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4 second careers that offer competitive salaries

October 17, 2013

By Naomi Mannino | Money Rates Columnist

Many Americans worry today about not having enough money to fund a comfortable retirement. But for some, another question will arise before they are financially prepared to leave the workforce: What happens if the career they've had for years is no longer satisfying -- or even available?

For many baby boomers, the answer may involve a second career, also known as an "encore" or "second act" career. But pursuing a new profession in the second half of life can be challenging -- particularly for those who are accustomed to a certain level of income.

"Surveys consistently show that baby boomers want to continue working beyond retirement age," says Jack Plunkett, CEO of Plunkett Research, Ltd. and author of The Almanac of American Employers. "Maybe not full-time, maybe not with the same level of stress they worked under during younger years or first careers, but they want to be meaningful members of society, and in many cases they also still need income."

If you'd like to pursue a new career in the second half of your life and still need to earn a competitive salary, these attainable and in-demand job titles may be worth considering.

1. Corporate consultant

Average salary: $59,560 (training and development positions) or $64,300 (sales positions)

Suitable for: Someone with extensive industry experience, contacts and skills who wants a new angle on a current or former field

Where the jobs are: Large and small corporations and businesses

If you love your industry but have tired of your post within it, you could parlay your skills, experience and contacts into working as a consultant. Consultants often deal with specific projects or clients in areas such as sales and corporate development. These jobs often require minimal transition time and may offer high earnings if you have highly technical skills or management experience.

Nancy Collamer, author of "Second Act Careers," says that a new job title -- entrepreneurial support services -- can offer another position within the world of consulting. In this post, workers help entrepreneurs launch their businesses by providing expertise on things such as bookkeeping, business writing, marketing, web development or selling.

2. Non-profit fundraiser

Average salary: $55,220

Suitable for: Someone with extensive writing, speaking, selling or marketing experience in any industry, and especially those who are passionate about a cause

Where the jobs are: Non-profit organizations, universities, religious institutions and government agencies

In addition to a competitive salary, working at a non-profit can also help workers support a cause they care about. This may be an attractive feature for many older workers today, says Marci Alboher, vice president of Encore.org and author of The Encore Career Handbook.

"Baby boomers are also very concerned with doing good and finding meaning in how they spend time working," Alboher says.

To gauge the opportunities in your area, find a nearby non-profit organization that you're interested in and offer your business or industry skills for fundraising and development. If you have extensive management experience, non-profits are often looking for interim directors and managers, according to the "Encore Hot List" of job titles in Alboher's book. The earning potential may not be as high as in the corporate world, but the work may be critical to a cause you care about.

3. Patient navigator/advocate

Average salary: $44,000 (Note: Because the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't yet track salaries for patient advocates, this data comes from the job-listings site SimplyHired.com.)

Suitable for: Someone with good organizational skills or a background in social work or medicine who wants a helping, non-medical health care role

Where the jobs are: Hospitals, health care facilities and insurance companies

Career experts and statistics agree: The health care industry is growing and it's unlikely to stop soon. With all the changes within the Affordable Care Act, patients and families, especially those fighting chronic illnesses, are likely to need help managing their hospital services, and that's where patient advocates come in. These positions may include working with seniors specifically, if that is your interest, or simply with anyone who requires help with critical health care decisions.

While the salaries for patient advocates can vary -- this is still largely considered an emerging profession -- a March report by The New York Times indicated that workers in this field can command fees anywhere from $15 to $150 an hour.

4. Teacher/adjunct professor

Average salary: $49,430

Suitable for: Someone with a bachelor's degree and a desire to teach children or adults, or someone with real-world business or industry experience that they would like to share with students or apprentices

Where the jobs are: Universities, community colleges and trade schools

Education is another growth industry that is evolving quickly. According to a recent MetLife Foundation and Encore.org survey, 30 percent of people in encore careers are already working in education. If you want to become a children's school teacher, you can join Teach For America, which trains college graduates and professionals to become teachers in exchange for a two-year teaching commitment in urban and rural public schools. If you want to become an adjunct or continuing education teacher or professor at a post-secondary school, you can look into teaching certificates, or inquire at your local colleges about their requirements for instructors.

"It may not be easy to find that perfect combination of a job that provides meaning in your life and a paycheck," says Plunkett. "But the right job is out there for people willing to do employer research, network and sell their skills and experience."

Your responses to ‘4 second careers that offer competitive salaries’

Showing 2 comments | Add your comment
Alex Semprini

1 November 2013 at 3:25 pm

You folks clearly have not done your homework. Adjunct professor at $ 49 K ? Only if the person in question is Superman. Adjuncts make a fraction of what tenured instructors do for the same work, have no benefits, no health insurance, no seniority, and are hired and fired on a whim. To get to your stated salary level, an adjunct would need to work the equivalent of at least 2 - 3 equivalent tenured-track workloads. And that's assuming they get all their classes: usually if there's low enrollment or a full-time prof wants an extra class - or the administrator simply doesn't like the adjunct, the adjunct gets bumped.

Mark

1 November 2013 at 2:18 am

Dear Mr. Plunkett, Your column post is well written, but self serving and idealistic. Despite "people willing to do employer research, network and sell their skills and experience," the reality is that, in most instances, job seekers are extremely lucky if they receive an initial personal response or reply from human resources within any non-profit or for-profit entity. How can you proclaim that "the right job is out there" for people, without first acknowledging the plague of the bureaucratic job application process. Every job posting says to apply online. At the end of every online application, the site asks the applicant to participate in a census, asking race, gender, etc. It states that it's for government census compliance or such, but the reality is that it's used to create a candidate pool by human resources to meet EOE criteria. More than a decade, recent college graduates have an advantage for employment at the corporate level, evident on corporate sites displaying a link for recent college I achieved a rigorous four-year Jesuit university education/degree, as well as graduate studies. I am a white male, 40 years old with no civil or criminal record. I have a broad professional background. I have been working with outplacement services since the time my job was eliminated 8 months ago, as a result of company mergers, restructuring, reorganization, mediocre upper management, etc. You get my point Mr. Plunkett?

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