The Best Jobs for Retirees

Author: Andrew Smith

One of the pleasures of working in retirement is the chance to try something you may have previously been scared to do. It's a time to try something entirely new, or expand a current interest, rather than working at a job chosen simply because it pays the bills.

According to the US Census Bureau, approximately 20% of those over the age of 65 are still in the workforce, a significant jump over only 15% in 2006. And it's a trend that's likely to continue – a 2013 Gallup poll found that 75% of American adults expect to continue working beyond retirement age. While many workers will delay retirement out of financial need, the majority will continue to work because they want to.

Here are seven opportunities especially suited for older workers.


If your former career involved a skill that translates well to freelance consulting, you can parlay your experience into a part-time job as a consultant. You can make quite a bit per project, but you'll need to spend time networking and marketing your services, and there may be long gaps between jobs. Consulting is a great choice for anyone who loves working with people, enjoys being social, and wants to maintain a professional network. Some fields particularly suited for consulting in retirement include:

  • Project management
  • Research
  • Finance
  • IT
  • Website development
  • Sales management
  • Grant writing


If you've been hearing for years that you really should sell your homemade bread, quilts, jewelry, soap or wooden crafts, you might be able to turn your beloved hobby into a part-time job. With the rise of crafts websites like, you don't even need to leave your home to sell your creations. On the plus side, you'll be doing something you enjoy. On the downside, your profits are likely to be small and you may need to work long hours to keep up with sales if your products become popular. Consider opening your own online shop through Etsy or Ebay, grab some DIY inspiration from Pinterest, and you're on your way to selling your own merchandise. What could you create and sell? Some of the possibilities include:

  • Custom order calligraphy (Great for wedding placecards.)
  • Artwork
  • Jewelry and accessories
  • Handmade home decor (were you always great at making Christmas wreaths or birthday banners?)
  • Handbound journals
  • Candles
  • Customized clothing


If you've always dreamed of opening your own business, now might actually be the time to follow that dream. But before sinking your life savings into a restaurant, retail shop, tax business, franchise, etc., do your research. Make sure there is a market in your area for what you offer, you have sufficient savings to absorb any possible economic blows and you comply with all local business regulations. While you're likely to be working very long hours at first, if your business takes off you may be able to cut back to part time. If you do your homework, you might just find that your community has a gap you could fill.

The Arts

Making money in the arts doesn't mean you have to be a virtuoso violin player, a bestselling author or the next Picasso. If you have the flair and the skill, you can make money giving music or art lessons, acting in commercials or as a movie extra, self-publishing and selling your writing through Amazon's Kindle marketplace, or selling your artwork at local gift shops, craft fairs or especially online. You probably won't make a fortune, but you'll be doing something you love, and what started out as a fondness for painting could turn into a profitable online art gallery.

Work Online

The internet offers a tremendous range of jobs that can be done from home -- or wherever you have access to a computer -- often on a schedule of your own choosing. Freelance writer or editor, virtual assistant, online tutor, offsite customer service rep and online juror are just a few of the positions that exist on the web. While these jobs generally do not require much training, they also typically don't pay particularly well, but the flexibility might make it worthwhile.

Retail Sales

If you're outgoing and enjoy being around others, have the stamina to stay on your feet for most of your shift, and you're looking for a position that offers flexible hours, consider retail sales. While the pay is typically low, the perks usually include a discount on store merchandise and sometimes commission as well. Whether it's clothing, sporting goods, flowers or food, if you work in a shop selling something you love, your enthusiasm and knowledge will make the hours a pleasure.


There is considerable personal fulfillment in seeing an aha! moment light up the eyes of a child or adult who has been struggling to master a difficult concept. If you are patient, good at explaining things and enjoy helping others, look for work as a part-time teacher, daycare worker, tutor, or instructor at your local parks and rec center or college extension program. Depending on the position, the pay can be quite good and the hours short. You could also consider offer online tutoring sessions, allowing students all over the world to learn from your knowledge.

The Bottom Line

Working beyond retirement doesn't have to mean continuing in the same job, or even in the same field. For many seniors, the golden years are the perfect opportunity to pursue part-time work that might be less lucrative than their former career, yet more personally satisfying. It's your chance to make money from a hobby, help others or to finally give self-employment a try.