Many job openings require a college degree to apply, and that qualification can be a barrier for some older adults. When compared with younger job seekers, older adults are less likely have college degrees because many of them started their careers when degrees weren’t necessary.
According to the American Council on Education, 49.3 percent of adults ages 35 to 44 have an associate’s degree or higher, the highest share of any age group. That percentage steadily drops for older groups, falling to 37.9 percent for people 65 and older.
Because employers are struggling to find workers to fill open positions, more business leaders and policymakers are encouraging recruiters to look for skills rather than a college degree. In fact, several state governments have required their state agencies to remove degree requirements from any job opening for which the credential is not essential. States that have curtailed degree requirements for government jobs include Alaska, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Utah.
Until more employers move to skills-based hiring, many older job seekers will need to keep an eye out for openings where degrees aren’t required. While they can be harder to find, such positions are available. The following occupations, listed alphabetically, are examples of those professions. Average wage data is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Clicking on the “Find jobs” link will take you to current postings on the AARP Job Board.
Average wage: $21.90 per hour
Find bookkeeper jobs
Jobs in bookkeeping and accounting are reliable favorites for older adults, particularly because these positions often provide the flexibility to work from home or work part-time. While some bookkeepers have college degrees, the jobs usually only require some on-the-job training or previous experience. Training also is available through online courses, including some that offer certificates.
Average wage: $44.71 per hour
Analyst is a role that allows you to use your business experience to help other companies succeed. These positions typically offer contract work that lets you work when you want to and decide which projects you want to take on.
Average wage: $30.75 per hour
Though it might help to have some experience cooking, catering managers aren’t primarily involved in the food preparations for events. The job focuses instead on finding new clients, determining what type of menu fits their idea and their budget, then ensuring that the event goes off without a hitch. If you have experience in restaurants or event planning, catering manager could be a suitable fit for you.
Construction and building inspector
Average wage: $29.63 per hour
A few years ago, the BLS listed construction and building inspectors as one of the most popular jobs for older workers, noting that 39 percent of people in the profession were age 55 or older. While no degree is required for the job, many states and cities require construction and building inspectors to earn a certification or license.
Customer service representative
Average wage: $17.75 per hour
Nearly 3 million people work as customer service representatives, proving how essential this role is for a wide variety of businesses. If you have the communication and people skills to help consumers get answers about products and services, this could be a good job for you. Employers provide the training, and — in many cases — the job can be done remotely.
Data entry clerk
Average wage: $17.49 per hour
This job usually involves typing information from various forms and reports into a computer system. Accuracy and typing speed are essential, but the hours are flexible. These positions are slowly fading away, so it may not be the safest choice if you are looking for a position for the long term.