism is a “thing” and it is real, as you evaluate what is a good second career for someone over 50, it is wise to consider the stability of any particular position you might pursue.

Plan to Settle In for a Spell

This is not a time for a short stint as you job hop around. The goal is to find a place where you can stay awhile, ideally a place where you make a meaningful impact and contribute until you are ready to retire. This requires that you give some serious thought to whether or not  the company is a good fit for you based on your  personality and preferences.

Look for Diversity by Age

When you look around do you see some diversity?  By diversity, I mean diverse age groups. Are most of the employees twenty-five years old or do you see a mix of age groups?  On the other hand, it IS energizing to be around young twenty somethings and someone embarking on a second career probably has as much to learn from the Millenials as they have to learn from you. Therefore, you don’t necessarily want to be in a room with a bunch of people that graduated high school the same year that you did.

Culture Keeps Things Interesting

Corporate culture is a tricky concept to explain -you kind of just know when you don’t like a place or when you do. So go with your gut-if it does not feel like home, you probably won’t last there for long and that is not going to help you advance your goal of beginning a lucrative and fulfilling second career.

Your Future is Bright

As you mindfully explore your and proactively consider the demand for workers, the median salary, and the educational requirements, you seriously increase your chances of a successful reentry into the workforce. Further efforts to consider your personal checklist for the ideal job positions you for a good career fit.

Your future is now bright with possibilities because you designed it that way. You dared to ask what you wanted for this second act in you life. What IS a good second career for someone over 50?  The one that energizes and engages you while meeting your financial needs. The one that makes you feel that your Act 2 is brimming with new possibilities.

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