Baby Boomer Retirement and the Booming Career Opportunities That Will Be Left in Its Wake

Baby Boomer Female

Until recently, baby boomers were the nation’s largest generation with 74.9 million people. Today, these individuals range in age from 52 to 70 years old, meaning many have already reached the average age of retirement.

As more and more baby boomers are ready to trade their early morning alarms for leisurely morning cups of coffee on the patio, what exactly does that mean for the rest of us? The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) reports baby boomer retirement will lead to as many as 55 million vacant jobs by 2020—31 million opening due to retirements and 24 million newly created jobs.1

This creates a dire need for skilled, younger workers to bridge the gap and fill these job openings. Keep reading to learn more about this predicament and find out how you can help remedy the shortage.

How can you take advantage of the opportunity?

While the baby boomer retirement is causing a lot of headaches for employers, it’s opening doors for job-seekers. So what exactly can you do to make the most of this shortage?

Just because jobs are vacant, doesn’t mean employers will hire just anyone to fill them. For the most part, the fastest-growing occupations are ones that require some level of higher education. In fact, it’s projected that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require postsecondary education, according to The Georgetown University CEW.

But before you can start working toward becoming qualified for these positions, you need to decide what you want to do. Maybe you’ve always dreamed about working in healthcare or perhaps you just know you need a change, but you’re not quite sure what. Either way, keep reading to familiarize yourself with some of the most optimistic options.

6 careers expected to grow from the baby boomer retirement

If you’re ready to fill the shoes of the baby boomers who are leaving the workforce, you’re probably curious about which positions are poised for growth. We’ve examined six booming career opportunities, their education requirements, career outlook and earning potential that comes with each.

1. Special education preschool teachers

Median annual salary (2015): $53,9902

Projected growth (2014–2024): 9–13%

Education and training: Associate’s degree at minimum; Bachelor’s degree sometimes required.

What they do: Special education preschool teachers are trained to work with young students with various disabilities, including both emotional and physical needs. Because each child has unique circumstances, teachers often need to customize their curriculum for each student. You’ll reap rewards and challenges in this position. But if you have patience and a passion for helping develop young minds, you will thrive in a position like this.

Learn more about what it's really like working with special needs students.

2. Registered nurses

Median annual salary (2015): $67,4902

Projected growth (2014–2024): 14% or higher

Education and training: Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree

What they do: Registered nurses are direct healthcare providers who work with patients in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare settings. They provide care, maintain patient reports, perform medical assessments and dispense medications—just to name a few responsibilities. Shifts are often fast-paced and unpredictable as patient needs can change by the hour. If you are compassionate and enjoy working under pressure and on your feet, you may be destined to be a registered nurse.

Curious if you would make a good registered nurse?.

3. Medical assistants

Median annual salary (2015): $30,5902

Projected growth (2014–2024): 14% or higher

Education and training: Postsecondary diploma

What they do: Medical assistants perform many important tasks in hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices to make the patient experience better. They are often the first person a patient sees when visiting a healthcare facility. Medical assistants escort patients to the exam room, compile information on symptoms or medical history and record vitals such as weight, temperature and blood pressure. If you have an outgoing personality and are looking for a rewarding healthcare career with minimal education requirements, this could be your best option.

Learn more about the benefits of becoming a medical assistant.

4. Childcare directors

Median annual salary (2015): $45,6702

Projected growth (2014–2024): 5–8%

Education and training: Bachelor’s degree typically required

What they do: Childcare directors have the responsibility of overseeing all aspects of a preschool or childcare center. This includes establishing and enforcing policies and procedures, monitoring students’ progress and dealing with any issues, directing and coordinating activities and working closely with parents and staff to discuss student progress. They must also oversee the budgeting, scheduling and other administrative tasks. If you are responsible, business-minded and have a desire to work with young children, you should consider employment in this field.

See if you have what it takes to work in childcare.

5. Health service managers

Median annual salary (2015): $94,5002

Projected growth (2014–2024): 14% or higher

Education and training: Bachelor’s degree typically required

What they do: Health service managers are basically the administrators of healthcare facilities like hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes or rehabilitation centers. Depending on the size of the facility, health service managers may oversee the entire operation or a department within it. These professionals need to be versatile in their skill sets, handling everything from budgetary issues to training new employees and ensuring high quality medical practices.

Learn more about the opportunities available in this field.

6. Human service assistants

Median annual salary (2015): $30,8302

Projected growth (2014–2024): 9–13%

Education and training: Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree

What they do: Human service assistants can be employed in a wide variety of fields, including psychology, rehabilitation or social work. Responsibilities can include initial patient counseling, record keeping, assessments on patient progress and assistance in obtaining available benefits and social services. If you are an empathetic, trustworthy person with top-notch people skills, becoming a human service assistant may be in your future.

Learn more about what it's like to work in the human services field.

The time is now

If you’ve ever considered a career path in any of the fields detailed above, there is no better time than now to make your move. With the baby boomer retirement well under way, career vacancies are created daily. In fact, it’s estimated that baby boomers will retire at a rate of 10,000 per day through 2030.

Now that you know the opportunities that are out there, the next step is to start on your path towards becoming a qualified candidate to fill the void. If you feel strongly about one of the occupations highlighted above, click the link accompanying the section to learn more about the position.

If you’re still not sure where you’d like your career path to lead, take our career aptitude test to find out how you can capitalize on your existing skills and interests.


1Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, (Recovery 2020).
2Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
Rasmussen College does not offer all of the programs included for every occupation profiled in this list; please see for a list of the programs we offer.

About the author

Gordon Hanson

Gordon is a freelance writer for Collegis Education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen University. He enjoys using the storytelling power of words to help others discover new paths in the journeys of life.

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