June's stupid life

A reader seeks advice. I feel like you might be able to force yourself to give advice.

I didn’t post today because I woke up with a migraine, and I hate everything. However, this afternoon a comment came through asking what we’d decided re giving advice on this here nonblog. Remember we talked a few weeks ago about exchanging advice with each other? Well, we did. Put down the bong occasionally, Snoop.

Anyway, here is her question, which has resulted in a very special late-in-the-day post…

Like so many before me, I find myself approaching 50, employed by a company with owners who have decided to retire sooner rather than later. I have “some college” (which would be so grossly outdated now) but not an official bachelor’s. I have been very fortunate to work for the last 15 years as the office manager, my duties being the typical human resources, payroll, taxpaying, full-charge bookkeeping type thing. As I am browsing around, I find many jobs that pay around $10 less an hour, or jobs that pay similar but require a degree.

My question is this:
Is there anyone who would have a suggestion for a midlife career change? Something one could get some type of certification for that doesn’t require a debt of $50k and 4 years to do so? I wonder if there are careers I’ve never even thought of. I look at the job sites daily in hopes of a “ta-da” moment, but there has been nothing of the sort thus far. I’ve got a good 20 years to remain in the workforce and, unfortunately, money does matter.

Ideas/suggestions GREATLY appreciated

59 thoughts on “A reader seeks advice. I feel like you might be able to force yourself to give advice.

  1. Holy-Suggestions-a-Moly! You guys are GREAT!!!!!!
    Obviously I need to fine tune my critical thinking skills because some of these ideas have never, ever occurred to me – and they’re all awesome. I have written down each one and am going to research requirements, cost, potential salary, pros/cons and go from there.

    The really cool thing about it, too, in my opinion, is that some of these are things I could do while working on the end thing – just rolling it around in my head, I *could* be a school bus driver (checked on that, $23/hr), become a certified bookkeeper/QB, while spending a couple of years training to be a court reporter or paralegal. That whole almighty dollar thing… there is just a certain amount I MUST bring home – and it might well take a combination of things right now as I move towards the bigger picture.

    I totally appreciate all of the input and the words of encouragement!! I think because I was a bit down about it all it was hard to see the bright side and potential – and now I’m completely psyched and feeling good about the future!

    D’Lynn
    (I’m FOREVER having to spell out my name to people…. and hope they know what an apostrophe is…..)

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  2. I’m late to this post…and I haven’t read all the other comments but I wanted to make a suggestion. I’ve found that is much more lucrative to work as an independent bookkeeper than for one company. As an independent bookkeeper I charge at least $50/hour. For some companies I do their monthly bookkeeping once/month for a flat fee of $350 and it only takes about 5 hours to complete. My rates are cheaper than if they use their accounting firms to do their monthly work so they don’t even blink at my rates.
    It also provides me with flexibility with my time. Some clients I work in their office, some I pick up the work and do it at home.
    I have so much work that I’ve hired someone to help and pay her $15/hour.
    Once you get one or two clients, word of mouth will spread and their friends will start calling you.
    It seems you already have the bookkeeping background but maybe getting Quickbooks certified would be helpful.
    Good luck whatever you decide to do.

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  3. Have you looked at the public school system? A lot of the administrative assistant position pay OK (not great – it is the public school system) and come with benefits & holidays.

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  4. These ideas are all great. I thought of xray tech or something similar. I know someone already suggested that. I think the certification would not take long. My husband is a physical therapist and they hire physical therapy aids. Not sure the pay is great though. There might be something else slightly more certified that pays slightly better in the PT world. I babysit in my home for teachers, because my kids are mostly still in school. The money is great, but people are crazy. It is definitely not for everyone. It is also exhausing. (Can you tell the end of the school year is approaching? It has been a long year). I have a college degree and think about doing something with it, but I need summers off to drive my kids to their activities.

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  5. I (think) you’re from Texas? Ever considered a job as a court reporter?! There’s a huge shortage in Texas and they make great money. You do have to be certified in Texas and the education part usually takes about 2 years (but ultimately it’s at your own pace, so it can be quicker). I realize it wouldn’t be instant gratification, but it’s such a great career. I’m the Executive Director of Texas Court Reporters Association, please feel free to give me a call at the office if you want more information! I’m a long time reader, long time lurker of June’s blog, so I’m not a complete wacko.

