Once age 62 rolls around, many workers are ready for a change. “A lot of people choose to leave the rat race and step out of this busy, busy life,” says Ellen Miller, executive director of the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging and Community.
For some people, that means retirement, but others aren’t ready to leave the workforce completely. They may move into a different field or work in a different capacity. While some seniors continue working for the money, others hold jobs because they love the social connections, routines and life purpose that comes with employment.
The Urban Institute surveyed 6,230 workers age 62 and older and found some trends in the jobs they report to be the most enjoyable. “Most of these jobs are jobs that require more brains than brawn,” says Richard Johnson, director of the Program on Retirement Policy at the Urban Institute. “They want positions where they have more control over their schedules.”
Marci Alboher, author of “The Encore Career Handbook” and vice president at the nonprofit Encore.org, says that beyond flexibility, older workers are interested in helping professions and opportunities to pass on their knowledge to others. Meaning, value and purpose all play a role in whether a job will be enjoyable.
For older workers looking for their second act, the following occupations are among the most enjoyable
1. Clergy. In the Urban Institute survey, no job scored as more enjoyable than that of clergy. Nearly two-thirds of older workers in this profession say they really enjoy what they do. This career ticks off a lot of boxes when it comes to what older workers like about employment. It provides social connections, offers a meaningful line of work, can be flexible and provides opportunities to help others. “Many people transition into that job at older ages,” Johnson says. Traditionally not a job that pays well, it can be a good fit for seniors who have other sources of retirement income.
2. Counselors. Among counselors, a little more than 46 percent told the Urban Institute they really enjoy their job. However, 9 percent of older workers in this field say they don’t enjoy this type of work, which means it’s important to find a job that is the right fit. Alboher surmises that people like counseling and mentoring jobs because they offer a chance to pass on knowledge to others. “You’ve lived through a lot of things,” Alboher says. That may provide older workers with the perspective to do this job effectively.
3. Administrative supervisors. Supervisors of office and administrative workers is next on the Urban Institute’s list of the most enjoyable jobs for older workers. Of those in this profession, 46 percent say they like their line of work. This job provides social interaction without being physically demanding, two attributes that can be appealing to those who have passed age 62.
4. Teachers. Postsecondary teachers who work at the college level report slightly higher levels of satisfaction than other teachers, but both make the list of enjoyable jobs. Overall, between 40 and 44 percent of older workers in the field say they enjoy their profession. “People want to use their accumulated life knowledge,” Alboher says. “There is also a great interest in people connecting with the next generation.” Plus, between online education options and part-time or substitute jobs, this can be a flexible position for many people.
5. Farmers and ranchers. The inclusion of farmers and ranchers on the Urban Institute’s list may surprise some people. Farming is a rigorous occupation that demands long hours, and older workers are often looking for less physically demanding jobs. However, nearly 40 percent of those surveyed say they enjoy the job. For some farmers and ranchers, their work is a vocation and ingrained in who they are. “It doesn’t surprise me,” Miller says. “It’s what they do and what they love.”
6. Grounds maintenance workers. Grounds maintenance workers have a job that can be physically demanding. However, it can also be flexible. “It’s a job where you’re outdoors, and it’s [often] seasonal,” Johnson says. “It’s probably pretty pleasant surroundings.” Nearly 39 percent of older workers in this occupation say they enjoy their job.
7. Health care positions. While not a specific occupation, the health care field is another to which seniors may gravitate. “There are a range of possibilities that open up in health care,” Alboher says. Nursing and caregiver positions can be a good fit for older workers who want to help others and have meaningful jobs. Alboher adds that non-medical roles such as that of health care navigators can also be enjoyable for those looking for encore careers.
8. A job that captures your imagination. There’s a wide range of jobs that might be enjoyable for those age 62 and older. “There’s as much diversity in what older workers would enjoy as in what younger workers would enjoy,” Miller says. Rather than limit yourself to the jobs that welcome older workers, consider your personal goals and needs. If you love your current career, you may be able to work part time or as a consultant. Retirement also provides an opportunity to move into a new field if you want to try something new. Any job can be an enjoyable job for older workers, and everyone needs to figure out what that occupation is for themselves.