5 Reasons People Choose an Encore Career

Many people at or near retirement age are not ready to give up work entirely. For some, an encore career could be the perfect fit for those who want to earn an income while contributing to community needs.

An encore career is a position for individuals age 50 and older designed to meet unmet needs in the community. Encores use their experience, passion, skills, and talents to work for the greater good.

Thinking about an encore career? See reasons why people are choosing encore careers and how one person’s encore experience has been a success.

5 Reasons people choose an encore career

There are multiple factors contributing to people’s desire to prolong retirement, or to retire and seek out an encore career.  You may relate to one or more of these reasons, and if so, may decide an encore career is right for you!

1. Population trends

Since 2011, we have an average of 10,000 people turning 65 every day.  This means that in 10 years, one in every four Americans will be 65.

The national trend is reflected in what is happening locally in Summit County with people age 65 and older growing to nearly 31% of the population by 2030.

By 2030, there will be more Americans over 65 than under the age of 15!

In the traditional model of an average person’s life plan, you knew you might live 60-70 years. You learned until you were 20, then worked and raised your family for about 20 years and then you rested. Because the average lifespan was only 65 for an average man, this is where the traditional life plan model stopped.

But as we all know, we are living longer and the traditional linear model was redesigned to take this new fact into consideration.  However, the linear model no longer really represents the idea of reinvention that today’s population has undergone.  A better representation is the cyclic life plan!

Encore careers fit into a cyclic life plan. After retirement, people choosing an encore career can integrate work and education into leisure and family time for a full and meaningful experience.

2. Changing career paths          

Life changes such as an empty nest, a loss of a parent, end of a marriage, new romance, an illness, a loss of parent or a move from a home to an apartment can cause people to evaluate a new career.

Career path changes can also be motivated by a desire to make a difference in the longevity phase of a person’s life.  All of these reasons for changing a career path perfectly align with having an encore career.

People at or near retirement age have the time and financial freedom to explore interests that they may not have been able to in the past. Encore careers offer the flexibility to change career paths later in life.

3. Redefining retirement

Nationally, we are seeing new trends emerge in the labor force causing us to redefine retirement and the age in which we commonly retire. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force grew from 15.5 million in 1994 to 33.9 million in 2014. By 2024, which is only seven years from now, 25% of the workforce will be over 55.

People are working later out of financial necessity or a desire to stay active in the workforce. They want to leave a mark, make a difference, and continue to make money.

Not only is the labor force increasing for older adults, but the unemployment rate for those ages 55 and over was just 3.2% as of February 2018. That is lower than the current unemployment rate of 4.1% for the entire population.

Two decades ago, less than a third of people age 55 and over were employed or looking for work. Today, that share is 40%.

As the boomers continue to age and possibly change their career paths and retirement plans, pre-retirees are redefining retirement. Today, seven out of ten pre-retirees say they would ideally like to include some work in their retirement years.

With seven out of ten saying they want to continue to work, surveys are asking what they will miss the most about work when they do retire. Many mention income, insurance, purpose, social connections, and mental stimulation—all of which are benefits associated with having an Encore career.

4. Financial

With the recession’s impact on retirement savings and the decline of pensions, encore careers have offered a new framework for providing continued income in later years. 

According to the 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey, about 24% of workers (and fully 21% of retirees!) said they had less than $1,000 saved for retirement. A whopping 55% of workers and 38% of retirees had less than $50,000.

According to the Insured Retirement Institute:

  • 76% do not have confidence that they have saved enough
  • 69% of those having confidence, wish they had saved more
  • 67% of those having confidence wish they would have started saving earlier
  • Only 28% of Boomers believe they will have enough money to retire
  • 70% of Boomers have less than $5,000 saved in an emergency fund
  • Only 36% of Boomers believe they will have enough money to cover health care expenses

Lack of financial confidence with current financial needs compared to lifespan is another reason why people are choosing to retire later or pursue encore careers after retirement. Encore careers provide the opportunity to earn an income without committing to a full-time job.

5. Seeking purpose

Many encores choose to work because they are seeking purpose. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs places self-actualization at the top of the hierarchy and defines it as identifying, seeking, and achieving a purpose.  Encore promotes the idea of wanting to continue to work in order to achieve a social purpose with personal meaning.

Social purpose organizations have benefited greatly because of the encore movement. People starting encore careers are able to deliver new sources of talent to nonprofits, government agencies, and schools through paid, part-time positions. This connection is an affordable option for many social purpose organizations that need help with projects over a short or long term.

Those that seek encore careers are seeking purpose while managing to earn an income at the same time. Those that find that a perfect match are anxious to tell others of their experience.

Meet Tom, Encore

Tom, age 60, has been working his encore career in community-based organizations doing grant writing, fundraising, and marketing. He uses his passions and experiences to create impact at the Center for Applied Drama and Autism (CADA) in Akron.

Tom grew up in Minnesota where he earned a degree in community education degree. As a community education director, he worked with kids during the summer and after regular class hours. After moving to Ohio, Tom taught enrichment classes at a charter school with special programs, like agriculture. He was also a copywriter for trade journals on agriculture and landscaping topics.

Right now, Tom works with North Akron refugee youth. He teaches farming classes in vacant lots turned into community gardens. The kids come from a farming background, so the classes provide them with the opportunity to learn more about agricultural techniques and sustainability.

With a history and passion for the environment, Tom is active with the sustainable movement. He says the changes he has made, such as raising chickens in his city backyard and ditching his car, make him healthy. Plus, he has met a lot of people from riding his bike around town.

Tom wants to keep the refugee youth he works with active and involve the older refugees. He noted that many older members of this community have a lot of free time and can become lonely. But, they can offer a lot of knowledge to youth. Many were farmers and can connect with the youth through the farming classes.

Tom has a positive perspective on aging. His encore career experience has aligned with his goals and interests. He has this to say about his experience:

“I love being 60. You’re so freed up. I don’t have to prove myself anymore. My goal is to be a servant leader and assist those people in need who are falling through the cracks. I advocate for alternative people. I have this freedom that I never used to have to work with people.”

Interested in starting your encore career? Learn more by contacting Encore Staffing Network online or by calling 216-361-9750.

*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.

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