Careers

25 side gigs you can start in retirement

Retirement doesn't have to include endless games of shuffleboard and bridge. In fact, for many of today's retirees, this couldn't be further from the truth.

"The retirement of our parents' generation — we'll look back on it as a blip of the screen," said Nancy Collamer, author of "Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement" and founder of MyLifestyleCareer.com.

An Uber driver drives a passenger in Boston.
Wendy Maeda | The Boston Globe | Getty Images
An Uber driver drives a passenger in Boston.

Instead, many people are diving after retirement into encore careers that offer a chance to make some extra money with more flexible hours.

"They want to be relevant. They want to be needed. They want a reason to get out of bed in the morning. They want a way to pay their bills, and work isn't a four-letter word," said Kerry Hannon, author and expert on career transitions and retirement.

Driving this trend are three things: Retirees want to create a financial safety net as Americans live longer than ever, they want to pursue something meaningful and they want to avoid being bored.

Just what are some second act gigs that are tailor made for these retirees? Experts shares some of their top picks:

1. Consultant

By the time older Americans retire, they have accumulated substantial knowledge in their career, skills that they can turn into a side business with flexible hours.

2. Interim Executive

"There are now professional services firms that can place people in temporary executive positions," Collamer said. These temporary execs typically earn a good rate and handle meaty assignments, she said.

3. Uber drivers

Ride apps offer the ultimate convenience: Workers can turn them on when they have extra time to work and turn them off when they want to be off the clock. Another bonus: The job can be very social for seniors who want to get out of the house.

4. Peace Corps

A full 7 percent of Peace Corps volunteers are over age 50. This could be a good fit for retirees who are ready to embark on a completely new adventure for their second act.

5. Personal historian

Lovers of history and writing can marry the two as personal historians, who help customers write their memoirs.

6. Life-cycle celebrant

These celebrants serve as officiant at important life moments, like weddings.

"For someone who loves being around weddings or around important life moments or if they like to do research, that can be a fun idea," Collamer said.

7. Entrepreneurial support

With so many people branching out on their own, offering support services can be a flexible business retirees can begin.

"Typically they're very skilled at core businesses, but it's all the other tasks they need to handle their business effectively," Collamer said.

8. Bookkeeper

Number crunching seniors might want to look into offering bookkeeping services.

9. Web designer

In today's internet-centric world, having an informative and up-to-date business website is essential, and retirees with web design skills can sell their talent.

10. Virtual assistant

You can always make more money, but time? That's a scarce commodity for any businessman. Offering virtual assistant skills fits into many semiretirees' desire for flexibility.

11. Translator

Speak a foreign language? Your skills could be in high demand by businesses with entrepreneurs who don't have the skill.

12. Adjunct professor

Try going back to where it all started: college.

"It can be very gratifying work for people. It's an opportunity for them to share their expertise and mentor a new generation of students," Collamer said.

13. Tutor

Teach the next generation of little Einsteins by offering your knowledge.

14. Senior services

As the boomer generation ages, there is a huge opportunity to provide services for them, such as home modification or moving logistics as a senior move manager.

15. Passion projects

Hannon recommended brainstorming a business idea from an existing sport or hobby. She cited the example of a woman who turned her love of sewing into a business making pillows out of old wedding dresses.

16. Tax preparer

Every year, it seems like the tax code gets more complicated with new credits to take and rules to remember. People with tax preparation skills will find their skills in high demand, especially come tax time, and companies like H&R Block stress the ability for their employees to have flexible hours.

17. Pet groomer

The pet business is big and only getting bigger. Pet walkers are another potential encore business opportunity.

18. Professional organizer

Professional organizer and best-selling author Marie Kondo has helped bring professional organization to the forefront.

19. Mediator

Facing potentially sky-high legal bills, many opposing parties instead opt for mediation rather than drag disputes out in court. This presents an opportunity for people who have good conflict resolution skills. For more information on becoming one, check out the National Association of Certified Mediators.

20. Seamstress/Tailor

Skills like sewing are not as common as they used to be. If you are especially handy in this arena, you might be cut out for a side gig as a seamstress or tailor.

21. Grant proposal writer

Grant writing is highly specialized and can be time consuming, so people who specialize in it can be real value-adds to grant seekers. Check out the Grant Professionals Association for more information.

22. Specialty tour operator

Ideal for people who live near tourist meccas, opening a specialty tour business can help people marry interests in a topic with social interaction and even some exercise.

23. Nonprofit worker

Getting in touch with a nonprofit you already volunteer with or with another whose cause is interesting to you can be a great way to find a fulfilling way to fill the extra hours.

24. Babysitter or nanny

With many families headed by single parents or two-income earners, parents are more time-strapped than ever and reliant on caregiving services.

25. Plant nursery worker

Semiretirees with a green thumb might be interested in this one. Bonus: These jobs can offer outside time, social interaction and exercise.