Top 10 Jobs for Adults Returning to School

Top 10 Jobs for Adults Returning to School

The 2006 book, 225 Best Jobs for Baby Boomers by Michael Farr, describes the best and most popular jobs with older adults, and here, we discuss his top 10 picks.

  1. Management Analysts
    Management analysts work with organizations as consultants to examine how the organization functions and makes recommendations on how they can improve efficiency, profit, and structure. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2004, management analysts earned a median annual salary of $63,450. The industry is forecasted for faster-than-average growth through 2014, though competition is expected to be keen. Many management analysts begin working with either a bachelor's degree in business administration or an MBA. For returning adult students, it's never been easier to earn a degree in business administration. Opportunities abound at both traditional colleges and through online degree programs. Many business administration programs offer accelerated options, as well.
  2. Post-Secondary Teachers
    Post-secondary teachers are those who teach in colleges, universities, and vocational training centers. BLS reported in May 2004 that the median annual salary for post-secondary teachers was $51,800, though salaries vary widely in the field, depending on education level, type of school where one teaches, and experience.
    The path to becoming a post-secondary teacher depends. Professors at four-year universities, for example, generally must have a Ph.D. in their field. Instructors at community colleges typically have a master's degree. Instructors at vocational schools tend to have a degree in their field and many years' experience. Many adult students like the idea of adding a degree onto many years of experience and becoming teachers. Today, there are lots of opportunities to advance credentials.
  3. Logisticians
    Logisticians manage all the processes involved in supply chains. They work with suppliers of materials and the flow of those materials as they reach consumers. Often, the job involves aspects of transportation, stock and warehouse, and flow monitoring. Logisticians earn, according to Farr's book, an average salary of $56,300 and have more than 160,000 projected job openings through the next ten years.
    Logisticians typically earn degrees in business administration. Many schools offer specialization in business logistics. An MBA is always a great degree choice for one interested in a logistics management position.
  4. Managers
    Management careers are always enticing, and Farr names general and operations managers, medical health services managers, financial managers, and CEOs as the best positions for adults. Salaries for managers average around $75,000, while CEO salaries often skyrocket well into the hundreds or even millions.
    Managers often hold degrees in business administration, either at the undergraduate or MBA level. Financial managers will generally have a specialty degree in finance, just as health services managers will often have a similar emphasis on their degree. Adult students can capitalize on years of business and management experience with an MBA that can propel them into a general management position.
  5. Registered Nurses
    Registered nurses, or RNs, perform basic patient care duties, such as maintaining medical records, perform tests, operate machinery, and administer medication. They also ensure patient comfort and care and work with patients and families to educate them. RNs work in hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices, and more. In 2004, BLS reported that RNs earned a median annual salary of $52,330. Nursing is one of the fastest-growing job fields in the country today, and forecasts through the next several years indicate it will continue to grow much faster than average.
    A returning adult student can start fresh as a registered nurse through relatively short-term training programs. Once the registered nursing license is earned, there are lots of online programs through which nurses can boost their credentials, including the RN-to-BSN program and RN-to-MSN program.
  6. Doctors
    Specifically, Farr names anesthesiologists, general internists, obstetricians and gynecologists, psychiatrists, surgeons, general practitioners, and pediatricians as the best positions. With salaries into the mid- to high-$100,000 range, it's obvious why it's such a lucrative field.
    Returning adults might find the medical field daunting, with four years of medical school, a year-long internship (at least), and a three to seven year residency looming. But it is a lucrative field with many rewards.
  7. Pharmacists
    Pharmacists dispense drugs and medications and counsel patients on the proper use of their prescriptions. Pharmacists work in community pharmacies, grocery stores, and hospitals. BLS reports in May 2004, the median annual salary for pharmacists was $84,900 and growth is forecasted to be faster than average.
    Pharmacists must go to school for a professional pharmacy degree. Most pharmacy programs are three years; or six to seven years when rolled in with a bachelor's degree. A returning adult student might also consider becoming a pharmacy technician, another very lucrative career. In 2004, pharmacy technicians earned $11.37 per hour (median salary) and growth is projected to increase at a much faster than average rate. The path to becoming a pharmacy technician is much faster than that of a pharmacist - pharmacy techs study for a certificate and gain hands-on experience through externship programs.
  8. Lawyers
    With a steady demand and high salaries, law is an extremely attractive career field for older adults. BLS says median salaries were at $94,930 in May of 2004 and growth through the next several years is as fast as average. But lawyers need a law degree, which entails three additional years of full time study after the bachelor's degree. The most motivated adults will go after this degree, but you might also consider studying to be a paralegal. In 2004, paralegals earned median annual salaries of $39,130 and growth is forecasted to increase at a rate much faster than average. Students can become paralegals through certificate and associate degree programs, and bachelor degree programs are also available.
  9. Educational Administrators
    Educational administrators are the leaders in the school system. Median annual salaries ranged from $35,730 to $74,190 in May 2004, according to BLS, and vary depending on the type of school one administrates in. A position in administration is a great option for a returning student. Those with teaching experience can add a master's in education (MEd) or educational doctorate (EdD) to their credentials and be welcomed to a job market that is forecasted for steady growth through the next several years.
    In May 2004, elementary and secondary school administrators had median annual earnings of $74,190; postsecondary school administrators had median annual earnings of $68,340, while preschool and childcare center administrators earned a median of $35,730 per year. Salaries of education administrators depend on several factors, including the location and enrollment level in the school or school district.
  10. Sales Representatives
    Sales is a terrific career for anyone who is up for the challenge of persuasion. While salaries vary greatly depending on how successful one is - sales is generally a commission-based career - BLS reports median annual salaries for sales reps at $58,580 in May 2004. A degree in business administration is generally a great springboard to a career in sales, and there are lots of opportunities for adults to go after an MBA or an undergraduate degree, either on a nearby campus or online.

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