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Where retirement offers options

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Posted: 6 pm ET

Baby boomers are retiring fast in some fields, leaving more openings -- not only for younger workers, but also for older workers who want to work longer or take partial retirement but continue to work.

Gad Levanon, director of macroeconomic research at The Conference Board, analyzed the labor market to identify those fields with the greatest likelihood of worker shortages over the next decade because of the confluence of boomer retirements and industry growth. He used information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. If you are interested in these opportunities from either a retirement planning perspective or as a way to identify a good career, the BLS offers extensive data on all of this, including average salaries. It is worth noting that most of the opportunities likely to go begging in the next few years pay quite well.

Water transportation workers. The BLS notes that workers on the ships that ply U.S. and foreign waterways, hauling freight of all sorts, work long hours while they are on the ship, but the median wage is nearly $47,000 a year with more than 40 percent of current workers within 10 years of retirement. Opportunities in the field are likely to increase about 20 percent over the next 10 years.

Transportation supervisors. The rail and trucking business is growing fast, with 41 percent of current employees within 10 years of retirement. Jobs managing related operations pay a median wage of $53,000. Neither this nor the marine work requires a college education.

Religious workers. Some 38 percent of people involved in religious organizations, including social welfare groups, are within 10 years of retirement. The median wage is less than $30,000, but for many people, the reward comes from other things.

Business operations specialists. If you can run a business, everybody is looking for you. The median pay is above $90,000 in fields like mining, computers, software, oil and gas, and pharmaceuticals. About one-third of current managers are expected to retire in the next 10 years.

Health diagnostic and treatment practitioners. Opportunities for physicians, nurses and laboratory workers are skyrocketing, while 32 percent of current practitioners hope to retire in the next 10 years. The laboratory segment of the field pays best, with a median salary of $175,000.

If you're old and seasoned or young and talented, opportunities abound. Or as Levanon says of these five fields, "We see a dangerous trifecta of high growth in a tight labor market with a significant percentage of the workforce expected to retire soon."

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Steve J
September 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm


I am curious where you got the salary for "lab workers" of
$175,000. Must be a pathologist salary, certainly not a medical

Charles Adlington
September 20, 2013 at 8:26 am

The electrical generation industry is already going through this. They have went at least 10 years adding double the load to first line management and not increasing pay at the same rate as Union workers. They held the carrot of pension over our heads knowing we would not leave. The represented workers are now making more money than their first line boss. The books look good for the managers because they can't control the unions ( or keep up with cost of living) what ever way you want to look at it. The baby boomers are peeling and now the First line management is a younger workers. Who ever heard of a general foreman being 29 years old, then loosing his job because he was too young to resist temptations. The problem is that they have to give the younger worker more money than the 25 year worker to get them to bite. The 25 year represented workers is already making more than the boss and have the pension also. We are leaving because of the retirement program not because we want to retire. This is good for us old timers that negotiated good retirement. These new first lines managers are getting cash payout at a reduced level for retirements. The salary is good for them now but could be a reverse retirement situation for the nation in 20 years!!! The baby boomers parents had the depression fresh in their minds and drove it in our head that pension is important. People died to get those benefits. The game boy generation is loosing their pension benefits. Trading pay for retirement is not good. History will repeat itself. Reporters are picking up on this right now. What would happen now if the pensions were not in place. Think ahead 20 years with the old timers with no pension options. Its their life and their decision. I wish them all the luck. They will need it.