Friday, 6 September 2019

Seven Realistic Job Suggestions for the Over-50s

There's no end of advice out there for people seeking a fresh career or who want to find ideas for starting a new business. But what if you're in those later years of your working life?


Employment journalism by blogger Russell Cavanagh - who also took the image!

I was commuting on a subway train recently in Glasgow, looking up at card ads for study courses and recruitment agencies. Passing through my mid-50s rapidly, it struck me how the vocational courses on offer were all chronologically impractical for me to pursue.

By this I mean that I'd count up the years needed to study and gain a qualification before trying to enter into what would likely be a lively job market full of much younger hopefuls.

If one is, say, 55 years old, are you really going to invest nine years in being trained and educated to become a doctor? Aged 64 when qualified, with a further year's residency to complete, how much working time would you expect to have left? What chance of recouping those study fees?

Of course, there are careers that take less time to qualify for, such as counselling if you want to stick with a broadly medical theme, but you get the idea.

It's an obvious but nonetheless sobering realisation.

Silly suggestions

There are plenty of websites online that list business and career ideas. These tend to be thrown together and populated by banner advertising for agencies offering help with, for example, "putting together a killer CV" or offering useless study courses leading to junk qualifications recognised by no industry body.

Most of these sites tend to offer almost identical content. A surprising amount typically contain highly unrealistic suggestions - e.g., very few bloggers or photographers can make a living in this digital age and no one in their right mind starts up a neighbourhood print magazine.

I've visited many of these over the years and my own user experience has always resulted in negativity and cynicism.

So you're reading this blog post ...

Having thought hard about this article you're reading, I came up with seven job ideas to help Baby Boomers and whippersnappers from Generation X looking for a fresh start.

Although no one list of suggestions can ever provide a "one size fits all" remedy, at least a couple of the seven offered below may be close enough to achievable in order to get thought processes up and running.

And yes, age discrimination is certainly illegal in the UK. However, I've borne in mind that what happens in real life often pays little heed to whatever law happens to be in place.

Here are my seven initial suggestions:

    Independent Financial Adviser

    People with sizeable disposable incomes or money lump sums usually want to make provision for later on in their own lives - perhaps putting the cash into a pension pot or retirement savings account.

    So who better than a mature, suitably qualified adviser to guide them? Can you see yourself doing that?

    It's possible to become adequately qualified after about a year of studying (and no prior college degree is needed) and this is certainly a field where lifetime wisdom and an up-to-date knowledge of available financial products are highly respected.

    Recruitment specialist has a webpage full of useful advice and information on becoming an independent financial adviser. It's worth checking out in order to gain an overview of the profession.

    This work can be available on either a self-employed or a salaried basis. The latter is usually advised for anyone starting afresh as it can be a pretty competitive and pressured field.


    If you're fluent in one or more foreign languages then working as an interpreter can provide a lucrative income.

    Apart from the perceived glamour of working somewhere like the United Nations, many British firms exporting their goods and services abroad need interpreters to fill roles in areas such as marketing, sales, stock purchase and customer services.

    This may also be the kind of work one can do from home, with only occasional visits required for meetings at company headquarters.

    I suggest you research businesses online that you may want to work for. Check their import & export activities and identify the name of someone (manager or human resources bod) to approach and ask about opportunities.

    Definitely don't just wait for a vacancy to be advertised. You may have a skill that someone wants badly for developing new or servicing existing markets!

    Project Consultant

    Do you have proven professional knowledge and pedigree that you can re-package to sell as a project consultancy?

    New businesses start every day and many of them would value an "older and experienced head" to guide them using your own experience.

    This is likely to be on a self-employed basis and so will require professional indemnity insurance, so that you don't get into financial trouble if anything goes wrong, legal certification in some cases, and a lot of time spent networking at business events.

    Have a look online to see how others do it. Maybe this is a good option for you too.


    This is a favourite suggestion that's found on many online sites offering employment or business ideas. It's one of the better ones though.

    Bookkeeping opportunities can be both salaried and on a self-employed basis. A typical annual income will likely add up to between £17k and £26k.

    Countless smaller businesses need this work done, usually to help prepare company financial records for accountants and tax authorities.

    Courses in bookkeeping are available online, don't necessarily cost the Earth, and can qualifications can be earned in months rather than years.

    Check out what the UK's National Careers Service says about how to become a bookkeeper.

    Again, no one is likely to care how old you are. You just need to be trustworthy, organised and have a head for figures.

    Opinion Pollster / Market Researcher

    Market research work tends to be sporadic and therefore usually offered as casual employment.

    Activities can vary from asking people about cosmetics products or what tech gadgets they like to seeking their opinions on political issues of the day. That all depends on whose hiring your prospective employer to ask questions.

    Companies in this sector sometimes allow you to work for other companies too. This can be useful when little work is available from one employer.

    A few of these outfits still take on researchers who conduct interviews in pedestrian precincts or even interview people in their homes. You must have a car that's insured for business purposes for these roles.

    All serious polling and market research companies will employ teams of telephone interviewers - and there may even be opportunities available to work remotely from home.

    No qualifications are required for this work. All you need is basic equipment (phone, laptop, broadband and maybe a vehicle), a sufficiently outgoing personality, the ability to follow scripted questions, and a reliable work ethic.

    Age is unlikely to be a hindrance whether working telephones or face-to-face.


    Walk into any shop you might want to work for and observe the staff there. That should give an idea as to whether it's worth asking about possible vacancies.

    Obviously one needs confidence when dealing with the public, working with stock, and accuracy in dealing with money.

    If you have absolutely no previous retail experience to put on your job application form, then volunteer for a few months beforehand in a charity shop. That should go a long way towards making you employable.

    Note that larger supermarket chains tend nowadays to recruit through websites such as, local jobcentres or on their own company websites. Long gone are the days when you could just ask to "see the store manager".


    Own a car, motorcycle or even a push bike? If so, there's money to be made.

    If you live in a small coastal town the work will likely consist of delivering fast food to people's front doors from a takeaway. If local businesses are thriving then maybe making deliveries for them to other towns or a nearby larger city would also be an option.

    City slickers will find loads of courier opportunities - and lots of people chasing them.

    One has to be physically fit to carry whatever needs delivered to and from your from vehicle - and probably super-fit if doing anything on a pedal bike.

    Temping agencies

      Another useful piece of information worth knowing is that it can be easier to slide into paid work by going through temping agencies.

      This would apply to most or all of the job ideas given above and can be vital for "getting a foot in the door".

      Temping offers you the chance to prove you can do a particular job, will be reliable and that you fit into the team well enough. It's pretty common for good temps to end up with offers of permanent employment.

      Food for thought

      As I said earlier, the seven suggestions given in this article are probably more realistic than what one finds on many websites that promise ideas for new careers or business start-ups.

      They won't all be "right" for you and some will just be entirely out of the question. But I reckon at least one or two will provide food for thought, especially if you're getting a wee bit longer in the tooth (as I am).

      Speaking personally, I'm following at least one of my own pieces of advice given here. Yup, I'm looking for paid work too! Although I'm in no hurry at the moment, I will definitely let you know of my own progress when the time comes.

      Meantime, I wish you the best of luck and hope to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. You might even sign up using the form in the sidebar to get more of my articles via email!


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