Career Paths for Older Workers
A recent AARP study indicates that two-thirds of workers over 50 are concerned about age discrimination in the workplace, but there is also data to support that age can be an advantage. Considering the fact that over 50% of the current workforce is over 50 and are also choosing to stay employed longer, responsive companies are increasingly investing in the employees they already have. Which, as it turns out, is a wise choice since older employees actually miss less time, require less HR support, and can usually complete their tasks with minimal supervision.
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If you are an older professional considering a career shift, check out these four hot career paths where your age just may be one of your best assets.
1. Healthcare and Allied Health Workers
Age is perceived as wisdom and can boost patient confidence in a health care setting. Requiring only a two year degree to get started, several growing opportunities in healthcare include:
- Medical assistant – assists in patient care in a variety of healthcare settings
- Medical and health service managers – administratively supports the work of primary providers
- Licensed practical and vocational nurses – performs routine patient care in private practice or in larger settings like hospitals and nursing homes
- Home health aid – provides healthcare for patients at home through an umbrella organization or as a private contractor
- Physical therapist assistant – provides supportive service to patients recovering from injury
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that growth in healthcare fields remains strong. Their website can provide specific information about earning potential for these and several other important healthcare jobs suitable for older career changers.
If you are interested in these careers or other health care career paths, check out these great resources:
2. Career Coach/Counselor/Financial Advisor
When people walk into an office of a counselor of any variety they want to know that they are paying money to someone who has the perspective and life experience to be truly helpful. For most people book knowledge isn’t enough to instill confidence – the counselor also needs to “look the part.”
With the versatility inherent to many reputable online programs, credentials needed for the following jobs can be obtained while still remaining employed:
- Psychologist/Counselor - If you want to be a marriage counselor or a school counselor you’ll need a master’s degree in order to obtain full certification, but you can be working in the field while completing education beyond the bachelor’s level.
- Substance Abuse Counselor – these specialized counselors can enter the field with a two-year Associate of Arts degree from an accredited college.
- Career Coaching/Vocational counselors – education required is dependent on the setting.
- The projected salary and general job outlook for counseling careers is good. In addition, attending networking opportunities through local chapters of professional organizations is a great way to learn about new career paths in counseling.
A few good related sites to check out are:
3. IT Manager/Trainer/Customer Support
Integrity and security are two top priorities for a hiring executive in the IT field. With age comes reliability and a proven track record that is built over decades of consistent work performance. Securing additional training to polish off the IT skills you already have might just be the ticket you need to break into one of these hot careers:
- IT security – works with executives to ensure safety of networks and monitor threats
- Database managers – maximize IT solutions to streamline data management
- Customer service – address customer needs with IT solutions
- Web Applications Developer – develops innovative mobile device applications
If you already have strong IT experience and security clearance, the Department of Homeland Security has many lucrative opportunities available. The Association for Information Technology Professionals is a strong organization with international membership. Its website is a great place to start for networking, exploring topics in the field and engaging in continuing education.
4. Jobs outside the Box – Pursue a Passion
After exploring other careers options, many older professionals develop a specialized niche and become consultants. They may work alone or partner with others. If you are interested in consulting, the Association for Professional Consultants can help provide a peer network and insider tips.
According to AARP another popular career move for older professionals is to use existing talent, knowledge, and confidence to promote a cause in the non-profit sector. For an additional list of current non-profit job openings and volunteer opportunities, you can visit www.Idealist.org.
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Lastly, if you have not been to the AARP website recently, you need to check it out. The site is full of fabulous ideas for creative ways to find that work-life balance important to maintain health. There is extensive career information on the site as well as great networking tips.
Expertise and Experience
While stereotypes about older workers may still be prevalent among some employers, the truly savvy executives will reward you for your expertise and experience. Before looking elsewhere, there may be opportunities to explore at your present company. A manager may be more willing than you think to help you seek professional development especially if it means retaining your services for a few more years. Sometimes no matter how great a job is, you may just feel that it is simply time for a change.
If you are considering exploring a new career, be sure to do your research first and put a plan in place that makes sense for your resources, financial needs, and ambitions. Consulting professional organizations and attending networking events provide the inside scoop on jobs in the field. Joining online professional networking sites like LinkedIn can help you boost your networking potential, participate in interesting discussions, and explore company profiles.
Whatever you decide, it is great to know you have options. With the help of the Internet, an online class or two, and some professional networking, you just may find your dream job calling to you. Whether it is waiting for you in unexpected places or waiting to be uncovered right where you are, be sure to go after it with a solid plan of attack and an air of confidence that lets a future employer know that your age is something to be proud of and celebrate. You’ve got it – now get out there and flaunt it!
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