Back to Work at Our Age?! New Careers for Seniors - Wesley Ridge
Senior woman working on apple computer, at home

Back to Work at Our Age?! New Careers for Seniors

A recent movie “The Intern” features Academy Award-winning actor Robert DeNiro as just that: an intern back to work in corporate America, reporting to a 30-something boss. Many of my friends who are of retirement age are finding themselves in new careers and/or just NOT retiring. They say they can’t afford to or they just want to keep working. And that begins the discussion of the next iteration of careers in our later years.

Many individuals in their early 50’s and beyond have more than likely spent the majority of their careers at one company. Thus, these worker bees want to continue doing something and the options are many. From start-ups to volunteering to launching a new career, older workers can basically choose their next path and bring to it a strong work ethic, great experience and are productive and engaged.

If you are thinking about kick-starting your career, consider these not-so-common paths to a whole new career:

*Certificate Programs: available at community colleges, for-profit schools and even Ivy League schools, attaining a certification in a key area is a great way to jump-start a career and are now even outnumbering bachelor’s degrees. These programs are designed to give you a level of expertise in a specific area, such as medical assistant, data science or even non-profit fundraising. The investment in time can range from a few months to a couple of years (think Columbus State or Franklin University locally) and some offer tuition assistance as well. Additional roles include interpreter, personal finance advisor, massage therapist or accountant.

*Apprenticeships: often deemed “learn-and-earn” programs, these run a gamut of two to four years, with workers often spending four days a week on the job and one day in the classroom. Pay ranges from 40 to 60 percent of what a fully skilled professional would make. Historically, apprenticeships have been in the building or manufacturing industry, but with recent growth and opportunity, have expanded into health care, insurance and the ever-growing information technology industry, which lets workers work from home. Under the Obama administration, apprenticeships have grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. Check out for opportunities in your area.

*Volunteer/Non-Profit Work: at this stage in the game you may decide to be a public servant or just give back your time to philanthropic or non-profits looking for volunteers and day-to-day help. Many can use assistance with stuffing envelopes, planning or hosting events, or planning campaigns. Sometimes these roles turn into part-time or full-time positions.

*Start-Ups: want to be your own boss? Kick-starters and start-ups are just not for the twenty-somethings. The growth in entrepreneurial businesses grew out of the downturn in the economy in 2008, and people have not looked back. If you have a hobby that you love and want to grow it, this may be the ideal scenario for you. The strategy here is to not tap into your 401K or savings, but rather extend a line of credit or take out a small business loan. Use Google to seek out free information on the next steps, and reach out to someone you may know who has been successful with a growth venture.

Want more information? This past September, AARP launched a new website to help older workers stay competitive and up-to-date with skillsets and trends in the workplace. Check out