Best Careers for Empty Nesters


After their children move out of the house, empty nesters might want to consider going back to school to pursue a new career...

By Tony Moton

At some point, parents must face the inevitable: Their children will grow up, leave home, and start lives of their own.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing. "Time and energy that you directed toward your child can now be spent on different areas of your life," says the Psychology Today website.

In fact, this might present "an opportune time to explore or return to hobbies, leisure activities, or career pursuits," notes Psychology Today.

Think some career exploration could be just what the doctor ordered for your "empty nest" syndrome? Check out these seven career options now.

Career #1: Personal Financial Advisor

Instead of counting how much time is on your hands now that your kids have flown the coop, you might want to turn your efforts toward pursuing a career as a personal financial advisor.

These advisors typically spend their days meeting with clients to discuss financial goals, recommending investments and helping clients plan for retirement, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.

Why it's a good fit: According to Laurence Shatkin, co-author of the book "225 Best Jobs for Baby Boomers," empty nesters working as financial advisors might have an advantage when dealing with older clients.

"Your clientele tends to be an older group with money, and that group is trusting with someone that age instead of a (younger) whipper-snapper," Shatkin says. "Because of the trust favor, they might favor older workers."

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Education options: If this sounds like a career you'd be interested in pursuing, consider filling your newly acquired free time by going back to school. According to the Department of Labor, you can prep for a career as a personal financial advisor by earning a degree in accounting, economics, finance, mathematics, or business. And if you are already an advisor looking to advance into a management position, a master's degree in business administration or finance could help.

Career #2: K-12 Teacher

Interested in a career that could extend your involvement with mentoring young people? If so, teaching students somewhere at the kindergarten through high school level could be a satisfying career option for an empty nester.

As a teacher, your duties could include devising lesson plans, grading assignments, and working with individual students to improve their learning capabilities, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Why it's a good fit: Shatkin says teaching is an ideal career choice for empty nesters who still feel energetic enough to help children learn and grow.

"It might be draining on an older worker, but there are some variations," says Shatkin. "You can do this as a substitute teacher if you do not want to work full time, which might not be an energy drain."

And if you have expertise in a particular area of study, this career could be an even better fit. In fact, some middle school and high school teachers might focus on single subjects, such as history or biology, according to the Department of Labor.

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Education options: If you already have a bachelor's degree, you're off to a good start! According to the Department, all states provide an alternative certification program to earn a teaching certificate. Don't have a bachelor's? Look into earning a bachelor's in elementary education.

Career #3: Health Care Administrator

In this management role, you could find yourself in charge of directing and coordinating the daily operations of various types of health care facilities, clinical areas, or departments, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Why it's a good fit: For empty nesters with medical backgrounds or an interest in the management side of the health field, pursuing a career as a health care administrator might be a step in the right direction, Shatkin says.

"Nurses often go into administration after they have experienced some achievement as a nurse, but [administration] isn't for everybody," Shatkin says. "You need to have some quantitative skills and interpersonal skills to be a successful manager."

Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.

Education options: Looking to use your past work experience in this health-related field? If you already have your bachelor's degree, consider earning one of these master's degrees: public administration, long-term care administration, public health, or health services. According to the Department of Labor, master's in these areas are common among medical and health services managers.

Career #4: Public Relations Specialist

Did you stress the importance of good communication, such as reading and writing, with your children? As a public relations (PR) specialist, you could practice good communication skills in a business setting.

In terms of job responsibilities, PR specialists might write press releases, help clients communicate with the public, and develop fundraising strategies for organizations, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.

Why it's a good fit: Are you an empty nester who wants to exercise your speaking and writing skills? Shatkin says that you can do just that as a PR specialist.

"Good writing ability is very important for PR specialists, and this is a skill that some more mature workers may have developed," Shatkin says.

Click to Find the Right Communications Program.

Education options: Interested in spending your extra time working in the communications field? If you already have a bachelor's degree, you could put your communication skills to use as a PR specialist. Don't have one? Keep in mind that employers typically look for candidates who have studied public relations, communications, English, journalism, or business, according to the Department of Labor.

Career #5: Human Resources Specialist

If you're an empty nester with some experience working in a business or corporate setting, consider pursuing a career as a human resources specialist.

In this people-oriented position, human resources specialists typically interview job applicants, hire potential employees, and conduct orientation programs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Why it's a good fit: Adults who have been around the block, so to speak, could find working as a human resources specialist to be a suitable career option. Why? Because previous job experience can help specialists understand the qualification needs of new employees, according to Shatkin.

"If you work in an industry for a while, you are going to know who is successful, their backgrounds, and the personality types who might do well in that particular industry or job you would be hiring for," Shatkin says. "That's why a seasoned worker might be good in that position."

Click to Find the Right Human Resources Program.

Education options: Looking to put your past business skills to work in a new career? If so, note that HR specialists need at least a bachelor's degree. In fact, "most employers prefer applicants who have a bachelor's degree in human resources, business, or a related field," according to the Department of Labor.

Career #6: Computer Systems Analyst

Are you an empty nester who knows a thing or two about computers and likes keeping up with technological developments? You might want to consider pursuing a career as a computer systems analyst.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, these analysts typically play a key role in an organization's information technology (IT) system. Common duties could include developing new ways to improve a computer system's efficiency or researching emerging technologies that could replace a system's old ones.

Why it's a good fit: In spite of their advanced years, Shatkin says that empty nesters can be quite capable of handling work as a computer systems analyst.

"It's a job they certainly can do," Shatkin says. "People think of it as a technology job, but it's really about understanding how information is being used and making raw information available to the end user."

Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

Education options: Ready to brush up your computer skills to prep for this tech-related field? In this type of role, a bachelor's degree in computer or information science field is a common credential, according to the Department of Labor. And for more technically complex positions, a master's degree in computer science may be needed.

Career #7: Management Consultant

Want to put your problem-solving skills to good use? If so, a career as a management consultant could be a good fit for your later-in-life career.

In the business world, these consultants generally gather information about problems, develop solutions, and make recommendations for changes to management, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Why it's a good fit: If you're an empty nester with experience in a particular area of business, this could be a good career option for you.

In fact, organizations specializing in certain areas - like management or human resources - typically look for candidates with that type of work experience, notes the Department of Labor.

On top of that, Shatkin says consultants often find themselves traveling to meet clients, which "might appeal to empty nesters who have more freedom when the kids are not around."

Click to Find the Right MBA Program.

Education options: Looking to use your work experience in a business role? According to the Department, if you already have a bachelor's degree, note that some employers prefer to hire applicants with a master's degree in business administration. And keep in mind that other common areas of study include business, accounting, management, marketing, and economics.

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