Thursday, April 24, 2014

Which occupations would be best as a second career?

I'm a planner. I procrastinate a lot, but I also plan for the future, at least to the point of gathering ideas. When I was 30 years old, I started a memo called "Senior Citizen Prep" that has stayed with me, first on my Palm Pilot, and now in Google docs. It has a lot of ideas I've jotted down through the years of how I might keep myself busy and happy when I don't have a job or kids to keep me occupied. I've collected ideas such as teaching conversational English to immigrants, volunteering at a botanical garden, panning for gold, etc.

Like everyone going through their career, I started out years ago as one of the youngest ones in the office, and now, depending on the company, I'm frequently above the average age. I'm in my mid 40's, and not yet much older than average.  But I see the writing on the wall.  Especially in technology companies, it's not common to see anyone in their 50's, and certainly quite rare to have 60+  year old employees. So in the interest of potentially planning for a second career, I'd like to have a few career options to think about.

So I decided to do some research, and find out which professions have a high percentage of older people. It wasn't that easy to find, but eventually I found some data put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their latest analysis of the United States labor force, from 2012, includes occupations, split out by age.  I added an additional field to represent the percentage of workers in that professions who are 55 and older, and did some analysis.

Some interesting information can be gleaned from this data.  I'm sure you're all interested in which occupation has the highest percentage of workers aged 55 and up. Well, it's a tie, at 67%, between Nurse Midwives, and Tool grinders, filers, and sharpeners.  But there's very few people who actually work in this occupation (about 3,000 each).

OccupationTotal, 16 years and over (in thousands)Percent 55 and above
Nurse midwives367%
Tool grinders, filers, and sharpeners367%
Funeral service managers1362%
Motor vehicle operators, all other6356%
Model makers and patternmakers, metal and plastic1155%
Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers94453%
Judges, magistrates, and other judicial workers6751%
Proofreaders and copy markers1050%
Pile-driver operators450%
Layout workers, metal and plastic450%
Print binding and finishing workers2250%
Cooling and freezing equipment operators and tenders250%

The first occupation with a more substantial amount of workers, at 944,000,  is Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers, at 53% aged 55 and above. That makes sense, since aside from the organic, hip, Community Supported Agriculture farms, farming seems like the occupation of an older person.

Even more typically associated with older workers would be Funeral Service Managers, at 62% aged 55 and older. No surprise there, I envision anyone working in the funeral industry as older.  It's also no surprise that Legislators and Judges (at 55 and 51%, respectively, aged 55 and older) tend to skew older.

There's a couple professions that seem to be dying, which is probably why there's so many older people in them.  They probably started out in these professions 30 years ago, and then just stayed there. For instance, Travel Agents (44% aged 55 and older), and Tailors, dressmakers, and sewers (38%).  Most people now book their own airline tickets and hotels online, and certainly very few people hire tailors and dressmakers anymore.

So what did I gain from this analysis? Well, my profession (or the closest I can get in this categorization, which is Database Administrator) tends to skew a little older, compared to some other high tech professions. About 15% of people classified as Database Administrators are aged 55 and older.  I'm just a smidgen above the median age, which is 44.  So I'm not worried - I  think I'm good for quite a few more years, if I want to. Although now with "data science" and big data being so hot recently, maybe the field will be rejuvenated.

I didn't really see anything on the list with a much higher percentage of older employees that I thought I'd be either particularly suited for, or even able to pursue (Judge? Farmer? Clergy?). Nevertheless, I think this type of analysis and forward thinking can be really interesting, and give you a few ideas. Besides, as Benjamin Franklin said, "fail to plan, plan to fail".  And I had fun doing the analysis.

Here's a link to a Google spreadsheet with the full data, including percentages.


Blogger Travellady said...

Sylvia, I used to wonder about this myself. But pleasantly surprised that despite my being in my late 50s I'm still employable in the tech industry. Do I want to continue down this path until the end of my time? My gut tells me probably not. I'm seriously considering being a fulltime coach and mentor with focus on women going through major life transitions. One of these days..

5:34 PM  

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