Bob Dylan turned 70 last month. If his current schedule -- a worldwide summer tour and continued work on the second volume of his autobiography -- is any indication, Mr. Tambourine Man isn't planning on slowing down anytime soon. Nor are many of Dylan's fellow baby boomers, whether because they enjoy an active lifestyle or because they simply need to keep making money. Longer life spans and a roughly $6.6 trillion shortfall between what Americans need to retire and what they'll have when they reach retirement age mean that many retirees will continue to work, even if not in their previous career field [source: Pension Rights Center].
Retired couples can take the reins of a new career together by going into business with each other. Following are 10 business ideas that can put their decades of skill and expertise to work.
For retired teachers who want to continue to help kids learn without the demands of a typical classroom, the private tutoring/test-prep business offers an opportunity to connect with students while maintaining a flexible schedule. Retired couples can find tutoring work though existing companies (including Web sites such as Tutor.com, Kaplan.com and SmarThinking.com) or start their own business in which one spouse takes on instruction duties and the other handles administration and marketing.
According to AARP, tutoring rates commonly range from $10 to $25 per hour, and sessions can be anywhere from an hour after school to three or four hours during the weekend. You could be in big demand during the fall and spring when high school students take the SAT and ACT tests for college entrance requirements, and other standardized tests such as the GED, GMAT, GRE and LSAT are given year-round [source: AARP].
Many couples see retirement as the time to start a life on the open road, trading in commuting cars for RVs. Almost 9 percent of U.S. households headed by a person older than 55 currently own an RV, and with gas prices climbing, these new road hogs probably wouldn't mind making a buck or two while rolling across the country [source: Recreation Vehicle Industry Association].
Campgrounds often offer RVers a variety of short-term work -- front desk tasks, security detail, grounds keeping, maintenance, housekeeping and rentals, for example -- in exchange for free accommodations, as well as water hookups and other perks. Retired couples may also be interested in seasonal and temporary jobs with the National Park Service, including positions for park guides, maintenance workers and visitor assistants [source: National Park Service].
While some retired couples may seek a new career out on the open road, others can find rewarding employment opportunities in the comfort of their own homes. If you and your mate like having a full house, running a bed-and-breakfast (B&B) may be for you. The average B&B is simply a large home: 5,700 square feet (530 square meters) with about six bedrooms. This type of lodging has grown in popularity with visitors preferring the quaint feeling of being an invited guest rather than anonymous boarder [source: The Professional Association of Innkeepers International].
In the United States, 72 percent of B&B owners are couples. B&Bs are an especially enticing business opportunity for partners because it requires a wide variety of day-to-day tasks -- cooking, cleaning, bookkeeping, management, maintenance and advertising -- that can be divided among spouses according to capabilities and interests. [source: The Professional Association of Innkeepers International].
This industry is similar to the bed-and-breakfast business, except property managers work on site at a property owned by another person or company. As the title suggests, these professionals oversee the day-to-day operation of a commercial or residential property. In exchange, employers offer rent-free living and utilities, as well as a salary, and sometimes benefits. Property managers don't necessarily have to work for someone else: About 46 percent are self-employed [source: Bureau of Labor Statistics].
Many of these jobs are designed specifically for couples. Trailer parks, campgrounds, small hotels and apartment complexes (including those for seniors) often provide live-in management jobs for couples only. Job search engines like Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com have pages dedicated solely to property management and other jobs for couples.
Just because they never went to law school or the police academy doesn't mean that retired couples can't try on their real-life crime sleuthing caps. Online juror jobs allow them to even do it without leaving the house. Companies such as eJury, Online Verdict and Jury Test pay people to sit on mock juries and give attorneys and other jury consultants feedback on cases they're handling.
At eJury, prospective jurors register with the company through its Web site, must have a clean criminal record, "be of sound mind and good moral character" and not be employed in the legal field. When a new case comes in, the facts from the perspectives of each party, jury questions that would be used at trial and personal questions designed to obtain additional feedback are posted to the site. Registered eJurors in the particular county are then notified by e-mail that a new case has been posted. Once the minimum number of verdicts have been rendered (usually 50), the case automatically concludes, and a case summary is posted later for those interested in seeing the results. eJurors are paid from $5 to $10 for their input, depending on the length of the case [source: eJury].
Ben Franklin said, "Nothing is certain, except death and taxes." For tax professionals, that means their skills will always be in demand. The tax service business is an almost year-round opportunity for retirees who enjoy tax work and marketing their services. It's great for retired CPAs and anyone who likes to crunch numbers or pore over obscure federal and state legal codes.
To work as a tax professional, a person must register with the IRS, pass a proficiency exam (this does not apply to licensed attorneys, CPAs or supervised preparers who don't sign returns but are directly supervised by an attorney, CPA or enrolled agent) and complete a certain amount of annual continuing education training. Tax companies such as H&R Block provide tax preparation courses for beginners, although it's important to read the fine print associated with these programs because many prohibit students from going on to work for other companies for a certain period of time [source: IRS].
