During my first semester of college, I was shocked that the teaching assistant in charge of my Latin class was 70 years old. I was even more surprised to learn that he was nearly finished with his PhD in Classics, and was actively pursuing professorships at a number of universities around the country. Shouldn’t he have retired 5 years ago?
But for many Americans turning 65, the idea of retirement isn’t as appealing as it once was. In fact, an increasing number of baby boomers have begun seeking new career opportunities later in life. According to a research survey by Encore.org, over 4.5 billion people between the ages of 50 and 70 had already begun “recareering”—pursuing new career opportunities—in 2014. Not surprisingly, most of these second careers focus on doing good and helping others more than being a way to make sure they’ve got enough cash to get through to the end of the month. The reason for this is simple. Folks pursuing a second career later in life often feel they’re at a point where the personal and professional skills they’ve gained along the way can be used to make a social impact on the lives of others.
If you’re thinking about recareering, consider leveraging your talents and making an impact in one of these fields.
There is a pressing and growing need for highly qualified elementary, middle, and high school teachers in this country. More and more students face illiteracy and a lack of social, personal, and professional skills that perpetuate the cycle of poverty and despair in poor and underserved communities. While it may seem daunting to move into the field of education, it’s likely that the skills and education you’ve already got will help you gain the credentials to become a teacher.
In fact, many universities offer transitional or second career options for professionals who’d like to earn their state teaching licenses while gaining classroom experience. If you’ve got qualifications or experience in science, math, or languages, you’re even more likely to find a transitional program that meets your needs—and wants to enrol you! Organizations like Teach for America also welcome those seeking a second career in education. You’ll receive hands-on training, a modest salary, plus the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of kids in poor, underprivileged, and underserved communities around the U.S.
Similarly, Americans in poor and underserved populations feel the effects of changes in the nation’s healthcare protocols and processes. An increased number of older people fall into these populations, and need the support of individuals who can guide them in making medical and healthcare decisions for their next stage of life.
As in education, careers in healthcare often require specialized knowledge or training, but if you’re not interested in going back to school, there are opportunities for you to pursue work in this field and make an impact on your community. Community centers, hospitals, and even health insurance carriers seek coaches, navigators, and advocates to connect with patients and help them make sound medical decisions. For example, patient advocates help folks understand the healthcare system and their options for treatment, insurance, and care, while medication coaches assist patients in understanding and maintaining medication routines for complex illnesses like cancer.
Finally, many people seeking a second career turn to nonprofits for fulfilling work later in life. Many opportunities in the nonprofit sector are on a volunteer basis, but given the hands-on nature of nonprofit work, the reward is likely greater than a weekly check. You’ll have the chance to work for a cause that means something to you, using your skills to make a tangible impact on your community. And if you’ve already got experience in that field or you bring management skills to the group, you’ll likely find a position as a coordinator or advocate for your cause, allowing you to profit from your passion!