|Older Americans at work:
Source: Administration on Aging (AOA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- About 3.7 million older Americans (age 65 and over) were in the labor force (working or actively seeking work) in 1998, including 2.2 million men and 1.6 million women. They constituted 2.8% of the U.S. labor force. About 3.2% were unemployed.
- Just over half of the workers over 65 in 1998 were employed part-time: 48% of men and 62% of women.
- About 23% of older workers in 1998 were self-employed, compared to 7% for younger workers.
Once he retired in 1996, he dove into the business full time, doing PC training for small businesses, systems analysis for large corporations, and Y2K readiness assessment of data centers processing Medicare claims.
While his children did not join him in the business as he had hoped, his new career has been profitable and fulfilling. "For the four full years since I retired from Federal service, I have matched or exceeded my previous salary each year," Foertschbeck says.
"I love being out of the middle of the bureaucracy," he adds. "Now when someone gives me a task, I decide whether I want to do it. I do the work, and then go on my merry way."
Foertschbeck, who is also at-large director of The Association of Information Technology Professionals Board of Directors, based in Park Ridge, Ill., started preparing for his post-retirement career 10 years ago. At that time he went to a financial counselor and an accountant to see how much money he would need to make to support himself and his wife, and to pay for his children's school. He then had one child in college and one set to start four years later.
Foertschbeck advises that IT professionals determine whether they really want to retire before leaving their careers. "You have to look at the options," he says. "What do you want to do when you're not working anymore?"
Foertschbeck is planning on working for two more years before he quits work for good at age 62. Then he hopes to travel and spend more time on his hobbies, including genealogy.
"Barring any major catastrophes, I will be better off financially than I had ever hoped to be," Foertschbeck says. "Our house is paid off, and we are debt free."
Ken Adams was 56 when he retired two years ago as assistant vice-president of systems development for Horace Mann Insurance Co. in Springfield, Ill. "After 36 years I was getting burnt out on systems development," he says. "I spent the past few years doing Y2K fixes."
Adams did not start another job, but spends his days making money, nonetheless. He has become involved in online trading in the equities market, and has been living off the profits of his investments.
Ed Gilbert, president of Computer Career Help, a professional computer placement consultancy in New York, says by far the highest number of retiring IT professionals he's seen have left their career jobs to get into day trading on the Web. "Most of the people who I've seen leave the field go into investing," Gilbert says. "It can be scary if they risk their retirement savings."
Adams and his wife have been living off the money that he made from selling his company's stock options while he invests the money he had saved in his IRA. Adams put his knowledge of information technology to use when making his investments. He has kept his subscriptions with the trade journals to keep up with what's happening in the industry. By staying abreast of new technology and continuing to network with people in the industry, he has been able to invest in what he considers "the next hot technology."
"Recently I bought some stock in companies that are big into wireless communications. I also bought some stock in companies big into DSL [digital subscriber line] technology," Adams says. "I try to cover all the bases in the coming technologies."