5 Second Careers for Baby Boomers

The generation that once declared it would never grow up is now refusing to conform to the stereotype of grandma and grandpa spending their retirement years in rocking chairs.

According to research from the AARP, 40% of baby boomers feel they will not have enough money to maintain their standard of living for retirement, and even if they do feel they will have sufficient funds for retirement, an AARP poll shows that 50% of boomers want to continue working or even start businesses.
It's more important than ever for boomers to plan for a second career that matches their skills and lifestyle. Jobs in animal care will be in high demand through 2018.

According to research conducted at Boston College for the Census Bureau, the average age for retirement is rising. Since the 1990s, the average retirement age for men has risen to 64 from 62 and to 62 from 60 for women. That is only expected to rise, as the AARP poll shows that the 50% of boomers who want to continue working plan on doing it well into their 70s and beyond.

Boomers don't want to just keep working, the studies reveal, they want to do something that promotes a life-long passion or that can make a difference in the world. We looked at some of the best options for boomers, along with the average expected starting salary for each.

Medical careers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many jobs in the medical field are in high demand and will continue to be through 2018. These jobs include aides in physical therapy, home health care and personal care aides. Aides can expect to earn around $20,000, and the job may require only a few weeks or months of schooling and on-the-job training.

For a more involved position, consider a job as a technician in a medical or veterinarian office. Both require an associate's degree and some on-the-job training. People entering these fields can expect to earn $30,000 and above. The dental field also needs trained assistants and hygienists, who can earn $32,000 to $68,000. An associate's degree is required for both.

This particular career choice typically requires a wad of upfront cash to buy a franchise and get it running, but boomers with the entrepreneurial spirit can choose franchise ownership as opposed to building a business from the ground up thanks to the support they get from the corporate office, as well as having a brand with a proven track record.

Boomers can choose many different franchise options, from auto service companies to restaurants and lawn care services. Robin Lipton, a former speech pathologist in San Diego, recognized the need for in-home care services in her area and opened FirstLight Homecare this past July. According to the BLS, the average salary varies greatly depending on the type of business you choose, as well as the ultimate success of the franchise.

Animal care and service
Some people turn their love of animals into second careers. From animal caretakers in shelters and larger veterinarian clinics to animal trainers, groomers and pet sitters, the BLS says jobs in the animal care industry will be in high demand through 2018.

Yvonda Robinett, a pet sitter and owner of Pet Nanny Express in the Ozark Mountains, has developed a steady clientele for her pet- and house-sitting business in the past few years. Robinett will either stay at her client's home (if they have dogs and livestock), or pop in and out each day for basic cat care.

"On average, I'm booked 20 of the 30 days each month," Robinett says. Certification in most animal care occupations is recommended (and required in some instances), but this career requires more passion than schooling. Perhaps because of that, income for these workers isn't high. The average, according to the BLS, ranges from $14,000 for kennel workers and dog walkers/sitters to $30,000 for trainers.

Politicians and retired executives do it, but you don't have to be either to start your own consulting firm, you simply have to be a "subject matter expert" and have a passion for your field, says Stan C. Kimer, president of Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer.

After a 31-year-career with IBM, Kimer founded his consulting firm, which gives him an income, allows him to pursue the areas of business he most enjoyed during his first career and provides him with some time flexibility. "I can work for myself, call my own shots, work my own hours," Kimer says. According to the BLS, people with graduate degrees in business or management will be more successful at this type of endeavor. The average salary ranges from $41,000 to $100,000.

Innkeepers and bed-and-breakfasts
If you're a "people person" and love to entertain, running an inn or bed-and-breakfast might be right up your alley. If you already own a home in a tourist area that could be converted into a place for paying guests, your initial investment will be mostly in sweat equity. Bonnie Martin, a former builder of energy-efficient homes, started Tree Top Bed and Breakfast five years ago.

"It has taken off, I'm enjoying it, and earning more money than ever," Martin says. "I hope to continue designing homes, but will leave the heavy lifting to the younger guys." B&Bs typically offer a unique décor and special services guests can't find at a hotel. Alexandra Grabbe found a niche advertising her B&B, Chez Sven, in Wellfleet, Mass., as "green."

B&B proprietors can expect to earn $65 and up per night, but the business can be seasonal. Keep in mind though, that you do have to know how to cook at least a breakfast.

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