Getting the Job You Want After 50 For Dummies
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Even people over 50 wonder what they want to do when they grow up. You’re probably qualified to do a wide variety of jobs, but you want to do something you love, something that makes you look forward to waking up each morning. Perhaps you even want to do something that makes the world a better place or helps other people get through the day. Consider the following occupations.

Patient advocate

As the population ages, the demand for patient advocates — individuals who help patients work with others who will have an effect on their health, from medical specialists to insurance companies — is likely to surge. You can work full- or part-time, on your own, or as part of a hospital, nursing home, rehab center, or even insurance company.

No licenses are required, but several credentialing programs are offered at community colleges and some nonprofits. Learn more from the Master List of Health and Patient Advocacy Educational Courses and the nonprofit Patient Advocate Foundation.


The global economy has resulted in an increasing demand for translators and interpreters. Spanish is the most in-demand language, but the need for Arabic and Chinese speakers is growing. Specializing as a judicial-system or healthcare interpreter increases your opportunities, but you need to know the vocabulary in those fields. No certifications are required, although several are offered through trade organizations such as the American Translators Association (ATA). The ATA works with the Red Cross to provide volunteer interpreters in crisis situations.

Certified Financial Planner

If you have financial expertise, you can help the growing demographic of older Americans with their investments and estate planning, and handle tax matters for them. This doesn’t have to be a full-time job — you can take on as many or as few clients as you like.

No minimum experience or education is required by law, but it’s a good idea to get the Certified Financial Planner designation awarded by the nonprofit Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. You must complete substantial coursework and pass a comprehensive, 10-hour exam required to attain this title.

Home modification pro

As the population ages, more homes will need to be retrofitted to accommodate older people’s special needs: better lighting, special ramps, grab bars in the shower, and more, all to prevent accidents. If you have a background in construction or are an architect or interior designer, you already know the basics. Though such a job is likely to be demanding, you can take on as many clients as you’re comfortable with.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) offers a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation to teach the knowledge and skills required to compete in this fast-growing segment of the residential remodeling industry.

Fitness trainer

If you’ve been sitting behind a desk for the past 30 years but prefer a more active lifestyle, working as a fitness trainer could be very rewarding. The greatest need is for skilled trainers who can develop workout routines for people age 65 to 90.

Certification isn’t required by law, but most fitness clubs insist on it. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) offers a Senior Fitness Specialty Certification. The International Sports Sciences Association offers a Senior Fitness Certification. The National Strength and Conditioning Association offers a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) designation.

Massage therapist

Massage therapists are appreciated for their ability to ease muscle soreness and unwind stress for their clients. The employment prospects are swelling, as massage becomes an increasingly mainstream service offered by spas and clinics in recent years.

Many states and municipalities regulate the practice, so look into legal requirements for the state and other locality in which you intend to practice. Programs offered at colleges and universities may require 500 hours or more of study and practice to complete. These programs cover more than just hands-on training, covering anatomy, physiology, and business management.


The green movement is leading more people and organizations to want their own “sustainable” gardens, which use less water and have native plants that are less expensive to maintain. You’ll need to understand horticulture, have wide-ranging knowledge of plants and diseases, and know your way around a graphics program. To get the requisite training, look into the following options:

  • The Ecological Landscaping Association holds an annual conference with workshops and educational sessions. The site provides links to seminars and events held around the country.

  • Many community colleges offer certificates and degrees in sustainable landscape design. George Washington University, for instance, offers a program on a series of weekends, along with an annual landscape design career fair.

  • The American Horticultural Society offers a Master Gardeners program, typically through universities in the United States and Canada.

  • Check out garden centers in your area for classes and certificate programs. In Pittsburgh, for example, you can earn a certificate in sustainable horticulture at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

  • The Association of Professional Landscape Designers offers certification to members who have at least four years of experience and submit three projects they’ve completed for review.

Independent contractor

As an independent contractor, you do what you’ve been doing, but instead of doing it as an employee, you do it on your own, finding and serving your own clientele.

Small and fast-growing companies looking for experienced employees who can tackle a range of duties are great sources of work. Drawback: slow payments at times, and projects that run longer than expected or don’t begin on schedule. This line of work is best for those who can hit the ground running and love intensity.

The trick to finding projects is tapping fearlessly into your professional network.

Accountant/Financial manager

If you’re skilled at managing personal or business finances, you’re well qualified to manage the books for individuals and small businesses in your area. As accountant/financial manager, you take on a variety of roles, including bookkeeper, accountant, cashier, and tax expert.

Duties run the gamut from processing payroll checks and expense reports to handling invoicing, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and producing monthly, quarterly, and annual financial reports. Buying office supplies or filing tax returns may even be your bailiwick. Some firms may ask you to monitor checking and savings accounts and track credit card bills.

A degree in accounting or business is generally required. The most common certification is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers lists jobs and offers a national certification for bookkeepers, which may help you land a job if you don’t have prior practical experience.


A dietitian/nutritionist creates special diets for people who struggle with allergies, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and other illnesses. The job involves conducting nutritional screenings, planning meals, and monitoring meal preparation. You may find yourself working for a retirement community, assisted-living facility, a corporation that offers a wellness program for its employees, a health club, or even a sports team.

The requirements for a state license and certification include a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition or a related area, supervised practice, and passing an exam. One way to become licensed is to earn the Registered Dietitian (RD) credential, which involves passing an exam after completing academic coursework and a supervised internship. You can find more information from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Kerry Hannon ( is a nationally recognized authority on career transitions and retirement, a frequent TV and radio commentator, and author of numerous books, including Love Your Job (Wiley/AARP), What's Next? (Berkley Trade/AARP), and Great Jobs for Everyone 50+ (Wiley/AARP). Hannon is AARP's Jobs Expert and a regular contributor to The New York Times, Forbes, and Money magazine.

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