You may have planned to sip margaritas on the beach during your retirement, but if the recent stock market tumble has taken a good chunk of your savings with it, you may need to explore other options. Part-time work can help you pick up a few extra paychecks to cover basic expenses or perks such as travel and entertainment while your retirement portfolio rebounds.While the job market has had better days, a range of options -- with good pay, flexible hours and interesting and meaningful work -- are available to people 50 and older. Here, experts share some of the key areas where experienced workers can snag great jobs.
Uncle Sam needs you … to take a job with the government. "Projections show that the federal government could potentially lose over a third of its workforce to retirement over the next three to five years," says David Nathan, a spokesman for AARP. He notes that three federal agencies in particular -- the IRS, the U.S. Small Business Administration's Disaster Assistance office, and the Peace Corps -- have been notably receptive to workers over the age of 50. Perks like job stability, good health care benefits and consistent raises make working for the government even more appealing. A dedicated Web site, www.usajobs.gov, can help people track down the best federal jobs in their area.
Many people don't want to deal with the hassle of even small fix-it projects, and competent do-it-yourselfers can earn as much as $50 an hour doing odd jobs for people. "People want someone to help them plunge the toilet, fix the light bulb, do some painting," says Robin Ryan, a career counselor and author of "60 Seconds & You're Hired!" He adds, "If you're handy, you can spend a half-day just going through someone's checklist." Not sure which end of the hammer to use? You also may find jobs helping people run errands, organizing basements and garages or cleaning and caring for household pets.
Nonprofit organizations don't usually offer big paychecks, but they still provide big rewards, says Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Human Resource Solutions. "We're finding that retirees are very interested in shifting over to the nonprofit world, where they can make a contribution after being in the corporate world," she says. Often, the lower pay means fewer people will apply for a job, which may give you a better shot at winning the position. Average pay for those working in the nonprofit sector is just less than $22 an hour.
Nearly every sector of the economy is being squeezed, but companies focused on health care have proven to be surprisingly resilient -- and many are open to seasoned workers. Nathan notes that the AARP's annual list of best employers for workers older than 50 includes more than a dozen with a health care focus. Four -- Scripps Health, Lee Memorial Health System, Bon Secours Richmond Health System, and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association -- cracked the top 10.
Teenagers aren't the only ones taking care of children while parents are away. If junior has a schedule filled with soccer practices and music lessons, many parents are more interested in hiring someone who has a bit more experience. "Families with two working adults might need someone to pick the kids up from practice," Matuson says. "They don't want the 17-year-old to drive their children, they're looking for someone who's mature." Parents often are willing to pay $10 to $20 an hour for a responsible older sitter.
As the holidays approach, many retailers will be bulking up on staff, which is a great way for workers to see if such a job might be a good long-term fit. "A lot of retirees feel isolated, so places like Macy's and Target give them a place to meet people," Ryan says. With average retail wages hovering around $13 an hour, it doesn't take long to reel in an extra $100 a week. A few companies, such as Home Depot and Starbucks, also offer health benefits for part-time workers.
Even if you're ready to be done with the 9-to-5 grind, your company may still be interested in retaining your expertise for some projects. Consulting arrangements, which frequently will pay $100 an hour and up, often can be arranged with former employers on an hourly or project basis. "Just remember why you wanted to leave in the first place," Matuson warns. "If you left because you were miserable or didn't like the way the company did business, chances are things won't change much. If you enjoyed it, though, it could work out for everyone."
Matuson also suggests one additional resource that may help you find your perfect retirement job: your friends. "Ask them where they've found opportunities and where they've felt comfortable," she says. "You don't want to end up taking a job where you're twice as old as the next oldest employees. Your friends are always a great place to start."