En español | These days, more and more retirees are working as a way to stay engaged, support a lifestyle or both.
For Jose and Jill Ferrer, ages 64 and 59, respectively, it's been all of the above. When they retired from telecommunications careers that spanned nearly three decades at AT&T, they sold their townhouse in Randolph, N.J., for about $360,000 and hit the road.
Since 2005, they've traveled full time from Oregon to New Mexico to Florida and points in between at the wheel of their 40-foot Country Coach Allure motor home (paid for with cash). A Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail motorcycle, a Saturn car and two bikes are along for the ride.
"We're living a lifestyle that enables us to move around as we choose," says Jill. "We usually take our time — spending at least a few days and more likely a week or more in an area. We fully intend to get to all of the national parks."
The couple planned carefully for retirement. They lived off one of their $100,000-a-year salaries for about five years before retiring and saved the other one. They contributed the maximum to their 401(k) savings plans and rolled them over into individual retirement accounts once they retired. "We're hopeful that we have saved enough to last us in a retirement that includes frugal living and part-time work," Jill says.
For this road warrior couple, that part-time work is a website and blog dedicated to the RV lifestyle. "We were seeking something we could do on the road to make some extra income. We created Your RV Lifestyle as a site where we could share tips, lessons learned and travel experiences," she says.
And it has worked. With both a laptop and a desktop in the motor home, they use a wireless data plan with an air card for Internet access. On average, they try to do something on the site every day: a blog, a new page or an updated page.
The payoff: They earn a small commission on products sold through the product-affiliate programs related to the RV lifestyle, such as Good Sam club, FMCA, RV books/DVDs and so on, that are promoted on the site. They also get a cut when visitors click on Google AdSense ads displayed on the relevant pages.
"For now, as we balance various aspects of our life, we are happy to earn a little extra money — about $700 a month — from the site," Jill says. "And we know the potential is there to grow our website business."
Whatever your reason for wanting to keep earning income, it doesn't mean you're locked into the daily treadmill. Opting to work a slimmed-down number of hours a week gives you plenty of room to travel, enjoy your hobbies, spend time with friends and more.
Here are five part-time jobs to consider. Pay ranges, which will vary based on experience and geography, are derived from data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The nitty-gritty: Most bloggers are making very little per month. Little wonder. There's lots of competition out there for eyeballs. There are millions of blogs today. Tumblr claims 178.7 million blogs. WordPress.com boasts more than 77 million. It is possible, though, to break through. An income stream comes from steadily building a following through referrals and generating income from the ads on your page. You can also make money by selling merchandise directly — from books to T-shirts. Developing traffic flow (and money) to your blog is time-consuming. You can't just come up with a few pithy posts on a whim every so often and expect visitors to show up with any consistency. It takes discipline. Use Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.
The hours: Flexible. It's tough to measure how long it takes someone to write a post of around 800 words. It might take three or four hours. The real money-hungry bloggers log in full-time schedules of 40 hours or more a week managing their blogs. While that's heavy duty, you should plan to blog at least three times a week. You also need to keep tabs on the business side — managing display ads and product sales adds up to a few hours a week.
Median pay range: The majority of bloggers make less than $100 a month from their sites. Some bloggers produce more than one blog, which antes up income. There are bloggers who pull in more than $100,000, but they're the exception. Google AdSense, Amazon's affiliate program and Chitika are three income streams to check out. How much income they produce varies by blog. The key is to try out a few.
Qualifications: At the heart of it, passion, a micro-niche that you really know something about, decent writing skills and the commitment to keep feeding your site with fresh content. A successful blog is built on subject matter that's valuable to people interested in the precise topic. Computer skills are a must, and knowing how to post photos and YouTube clips is helpful. You have an edge if you know how to use keywords and other online links to lure people to your website via search engine results such as Google and Yahoo. If you're interested, start with ProBlogger.net. File this under labor of love.
2. Athletic Coach/Umpire/Referee
The nitty-gritty: This one's for the kid in all of us. Check into a coach, referee, umpire or scorekeeper post in high school programs, or various youth and amateur leagues. Stress and plenty of time standing go with the territory. And for outdoor sports, prepare for the elements. Travel is usually part of the job, but it's probably a scoot across town. If you're blowing a whistle, you'd better brace yourself for the possibility of verbal strip-downs (parental ire).
The hours: These fluctuate widely by sport and organization. Coaches can figure three hours or so for late afternoons, five days a week, plus weekend days in season. Umpires, referees and scorekeepers usually work two to three hours per game. Figure on once a week for two or three games in an afternoon or evening.
Median pay range: For a coaching position at a school, $3,000 to $5,000 per season is possible. A median annual wage for a coach at an elementary or secondary school is $22,140, according to the BLS. Umpires and referees can make $30 to $50 per game. Independent leagues or private travel teams might pay $50 to $75 per game.
