The Complete Guide to Independent Work for Seniors and Retirees

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Table of Contents

  • Benefits of Working During Retirement
  • Phased Retirement
  • Types of Employment
  • Recommended Jobs for Seniors 
  • Resources for Seniors 

Retirement looks different for everyone. Some people dream of playing golf and visiting their grandchildren, while others see it as an opportunity to learn new skills and travel more. No matter your vision for retirement, working as a senior could offer you some significant benefits—even if it’s part-time or consulting work. Whatever your reasons for working in retirement, it can reap you personal and financial rewards both now and in the future.

Benefits of Working During Retirement

For many, retirement isn’t completely work-free. Some retirees are employed full-time at a laid back job they love. Some stay part-time at their old company, and some freelance on the side. Whatever the arrangement, working in retirement offers plenty of personal, financial and professional benefits. 

Additional Funds

According to Transamerica, among those who plan to work in retirement, about 80% do so for financial reasons. The U.S. Government Accountability Office states that the median retirement savings are $107,000. Assuming a 20-year retirement, that equals $5,350 of income per year. Depending on your desired lifestyle, working in retirement can help pay for your living expenses and fun adventures.

Even if you only work part-time or pick up a seasonal gig, you can stow away significant cash. For example, if you made $200 a week on average, it would equal $10,400 every year. The extra income can help with budgeting—whether that’s for health care costs, vacations or hobbies. You may also want to grow your emergency fund for unexpected expenses—like a car repair or new furnace.

Having a buffer in your budget can also give you better peace of mind and reduce stress. A Northwestern Mutual survey revealed that money is the number one cause of stress among Americans. With the extra income, you can feel more at ease with your financial situation and having the retired lifestyle you dream of.

Structured Schedule

Some people find the empty days of full-on retirement to be too unstructured. A full-time or part-time job offers you some routine and continuity. You may have to wake up at a certain time or finish a project by a given deadline. Even a couple of shifts per week can give each day more purpose and structure.

Many people find that there’s a good balance between working in retirement and enjoying other activities. For example, if you consult for 10 hours a week, you still have time to catch up with friends, exercise and read a book.

Pursue New Goals

Ever dream of directing a high school play or owning your own business? Retirement is a great opportunity to pursue your ambitions—whatever they are. Some retirees want to contribute to the community or a certain cause. They may work for a charitable organization or teach at a local college. Others want to pursue goals they didn’t have time for when they had a career, like being a consultant or freelance writer.

Your goals might also be personal, such as visiting every U.S. state or donating to an animal shelter. With the extra income, it’s easier to make these goals happen, because you have more savings to do them.

Learn a New Skill

Working in retirement allows you to expand your skill set. Maybe you’ve always thought of being a computer programmer or a ski instructor. Whatever you enjoy doing or want to learn, find a job that hones those skills. For instance, you could sit on the board of a growing company, plan weddings for engaged couples or put your love of photography to use. 

Improved Health and Wellness

No matter if it’s at an office or home, working in your later years can offer tremendous health benefits. Studies show that having strong social support, like the one found in a workplace, is associated with a longer life. Those who continue to work during the ages of 57 to 85 increase their social networks by 25 percent, found economists at Cornell University and Syracuse University.

Staying active and keeping your mind engaged is also shown to help keep you healthy. In fact, an eight-decade research project by psychologist Howard S. Friedman, PhD and Leslie Martin, PhD found that those who stayed involved in meaningful careers and worked the hardest lived the longest. For instance, if you solve problems for a company, your brain benefits from that stimulation. In the same way, if you’re active—even doing something as simple as walking dogs—your body remains stronger and healthier.

Phased Retirement

Like many, you may envision the start of retirement as working full-time one day, and not at all the next. But many people transition gradually out of their careers. They might reduce their hours, work from home or transfer to a less stressful department.

Employers benefit from this transition, as you continue contributing to the company with years of experience under your belt. You can train and mentor younger employees—and the company has more time to find your replacement.

A phased retirement doesn’t only help the company, though. You can add to your savings and bring value to your work community. You might also be able to put off collecting Social Security—allowing your future SS checks to be larger.

Each company and department differ on what type of transition they can offer. If you’re interested in phased retirement, consider talking with your boss about what options are available. 

Types of Employment

Working in retirement doesn’t look the same for everyone. A wide range of opportunities are available. Choose your type of employment based on your desired lifestyle and how much you want to earn.

Full-time 

Working full-time in retirement might mean consulting for a variety of companies or teaching online classes in your area of expertise. Some retirees switch industries altogether, such as being a graphic designer from home or working the day shift at a botanical garden.

