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Is 63 the new 65? Most Americans hope so. In a new survey of 1,000 full-time workers, people said they’re aiming to stop working for good once they reach the age of 63.
However, a lot of factors go into making that dream a reality, and at the end of the day, your career plays a huge part in whether or not you can retire early.
We examined everything from job salaries to retirement benefits to future job opportunities to rank which careers could give you the best chance for early retirement.
Below are the best and worst jobs that could help you achieve your retirement goals.
Best and Worst Jobs for Early Retirement
Although 82% of Americans like their current job, 1 in 5 wish they would have chosen a different job industry. Nearly 1 in 4 (23%) are planning to switch industries in the next five years, and of those, 27% have already switched industries at least once!
While reasons for changing careers varied, retirement benefits were the driving factor that led nearly 1 in 5 (19%) to switch industries.
So which jobs are the best for those hoping to leave the workforce sooner rather than later? Our ranking found the number one career for early retirement is software development. Software developers make a yearly salary of $113,720.
The only educational requirement is a bachelor’s degree and the industry is expected to have 143,400 new job openings annually.
Other top jobs include being a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners have the best job outlook among all the professions examined, and the industry is expected to grow by 46% annually.
General and operations managers ranked 3rd followed by registered nurses (4th), and lawyers (5th). Both preschool teachers and elementary, middle, and high school teachers ranked in the top ten, despite their lower salaries.
The jobs ranked well because of their higher access to retirement benefits like pensions compared to other industries.
Many of the worst careers for early retirement are in the service industry. Barbers ranked first followed by clergy members (2nd), concierges (3rd), home appliance repairers (4th), and pest control workers (5th).
Retirement: A Reality or Dream?
In 2023, 1 in 5 full-time workers are not saving for retirement. In fact, 22% do not think they’ll retire at all! According to our survey, most people who don’t think they’ll retire work in non-profits, religious organizations, the arts, and retail.
But many people in these industries are planning to switch job industries. Nearly half (47%) of those currently working with non-profit and religious organizations said they plan to switch careers before retirement.
Half of hospitality workers (50%), transportation/warehouse workers (49%), and workers in the food industry (48%) are also planning similar transitions.
People who are planning to retire are putting away an average of 10% of their yearly income. The number one job industry that expects to retire are government and political workers followed by people in finance and the tech/IT sectors.
Retirement Access by Job Industry
Nearly 4 in 5 (78%) Americans wish they started saving for retirement earlier, but many have faced hurdles outside their control. The pandemic’s economic impact appears to have influenced retirement plans.
Nearly 2 in 3 (65%) full-time workers say they’ve had trouble saving for retirement since 2020. People struggling the most work in the hospitality industry (86%) followed by arts and entertainment (79%) and retail (78%).
More than 1 in 10 (11%) workers actually chose their careers mainly based on retirement benefits. That was a top factor for many first responders and military members as well as government and political workers.
While some jobs may pay the bills and help you save for retirement now, the future of job industries is constantly changing. Some jobs have a much better outlook than others.
Jobs with the best outlooks include nurse practitioners as well as physician assistants, software developers, and epidemiologists. Jobs with the worst outlooks include data entry keyers, floral designers, telemarketers, broadcast announcers, and radio DJs.
Best & Worst Jobs According to Pay
Salary is a big draw for many people when trying to decide on their career. More than 1 in 3 (35%) chose their career based on the salary, and 51% admitted they’ve switched job industries to make more money.
More than half (51%) are jealous of how much people make in other job industries. All the jobs with the best salaries are in the medical field. Cardiologists make about $353,970 yearly and anesthesiologists make $331,190.
However, no doctors rank among the best positions to retire early because of a variety of factors including the number of open job positions and a lower job outlook.
As for jobs with the worst salaries, the lowest earning job belongs to fast food cooks who only make about $25,490 annually. Hosts and hostesses aren’t far off, earning only about $26,000, and they’re followed by childcare workers who have a salary of $27,680.
Planning for your future retirement can be overwhelming. It can be daunting to try and figure out how you’re doing financially, especially when there are a lot of day-to-day expenses and costs to think about.
If you’re not sure how you’re doing when it comes to planning for retirement, we have you covered. Below is a retirement calculator to see if you’re on track to retire comfortably at the age you’d like to:
To come up with the rankings of the best and worst jobs for early retirement we analyzed 172 of the most common professions. To determine our ranking, we compared the jobs across six key metrics and graded each metric on a 100-point scale. The six metrics were:
- Salary – 20 points
- Total working hours by industry – 10 points
- Retirement benefits access by industry – 20 points
- Future job opportunities – 40 points overall
- Projected job openings – 20 points
- Job outlook – 20 points
- Schooling – 10 points
- For this portion of the ranking, jobs that required the most schooling had the lowest points because of the extra time and cost needed to complete school.
Sources include the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Annual mean wage, Average total working hours by industry, retirement benefit access by industry) and CareerOneStop sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (Job outlook, projected job openings, schooling).
In February 2023, we also surveyed 1,020 full-time workers. 50% were men, 49% women, 1% gender non-conforming. People ranged in age from 19 to 85 with an average age of 39.
People surveyed worked in a variety of industries including 14% in the tech/IT field, 11% in health (ie. hospitals, pharmacies, social services, etc.), 10% in education, 9% in retail, 8% in finance, 7% in business/professional services and sales, 7% in manufacturing/wholesale/trades
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When using this data and research, please attribute by linking to this study and citing Retirement Investments