Qualifications: You need to be good with children, possess moderate physical fitness and have an overall knowledge of the game. Specific education, training and licensing requirements for coaches and officials vary greatly by the level and type of sport. Some entry-level positions for coaches require only experience gleaned as a participant in the sport. Umpires and referees usually are required to attend a training course and pass a test. You can gain experience by volunteering for intramural, community and recreational league competitions. If you have a hankering to umpire, check out your local umpire association. For American Legion (high school age), you will need to contact your local division and attend a certifying clinic. There are one-day refresher classes and full courses with several sessions, plus an exam. Some leagues require that certification be renewed periodically. Additional resources: National Association of Sports Officials and state athletic associations. Look to high schools, parks departments, recreational and church leagues, and soccer clubs for openings. Ask if they offer a club-certified referee or umpire class.
3. Teacher's Aide
The nitty-gritty: Kid Central. This post can take some nerves of steel and patience, but the rewards are plentiful. It can be frustrating for some aides to have to defer to the guidance of the teacher in charge, so you need to have a good rapport and working relationship. The teacher needs to respect and value what you bring to the classroom. If not, it's a bust. Be prepared for some grunt work — clerical duties such as grading papers, recording grades, setting up equipment, entering computer data. One of the best aspects is one-on-one tutoring for a student who needs special help or has a disability and requires individual attention. These are bonding moments of giving back that are worth more than a paycheck. While some of the school day is spent standing, walking or kneeling, most of it is sitting while working with students. Teacher assistants also supervise students in the cafeteria, school yard and hallways, or on field trips.
The hours: Three to five days a week, six to seven hours per day during the traditional school year (eight to nine months). Summer school hours may be available in some districts.
Median full-time pay: $23,640 per year
Qualifications: On-the-job training combined with a high school diploma. Some states or school districts may require additional education beyond high school. A college degree, related coursework in child development and previous experience helping special education students can open up job opportunities. Self-starters who can multitask and work independently are highly valued. Fluency in a second language, especially Spanish, is in demand. Many schools require previous experience in working with children and a valid driver's license. Most require you to pass a background check. For more information, go to the websites of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.
4. Tour Guide
The nitty-gritty: Imagine steering a group of curious tourists around historic monuments in Washington, D.C., on a sunny, cherry blossom-bright day in April. That's particularly true if you're a history buff and have a knack for storytelling and showmanship. You need to have a mind for remembering dates and historical facts. You also must interact easily with everyone — from excitable school kids on a field trip to seniors hailing from all over the globe. Tour guide jobs pop up in various places that attract visitors. You might lead visitors through points of historical or local interest, pretzel factories, wineries, breweries and more, doling out tidbits of information in a narrative format. The downside is that it can be hard on the feet and the vocal cords, and the patter can become stiflingly rote. Your job is to dig down for a fresh and energetic performance each round. Many of these jobs are walking tours, although you may land one where you drive a vehicle, or go with a group on a park shuttle or monorail system. Depending on the assignment, you might have to stand up to eight hours per day or walk and climb stairs. Plus, you'll need to be sharp-eyed to visually monitor guests to ensure compliance with security and safety rules. Less demanding openings, such as ticket-takers, program sellers or cashiers, are also generally available.
The hours: Varying schedules including days, evenings and weekends. It might be difficult to receive time off around peak tourist times, such as holidays and school vacations.
Hourly pay range: $8.22 to $18.05
Qualifications: Tour guides often receive on-the-job training from employers. The academic background required for a position varies according to the venue. Best skill: the ability to hang on to historical facts, dates and anecdotes and relate that information to visitors in a compelling way. Some cities require licensing, and applicants may have to pass a written exam covering factual knowledge of specific locations and city history. Some community colleges offer short-term courses in tour- and travel-related occupations. Certified Tour Professional (CTP) certification is offered through the National Tour Association.
5. Convention Center Jobs
The nitty-gritty: Convention centers in major cities can be wellsprings for a wide range of part-time jobs with various skill requirements. The panoply of shows rolls in and rolls out. Set 'em up and tear 'em down. Each week, the venues play host to various industry events from exotic food to car and boat shows, as well as concerts and even sports competitions. The demand for workers is a moving target — the perfect scenario if you're looking for the occasional paycheck. Some part-time jobs include nurse, parking lot attendant, parking lot cashier, set-up worker/cleaner, usher and information booth attendant. Many of these jobs have little to no physical labor.
There are also food service opportunities for banquets and special dining events. The center's kitchen facility often hires line cooks and servers on an as-needed basis. In some towns, outside vendors will lease space inside a convention center and staff up for each event. These positions can range from being a barista for a coffee stand to working at a concession stand. Sign on with one of these businesses, and the vendor will call and ask your availability depending on weekly needs.
The hours: The work schedules are irregular, and no minimum number of hours is guaranteed. Work is typically available on all days of the year, including holidays. Evening and night hours may be required, depending on the job.
Pay range: Typically $7.25 to $20 an hour.
Qualifications: This is showtime. It's all about the customer, so people skills matter. Working knowledge of the event industry — including trade shows, conventions, consumer shows, concerts, athletic events and meetings — is a plus for some positions. Pre-employment drug screening and background checks are common. Many convention centers outsource their personnel management to companies that specialize in doing this for large convention and event centers, and hire locals to come in and do specific jobs for individual events. You might stop by at an event and ask booth operators about future openings. Your convention, sports and entertainment agency should be able to provide employment information.
Kerry Hannon, AARP jobs expert, is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her books include What's Next? Finding Your Passion and Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills. Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.