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Where are jobs for career shifters over 45?

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  • Posted by Sharon McNary
  • on March 6, 2009 10:19 AM

celinecelines via flickr.jpg(photo credit: Celinecelines via Flickr)

Nancy Jean Parsons, 50, who lives near Orlando, Florida, took me to task yesterday.

She was responding to a thank-you note I sent to people age 50 and older who had shared stories of the recession shredding their retirement plans. Fifty, she said, is too young for retirement, unless you’re leaving the military:

Geez. Don’t rush me.

Well, I resemble that remark. I’m 50 and fighting it. I throw away all AARP mail. I’m far from retirement, unless I win the lottery and become a full-time recreational athlete. I wrote back:

Isn’t planning for retirement important for people our age?

Parsons’ answer encapsulated my every anxiety: maturing in a retracting job market, the real estate meltdown, the demise of newspapers and the financial crisis:

Well, planning is a dead issue. With the house underwater and (being) down six figures in the regular (and) retirement accounts, the concept of ‘planning’ a retirement is a bit of a joke now. Everyone I know is looking for a job or trying to keep theirs and angle into one that ‘lets’ you be older on the job. Media, advertising, PR, etc., and many more fields have ‘get lost’ signs up for the people over 50. But we are not all nurses. So how do we stay viable in the workplace, since we have to, when we are indeed aging? This is what retirement planning is: How can I keep on working? And where?

I offered a suggestion:

What about the billions going to the economic stimulus plan and the bank bailout? What about the Baby Boomer brain drain as they retire from thousands of local, state and federal government jobs? Won’t those be opportunities we could pursue over the age of 50?

Parsons, a grad student pursuing a Masters degree in education, questions whether such jobs will materialize:

Do a story on even one over-45 person making this kind of shift and I will donate $75 to the Susan Komen breast cancer fund the next day. I think it is an urban myth. I am listening to your show, waiting for this success story. The construction, green engineering, materials management and bank auditing jobs afoot are very heavily male, like overwhelmingly.

There’s more, but you get the drift. So, I told her I’d ask the Public Insight Network: Have you shifted careers after turning 45? What works, what is a waste of time, and why are you shifting? Are you looking to the economic stimulus plan or bank bailout for a new job?

Share your experience directly with the Marketplace newsroom, or use the comment button below.

Discussion: 8 Comments

  • Posted by Christopher Richards on March 9, 2009 8:06 AM

    Why not examine the whole idea of career? I like the idea of a person ‘working as,’ rather than social identification being the job. We talk as if we are our job as in I am a banker, baker, candlestick maker. I’m 57. When I was 45 I was working as a computer network administrator. A year later I was traveling the country training salespeople how to present. Since being laid off, or rather declining the ‘promotion’ to head office in Hartford, CT I decided stay in California and open my own small multimedia company. I was doing fine until the year 2000. That’s when my contacts at the big companies I worked for either quit of got laid off. I had to think about what to do next.

    For the next few years I marketed myself as a web designer. Thankfully I had some savings. Admittedly, I was an illustrator at an earlier stage in life and this was an easy move. Web design turned into ‘working as’ a web marketing consultant. The emphasis was more and more on writing content so I switched to writing copy. This lead to writing articles, which lead to ghostwriting books. Today, I ghostwrite books and articles for people who don’t have time to write. And in-between projects I write humor at slowdownnow.org which eulogizes a fantasy idle life. I’m working on a book for children. I’m not rich, but I couldn’t have done any of this if I hadn’t saved money and invested in myself. I’m accumulating skills and selling them.

  • Posted by Christopher Richards on March 9, 2009 8:15 AM

    OOps! I meant to say: This led to writing articles, which led to ghostwriting books.

  • Posted by Catherine Adams on March 12, 2009 2:04 PM

    I have shifted careers twice after the age of 45. Orginally a computer programmer/systems analyst, I was hired by a large brokerage firm as a licensed financial services rep. The company wanted skilled, capable workers, and age did not matter; in fact there were many older workers who had retired from their previous careers. I retired from the brokerage firm several years later, and another career fell into my lap; I bought a condo and two days later had a job working for the builder selling new homes. Again, the ability to produce is what matters, not the age of the person doing the work.

