See also: 50 jobs for a second career.
In fact, college communities tend to be recession-resistant. Each year, a new crop of students rolls in, along with family and friends, helping to keep the economy humming. Plus, many college towns have booming health care centers that are also a good source of jobs.
Better yet, many are home to employers that are friendly to older workers. Check out AARP's Best Employers for Workers Over 50. You'll see that some of the leading names on the list are universities and health care providers in college towns.
Winners in 2011 include Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina in Durham, N.C., hometown of Duke University; West Virginia University in Morgantown; the University of Pittsburgh; and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
Some schools make a special effort to appeal to older workers. Penn State University, for instance, has a retirement community on campus that offers residents free college classes and priority tickets to games. For culture buffs, the Penn State Center for the Performing Arts presents music, dance and theater.
One good way to learn about job openings is the HR pages of a school's website. Or check the site higheredjobs.com. You can screen by location, institution, job title, category and full time or part time. The big job board Indeed, which is available via AARP's website, also lists university-oriented opportunities.
Here are five job categories that could hold a future for you. Be prepared to undergo standard background checks and drug tests. Pay scales, which vary based on factors such as experience and location, are primarily derived from U.S. Department of Labor data.
1. Athletic event ticket services
The nitty-gritty: Team spirit counts. You don't have to dress up as the mascot, but you'll be the one juggling urgent ticket requests from well-heeled donors, eager alumni, university staffers needing a last-minute favor, students and die-hard fans. The work may be by phone, Internet, regular mail or in-person at a customer service window.
The key is a knack for solving the customer's troubles fast. You must also be up to speed on rules — national ones or your own university's. You might supervise interns and student workers.
Be sure to clear your weekend social schedule for home games.
Median pay: $10 to $20 per hour. At the University of Virginia, the hiring range for a recent posting was $10.65-$11.50.
Qualifications: A background in customer service, administration and clerical duties; strong oral and written communication skills; basic computer skills.