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  6. Late to the party but a good friend of ours drove a schoo bus for 15 years so she would qualify for retiree insurance from the state. You would get summers off too! Just an idea.

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  7. An acquaintance of mine changed careers around 50, from computer dude to X-Ray Tech. I don’t remember how long the training was, but of course not as long as nursing or med school (I’m pretty sure, anyway!). He said he got paid fairly well (less than computers, of course) and didn’t seem to have too much trouble finding a job as an X-Ray Tech.

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  8. Consider sales. Like Insurance, maybe Real Estate. Older women excel in those fields. A lot of times you can work your own schedule – work from home. No no upfront salary – unless you go to life insurance with big companies like Prudential, Metropolitan and similar. Then you get a small salary and get to go someplace nice for a couple of weeks of training! 🙂 If you are computer savvy, maybe you could be a consultant to help people learn some simple stuff on line…

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  9. I would start by letting everyone you know, know that you are looking. And I wouldn’t worry about not having a degree, you experience should outweigh that.

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    1. I certainly don’t mean to be a killjoy but in my area, there are several employers who will not even interview if you don’t have their educational requirements. I just experienced being told no they wouldn’t talk to me, even though I have 30 years experience and perfectly matched all the other requirements.

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    2. Great suggestion BMM! I had gotten off FB because all of the politics drove me insane with people, but it WAS …without a doubt, a great way to network. I may need to develop a better tolerance for the over-posters 🙂

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  10. Everyone has already given tons of great advice. My comment is don’t be limited by what the ads say they want. Emphasize your skills. Even if you don’t have a degree but have all the other skills listed, go ahead and apply because your experience counts.You might be able to do one thing that someone with a freshly-minted degree can’t.
    Good luck.

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    1. Thanks Lisa! I was considering contracting with a resume writer so that I can put my best foot forward, so to speak. Also, because the styles have probably changed a bit in the last couple of decades, and I don’t want to look “behind the times!”

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  11. I listen to the Ken Coleman show on Podcast and he has a book called the Proximity Principal that talks about finding your dream job. Take a listen to his show and see what you think!

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    1. Listening now! I really do want to find something I enjoy going to every day, or at the very least that isn’t a dreaded grind.
      Thanks Melissa!

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  12. I’ve done accounting for small companies for 20 years, and although I do have a degree, there are MANY smaller companies looking for the exact kind of experience you have. Even if you aren’t interested in an accounting degree (girl, I don’t blame you, even though it’s totally not too late), if you reframe your experience as “full charge bookkeeping, payroll, HR” (I would avoid using the office manager title), you might get some good bites. Good luck!

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  13. How about getting Quickbooks certification from Intuit? Or taking online classes through a university “continuing education” program. For example, U.C. Berkeley offers a program and you don’t need to live in California. I realize the unit cost is about $500-700 per class, but if you are taking even one business related course, then this looks awesome on a resume. Especially with your bookkeeping, managerial, and general office experience. Community colleges offer affordable online certificate programs too. Don’t despair…with your skillset and maturity…you really are worth your weight in gold to employers!

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    1. Awesome idea, L!! It did not occur to me to look into Intuit – for the most part, because after I researched the road to being a CPA, I pushed accounting to the back of my mind. I’m going to see what is offered!

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  14. In my area older employees, I’m not saying you are old, are valued because of their work ethic and experience. As suggested check with your State, county and city for posted jobs. Also, utility companies often have openings. Perhaps your company’s competitor (s) would like your experience and knowledge. I wish you success.
    Tee

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions and well wishes Tee! I was looking at our city jobs today – I have also been looking at the IRS /Department of Family Services and the like. Those often seem to be really good jobs to have with regular raises and potential for upward mobility with training/certifications, etc.

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  15. The job market is so tough right now a company should offer you experience in lieu of a Bachelor’s degree. I say proceed with confidence in your area of experience.

