Many women over 50 might be looking for a new and challenging career for various reasons. Maybe they are looking to return to the workforce after raising a family. They may now be faced with having to provide for themselves or their families after a divorce or spouse passing away to make ends meet or help put kids through college.
The good news is that there are plenty of great choices out there, some I am willing to bet you may not have considered before now. Let’s take a look at some choices and see if any fit your needs and/or skills or seem interesting.
Some top careers for older women are:
- Real Estate Agent
- School Counselors
- Administrative Assistant (there is so much with this one as it can lead to so much)
- Customer Service
Women in their fifties (or later) may find midlife the perfect time for a career change or a new job if they have been out of the market. According to current statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for women is strong, 72% of women aged 50 to 54 were employed as of February 2022.
Overall unemployment remains low in this age group, all good signs for women in the workplace. If you are looking for a change in your fifties, several fields are wide open from real estate to hospitality to education and so much more — whether you’re trying to find a second career, re-enter the job market with a skill, or just starting out.
Let’s clear up all the clutter, misconceptions, and untrue myths and take a look at what is out there in greater detail.
Real Estate Agent
Women realtors dominate the residential real estate industry.
In today’s ultra-modern world, the percentage of women employed as a realtor dominates that of their male counterparts, particularly in the United States, where they make up more than two-thirds of real estate agents, and that is a MAJOR win for women in real estate.
However, this stat is mainly true for women in residential real estate; men still have a stronghold in commercial real estate employment. It may be an unfair stereotype, but women are more flexible and relate to the buyer more, which in residential real estate, is driven mostly by the female spouses, mainly due to the emotions and desires or wants with purchasing a home, especially if it is a couple’s first home.
Commercial real estate tends to work more like a business deal over lunches and dinners, and unfortunately can and will involve membership in the “good old boys” network for contacts. I know that is extremely unfair, but many feel that women just do not have enough connections in dealings with things like construction, zoning laws, business contacts, and other things that go into making a commercial deal work. The good news is that there are MANY successful women in commercial real estate today, which is growing yearly.
Women have dominated school education for a long time, especially in elementary and middle school where their mothering instincts play a large role. Their natural ability to understand students’ mental and emotional needs makes them a perfect fit for the younger student who for the first time may be away from a caring motherly type of person.
Being a woman is not a prerequisite to being a great teacher, but it is undeniable that their natural nurturing traits and behaviors are assets in the classroom.
Women make excellent guidance counselors.
School counselors provide academic, personal, and developmental support to school-age children. Once referred to as “guidance counselors,” however that term does not even scratch the surface of the profession. School counselors are committed to creating an emotionally, intellectually, and physically safe environment for all students.
The roles of these professionals vary by the age of the student and the grade level of the student.
- Elementary school counselors interact with young kids, individually or in small groups, and act as a source they can turn to for advice on a student’s day-to-day activities. They also help guide teachers in evaluating the abilities of students and ensure children with different needs receive proper care and education.
- High school counselors have similar responsibilities, but they also help teens transition from secondary school into the workforce, military, trade schools, or collegiate life.
The same traits that make women great educators, such as compassion and motherly instincts, are the same qualities that help women become great school counselors.
There are plenty of opportunities for women in the retail industry and as long as you work hard and love things like merchandising, meeting and greeting the public, and finding helping customers find what they are looking for; retail can be a great option.
A couple of entry-level roles in retail that you may be offered to start:
Sales – People in retail sales positions are on the front lines dealing directly with customers. Depending on the company, some positions may be commissioned or offer a lower salary with bonuses and/ or commissions. This role would appeal to those who love working with the public and love helping people.
Retail merchandising – Retail merchandisers work with store management to ensure the right products, displays and signage are available at the right time and place/ location according to market trends, promotion being run, and time of year. This role would appeal to those who love being more creative, a self-starters, and someone with a good merchandising eye for how a product should be displayed and positioned within the retail space.
