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Encore careers give new life to baby boomers

By Charlie Triemert
Published On: Dec 07 2011 09:42:34 AM CST
Updated On: Nov 22 2010 12:34:46 PM CST
teens helping senior with computer

iStock / ImageegamI

Ed Warn says his father, a farmer, talked him out of majoring in agricultural studies when he started college. Instead, Warn went into civil engineering and worked in that field for 34 years before he retired in 2002.

Rather than moving to Florida and hitting the golf course, Warn, 61, now spends his days on his own farm raising natural chickens, cattle and pigs.

Warn doesn't regret his years as an engineer but says farming "is something he's wanted to do since he was a kid."

"I had a great career as an engineer, I raised a family in the city, but farming just speaks to my heart," he said.

Warn is part of a growing trend among baby boomers embarking on "encore careers" after retirement. A recent survey by D. Hart Research Associates estimates that up to 8.4 million baby boomers have already launched an encore career -- with many turning to the nonprofit, education and health sectors.

For some retirees, a sustained source of income is essential, but for others, it's more about finding fulfillment in their work.

"It would be nice to make a profit, but it's not about that" I wish everyone could experience the enjoyment that I do everyday -- in doing something that I love," Warn said.

Why Keep Working?

While there are the many retired Americans who work because they have to, there is an increasing amount like Warn who work because they want to.

CEO of Civic Ventures and author of Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life, Mark Freedman told U.S. News and World News Report, very few retirees start a second career purely for the money.

"Longer working lives bring with them many potential benefits for individuals -- a longer time to earn and save, as well as purpose, structure, physical and mental health, and an expanding social circle," Freedman said.

Because baby boomers have the freedom to choose what their encore career is -- there is a greater chance they will experience a higher level of satisfaction.

"They're (retirees) searching for work that is fulfilling and gets them out of bed in the morning." For some, the income is essential. For others, it's an added insurance policy against dwindling retirement accounts," he said.

Finding Work

For the increasing number of baby boomers looking for an encore career, the good news is there are plenty of sources available to them.

Retirees can go to Web sites such as AARP.org, Careerbuilder.com and Monster.com which offer links, resume help and resources for finding work.

Less computer savvy boomers can open up the job section of their local paper or call businesses directly to inquire about employment opportunities.

For more intimate help, retirees can contact companies such as Freedman's Civic Ventures that specialize in helping baby boomers find work after retirement.

Civic Ventures has more than five different programs to help retirees find their second career calling, including Encore.org which helps boomers return to school and receive certifications in fields they wish to enter.

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