- People take yearslong career breaks to raise children, care for sick relatives, go back to school, and plenty of other reasons.
- Taking time off from your career doesn’t mean you can’t reenter the workforce. There are several careers that are relatively easy to resume after five years or more of not working.
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Some career breaks are planned, while others might happen unexpectedly.
Perhaps you took a few years off to raise your child, or needed to care for a sick relative. Or maybe you were taking some time off for personal development or went back to school to further your education.
No matter why you’re returning to the workforce after a long break, you might feel worried about your job prospects.
While it’s true that you may not be able to pick up your career exactly where you left off, there are lots of ways to reenter the world of paid work. The gig economy provides a variety of freelance opportunities that allow you to pick up where you left off. Other careers might require you to brush up on your education or renew a professional license, but are still options for returning workers.
Many employers understand that people take breaks from work, so look for ways to spin your absence as a positive by highlighting the skills you gained during your work hiatus.
With that in mind, here are seven options for careers you can resume after five or more years out of the workforce.
Many workers ease back into their careers by freelancing in a number of fields.
One common way for people to restart their careers is as a freelancer.
You can freelance in almost any field. For example, you could use your background in marketing to take on freelance projects or your project management experience to help clients on a contract basis. Writing and graphic design are other common fields for freelancers. If your ultimate goal is a full-time job, freelancing is a good way to beef up your resume and gain fresh contacts in your field – and maybe even work a gig into a job.
Freelancing has a lot to offer, particularly if you still have kids at home or other family responsibilities that require flexibility in your work schedule. Running a freelance business is not everyone’s cup of tea, however. You’ll need to be comfortable hustling for potential clients and living with some financial uncertainty, particularly at first.
In addition, you’ll need to take care of the financial and legal aspects of running your own business, such as paying estimated taxes, getting a business license, and buying insurance. If that’s not for you, there are still many options to return to the workforce after you’ve been away.
Nursing skills are always in demand, and with a bit of study, you can resume your nursing career.
In nursing, a shortage of trained professionals can work to your advantage when you’re returning to the field after a hiatus.
For example, Maine Public Radio reported that hospitals in the state are offering signing bonuses to nurses to relieve a severe shortage. And states across the nation are scrambling to fill school nursing positions.
The Balance suggests that nurses keep certifications and continuing education requirements current, even when you’re not working. If you aren’t able to do that, you can take a class or two update your skills. Job search website Monster advises returning nurses to highlight useful experience they have gained during their time away from the job.
Many lawyers take time off from their profession, or from work altogether, and then return to the law.
A law degree is another professional qualification that you can fall back on after time off from the profession.
Once again, you may have to catch up on educational requirements or renew your membership in your state bar.
A guide from the Connecticut Bar Association on how to relaunch your career as an attorney highlights the importance of networking with former colleagues to get a second chance at your chosen profession. The guide also suggests getting involved in the legal community by writing an article, becoming a member of a committee of your local bar association, or doing pro bono legal work. These activities can help you reconnect with the legal community and find your next employer.
A national shortage of skilled educators means schools will be eager for you to return to your teaching career.
A recent Axios story called the shortage of teachers in the US “massive.” This is an opportunity for you to return to teaching – or take it up as a new career after a break.
As with nursing or law (or any credentialed profession), you may need to play catch-up on your continuing education credits before you can return to work as a teacher. Even without up-to-date credits, you can start back as a substitute teacher.
Credentialing requirements vary by state and by school district, but they are generally looser for substitutes than full-time teachers. Substituting can be a great way to ease back into teaching.
All you need is a a clean car (and a couple of other things) to drive for Uber or Lyft.
Naturally, driving for Uber or Lyft had to make the list. To drive for Uber, you don’t need much beyond a four-door car, a valid license, proof of insurance, and a driver’s license you’ve had for at least one year. Lyft requires mostly the same things, plus a background check. Neither company will turn you away because of a gap in your résumé, so this professional driving is easy an easy job to return to after you’ve been away from the work world for a while.
Of course, there are drawbacks to working as a driver for a ride-hailing app. The biggest one is pay: The Guardian reported on one driver who ended up earning as little $3.57 an hour after expenses, though other drivers have reported higher hourly income.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of gig driving is flexibility. You can work your hours around other commitments, such as school or childcare, and easily take time off when you need it.
If you like the idea of driving for a living, there are additional options beyond ride-hailing apps. Food delivery services like Doordash and Caviar are always looking for more drivers – no fancy car required.
If you’re good at sales, you can sell yourself when you return to the job market.
Sales representatives have demanding jobs, so it may feel intimidating to return after being away from that world for a number of years. However, if you’ve got the right personality for sales, this is a great job for people returning to work. Since networking is one of the skills of the successful salesperson, you already have what it takes to reenter the workforce.
To get your first sales job after a gap in your résumé, follow suggestions for getting your first sales job. Sales is a huge field: the BLS reported more than 14.5 million people employed in sales and related fields as of May 2017. If you’re ready to return to a career in sales, there’s bound to be a job that’s just right for you.
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If you’re handy, you can always find work doing home repairs.
The home repair business is a $31 billion industry, and it’s easier than ever to return to work as a handyperson.
With job platforms like Fiverr and TaskRabbit, you can connect with people in your area who need your skills. In many states, you don’t need a license to perform basic home repairs (though you should check on the requirements where you live).
The earnings potential in this field is high, even without a professional license. Marketwatch reported on one handyman who started working on TaskRabbit for $20 an hour and worked his way up to a rate of $150 an hour. Another handyman, profiled in The Penny Hoarder, reported earnings of $3,000 a week.