10 jobs you're at risk of losing as you age
Many people want to delay retirement in order to improve their retirement finances. But working during your 60s and even until you're older isn't always possible, especially if your job requires significant physical strength or cognitive abilities that tend to decline with age. A recent study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College identifies several jobs in which older workers could have a difficult time remaining productive.
Airline pilots. Piloting an airplane is an intense job that requires physical stamina, excellent vision, concentration for significant periods of time and the ability to react quickly to new information. "For airline pilots there is a mandatory retirement age," says Karen Holden, a professor emerita of consumer science and public affairs at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. "The airline might move you to another job."
Assemblers. Assemblers make the components and products we use every day. The job requires long periods of sitting or standing and lots of fine motor movements. "Being an assembler requires manual dexterity, finger dexterity, and those are things that tend to decline as you age," says Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, a research economist at the Center for Retirement Research and co-author of the report.
Truck drivers. Good vision is essential for driving safely. You can offset some aspects of declining vision with glasses, but adjustments to changes in light and glare sensitivity are difficult to correct. This job could also involve traveling new routes. "If you travel a familiar route going slowly, you'll probably be fine as you get older. But if you get into a route you haven't driven before, you're likely to have trouble," says Anek Belbase, a senior research project manager at the Center for Retirement Research and co-author of the report.
Nurses. Nurses have to continuously learn about new medications and technologies. They also need to work long hours on their feet interacting with patients, while also possessing the steadiness to perform a suture or start an IV. "You have to keep gleaning new information about how medicines change," Sanzenbacher says. "There are all these new codes showing up that you have to bill for, and you will need to learn a new system and that can get harder as you grow older."
Textile operators. You need to be quite coordinated to work at a fabric mill. "You have to be able to do things in order and arrange things in certain ways," Sanzenbacher says. "Depth perception is a big aspect of that job, and that is something that goes relatively early."
Cleaners. Private household cleaners need physical strength to operate cleaning equipment and lift supplies and typically need to remain on their feet for much of the work day, which can become more difficult to do as you age.
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Photographers. Photography melds the creative and the technical. Photographers need familiarity with equipment and technology, as well as a steady hand with a quick finger that can capture a fleeting moment. "You need to move around a lot if you are going to be good at this job, and at the same time be very steady, which is something that is tough to do," Sanzenbacher says.
Cooks. Cooks need manual dexterity to prepare food, but they also need strong cognitive skills to coordinate the cooking time of various dishes as new orders continuously come in. You need mental dexterity to monitor the cooking of several dishes at the same time without overcooking the meal or burning yourself.
Child care workers. Employees who care for children need the physical strength and energy to carry and console them as well as foresight to anticipate needs and solve problems. The constant need to pick up and soothe children can become difficult if your health declines.
[See: 10 Jobs Hiring Older Workers.]
Supervisors. Supervisors and proprietors need to constantly acquire new information and use it to make decisions, sometimes in a very short period of time. "The issue with being a supervisor is being able to reason on the fly," Sanzenbacher says. "You have to be able to take in new information and be able to integrate it into making a decision, and that gets a little bit harder as people get older."
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