Back to Work: Best Jobs for Older Workers to Earn Supplemental Income

Best jobs for retirees to earn extra money.

January 30, 2011, 8:37 PM

Jan. 31, 2011 — -- A recent AARP survey found that 60 percent of Americans nearing retirement age say they're not where they expected to be financially. Many of those who have retired feel the need to supplement their income with a part-time job.

The best places to start a search are the industries and employers that more readily embrace older workers.

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The myth that older workers are less productive and less invested in the workplace than younger counterparts is just that -- a myth. Two recent studies -- one from Wharton, the other from Boston College -- found that older workers use fewer sick days on the whole than their younger employers and the older folks stay more engaged and satisfied with their jobs as they near or enter retirement years.

The savviest employers recognize that -- and they're more willing than others to proactively recruit and hire older workers.

While there's no doubt a range of options available, if you're flexible with the type of work you're willing to do, start with the three Cs of part-time retirement work.

Consulting. Perhaps you've just spent 20 or 30 years building your expertise in your profession. Consider using those skills as a freelancer or independent contractor. Start by offering your part-time help to your former employer. Your expertise and institutional knowledge is no doubt valuable, and can be had by them at a fraction of a fulltime salary.

If they don't go for it, reach out to contacts you made during your years in the business, as well as competitors in the same industry.

Register with temporary agencies, which need highly skilled workers willing to work part-time. The American Staffing Association offers advice and a vast database to find the right staffing firm for your skill set and interests.

Customer service. Home Depot and CVS are just two national chains that actively court retirees for part-time work.

With more than 7,000 stores nationwide, CVS/pharmacy has diverse needs including cashiers, photo techs and pharmacy workers. Not only do they have a strong appreciation for customer service, retirees also make strong candidates because they mirror the aging demographic of the chain's customer base.

At Home Depot, the home improvement giant is now beginning its busy spring season, which is like its Christmas, when seasonal part-time jobs will last anywhere from 90 to 120 days, depending on the region. The company says it will hire thousands of workers over the next few weeks.

When considering retail opportunities, apply at stores you're familiar with, so you're comfortable with the environment, merchandise and customer base.

Caregiving. Plenty of employers appreciate older workers for caregiving and companion positions because many of the clients are often more comfortable with someone who resembles a peer.

Elderly clients often complain that young aides talk too fast, move too quickly, and simply don't get it. On the flip side, retirees have more in common with elderly clients, such as life experiences and frames of reference, which can make companionship an easier fit.

These positions usually entail reading, playing games, especially mind-stimulating games for Alzheimer's or dementia patients, taking walks, reminiscing and offering medication reminders.

There are a number of great companies looking for workers: Senior Helpers has more than 280 locations, many hiring part-timers every week. Among others to pursue: Visiting Angels, Seniors Helping Seniors, and Atria Senior Living., which connects caregivers with those looking for care, says in its network, seniors are more likely to seek eldercare roles than childcare or pet sitting.

Compensation for this type of work is typically in the range of $8 to $12 an hour, depending on location.

Creativity. Be creative in pursuing something you may have always wanted to do or something that will prove fulfilling. For example, AARP says many retirees enjoy off-jobs, ranging from working as a driver for a local limousine company to being a bartender part-time with local catering companies. While very different types of work, both positions offer flexibility and the access to conversations and connections with interesting people.

This may also be the time to start a small business that generates a supplemental income. Boomerpreneurs are a growing category of small business owners.

Get help. There are non-profits and government resources to help retirees with job placement assistance. The AARP Foundation runs a program called WorkSearch -- -- which has an online component and in-person centers throughout the country to help retirees with all aspects of job searching.

And the federal government funds the Senior Community Service Employment Program for very low income people 55 and over who are out of work. Through 18 national non-profit partners -- one of which is the National Council on Aging -- participants are placed in job readiness programs to provide training for everything from clerical roles to teacher's aides to van drivers.

Tory Johnson is the workplace contributor on "Good Morning America." Connect with her at or or