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These 10 Occupations Could Face Labor Shortages as Older Workers Retire

Kaitlyn Blount

Some jobs are showing their age.

Certain occupations are facing potential shortages in the next decade due to an aging workforce and lack of young workers entering the field.

Our data journalist Alex Mahadevan did an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. He compared the number of workers age 45 and older against workers age 16 to 24 to determine which occupations have the largest ratio of old to young employees.

We picked out 10 jobs that are dominated by an older workforce and broke down what it takes to land a job in that field. But why would you want to work in a career that no one is joining, you ask?

Well, because the labor market is pretty darn hot right now, with U.S. Labor Department numbers showing that the number of job openings now exceeds the workforce. And if an occupation is facing a potential labor shortage due to retirement-age employees exiting, that means employers are going to have to compete to fill the gaps.

Stiff competition can potentially lead to better working conditions, with employers boosting pay, offering benefits and handing out bonuses in an effort to attract employees. The tight labor market also puts employees in a better position to negotiate for higher pay or more benefits.

So whether you’re figuring out what career path to take or considering transitioning to a new field, here are some jobs that are hurting for young blood.

10 Jobs With a Large Aging Workforce

Animal Control Workers

Officer Gardner walks through the backyard of an abandoned home in search of a stray dog. “It’s definitely a job I’m glad I got into,” she said. “It’s fun, but there are some sad days.” Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

Number of workers 45 and older: 9,000

Number of workers under 25: Less than 100

Median pay: $35,520

Typical education requirement: High school diploma or equivalent

Just in case you’ve never seen one of those heartbreaking commercials, animal control officers typically handle investigations of mistreatment, abandonment, dangerous or unattended animals. They are also in charge of enforcing local and regional animal treatment laws.

Along with an interest in working with animals, this profession requires knowledge of public safety, problem sensitivity and personal service skills. A lot of face-to-face time comes with the job, usually in volatile situations.

Most animal control officers receive on-the-job training, but there are other certifications and training programs available through institutions like the National Animal Care & Control Association.

Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers

Number of workers 45 and older: 74,000

Number of workers under 25: 2,000

Median pay: $137,330

Typical education requirement: Bachelor’s degree

The pilot shortage has been a hot topic in the news for the past year. Thousands of pilots are approaching retirement age but the number of young workers training for the occupation is low. Couple that with the increase in plane manufacturing and the growing demand for air travel, and you’ve got a shortage.

Obviously, this is a career that requires a lot of education, training and experience — you can’t just hop in the cockpit and start cruising the skies.

Applicants have to go through pilot school to obtain a pilot certification. And after that, there are more certifications, training and flight time to complete to work for an airline. Here’s some more info on how to become a pilot.

Librarians

Number of workers 45 and older: 104,000

Number of workers under 25: 10,000

Median pay: $58,520

Typical education requirement: Master’s degree

Considering the dominant aging workforce, maybe the “old librarian” trope isn’t too far off. This occupation can be found in academic, public, private and school libraries, as well as the federal government.

Aside from a passion for the written word, librarians typically have a master’s degree in library and information science. They can also hold a master’s in a specialty field. Librarians in public schools may be required to have an extra level of certification.

Morticians, Undertakers and Funeral Directors

Funeral director Hank Zirckel helps owner Norman Black wheel out a cardboard coffin made specifically for air flight travelat Haigh-Black Funeral Home in Ormond Beach, Fla., on Nov. 19, 2018. The funeral home has been in the family since 1931. Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

Number of workers 45 and older: 28,000

Number of workers under 25: Less than 100

Median pay: $51,850

Typical education requirement: Associate’s degree

Tasks for morticians involve arranging and directing funeral services. This can include consulting families, preparing remains and contacting cemeteries.

This occupation can be taxing, considering the subject matter and the fact that it requires employees to be available long hours, including weekends. Death rarely sticks to a 9-to-5 schedule.

Along with an associate’s degree in mortuary science, this profession typically requires some apprenticeship experience and licensing. Accredited programs that offer mortuary studies can be found through the American Board of Funeral Service Education.

