Best Advice for Retired Accountants Who Want to Work

By Robert Half July 25, 2018 at 10:00am

As you near retirement age, you may find yourself at something of a crossroads. You’ll be glad to say goodbye to 50-plus-hour weeks, but you’re not ready for your accounting career to come to a screeching halt. What are retired accountants to do?

You want something that makes use of your abilities, appeals to your interests and is flexible enough to match a more relaxed lifestyle. Meeting new people and learning new things would be nice, too. You may also need to keep earning to supplement your IRA or 401(k) savings, or you’re facing financial challenges.

Depending on your age and situation, make sure you’ve considered any tax and Social Security consequences. Then, whatever your reasons for wanting to keep working, take a look at all the choices for so-called retired accountants in a very welcoming job market. Here are eight to consider:

1. Temporary accounting work

Retirees have long enjoyed seasonal work, as it tops up their income without tying them down with a year-round commitment. An obvious way for retired accountants to land a seasonal job is to sign up with a tax preparation company. A staffing agency specializing in accounting can also help you find seasonal work, such as helping organizations with year-end closing.

But it doesn’t have to be seasonal. Temporary and part-time accounting jobs are an increasingly attractive option in today's labor market. It’s a myth that temp work is just for entry-level positions. You can find work ranging from part-time bookkeeping help for a growing company to interim management duties for a CFO on leave, and from short-term work to temp-to-hire situations, where a part-time position becomes full time.

2. Consulting gigs

Consulting positions offer a great way to ease into retirement. Many organizations, especially small and midsize businesses, are eager for the guidance of an experienced accountant. If you offer an attractive portfolio of services, such as tax advising and preparation, you can quickly build a book of clients you can work with on a project basis. You also get to give back to the local economy by helping freelancers and entrepreneurs build their budding businesses.

3. In-person teaching

Your professional knowledge is a priceless resource. If you have good communication skills and enjoy spending time with people, look for part-time teaching positions at a local four-year or community college. There are also plenty of independent, for-profit organizations that arrange training programs for businesses. And don’t forget tutoring. To get matched up with students who need extra help with math, finance or economics, advertise your services on Craigslist or with a school’s academic advising office.

4. Teaching online

As a seasoned professional, you’re familiar with webinars and online tutorials. What if you were on the other side of the screen? Platforms such as Skillshare and Lynda.com allow you to create video training courses, which are then available to their subscribers. Each time someone watches your lesson, you get a commission. One of the best parts about this job for a retired accountant is the passive income: You do the work once but earn money each time the video is viewed.

5. Monetization of a hobby

Whatever you’re passionate about — whether be it cooking, travel, arts and crafts, music or model trains — it’s now easier than ever to build a business around it, thanks to the internet. Your financial savvy gives you an extra edge. Even if you don’t make a huge income from selling your products or services, you still get to spend time on your favorite pursuits.

6. Academic research

Accountants have the skills to be excellent researchers: patience, attention to detail and a way with numbers. There’s a demand for researchers in many areas of academia, not just accounting and finance, to sift through files, gather data, organize information and archive records. To get started, dig through the names in your professional network to see who you know at nearby universities. They might be able to connect you with stimulating and rewarding projects.

7. Grant writing and administration

Help a company or nonprofit put together grant applications. Then, if the organization’s proposal is funded, you could help them disperse funds, track expenses and create year-end reports. This part-time retirement job is a good way to use your abilities in project management, tax legislation, payroll, bookkeeping and interdepartmental collaboration. Keep in mind that the bigger the grant you receive, the more hours you may have to put into the role!

8. Unique rewards of volunteerism

If you have a comfortable nest egg and don’t need to make money on the side, consider working pro bono. You can find volunteer accounting work in virtually any field that requires money to operate. Opportunities range from balancing the books at the local dog shelter to serving as treasurer for a neighborhood association’s fundraiser. With so many nonprofits not being able to afford an accountant’s salary, former finance professionals can stay busy during retirement by volunteering their services.

For many retirees, “working in retirement” is becoming a new stage in their career progression that’s seen as a choice rather than a burden. Because you no longer have the pressure of building a career, you can be choosy with retirement jobs. Explore your options and make the most of this exciting time in your life.

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