An Aging Population Means New Jobs
Courtesy of Forbes Magazine
By: Kerry Hannon, Personal Finance Contributor, Sept. 26, 2011
Yes, Americans are getting older. But that creates opportunities for baby boomers looking for a second career.
Careers in aging are not the next big thing. They are the new big thing.
In Warrenton, Virginia, Terry and Tina Ross, both in their mid-50s, run a shop called Simple Comforts that sells a panoply of products that cater to seniors. The shop sells literally thousands of items that promote healthy and active aging.
Special Report: Health, Wealth & Aging
Puzzles and pruners.I’m talking everything from pill organizers to large print crossword puzzle books to ramps and rose pruners. “These products make everyday activities such as gardening, cooking, travel, golf, exercise and just plain gettin’ around a little easier,” Tina says. “We have items for boomers who might have an aching back and for their parents.”
Bingo–a small business that caters to an aging population. The job site, retiredbrains.com, lists dozens of franchise opportunities that cater specifically to the aging population. If you’re interested, you’ll have to do the vetting.
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, 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.
While my friend Carol was visiting her Uncle Bob in a New Jersey “assisted living” home this week, an instructor was leading a class in tap dancing for a group of elderly women. The choice of music – “Staying Alive.”
Other positions include: registered nurses, mental health counselors, social workers, physical therapists, physician assistants, dental hygienists, and fitness trainers and nutritionists.
The American Medical Association’s annual Health Professions Career and Education Directory is a good resource for job seekers. Other helpful Web sites include Health Professions Network, which features different allied health professions, and Health Care Workforce, which has a long list of links to other job-listing sites in the field. As the stream of new medical technologies arrive, trained professionals will be called on to step into those areas as well.
“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.”
Last year, Civic Ventures in conjunction with Encore.org, MetLife and Partners in Care Foundation published the report: How Boomers Can Help Improve Health Care: Emerging Encore Career Opportunities In Health Care.
It’s good reading packed with deep research and forward thinking. It examines six new occupations identified by a panel of national experts in work force and health care issues. The highlighted jobs are: community health worker, chronic illness coach, medications coach, patient navigator/advocate, home- and community-based service navigator/advocate, and home modification specialist.
I’ve incorporated some of these into my own list (see slideshow above and list below) of potential jobs that will benefit from the aging society. 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 say 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 more great “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
Soul-searching. And yep, clergy is a growing field. Amen. With widespread worries about the economy, war, and terrorism, it’s not surprising that religion is a growth area these days. Many clerics spend the bulk of their time ministering to parishioners in their homes. There are, of course, those inspirational sermons from the pulpit, and regular duties like officiating at baptisms and weddings and consoling people in times of grief. Most clergy, despite the image, don’t take a vow of poverty: The median expected salary for a typical Pastor in the United States is $85,395, according to Salary.com. Educational requirements vary according to denomination. Many require a graduate degree. Others will admit anyone who is called to the vocation. To learn more, speak to a clergyperson of your faith.
Here are 12 jobs that benefit from an aging population:
Keep in mind that pay ranges fluctuate based on factors such as prior training and where you live, but are primarily derived from U.S. Department of Labor data. Many require additional schooling or certification, which requires some advance prep. It’s best to start your move into a second career a few years in advance, but some workplaces may provide on-the-job training. See my post here on ways to pay for your career education.
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. Community colleges and nonprofit organizations are developing training and certification programs to help more people tackle this post. To learn more, go to the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants, a professional group in Berkeley Calf. Advocates are often nurses, social workers or people who have steered their own frustrating path through the medical system. No licenses are required to practice. There are several credentialing programs.
Pay range:$50 per hour to $200+ an hour
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 became certified to teach “accessible” yoga, which adapts techniques for people with chronic illness and disability. Instructors, for example, modify traditional yoga positions that can work for people, whether they are in a chair or wheelchair, or struggling with other limitations.
Certification is not required by law, but most fitness clubs insist. There are several national groups that offer some type of credential. These include the American Council on Exercise, the International Sports Sciences Association and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. 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. You may also need liability insurance. For yoga instructors, that can run you roughly $145 a year if you teach less than six hours a week, $205 if you teach more than six hours a week.
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.
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. Some employers may require a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) certification. A criminal background check is standard. CPR training and a driver’s license are helpful too. Contact local care facilities for job openings and training requirements.
Pay range:$7.68 per hour to $35-plus, depending on experience and certification.
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. You will need an AU.D degree. Career information and information on State licensure is available from: the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Audiology Foundation of America.
Pay range:$20.48 per hour to $50 and up
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. For more information, contact the National Association of Senior Move Managers.
Pay range:Fees range from $30 per hour to $75+
Senior Real Estate Specialist.Smooth the emotions of selling the family home and locate a suitable step-down abode. Certification is via The National Association of Realtors to help 50 + clientele navigate real estate decisions.
Pay range:2.5 – 3.0 percent of purchase price for overseeing the transaction.
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. For more, go to a workshop held by the National Association of Home Builders. The course teaches design and building techniques for making a home accessible to all ages.
Pay range:$40 per hour and up
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. To learn more about certification, go to the nonprofit International Coach Federation (ICF). The ICF is the only organization that awards a global credential, which is currently held by over 4,800 coaches worldwide. ICF credentialed coaches have met stringent educational requirements, received specific coach training, and achieved a designated number of experience hours, among other requirements.
Pay range:$50 per hour to $400
Dietician and Nutritionist. Mindful menus. Plan healthy food and nutrition regimes and monitor meal prep. For more information, visit the The American Dietetic Association.
Pay range:$16 per hour to $36 and up
Driver. 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 expenses if you use your own wheels. (Those figures vary widely depending on experience, where you live, the number of hours worked and customer tips.)
Recreational Therapist. 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. According to The MetLife National Study of Adult Day Services, there are more than 4,600 adult day service centers across the U.S., a 35 percent increase since 2002. They employ a range of professional from nursing professionals to social workers to art and music therapists. There are a growing number of groups such as Lifetime Arts, offering courses to train artists and musicians for this type of work.
Pay range:$11.85 per hour to $30 and up
Financial Planner. Mind money matters. Lend your dollar sense and handholding manner to seniors struggling with managing investments, drawing down retirement accounts, and estate planning moves. To learn more about the training necessary, visit the Certified Financial Planner Board.
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, and that’s good job news.