Part-time

A part-time role is typically considered anything less than 36 hours per week. Some retirees work in an entirely new position or industry, while others continue their same work at a reduced amount of time. 

Contract or Freelance

Aside from full-time and part-time work, there’s an option to be a contractor or freelancer. You might contract or freelance for a single company or several companies. You might have projects to fill 10 hours a week, or 30 hours a week. These flexible positions often mean working from home and only going into an office when required. Common contract and freelance fields include consulting, writing, marketing, graphic design and accounting.

Recommended Jobs for Senior Citizens

Whether you’re looking to grow your skill set, add to your income or find more purpose in your days, there’s a range of jobs that are great for seniors. As with any position, look for something that you’ll enjoy—and one that helps maintain the lifestyle you want.

Consultant

Help those in your industry make better business decisions and improve their processes. As a consultant, you offer your wisdom and experience to an independent entity. Common consulting fields include management, information technology, supply chain and human resources.

Driver

Enjoy cruising the city and meeting new people? Sign up to be a driver through Uber, Lyft or your local taxi service. 

Pet Sitter

Offer to walk dogs and feed the cats. Pet-sitting gigs are usually local and easy to find through neighborhoods and websites. 

Teacher / Professor

Become a substitute teacher or an adjunct professor. Impart your wisdom on young minds and be an integral part of the community. 

Professional Speaker

Have years of experience in the HR or wellness industry? Become a professional speaker for conferences, seminars and team-building events. 

Retail

Local stores and big companies alike need people to greet customers, staff the checkout and stock the shelves. Retail hours are usually flexible and give you ample opportunity to be out in the community and earn solid side cash. 

Wellness and Entertainment 

Get paid to do what you love and potentially earn free membership—whether you enjoy the gym, zoo, theater or botanical gardens. If you love traveling, consider working on a cruise ship or at a hotel. 

Seasonal Work

Do you want part of the year completely off to relax and pursue your hobbies? A seasonal gig might be best. Whether it’s gardening, ski instructing or tutoring kids in the summer, seasonal work can boost your wallet without taking away from your lifestyle. 

Caregiver

If you have experience with children or caring for elderly parents, consider being a caregiver. You can help with feeding, bathing, cooking or cleaning—knowing you’re helping someone in need. 

Resources for Seniors 

It can be hard to know where to look for retirement guidance and job opportunities. Luckily, there are plenty of resources that can help you transition, and continue to support you throughout retirement. 

Websites

Dozens of websites post opportunities for seniors and those looking for part-time or freelance work.

Temporary staffing agencies

Freelance platforms

Pet sitting

Caregiving

Senior workers

Organizations

From offering financial planning services to providing discounts and information on health care, these organizations help seniors during retirement.

AARP: Nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization; empowers Americans 50 and older

Workforce50: Jobs and resources for 50+ older workers

Social Security Administration: Understand your retirement, disability and survivors’ benefits

40Plus: Helps professionals make career transitions

Medicare: National health insurance program under the Social Security Administration

The Senior Citizens League: Advocacy group representing older Americans

Age in Place: Senior support network; helps seniors stay in their homes

Books

Learn about managing and maximizing your retirement. Whether you enjoy an e-reader, audiobooks or stopping by your library, here are a few reads that should be on your list.

How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor: How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie Zelinski 

  • Offers uplifting advice on how to enjoy retired life to the fullest
  • Covers financial health, as well as physical, mental and emotional wellbeing 

The 5 Years Before You Retire: Retirement Planning When You Need It the Most by Emily Guy Birken

  • Provides specific financial advice for the years leading up to retirement
  • Guides you through each financial, medical and family decision

How to Make Your Money Last: The Indispensable Retirement Guide by Jane Bryant Quinn 

  • Offers tips for maximizing your income and assets—from your Social Security to 401(k) to home equity

What Color Is Your Parachute? for Retirement, Second Edition: Planning a Prosperous, Healthy, and Happy Future by John E. Nelson and Richard Nelson Bolles

  • Helps you plan for a life filled with health, happiness and prosperity 
  • Provides a big-picture look at your senior years 

Whether you decide to work in retirement or travel the world, having a healthy, fulfilling retirement is what it’s all about. From your finances to your health, having things in order will ensure you enjoy all your years—whatever they may bring.

Sources 

AARP | AARP | AARP | American Psychological Association | CNBC | CNBC | CNBC | Economic Policy Institute | Northwestern Mutual | SHRM | The Balance | The Balance | The Motley Fool | The New York Times | Pennsylvania Health Care Association | Scientific American | Time | Transamerica | USA Today | U.S. Government Accountability Office | U.S. News | U.S. News | Wealth Pilgrim | Women For Hire | Yahoo Finance

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