By 2050, according to Pew Research Projections, about one-in-five Americans will be over age 65, up from some 39 million Americans, or 13% of the U.S. population now. And the number of those 85 and older is expected to more than double to about 5% of this country’s population.
This demographic shift is already creating a wave of new fields and opportunities for workers of all ages. It’s just a tease of what’s to come. To get in, though, you might need to bolster your résumé with new skills, preferably added while continuing to work full-time in your first career. True, some of the positions do require a full-degree program, say, and an Associates of Applied Sciences degree in gerontology. Professional certifications, however, are becoming increasingly accepted by employers and clients in many arenas, which is great for 50+ workers–faster and cheaper.
Where are these jobs? There’s clearly high demand for health care workers across a wide gamut. Despite the tight job market, health-related jobs in hospitals; clinics; nursing and residential care facilities; and home-centered services are growing. Projections from The Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook forecast 3.2 million new jobs within existing health care job classifications between 2008 and 2018. It lists a variety of home and personal care health care jobs as fast-growing occupations.
You don’t have to be a surgeon or ICU nurse: there are hundreds of areas of specialization, such as music therapists for Alzheimer’s patients, and occupational therapists for the elderly. Other positions include: registered nurses, mental health counselors, social workers, physical therapists, physician assistants, dental hygienists, and fitness trainers and nutritionists.
“As tens of millions of people live into their 80s and 90s, we’ll need millions of others in their 50s and 60s and 70s to help care for them–not just within families, but through second careers,” Marc Freedman, CEO of Civic Ventures and author of The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife, says. “They’ll be able to fill millions of positions we will need to fill — as nurses, home health aides, health navigators, and roles we’ve yet to even define.”
Open your mind and consider the possibilities. There are many ways to get an angle into the needs of the growing geezer market beyond healthcare.
In the Pew Research survey of 2,969 adults
- More than nine in ten respondents age 65 and older live in their own home or apartment.
- About one in 6 have trouble paying bills.
- Two-thirds of adults age 65 and older say religion is very important to them. One-third says religion has grown more important to them over the course of their lives, and they are more likely to attend worship services once a week.
- Nearly a quarter say they got some type of vigorous exercise in the 24 hours before they were interviewed.
How does that translate into greater “age wave” jobs? There’s a need for people who
- modify homes to make them safer
- are motivated fitness coaches
- are certified financial planners, or offer monthly help with finances and bill-paying
Here are 12 jobs that benefit from an aging population:
1. Healthcare/Patient Advocate. Solve billing mistakes, contest insurance-coverage rejections, lend advice in making medical decisions, find a specialist or hospital, go with patients to doctor appointments, and even pick-up prescriptions. Pay range: $50 per hour to $200+ an hour
2. Fitness trainer. Design clients’ individual workout routines or teach group classes. It’s not all stationary bikes and exercise balls. You might, for example, specialize in swimming for seniors or yoga.
Certification is not required by law, but most fitness clubs insist. There are several national groups that offer some type of credential. For credentials, you must be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and pass an exam that consists of both a written and practical demonstration. You’ll need to be up to speed on human physiology, understand correct exercise techniques, how to assess a client’s fitness level and know the ins-and-outs of proper exercise programs. Pay range: The typical pay is $17 an hour to $30 an hour. But in larger cities, rates can jump to $60 per hour to $100 or more.
3. Personal and Home Health Care Aide. Assist elderly, ill or disabled people with daily activities ranging from bathing and dressing to running errands. Other duties might include light housekeeping, companionship, grocery shopping, meal preparation and medication monitoring. Pay range: $7.68 per hour to $35-plus, depending on experience and certification.
4. Audiologist. Hearing loss and aging go hand in hand. Examine, diagnose and treat individuals for symptoms of hearing loss and other auditory, balance, and neural problems. About 64 percent worked in healthcare facilities. Pay range: $20.48 per hour to $50 and up
5. Senior Move Manager. Downsizing is your bailiwick. Coordinate a move and configure new set-up. Typical client is moving to smaller quarters in a retirement community and needs help choosing what moves and what’s sold, donated or given to friends and family. Pay range: Fees range from $30 per hour to $75+
6. Senior Real Estate Specialist. Smooth the emotions of selling the family home and locate a suitable step-down abode. Pay range: 2.5 – 3.0 percent of purchase price for overseeing the transaction.
7. Aging in Place/Home Modification Pro. Senior-proof digs. A variety of experts can get into the act from contractors to architects and interior designers to figure ways to creatively convert or adapt homes with hand rails, ramps, grab bars in the shower and more to stave off accidents. Pay range: $40 per hour and up
8. Retirement Coach. Counsel soon-to-be retirees on what to do with the rest of their lives. Retirement is one of the fastest-growing segments of the coaching industry. Career coaching is a self-regulated industry and emerging profession. Many coaches have been doing it for years without adding professional designations. Pay range: $50 per hour to $400
9. Dietician and Nutritionist. Mindful menus. Plan healthy food and nutrition regimes and monitor meal prep. Pay range: $16 per hour to $36 and up
10. Driver. Driving Miss Daisy. Transport elderly clients who can no longer safely drive to appointments, airports, activities, and longer road trips.
Pay range: From $7.67 per hour to more than $20, plus car expense if you use your own wheels.
11. Recreational Therapist. It’s Showtime. Provide activities ranging from music to arts and crafts to planting and pruning for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients at adult daycare, nursing homes and memory care centers. Pay range: $11.85 per hour to $30 and up
12. Financial Planner Mind money matters. Lend your dollar sense and hand holding manner to seniors struggling with managing investments, drawing down retirement accounts, and estate planning moves. Pay range: $120 to $300 per hour; or a percentage of assets under management, generally 1 percent to 3 percent.
Lots of jobs have been moved overseas, but these are jobs that really can’t be outsourced. The population is growing old right here in Louisville, and that’s good job news. Personally, I am proud to be on the cutting edge of my profession with my preventative health care company Resolutions.