    Also, have you looked into an HR job such as HR generalist? Benefits? Another thought is to look for a job through an agency such as Robert Half, Adecco, Kelly, Manpower or Aureon. They will have temporary jobs, long-term contracts, contract-to-hire and direct hire jobs. I’m currently recruiting locally, but I used to sell temporary help for a national company. I have 17 years experience in the employment industry and I’m happy to help if you have any questions.

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    1. Thanks Mel!
      I’m glad you mentioned the agency approach – I once used an agency- through which I *did* get a great job, but it came with a hefty fee. I believe the laws changed on that here in Texas and the employer pays the fee now, which makes it far more appealing (and affordable) – I will look into that!

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      1. When I left home (in Texas), my mom gave me the advice about the agencies and told me never to pay. That was in 1984. I can’t imagine paying a fee! We get paid by the company, not the candidate.

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  16. 50 plus and I did not have as much experience as you. Also? Some college but no degree. I’ve been doing contract work for the last 3 years and just accepted an offer for full time work. Requiring I move. Here’s what I did. Got on Linkedin. Wrote my resume a bazillion times. Search job openings for what you want to do. Pick up their phrasing and use it. A lot use bots to just search phrases. Great piece of advice I read is women tend to not apply for jobs if they know that cant do 100% of the description. However, statistically men do. Richard Branson says to go for it and see if you can conquer! And, my personal thought, ageism is still alive. If you can limit your work history exposure you can’t legally be asked your age. I forgot to say that I was put on contracts where they want my analytical thinking. Didn’t matter the field. Just wanted to know I could investigate.

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    1. Dancer has the right idea, in my opinion. We use LinkedIn Recruiter, not a bot, but I search job titles as well as skills on LinkedIn.

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  17. Closed captioning is another field that is huge right now. My friend does voice captioning (she speaks into a machine and it transcribes what she says) for television stations. She makes around $25 an hour.

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  18. I’m in my 50s, and am just about to graduate from nursing school. I go to the local community college, where you can get your RN license in two years. I’ve been a stay at home mom for a very long time, but now everyone is gone off to their own lives. So, I decided to pursue something that I had always thought about.

    It’s difficult putting yourself out there with others who are so much younger, but I’ve learned that it really doesn’t matter. Having experienced so much in my life has actually helped me in many ways.

    Good luck to you in whatever you decide to pursue!

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    1. Soozie you freaking ROCK! That is so inspiring!!! Congratulations to you on what cannot have been an easy task!!!!!! I hope you absolutely love your nursing career!

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  19. Insurance agencies are always looking for customer service representatives. Also, the agency may offer to pay for your license, if you are interested.
    Pet grooming is a very lucrative option which requires no formal training. A local groomer may be willing to hire you on as an apprentice.
    Tax preparation companies generally offer free or low cost training in early fall for the following tax season.
    Check your state website for various administrative job openings.
    Best of luck with your search.

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  20. I have a very good friend that found herself in almost your exact position. Her dog had died several years back but she wasn’t sure if she wanted the responsibility of a new dog. She started taking care of dogs for friends and before she knew what was happening, she had a full-time job again! She prefers to watch the dogs in her own home, but she will go to the dog owners home if needed (she charges more for “traveling”). Currently, she is booked well into next year. This gig is paying her enough to rent a house in Tuscany for 2 weeks this summer! 🙂

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  21. Anything in the Medical Industry. Nursing, medical supplies, & medical records management.

    If you’re interested in something more physical, construction workers are in high demand. They are desperate & offer apprenticeships. Construction management is also an option. Considering your experience, this may be a good fit.

    I would not read too many ads, but go directly to hospitals & construction companies. Trying head hunters is an option. You’re looking for a job at a perfect time. People are more willing to hire good people with less experience

    Good luck.

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    1. I appreciate the reply, John!
      It did bring to mind something my mom said when I was younger. Much like her often said “It’s just as easy to marry a rich one as a poor one!” she was also fond of saying “You can never go wrong in the medical field!” – and really that remains true 3 decades later. I also think hospitals have a lot of room for advancement!