"Write about what you know." Stick to this advice from Mark Twain, and retirees may never run out of topics on which to give their thoughts via pen or keyboard. Baby boomers who have been in a particular career field or industry for a long time likely have good stories and valuable advice to share, while others may want to focus on hobbies like traveling, hiking or poker playing. Just about anything -- careers, politics, retirement itself -- is bound to be of interest to a segment of readers out there. Forget about being chained to a desk; Web writers can contribute from anywhere: the beach, the couch or from the playground with the grandkids. All you need is a computer (or smartphone) and an Internet connection.
Aspiring writers seek opportunities to contribute to existing Web sites that they read often (like this one!) or create their own site or blog, which is simply a type of Web site that primarily focuses on commentary and links to stories of interest from other outlets. The format lends itself to couples with shared passions who can shape their own site and maintain complete control over the content of the blog.
Existing blog sites often pay contributing writers a flat fee, while others compensate per word or based on how many times the article they've written is viewed. Bloggers going into business for themselves can earn money with advertisements, either designing their own ads and charging accordingly or by signing up for ad services through companies like Google, which pay a small fee based on how many times someone clicks on the ad being shown.
Pet sitting appears to be one business that will continue to offer opportunities for growth despite the economic downturn. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. households have a pet, including some 73 million dogs, 90 million cats and 16 million birds, along with fish, hamsters and other animals. Last year, Americans spent an estimated $47.7 billion on them. [source: National Association of Professional Pet Sitters].
Pet sitters are professional animal caregivers who look after pets at the owner's home while the pet parent is away at work, on vacation or elsewhere. Professional pet sitting allows owners to confidently leave their pets at home -- rather than boarding them at a kennel or veterinarian's office -- knowing that the pets will receive the love and care they deserve and be able to maintain their eating and exercise routines.
For retired pet lovers, sitting provides the pet ownership experience without any of the costs. Other benefits include flexible hours and "customers" who are always happy to see you.
If you and your mate are handy with a spatula, there are many hungry souls out there who believe you owe it to them to share your passion for making delectable, mouth-watering meals. There's probably some money in it for you, too.
The U.S. catering industry includes about 8,000 companies with combined annual revenue of about $7 billion. The good news for newcomers is that no major company dominates the market since the top 50 companies account for less than 15 percent of total industry revenue [source: Hoovers].
Like most of the businesses on this list, catering allows couples with varying interests to work together while splitting responsibilities in accord with each other's strengths and ability. One cooks, the other cleans. He bakes, she bills. Jill marinates, Jack, well, you get the point.
These days it seems that just about everyone is a consultant: doctors, marketers, mathematicians, bankers; even the ever-present, always nebulous management consultants seem to have outnumbered the persons they actually consult. The term consulting simply means to provide advice in a certain area in which a person has expertise. Retirees have years of skills and experience that can benefit people, companies and even entire industries around the globe, and they might as well get paid for it.
In 2011, the global consulting industry is expected to generate roughly $366 billion in revenues [source: Plunkett Research]. Like tutoring, blogging and a number of other retirement jobs, the beauty of consulting is that retirees can do what they did before they retired, but on a much more flexible schedule. While anyone can start a consulting business, if you have an existing business, you also have the benefit of a built-in client base.
These are just some of the post-retirement business opportunities available for couples. Check out the links on the next page for more information.
HowStuffWorks Now looks at a new twist in the sharing economy: renting your home for office space.
- AARP. "Great Jobs for Retired Teachers." May 3, 2011. (May 31, 2011)http://www.aarp.org/work/working-after-retirement/info-04-2011/jobs-for-retired-teachers.html
- eJury. "Learn About eJury and eJurors." (May 31, 2011)http://www.ejury.com/jurors_learn_about.html
- Hoovers. "Catering Services." (May 31, 2011)http://www.hoovers.com/industry/catering-services/1832-1.html
- National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. "For Pet Owners." (May 31, 2011)http://www.petsitters.org/index.cfm?section=PetOwners
- Pension Rights Center. "The Retirement Income Deficit." (May 31, 2011)http://www.retirement-usa.org/retirement-income-deficit-0
- Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. "RV Quick Facts." (May 31, 2011)http://www.rvia.org/Content/NavigationMenu/RVFactsNews/FAQs/default.htm
- The National Park Service. "Temporary and Seasonal Jobs with the National Park Service." Oct. 13, 2009. (May 31, 2011)http://www.nps.gov/personnel/seasonal.htm
- Plunkett Research Ltd. "Consulting Industry Overview." (May 31, 2011)http://www.plunkettresearch.com/consulting%20market%20research/industry%20statistics
- The Professional Association of Innkeepers International. "The B&B Industry." (May 31, 2011)http://www.innkeeping.org/?The_Industry
- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers." Sept. 15, 2010. (May 31, 2011)http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos022.htm
- U.S. Internal Revenue Service. "New Return Preparer Regulations - Overview." May 6, 2011. (May 31, 2011)http://www.irs.gov/taxpros/article/0,,id=221009,00.html