    Maybe I’m just lucky: I don’t look or act my age. I also try to bring less obvious skills to the jobs. Being computer savvy is one example. Being friendly and outgoing also helps; you project an energetic, capable image, and would-be employers respond to that.

    Of course the wonderful world of new home sales is less than wonderful at the moment, so I’m keeping my eyes open for the proverbial “new opportunities”. As the previous commenter noted, I couldn’t do this if I hadn’t saved money and acquired new skills along the way. I can take on interesting part-time work that often turns into something more. Recently I’ve helped some friends restore damaged documents and treasured photos; this may be turning into the next career…

  • Posted by beth h on March 30, 2009 5:13 PM

    I changed careers in my early 30’s, when I chucked a successful music career to follow my passion and become a bicycle mechanic. I found a shop that agreed to take me on as an apprentice; a year later I got hired at a shop in Portland, where I completed my formal apprenticeship and worked as a mechanic for 13 years. During that time I was invited to become a co-owner in the cooperatively-structured business.

    Now I’m 46, and ten-hour days at a repair stand are no longer as doable as they used to be. Last year I angled my way into the lead buyer’s position, which means I seldom turn a wrench anymore and instead manage inventory for our entire business. People seem happy with my work, and I’ve discovered that I’ve developed skills that allow me to do this new line of work with flair and panache. I also find that I enjoy the work more than I thought I would.

    I’ve been told by nearly every other owner that the position is mine until I grow tired of it, or until I retire.

    While I miss interacting with the public so much, I don’t miss ten hour days on my feet; and my spouse has noticed that I come home feeling less wiped out than I used to. If I keep doing this well, It’s possibly a position I’ll do well past retirement age. Meanwhile, I keep my mechanical skills fresh by working on bikes for family and friends, and by teaching classes to the new crop of apprentices and passing along what I’ve learned.

    I don’t make much money in the bicycle industry, but I make enough to live on (frugally), I enjoy my work and my co-workers, and I can’t really ask for much more than that.

  • Posted by Jane Nitchals on April 5, 2009 3:48 PM

    I am 57 and just started a new job at a hospital after being laid off at my old hospital about 6 weeks ago. I am not a nurse. My new position is very similar to the one I just left-Safety Coordinator. I feel lucky to be in this field. It seems that there is always a position somewhere where my background in safety is of use. I did not enter the field of safety in healthcare until age 52. I truly believe that my educational background with a BS in biology and an MS in industrial hygiene, plus my “certification ” as a medical technologist has been my biggest investment success. I entered the environmental/hazwaste cleanup field in the 80’s. Employment in that field is very limited now. I re-entered the medical field by going back to my “roots” in laboratory work in 2001. An opportunity arose at my hospital for my hazardous waste, environmental, and safety expertise. Anyone with a medical background should consider the patient safety,quality improvement, and environmental safety opportunities that abound in healthcare today. I have told both my children (one a freshman in college, the other a junior in high school) that the key to developing a solid career and fulltime employment after graduation is to major in a field where you can get either a license or a certification in your profession. I have used teaching, nursing, medical technology, engineering, and accounting as examples. The more technical the better, I believe.

    Response to Jane Nitchals
    Posted by CareerApple on October 31, 2009 9:35 AM

    Jane,

    We would love to profile your story on CareerApple, a website dedicated to helping people finding their ideal career.

    Could you please respond directly to me: sunita@careerapple.com and we can have one of ourt journalists feature you.

    Thanks!

  • Posted by Nanda on February 15, 2010 4:18 AM

    http://www.nursingcrossing.com/ locates jobs inside your niche, conducting a more streamlined job search. There are tens of thousands of employer and job sites out there. The goal of NursingCrossing is nothing less than to show you every job like jobs nursing and others.

  • Posted by R.Subbaraman on May 12, 2011 11:44 PM

    Want to get a job in a software company which can pay me around 20000-25000 per month…having more than 23 years in software 10 years in AS/400 3 years in SAP

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