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      1. I work in healthcare and we are chronically short of administrative office assistants. That would be well below your skill & experience level, but if you were looking for something with regular hours and good benefits while you trained for something else, it’s an option. Or, there might be something at a higher pay grade in HR or Finance.

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  22. Many colleges will give you “life experience” credits toward a degree. Thus, you can get a degree much faster. Try calling colleges in your area and find out if they participate in this program type. Good luck.

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    1. They have machines that do this now. The market for medical transcription is much reduced from what it was.

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    2. Thanks for replying! I originally looked into medical transcription as a “work from home” opportunity, which led me over to voice transcribing – there are so many people that work from home now I know there are good remote jobs, it’s just a matter of finding one 🙂

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  23. I have often joked that my backup job would be pharmacy technician, not that I have some great love for medicine, but because it is a job that requires a certification, but not a degree. It’s pretty easy to see what the job would be like from interacting with these folk in a workplace; I used to know a pharmacist who noted that if you were a pharm tech with a willingness to work nights, you could get something very secure and better paid by the hour working within a hospital. Optician might be the same route, as well as laboratory processing tech. A little bit of retraining, works most places in the country.

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    1. My daughter is a Pharmacy Tech with a large retailer. The pay is not that great and the stress is ridiculous. Not only that, but in the near future several pharmacies will be utilizing machinery to replace the technicians.

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    2. Although it may not pay well, it might be a good way to get in at a hospital! Thanks for the suggestion!

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  24. Depending on where you live, some states will allow you to get a paralegal certificate with only two years of school. I know the community colleges in my area offer the classes cheap, so it wouldn’t put you into serious debt. Granted, this would require having to work with attorneys every day, so it’s not without its drawbacks. 😉

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    1. Much like court reporting, that is something to check out! I suppose I thought it would take much more time / education – I am putting it on my list!
      mAlso, I really enjoy your blog/non-blog, whichever you call yours 🙂 I wanted to comment on your last post that today’s version is …. “Don’t wear Vans unless you can proficiently ride a skateboard!”

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      1. Haha! I’ve definitely heard that one before with Vans! Glad to help with the career advice – I hope it all works out beyond your wildest dreams!

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  25. ACTUALLY, I’ll start. I’m like a mansplainer. But really, have you considered court reporting? I used to proofread for a court reporting agency, and then went on to freelance full time for court reporters, and they make a shit-ton. You set your own schedule and so on.

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    1. I know someone who started out doing court reporting, he has transitioned to taking depositions. A few weeks ago he was in Japan taking depositions. If you have enough credits, you could try substitute teaching. I use to dog sit and had one client who paid me to wait for a delivery. That could be something to think about.

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      1. The deposition angle could be very interesting! I’ve made a note of that.
        I did consider trying to finish my degree and become a teacher, slightly with the slant of teaching online to foreign kiddos because it seems possibly more tolerable than a class full of 8 year olds- but I’m still weighing the cost vs. earning potential. Thanks for the reply!

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        1. I see others suggested checking government listings. I also suggest that. I found it can be tougher sometimes to get a foot in the door at the federal or state level, but there’s also county, municipal, and school district. Local governments are having a tougher time filling positions where I live because the economy is good and they can’t compete with the pay in the private sector. It may be a good way to get started in HR or similar. They also tend to list pay ranges, which is helpful. Good luck!

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        2. You’re welcome. I taught for 30 years in a suburban district in New Jersey. I went into teaching knowing I’d never be rich. But I loved every minute of teaching!! It is definitely not a career for everyone. Good luck on your search.

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        3. I hate to say it, but there isn’t any money to be made as a teacher. I loved being a teacher. Luckily, I had grants that covered my tuition, so no loans to repay.

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          1. I know people always say how underpaid teachers are but teachers in my school district (mind you with 20+ years in the field) make over 80K on the REG. That is more than I make and I work all year.

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    2. Great suggestion! I hadn’t considered it , but I am always interested in legal proceedings. Also, I think it’s possible that same type of position does the close captioning for movies, presentations, and a million other things. Thanks for posting this – there are lots of excellent suggestions!

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