How to find work (after retirement)

(MoneyWatch) If you're picturing retirement as the time you'll no longer work but will devote your days to pursuing your interests and hobbies, you may not like what you're about to read: Don't quit your job at 65. Instead, work longer in order to have enough money to really enjoy your retirement years. While that may not be what you were planning to do, it's becoming standard retirement planning advice from many financial writers, including me. Welcome back to my series of posts this week on working in retirement, as part of my 16-week series on planning your retirement.

It isn't just financial advisers dispensing this advice: many Americans are coming to the same conclusion on their own. According to the 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), 43 percent of workers plan to continue working after age 65, up from a low 18 percent back in 1998. Another big shift: The number of workers planning to retire before age 65 has dropped from 49 percent in 1998 to 23 percent in 2013.

But in the current economy, finding senior employment may be easier said than done. In fact, 47 percent of retirees reported in the EBRI's 2013 survey that they had retired earlier than planned. Although working longer remains a great way to boost retirement security, it's not necessarily something you can rely on.

One good source of inspiration and information for finding retirement work comes from a great book by Mark Miller, The Hard Times Guide to Retirement Security: Practical Strategies for Money, Work, and Living. Miller devotes a number of chapters to the topic of finding work; these chapters offer realistic and appropriate tips for boomers who want to continue working. One table I particularly liked, distilled from a comprehensive report from the Urban Institute entitled Will Employers Want Aging Boomers?, showed 20 of the fastest-growing occupations with above-average proportions of workers age 55 and older:

  • Personal and home care aides
  • Personal financial advisors
  • Veterinarians
  • Social and community service managers
  • Miscellaneous entertainment attendants and related workers
  • Surveyors, cartographers, and photogrammetrists
  • Environmental scientists and geoscientists
  • Registered nurses
  • Animal trainers
  • Instructional coordinators
  • Locksmiths and safe repairers
  • Postsecondary teachers
  • Archivists, curators, and museum technicians
  • Social workers
  • Management analysts
  • Pharmacists
  • Counselors
  • Business operation specialists
  • Brokerage clerks
  • Religious workers

Many of these careers offer opportunities for flexible work arrangements, on-the-job training, and good benefits, and most aren't physically demanding. Some may require you to go back to school, but if it helps you land steady and fulfilling work for years to come, this may be a good way to begin a new chapter in your life.

Another good source for tips on finding retirement work is The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life, by Marci Alboher. This book offers a number of practical strategies for finding work, including how to transition from your current career, how to network and use social media, determining whether additional schooling will deliver a significant payoff, and realistically assessing your skills and abilities and matching them up with potential jobs. It contains an Encore Hot List of viable retirement jobs that looks similar to the list shown above from Miller's book; many careers are in health care, social services, education, counseling, and nonprofits.

Mark Miller recently interviewed Alboher for his retirement column on Reuters, and she shared a number of valuable tips and counsels people to be prepared for the hard work that comes with reinventing yourself to find fulfilling work in your retirement years.

Miller, who is realistic about working during retirement, says, "Working longer is a great aspiration, but it's not really a plan in and of itself." Instead, you'll need to plan just how you'll work in your retirement years. The two books mentioned in this post are good places to start creating that plan. Stay tuned for my next post that contains tips on finding work that you might enjoy

  • Steve Vernon On Twitter»

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    Steve Vernon helped large employers design and manage their retirement programs for more than 35 years as a consulting actuary. Now he's a research scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, where he helps collect, direct and disseminate research that will improve the financial security of seniors. He's also president of Rest-of-Life Communications, delivers retirement planning workshops and authored Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck and Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years.

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