More retirees want a side gig. Here's how to get one

  • Whether by choice of necessity, nearly 3 in 4 Americans plan to work beyond traditional retirement age — at least on a part-time basis.
  • But for those in their 60s and 70s, finding the right type of work arrangement can be challenging.
  • Here are some tips to pave the way.

Forget gardening, golfing and grandchildren. Today's retirees are going back to work — at least part time.

Nearly 3 in 4 Americans plan to work beyond traditional retirement age on at least a part-time basis, according to a Gallup poll.

A separate AARP study found that 37 percent of working Americans ages 50 to 64 said they intend to work after retiring from their current careers. Of those, 44 percent plan to enter new fields.

That's both by choice and necessity.

A FlexJobs' survey of over 2,000 professionals at or near retirement found that 70 percent need to work to pay for basic necessities, but almost 60 percent said they work because they enjoy it.

Then there are the psychological benefits. For seniors continuing to work at least part time, employment can ease the sometimes harsh transition into retirement by sidestepping an abrupt end to the career they may have built up over much of their lifetimes, according to Brie Reynolds, FlexJobs' senior career specialist.

In fact, 67 percent of U.S. workers said they'd prefer a "flexible transition" into retirement, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found.

"Rather than committing the time and energy towards a full-time traditional job, retirees are looking for something more flexible, perhaps with part-time hours, flexible scheduling and the ability to work from home," Reynolds said.

But finding a new job in your 60s or 70s, particularly one with a highly desirable flexible schedule or part-time hours, can be challenging.

"It's easier said than done" said Catherine Collinson, the president and CEO of the Transamerica Institute and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. "Boomers are the first generation retiring at a later age — they are blazing that trail."

Here are Collinson's tips for navigating the way.

For starters, "look before leaping, especially if you are already working," she said. Staying at your current gig is a good option to consider for soon-to-be retirees.

To that end, discretely do some research about going from full time to part time before you broach the subject with your employer. "You don't want to tip your hand," Collinson said.

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Further, look into "what types of jobs or flexible work arrangements are available where you live," Collinson added. From Uber driver to freelance graphic designer, there could be other opportunities to work remotely or on your own schedule.

And finally, make sure that your skills are up to date. Take advantage of any continuing education at your current employer or enroll in courses at your local community college or a university extension program, which can be taken either in person or online, she said.

"That might also be an opportunity to network above and beyond what you learn in class," Collinson said.