How to prepare for a second career

Woman standing in a pottery studio

Retiring and starting a new career takes planning, the ability to learn new skills (or enhance existing ones) and the drive to start anew. Whether you need to or want to work in retirement, here’s how to get started.

Prepare your finances

Just as you needed a financially sound base in your first career, so will you need one in your second. This is especially important in your later years, when your income may be reduced. One of the most important issues to consider as a retiree in transition is your Social Security benefits.

Working after retirement could impact your monthly Social Security benefit, depending on your age. Once you reach your full retirement age, there may be no cap on how much money you can make without reducing your benefit amount. If you haven’t reached your full retirement age, and your paycheck exceeds a certain dollar amount determined by the administration, some of your Social Security payments could be withheld during the year.

Talk to a financial advisor to identify the best time to start receiving Social Security benefits. The advisor can also help you figure out how to adjust your budget to your new lifestyle. That means making sure you have enough money to cover expenses in case finding a job takes longer than expected or you make less money in your new position. A tax professional can help you navigate potential tax implications associated with collecting Social Security benefits and a paycheck.

Create a list of career goals

Plan for a second career before you leave your current job. Start with a clear vision so you can set realistic targets for your next career. Be specific about the type of job you’d like to have. Think of the experiences you want, as well as factors like income requirements and job satisfaction.

As you count down to your final days on your current job, start a new timeline for securing your next job. If you’re planning to start a business, now’s the time to apply for licenses and insurance, if you need them.

Find low-cost ways to develop skills you need

Once you’ve narrowed your career interests, research the skills you’ll need to be successful in your future job now. You may not want to invest a lot of money in specialty certifications or degrees if you’re not 100% certain you’re going to be happy in your new role. So, start small and look for no- or low-cost ways to brush up on your studies.

Ask for help

Use friends and family as potential job resources as soon as you’ve decided what you want to do. In addition, tap into the professional network you’ve gained over the years. Ask these contacts for introductions to other professionals in the field that interests you and for the names of key personnel they may know at companies where you might want to work. Or, if you plan to start your own business, look for experts who can provide advice and mentoring.

Social media sites and professional associations could also lead you to others doing the work you’re interested in learning more about. Your new contacts may offer personal recommendations that could help you get the job you want.

If your budget allows, consider hiring a career coach. The cost may well be worth the expense since the coach may be able to help you identify skills from your current job that could transfer to your next one. Coaches can also administer self-assessment quizzes, guide you in marketing your transferable skills and help you create strategies to achieve your goals. Also, books and articles on working again in retirement can be a great source of helpful advice.

Seek help with money management

If you need help organizing your finances to prepare for retirement, including exploring the possibility of a second career, make an appointment at your local branch to receive financial counseling.

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