Second careers

Globally, more people are living longer. With the advent of modern medicine and global growth this has led to a situation that has not only seen an increase in population but also a general extension of the longevity of people. It would not be uncommon for people to work for 60 years in our modern society.


We all know that the Spartan army invented the retirement system when the life expectancy of a career soldier was 55 years. If you survived past this age, then for 5 years, which was until you were 60, you could draw a government pension. As the life expectancy of a Spartan at that time was 60 – this worked perfectly, as there were few customers past that age.


The general idea of pension schemes were built around the same principle through mathematics as it allowed you to contribute towards those last few years of your life, and then take the pension when you were not working anymore. We have all learnt that the basic economics just do not work the same way anymore and this is one of the primary reasons why pension schemes moved to provident funds and away from defined benefits to defined contributions.


More people live to 100 today than even they expected. A survey of centenarians indicated that more than 85% did not expect to live to that age. And you may be excused for thinking that this is a phenomenon in the developed world only. In the developing world there are more people than 40% of the population that is under the age of 25 years. This generation however is more likely than any other group in history to live for an extended period of time.


The overall survival curve of people has extended. This puts strain on the career planning of people past the age of 45 who are actively being chased for jobs by much younger people. The next generation is chasing the previous generation for the same jobs and while companies with larger workforces are making the biggest gains, they also prefer those workforces to be younger.


You may only be starting your career now – but you have to think of the fact that you are unlikely to follow a single career path and may have to be building some pivotal skills to allow you to get into your second career.


This brings us to people that do fall into the category that are seeking their second careers.


The top sectors that attract people that are more established in their careers include:


  • Financial Advisory Services


Financial advice and care are just more appropriate to people that can engender trust and that can show you the way. It is just not credible when a 20 something wants to tell you about retirement, estate planning and how to get the most out of tax. Portfolio management is an industry in which age is just more important. If you have a financial background this may be an area in which you can earn a decent living and make a second career. Smaller companies and NGO’s are often looking for part time reliable staff that can take care of books, manage financial affairs or add value. The skills and track record of an experienced person may open the door to that opportunity.


  • Education


A great industry that relies on the skills and knowledge of people that have experience is education. Schools, training institutions, universities and vocational training organisations all pull on people with knowledge to support the process of educating people. A great second career may be to educate in your field of experience. It is not always an easy industry – but it can be a way to earn a living. Once again your skills, experience and past qualifications create a gateway to open the minds of the young.


  • Human Resources


Staffing is a complex area of business that present an opportunity for a second career. If you have experience managing a team or resolving personality issues, then consider putting those skills to use by working in human resources. Every type of company employs human resources professionals to recruit employees, manage payroll or benefits and oversee training or mentoring programs. Human resources as a field is projected globally to grow by as much as 20% as an industry in the next few years.


  • Health care


  • A major area of growth is health care. More people are looking at second careers as dental assistants; pharmacy assistants, home care nurses; equipment field support personnel and other support roles in which they can make a significant difference. Also medical reps for new products also do well. As the population is growing there will be a need for more medical professionals and being a carer gives a whole new scope to your career.


  • Entrepreneurship


Many people start businesses at late stages in their career. Having worked for a company, you often have responsibility for large revenues and for putting together big deals. As long as you are willing to start small, be persistent and keep at it – starting a venture may be the avenue for you.


A second career should be a good fit with your interests, but it should also have good prospects for growth. suggests that to successfully get going on a second career you should be careful with preserving your existing cash, while investing in education to make sure that you can equip yourself with the correct skills for that new initiative.


It is also important to marry your interest, your passion, your job and your career. Where these intersect you will find true happiness and expression of your deepest potential. That is why it is recommended that a second career should not be chosen in haste but rather deliberately forged to be exactly what you want it to be.


One example that stands out and exemplifies what it means to take a second career is a weatherman that trained to become a certified pharmacy technician, a job in the growing health care arena. He always wanted to be in the medical field but never got a chance. His knowledge of things scientific coupled with his interest in medicine gave him the impetus he needed to get started. As he did a degree in journalism with a focus on science it gave him the ability to leverage his qualification into a new area by doing some courses and slowly building up the necessary experience through volunteering.


He won’t be abandoning his first love entirely. While working as a pharmacy technician he will be launching a web-based brand of weather information, education and entertainment, with a podcast/radio show, devoted to popular enjoyment of the wonders of the weather, to follow. That may bring income in terms of consulting, advisory services and training.


Many of us are still worried about our first careers and life-long learning seems to be inherent in just staying afloat every day. It is however important to look at how you are skilling yourself up to make that second thirty years of your new productive life worthwhile.