How to Find Retirement Work that Pays

Last Updated Aug 3, 2010 10:53 AM EDT

Don't quit your job at 65 -- work longer in order to have enough money to really enjoy your retirement years. That's becoming standard retirement planning advice from many financial writers, me included. In fact, I've previously written about this topic. But in this economy, finding senior employment can be easier said than done.

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.

Mark devotes a number of chapters to finding work that offer realistic and appropriate tips for boomers. 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 gives you steady and fulfilling work for years to come, this may be a good way to begin a new chapter in your life.

This table is much more inspiring than another table from the same report, which listed the occupations with the current highest share of workers age 65 and older, as follows:

  • Funeral service workers
  • Crossing guards
  • Farmers and ranchers
  • Models, demonstrators, and product promoters
  • Funeral directors
  • Tax preparers
  • Farm, ranch, and other agricultural managers
  • Barbers
  • Tool grinders, filers and sharpeners
  • Clergy
This table confirms the old saying about nothing being certain except death and taxes! And when all else fails, pray!

Now don't get me wrong -- people in these fields make valuable contributions to society, and I'm glad somebody does this work. But most likely, you'll be inspired to use the first list for determining where to devote your time and energy in looking for retirement work. The Hard Times Guide to Retirement Security is a good place to start.

Image from iStockphoto contributor francisblack
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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.