Retail also traditionally offers the most scheduling choices and flexibility for family obligations; and while the pay is on the lower side of the scale, they often offer generous benefits for things like health, dental, and vision, even for part-time roles at times.
In the early ’50s when women first started to enter the workforce in large streams, one of the ways women entered the business workplace was as secretaries. They took these clerical positions to bring in extra income for their families and performed things like typing, dictation, keeping the files in order, answering the phones, greeting visitors, making the boss and guests coffee, and keeping their male bosses’ calendars up-to-date.
They worked twice as hard to help their bosses look good, but made significantly less.
Today, the term secretary is frowned on, and for the most part, is a term that is no longer used. The job description has drastically changed. Over time, the role, now referred to as an administrative assistant, has grown to dynamically change and flourish because of the introduction of new technologies.
These roles are strategic business partners now and are much more to be with the running of an office or the business itself. They have become a trusted partner. Now, executive assistants directly affect the bottom line. They are the right hand of their executive and the backbone of the company.
They have slipped into a managerial position and often, have the opportunity for promotion into leadership roles. This role can be VERY rewarding and lucrative, but also comes with perhaps the longest hours and most stress due to new responsibilities. This role would be good for someone with a business or management background (doesn’t have to be too senior) and who has a good feel for today’s technology and programs.
Companies like women in the field of Customer Service because female employees have a more “human touch” and better soft skills. Customer service and call center specialist roles are among the hottest jobs in the administrative and customer support fields. They can be technical, billing related or someone who is a strong problem solver.
Why? Organizations are seeing increases in customer outreach, which means the demand for customer service jobs is rising, too. Customer service and call center professionals play an important role in a company’s success because they affect how people perceive the business, and in many cases may be the first touch point a consumer or customer may have with a business — so first impressions are critical.
As front-line employees, they are tasked with creating positive interactions, handling orders, and answering questions — all of which have the opportunity to build customer relationships.
Having strong people skills, being a problem solver, and having the ability to remain calm, even if a customer on the other side of the line is screaming at you, is essential for this role. This can be a very rewarding role and many offer schedule flexibility and the chance to work from home.
Careers for Older Women, What’s Best for Me?
Some women have taken time off to raise kids or to care for loved ones and now want to return to the workforce but are not sure how.
Some women were fired in their 50’s and perhaps 60’s, and women who say, “I have been doing the same thing for the past twenty/thirty years and now are looking for something different”.
Whatever your story is, take the time to access your skills, and what education you may need (whether that be a refresher course or two or a completely new skill training).
More importantly, do not search for what your passion is in life.
Do you want to work with children?
Do you want to work with the public?
Do you like working with technology/ computers?
Do you like to teach?
Find your passion, and then match that with the career that best aligns with that passion. Many women do a great job instilling confidence within their kids, their families, and friends, but at times forget to do it for themselves. Believe in what you can do and where you can add value.
Careers for Older Women, After/ During Retirement
It takes some time.
You need to go through what you have been doing, whether it is volunteering or if you have been to be with community or charity work. Find what transferable skills you have and can offer and then turn that into how you can add value – or perhaps turn it into starting your own business that reflects your passion and your past (or present) skills.
Amazon has many amazing books, programs, and training materials that you can use in your job search – here are some tremendous materials and additional resources available to you at Amazon!
It can be REALLY frustrating when others keep telling you to, “find yourself”. Did you get lost? I do not think so, maybe you had to put others before you, but you know who you are, and you are likely the kind of person who works hard, along with commitment as well as persistence.
If you know what you are doing and have confidence, trust me, nothing can stop you!!
However, before you turn unstoppable, you first need to understand what you are starting. Take plenty of time to figure out things! No matter what, you will get closer to where you wish to be!!!
Is there a question you need to be answered or something I can help you with?
This site’s success will hinge on me helping you solve problems. For those of us over 50, we face more challenges than others younger than us when competing for jobs and getting doors open.
I invite you all to share your stories of challenges and successes. We all can learn from those who have faced the same challenges. The idea here is to help and be helped – so please add your comment or insight!