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60 years old, in poverty. Can I get a new career or restore an old one?


Dahn Shaulis Pleasantville, NJ

Is it possible to find decent full-time work at age 60, and after being a gig worker for 15 years and not having enough money for reliable transportation? Am surviving on about $1000 a month (for two people). Have a Ph.D. in sociology (1998) and an MS in exercise physiology (1994). Was working as a field interviewer for the University of Michigan making $1000 a month but the job ended in May. My only job now is as a contractor for Veterans Education Success but am being downsized (reduction in pay from $1000 a month to $500 a month). Was writing reports and recruiting whistleblowers from for-profit colleges. Before that I was a community college adjunct. Have also been a prison caseworker but was a whistleblower there. Have thought about getting back to exercise physiology. It's hard imagining anyone taking a gamble on a 60 year old guy.

9 June 2021 7 replies Career Exploration



Joe Engle Indianapolis, IN

Hello Dahn.
This is a great time to be looking for a job. I think a position in Sociology will be tough, but there are many jobs needing filling, as we come out of the pandemic. Companies are hot to find new employees, so I would move quickly to take advantage of this timing!

I suggest not looking for a 'career' but something that pays and is reasonably fulfilling, until you retire. In your search, "cast a wide net". I would suggest, maybe a position that would be low level management, or a special position that might be hard for the company to fill.

In your resume put emphasis on your business achievements, responsibilities as a Captain, where you bring out your maturity and how you can be trusted to "complete the mission" ethically, independently, etc. Maybe something like asst store manager, or some business specialist or assistant.

I think you should be interested in a wide variety of possible positions. I wrote a job searching document for vets transitioning to civilian jobs. It details how to write resumes, and how to use them to seek multiple positions. If you are interested in this, just message me and I will be glad to send it to you.

Thank you very much for your service. I hope myself and the others here are able to help you.

Good Luck


Sharon Parker Roanoke, TX

Dahn, thank you for your service!

This may be a shot in the dark . . . since you were adjunct faculty for a community college, perhaps you might consider doing that again. Also, there are a lot of online positions for teaching at any age level. Best of luck in to you in your search for opportunities.


Sharon Parker Roanoke, TX

Dahn, thank you for your service!

This may be a shot in the dark . . . since you were adjunct faculty for a community college, perhaps you might consider doing that again. Also, there are a lot of online positions for teaching at any age level. Best of luck in to you in your search for opportunities.


Robert Jurasek Hollywood, FL

Dear Dahn,

You may want to consider a Federal job, where age is only a consideration in some occupations like law enforcement , air traffic control, and others that have a mandatory retirement age of 55. I started my Federal career at age 61, so your age is not an issue.

With your military time, a Federal position would start you out with the 4 weeks of annual leave, plus ten Federal holidays.

The Federal equivalent of a 401K is called the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), and the Fed matches the first 5% of your contribution. Additionally, the Government pays approximately 72-74% of the health insurance premium for you and your family, depending on the plan that you select.

You can retire as early as age 62 if you have five years with a Federal agency (not including military time.) And when you retire, you can keep your medical plan with no change to the premium. Any annual premium increase for current Federal employees is also applied to retirees (no more—no less.)

Lastly, you will get a five or ten-point Veteran preference when applying for a Federal position. This preference will give you a rating higher than a non-Veteran applicant.

Unless you are already familiar with the Federal hiring process, there is a lot more that you will need to know before you apply. Federal resumes are very unlike their civilian counterparts.

I am ready, willing, and able to assist you—just let me know.

Good luck with your job search, and thank you for your Service!

Bob Jurasek


Henry ("Dr. Hank") Stevens Fort Lauderdale, FL

Hello Dahn . . . . two quick thoughts for you:

1 - Many people go from "volunteer" to paid staff. That is when you go to XYZ voluntary non-profit company, and strike out as paid staff - enquire about volunteer opportunities.

2 - Check out your local hospitals - they are hurting for staff now, what with many people having been scared off by COVID-19.

Dr. Hank


Po Wong Orlando, FL

Hi Dahn,
Thanks for your service!
I apologize in advance if my comment make you uncomfortable or I misunderstood your posting. $1000/month is equal to $6.25/hour/40 hour work week, or $12.5/hour on a 20 hour work week.
Have you consider to move out of NJ? One example is Disney is paying all employee $15/hour minimum as of October. They and many other businesses in FL have very difficult time to find MATURE and Dependable worker. The cost of living in FL obviously is much lower than NJ. Once employed, with your education and military leadership, who know where the career might end?

In addition, VA Careers show there are two social worker job openings in Department of Veterans Affairs, Egg Harbor Township, NJ starting ~$55K per year.
Good luck to you! Feel free to contact me if you want to share more!


Sam Hoffman Roslyn Heights, NY

Hi Sir,
It sounds like you are in a tough spot at the moment. I think the good news for you is that things are opening up and people need to staff now rather than later.

Few ideas 1) You could email ACP and get contacts from the hotels and casinos. Doubtful you'll be hired at PhD level, but hospitality is a notoriously forgiving industry for people who can put up with it.

2) You could look into is becoming a teaching assistant -- again not PhD level work, but steady with benefits. If you are willing to work with children with severe disabilities, there is always a need for dedicated paraprofessionals. I am not an expert on New Jersey, but you will need to get fingerprinted and then usually there's the ParaPro Assessment which is a short test that you will almost certainly pass.

3) Consider substitute teaching. Less process to get certified than a nominated teacher.

Feel free to reach out if I can help you at all.

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