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5 Top Encore Careers—and Ways to Pay for the Retraining You May Need

Reinventing yourself sometimes requires reeducating yourself. Consider these ways to pay for your encore education.



COLLEGE CAMPUSES ARE BECOMING more diverse—agewise. Nearly a million Americans age 45 and older were enrolled in college undergraduate and graduate courses in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. They're not necessarily going back to study Plato. Many have a more practical goal in mind: getting a degree and increasing their skills as they transition to their second or third career.

College degrees can come with a high price tag: For the 2018–2019 academic year, tuition and fees at private, nonprofit four-year schools rose 3.1% to $35,830, according to the College Board. And tuition costs are just the start. Going back to school may require you to take a leave of absence from your current job, and the cost of books and transportation can add up. But there are ways to manage these educational expenses without disrupting your financial planning.

Slider Headline: HELP WANTED 1 : 5 Top Encore Career Fields. How can you put your skills and expertise to est use in your second act? Use this list as a thought-starter. Graphic showing an illustration of an emergency medical kit. Next to it, the copy reads:  Health care — Jobs range from patient advocate to nurse and physical therapist. Source: Encore.org, 2017.
Slider Headline: HELP WANTED 2 : 5 Top Encore Career Fields. How can you put your skills and expertise to est use in your second act? Use this list as a thought-starter. Graphic showing an illustration of a globe. Next to it, the copy reads: Green-collar jobs — Think engineering to landscape architecture and the construction trades. Source: Encore.org, 2017.
Slider Headline: HELP WANTED 3 : 5 Top Encore Career Fields. How can you put your skills and expertise to est use in your second act? Use this list as a thought-starter. Graphic showing an illustration of a government building. Next to it, the copy reads: Government — Everything from management skills to technical expertise is sought after on the local, state and federal levels. Is a run for mayor—or the Senate—in your future? Source: Encore.org, 2017.
Slider Headline: HELP WANTED 4 : 5 Top Encore Career Fields. How can you put your skills and expertise to est use in your second act? Use this list as a thought-starter. Graphic showing an illustration of four intertwined hands. Next to it, the copy reads: Nonprofits — Could you be a good fund-raiser for your favorite charity? Source: Encore.org, 2017.
Slider Headline 5: HELP WANTED: 5 Top Encore Career Fields. How can you put your skills and expertise to est use in your second act? Use this list as a thought-starter. Graphic showing an illustration of a book. Next to it, the copy reads: Education — Many executives find their corporate skills and experience carry over well to teaching at the high school and college levels. Source: Encore.org, 2017.

Finding the Money

"Returning to school inevitably involves some costs and trade-offs," says Richard J. Polimeni, director of Education Savings Programs for Bank of America. "You may have to adjust your priorities and find places to trim expenses so that you can afford to go back to school." If the program or specialty you want to pursue involves a large financial commitment, you may also want to explore the following funding options, Polimeni says.

A 529 account. A little-known fact: 529 accounts aren’t just for college-bound teens. A 529 account can be started to support your own continuing education goals too. In fact, if there's money left over from the 529 account you created for a child or grandchild who has now graduated, you can change the beneficiary to yourself.

Starting a 529 account for yourself may not make sense if you're planning to enroll in school in the next year or so. But for those with, say, five years of lead time, it may be worth considering. "The main advantage is that any money you contribute can compound tax-free," Polimeni says. "And, assuming you use it to pay for tuition or other eligible expenses, your withdrawals are tax-free as well." 1

If there's money left over from the 529 account you created for a child or grandchild who has now graduated, you can change the beneficiary to yourself.

Leverage your investments. You could liquidate some of your investments to cover your tuition. But doing so risks putting a dent in your investment strategy. There is an alternative offered by some financial institutions—a secured line of credit. Here's how it works: Similar to the way you use the equity in your home as collateral when you take out a home equity line of credit, your investments are used as collateral to establish a flexible line of credit. Such accounts provide access to money as you need it, often without application or maintenance fees. Lines of credit that leverage your investments as collateral do entail risks, Polimeni says. But this strategy can allow you to maintain your current investment strategy without disruptions.

Whichever route you choose to pay for the courses you’ll need to upgrade your skills or prepare for a career change, consider it an investment in yourself.


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