Some interesting encore gigs for retirees

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Jane Bennett Clark

Maybe you’ve always fantasized about racing down the sidelines as a soccer ref, or expounding to tourists on the charms of your city. Once you retire from your career job, you’ll have time to make that fantasy happen, but you’ll have to get up to speed on the skills involved.

Here’s a rundown of the basic requirements for six dream retirement gigs.

English-language teacher overseas

You don’t need teaching experience for this gig, but you do need certification in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), a comparable credential more common in the United Kingdom.

The American TESOL Institute offers an online-only program ($295) and one that combines online study with in-class training ($995 to $1,620).

Salaries depend on the country and
cost of living. For more information, see

You may be able to teach English as a Second Language in U.S. public schools with TESOL certification, but many states set additional requirements. Check with your state’s education department.

City tour guide

Prerequisites for this job range from nothing at all, to passing a test administered by your local jurisdiction, to getting a license (or both), depending on where you plan to operate.

To find out the specifics in your area, go to the National Federation of Tourist Guide Associations and click on “Our Members.” Then contact the association closest to you. In addition to keeping track of local requirements, these associations offer training programs, continuing education, job-networking opportunities and certification.

Expect to make about $40 an hour, said Ellen Malasky, vice-president of the National Federation of Tourist Guide Associations.

Patient advocate

Being a private patient advocate can involve anything from sorting out billing snafus to helping families navigate the healthcare system.

No state requires a license for patient advocacy, and there is currently no nationally recognized certification, although one is in the works through the Patient Advocate Certification Board.

Your own experience with, say, an ailing parent or a health crisis can be a starting point. To add to your qualifications, review the list of competencies and best practices at the patient advocate certification site, then go to Health Advocate Resources to see which educational programs can fill in any gaps.

A private practice is like any small business, said Trisha Torrey, founder and director of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates. But for this profession, liability insurance is a must. You can generally charge fees of $100 to $250 an hour, depending on your background, services and location.

National Parks employee

For a seasonal gig at a national park (or at a guest lodge, summer camp or ski resort), check out Cool Works, which lists postings from employers in spectacular settings around the country. Listings include openings for cooks, reservation clerks and gift shop employees, as well as for, say, a hovercraft captain or trolley driver.

Employees who can work the full season (as opposed to decamping for college in August) are in demand, making retirees a hot commodity. You’ll be paid minimum wage or a little more for entry-level jobs. Employers typically provide low-cost and sometimes free housing, ranging from private rooms to dormitories, or hookups for RVs. Some employers offer accommodations for couples, too.

Most retirees take these jobs for the fun and the chance to meet new people, not the compensation, said Patty Ceglio, director of operations at Cool Works. You’ll find job listings geared to retirees on the “Older and Bolder” section on the Cool Works site”

Youth-sports official

If giving back and having fun are more important than a paycheck, this gig is worth checking out. At minimum, you’ll have to be physically fit enough to tackle the demands of the sport.

To get started, register with the area governing association (your local high school or recreation department can tell you which one to contact). You’ll probably have to pay a fee of, say, $10 to $50. Registration gives you access to lectures, exercises, demonstrations and rulebooks on the mechanics of the sport. Experienced refs or umpires may also be willing to mentor you.

Expect to buy your own equipment — including shoes, the appropriate shirt and pants, and any protective gear — and to work your way up the ladder from youth leagues to high school varsity games. Fees range from zero to $35 or so for youth games, up to $65 for high school varsity games.

Professional organizer

Let your neat-freak flag fly by helping clients declutter, organize paperwork or photos, straighten up their closets, garages, junk drawers or home offices — even the way they structure their time.

As with any business start-up, you’ll need to decide on your business model, get insurance, and file the appropriate paperwork with local and state agencies.

For training, business tips and networking opportunities, join the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). You can add to your clean cred by becoming certified by NAPO. Certification — which requires completing 1,500 hours of paid client work and passing a proctored exam — costs $450, with a $100 annual maintenance fee.

Hourly fees for professional organizers run from $25 to $100, with the most common fees in the $50 to $75 range.

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