Compassion and strong personal skills are needed to work in this profession. On top of that, time management and organization play major roles, seeing as how morticians are overseeing an event. And bonus points if your last name is Addams.

Coin, Vending and Amusement Machine Servicers and Repairers

Number of workers 45 and older: 14,000

Number of workers under 25: 1,000

Median pay: $33,690

Typical education requirement: High school diploma or equivalent

This is one of those jobs that you don’t really think about until one day you see someone stocking a claw machine with stuffed animals.

Aside from restocking, the occupation includes inspecting and repairing machines as needed, so maintenance and mechanical skills are needed. More specific knowledge will depend on the type of machine that needs servicing but could include circuit boards, processors or computer hardware.

Private Detectives and Investigators

Number of workers 45 and older: 47,000

Number of workers under 25: 4,000

Median pay: $50,700

Typical education requirement: Bachelor’s degree

Private detective might conjure images of Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys, but it’s actually a lot more modern than that. Aside from private eyes, this occupation can include loss prevention officers, asset protection detectives and field investigators. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills top the list of requirements for this gig.

Tasks in these positions might be pre-employment checks, investigating fraudulent insurance claims or obtaining information for criminal court cases. So, it’s a little less glamorous than “The Maltese Falcon” would lead you to believe.

Writers and Authors

Rick Wilber stands on the porch of his home in St. Petersburg, Fla., with some of his books on Oct. 16, 2018. An accomplished author, he has published more than 50 short stories, several novels and short-story collections, three edited anthologies, a memoir and a half-dozen college textbooks on writing and the mass media, according to his website. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Number of workers 45 and older: 123,000

Number of workers under 25: 10,000

Median pay: $61,820

Typical education requirement: Bachelor’s degree

Ah, an occupation close to my heart. This group includes copywriters, poets, lyricists, novelists, playwrights, biographers and screenwriters, to name a few. So, you don’t have to be the next Tolkien to get in on this career.

A bachelor’s degree is reported as the average education level, but experience will go a long way in this field as well. Obviously, the top skills include writing and reading comprehension, but others that one might not think of include sales, marketing and customer service. Basically, there are writing jobs found in more areas than you think.

Archivists, Curators and Museum Technicians

Number of workers 45 and older: 29,000

Number of workers under 25: 3,000

Median pay: $51,760

Typical education requirement: Master’s degree

Archivists, curators and museum techs actually have a bright outlook, with a 10% to 14% projected growth rate between 2016 and 2026. But the gap between the young and aging workforce is hard to ignore.

Along with a graduate degree, people in these roles typically have strong organizational, reading comprehension and research skills. Day-to-day activities could include transcribing, appraising and authenticating historical documents or permanent records. That, and protecting the Declaration of Independence from Nicolas Cage.

Chiropractors

Dr. Lauren Cooper works on a patient’s neck to relieve pressure.  A chiropractic physician at Bay Street Wellness in Eustis, Fla., she graduated in 2012 with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic after leaving a career in medical supply sales. Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

Number of workers 45 and older: 34,000

Number of workers under 25: Less than 100

Median pay: $68,640

Typical education requirement: Doctoral or professional degree

This is another occupation that is projected to see growth over the next decade, but the current young workforce is extremely low.

The majority of respondents in this field listed a doctoral or professional degree as the typical education requirement, but chiropractors technically don’t have to go to medical school. They earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from an accredited chiropractic program and become licensed practitioners.

Bus Drivers

Number of workers 45 and older: 413,000

Number of workers under 25: 21,000

Median pay: $40,780

Typical education requirement: High school diploma or equivalent

Remember Dorothy Harris, the bus driver in “Forrest Gump?” We saw her drive Forrest to school and then do the same for his son some 30 years later. That little movie tidbit is oddly factual, considering that the median age of bus drivers is 53 and the ratio between young and old workers is 19.6%.

Obviously, bus drivers should be skilled at operating a motor vehicle — but they also must be willing to sit for long hours in an enclosed space and interact with customers frequently.

Government positions take up about half of the industry, such as school or city bus drivers, but there are other roles such as charter and warehouse bus operators.

Kaitlyn Blount is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.