10 Great Jobs for Midlife Women

The best career moves you can make when you want to reinvent your job.

By Annetta Miller, with additional reporting by Patti Greco

Ehlers’s story is common among midlife women in the field. At 43, she was running a successful public relations firm and was restless. "From a young age, I’d always felt the ministry would be part of my life,’‘ she says. She enrolled in a theological school and got a job as a youth pastor at her own church. She’s now working on a doctorate. At church, Ehlers’s projects have included youth service trips to Louisiana and to the Haiti-Dominican Republic border.

Pay and Perks

According to salary.com, pay for pastors can range from $48,000 to over $100,000. Ehlers works long hours and pulls in much less money than she used to. One bonus: She sees a lot more of her kids because they go to many church events.

Must Love

Life as a public role model.

To Find Out More

Beliefnet.org has news, blogs, and links relating to many religious faiths.

3. Fund-Raiser

Network, network, market, network. Create buzz. Make passionate pitches, in person and in grant proposals.

Why Now?

As government funding has been cut, in areas from the arts to housing to law enforcement, private money has become increasingly important. Headlines about philanthropists like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have given momentum to the expected growth of donations from a prosperous 50-plus population. With more groups competing for dollars, there’s demand for women with good communication and interpersonal skills, highly developed networks, and the ability to project authority and tolerate rejection.

Getting In

Fund-raisers (also known as development officers) come from psychology, marketing, financial management, and education, among other fields. No particular degree is required, although an MBA with a concentration in nonprofit management doesn’t hurt. It’s inexpensive to learn grant writing (go to foundationcenter.org for information on courses and reading materials). Meanwhile, write a real proposal — for your kids’ debate team or your synagogue’s green program. Even if you don’t get the money, you can increase your credibility. This is another area where volunteer work can open doors.

Pay and Perks

Average first-year salary is about $50,500, according to data from the Economic Research Institute. But salaries vary tremendously depending on responsibilities and an organization’s size. Much of the job can be done outside a nine-to-five framework, on the phone or online. Josette Kaufman, 48, a former analyst for Fannie Mae, is now executive director — and chief fund-raiser — for the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation, which is working to save the Florida Everglades. Kaufman loves the variety in her job: She can be planting cypress trees on an island in Lake Okeechobee one day, planning a black-tie dinner the next.

Must Love

Cold calls, small victories.

To Find Out More

Association of Fundraising Professionals

4. Genetics Counselor

Translate complex science into real-life options.

Why Now?

Medical advances are creating new dilemmas for patients. Should I have a preventive mastectomy? Should I be tested for Alzheimer’s? Genetics counselors deliver the guidance that doctors can’t always give. Nationally, there are about 3,000 genetics counselors; that will grow by about 23 percent in the next five years, estimates Angela Trepanier of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC).

Getting In

Many jobs require a master’s degree, typically two years, in genetics counseling. Georgette Bruenner, 52, a former marketing manager, now works at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York. She got her master’s degree from a program at Sarah Lawrence College. Tuition at such schools can be pricey — from $3,000 to over $30,000. But financial aid is available, and hospitals offer internships for enrolled students.

Pay and Perks

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