And the Top 9 Careers for the 50+ Set Are . . .

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July/August, 2011; Source: AARP Bulletin | The work of nonprofits is the stuff of dreams for workers aged 50+ who are looking to launch an “encore” career. The American Association of Retired Persons reports that the most desired fields of work for encore careers are:

  1. Health care – hospital, hospice, nursing
  2. Work with older people
  3. Spiritual/religious work
  4. Local or global poverty alleviation
  5. Community safety
  6. Teaching
  7. Conservation
  8. Work with children/youth

And, the #1 most desired work for an encore career is . . . Advocacy!

Nonprofits are key players in all of these fields. Given these results, the 50+ age group may be particularly ripe for mobilization and engagement around policy advocacy. The timing couldn’t be better, as such work is experiencing a resurgence and heightened prioritization across the sector.—Kathi Jaworski

  • Leslie Scallet

    That’s great news for all those causes! Now, if only the nonprofits will make policy advocacy a priority and develop the programs to engage and train and deploy all those advocates.

  • Valerie Jones

    This could be great… I think…however, I can’t belp but wonder what they want to advocate for. And whether decisions and priorities from their first career are some of the reasons advocacy is required in the here and now.

    This is not to imply that I feel cynical, but as a Gen Xer, I’ve observered enough in my elders to wonder. I wholeheartedly support the efforts of anyone of any age who is willing to engage in the hard work of advocating for what is important to the advocate. I hope too, that what is important has something to do with the common good.

  • Kathi Jaworski

    Thanks Valerie and Leslie. With regard to your point about the focus of boomer advocacy, Valerie, I can only say that boomers, like any generation, are diverse in their political and social outlook– at least in my experience. I think the opportunity, and challenge, for nonprofits is to look beyond stereotypes of any generation, and engage as many folks as they can to advance their mission in ways that feel natural. I was surprised, and gratified, to learn that advocacy has such a high level of interest. But still, it will take some sifting and sorting to connect diverse match up advocates with their diverse causes.

  • Bob Cooper

    I laugh at this. I have a masters in social work and a PhD, but because I’ve been a house painter or I’m 68 or whatever, I don’t even get a callback for these $8/hr jobs. So much for encore careers or giving back to society. What a joke.

  • Edwin Penfold

    I have been involved with guiding and managing job seekers and others for the last 15-years. About 10-years ago, I noted a need for advocates working with the elderly in nursing homes and other venues. There seemed to be a lack of oversight, family members clueless on what to do and who to trust. I started suggesting to others of all age groups to consider stepping up and speaking for those who cannot. I had been a Job Developer for Differently Able Individuals and succeeded in making inroads where they had never been able to before, then budget and layoff and into the job-seeking field I went to land in the field that helped unemployed people find work. I never forgot those early efforts where an advocate was the most rewarding experience. So back to the last 10-years. In that time I have counseled all age groups, but towards the last 5-years that group became more populated with people over the age of 40. Some into their late 60’s were still seeking a purpose and had the energy to do it. In a caseload of 200, I had almost 80% over age 40. In this more mature group, I would seek people with life’s experiences that would suggest a tendency for advocating. I was met with resistance, why would I do that. Response is that our elders and peers would listen better and work with people closer to their own age. Education would then be the next issue, many having only High School Diplomas but rose thought the ranks to positions of command or control. The organizations that would consider such advocating wanted Social Workers and such for the paying jobs. Again, life’s experience not being a sufficient education either. However, to my surprise, a local community college started creating courses for Home Health Care and such that would give a basic format to start. I still saw that a major university offered a Gerontology Bachelors degree and the graduates struggled to find employment, so not everything has changed. There are those out there that need others to help. I will keep suggesting and supporting efforts in this direction. The things that remain are that these types of efforts need funding, must be able to pay salaries that are competitive and supporting of those performing the duties, last keep politics and the need for excessive profits out of it to do what is right.

  • Sharon Jones

    As an only child visiting my 90 year old father in an Alzheimer’s facility, I agree that there is a need for this. I have been impressed by the management of this memory care company, but residents still need someone outside to check on them. When I see Dad at 2:30 pm and he doesn’t have his hearing aids and dental plate in place, I complain. Turnover is high and pay is low in personal care jobs. I’m thankful that he has long term care insurance, because the fee is more than $70,000 a year in a facility with about 50 residents and specially trained staff. What will happen to baby boomers who have no children or close relatives to ensure that their needs are met? I don’t know who will pay these advocates though.