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Careers and horses...anyone started fresh at 50?

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  • Careers and horses...anyone started fresh at 50?

    I am going back to work now that my children are grown. I have volunteered in everything from scouts to TR for the past twenty years, but I gave up my career to raise my children and run my farm.

    Since losing my sister, I really want to get back into a career where I can help people, but I must juggle it with my farm responsibilities. Can anyone share their experience if they made a mid life decision to return to college for a different career degree? I am most interested in hearing from anyone who chose careers such as nursing or teaching, the two careers I am most interested in, and how you were able to juggle keeping your horses with this type of career.


  • #2
    No kids, but my sister is doing something similar.

    After graduating from college approx '78, she worked in political science/foreign affairs (specializing in Southern Africa (including Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe) and the Carribean (including Cuba, Haiti, Dominican republic) for about 20 years. Then she got a horse with the potential to get to the upper levels, and she became a riding professional so she would have the time to ride and train (ride the Mare of the Year in 2003, did Fair Hill CCI*** twice, qualified for Rolex, but ended up not going)

    Now, at 50+ she has gone back to school to get a masters degree in Psychology, with the intention of doing counseling.

    I can't tell you how she works the logistics, but she is currently handling going back to school while running her farm with 3 horses, riding, and still teaching a few lessons.

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


    • #3
      Not fifty yet, but looking to get out of the horse business and do something else -- hopefully something that will let me play with my horses on the side.

      I'm completely limited to something I can learn at the nearby (next county over) technical college (have to commute), and I have to be able to do that something in this county or the next when I've learned it (family stuff eliminates relocation), and if I have to commute to the next county to work, it has to pay enough make that feasible. I have many minor interests in diverse areas, so nothing really stands out as the "ought to go" direction.

      I'd prefer something that makes for an easy transfer/enhancement of skills I already have instead of starting from scratch on something I know nothing about. I did a CareerScope assessment thing at the local WorkForce center, hoping that would narrow things down ... and it didn't. Went to a career workshop at the technical college and did a bunch of Holland grouping exercises, hoping that would narrow things down ... and it didn't.

      Registered Nurse looks attractive from the pay scale perspective, but I wonder what will happen with that if the health care system gets turned on its head. LPN certification can be achieved quicker, but the pay isn't as good as RN.

      So I'm contemplating going for a Nursing Assistant certificate (so as to get to an employable point quickly), then keep plugging along toward Medical Secretary.

      Graphic Arts would probably be more fun and more up my alley, but I can't see there being a real market for that sort of thing in this area.

      There is scholarship money available through the WorkForce Center for what they call "in demand" careers -- but nobody can get me a list of what the hell an "in demand" career might be. Apparently, you have to decide what you are going to do, then apply and hope it's approved.

      I'm about ready to chuck the whole idea and figure out some kind of scam to rake money in...


      • #4
        To offer: >as a nurse. If you are thinking of getting in nursing because the money has enticed you ....dont. You had a good idea of going in as an Aide; usually a 30day (paid) class will offer immediate employment. You can take your boards yourself and relocate facility at will after that. Once you are in, you can check out hospitals that offer internships, usually come with some time/contracts, which are ok, its a win-win.
        After a period of time, you can enlist with agency... for home health, hospice, on call at facility -- huge variety of options, and flexible schedules in case you Do decide to return to school to further your directions.
        Its scheduling, planning, and staying on course that allows the daily multi-tasking. And, sacrifice -- I dont think you'll hear of day long shopping trips, or afternoons sitting at a salon, or even a vacation.
        I believe the difference is that they found their work and passion to be the same.
        OTTB's ready to show/event/jumpers. Track ponies for perfect trail partners.


        • #5
          I'm not making a midlife change per se, but I graduated with a degree and worked random jobs. Now that I'm almost 30 I've decided my true passion is teaching. We have many "transition to teaching" education paths in Indiana. The one that I will be starting in January entails going to school one day a week (and some semesters that's online) and student teaching 5 hours a week for the whole 2 years plus a stretch of full time teaching at the end. It is geared towards working adults as the 5 hours a week can be divided up as 1 hr. a day for 5 days, 2.5 hours for 2 days, one 5 hour day, etc. etc. I also considered nursing as I do find it very interesting. My sister is a nurse so I picked up a job as a unit secretary in a hospital. Found out that nursing was definitely not for me and glad that I had the experience there to realize that. On the other hand I've shadowed teachers and have subbed so feel comfortable with my decision.


          • #6
            and I should also say that a teacher's schedule is fairly stable and easy to plan around. I REFUSED to go into a career where I would have to work major holidays and not make plans. I'm miserable at the hospital right now and will have to work Christmas day this year and worked Thanksgiving, easter, valentines day, 4th of july, mothers day, and fathers day last year- 12 hour shifts. Yes, the nurses there make very good money, but the schedule would NOT be something I would want for the rest of my life to have horses with. A teacher on the other hand has a set schedule although there are still long hours working at home grading, planning, etc. Regardless of not having as much time off in the summer as people make it sound to be you do still have time off in the summer that can be wonderfully horse-filled. I hate to hear of people getting into teaching for "summer's off" because it's not as glamorous as it sounds. My grandparents were teachers their entire lives so I do have a lot of experience with their schedules and lives. I've always heard that you work so hard during the school year, especially as a new teacher, that the bit of time off in the summer really only makes up for working so much during the school year! Regardless, I would rather be the person getting called off because of a bad snow storm rather than knowing that patients in a hospital are relying on me to get in and having a snow plow pick me up! (yes... the hospital I'm at and others really send out snow plows to pick people up and leave them with no way to get home).


            • #7
              or...if the snow plows cant get to the next shifters..... YOU have to stay.. until...!
              Nursing though, does have options, but you have to be in a position to find them, some like working 3-12's for 40 with 4 days off... doesnt work for me. I dont have 12hr shift plus travel, plus ready time to take from each day...8hrs away from the farm is plenty.
              Agency offers the flexibile schedule...but work isnt guaranteed either. Pay is better, but you might not work full weeks... If you dont like a facility, you dont have to go back...if you do, you can put in requests. Home care isnt always 8hrs.
              Hospital internships offer pay plus money for school... hard schedules, demanding work....little free time.. but in the end worth it.
              I did unit sec work...kinda liked it as it was a break from patients who had Call Bells!!!!
              I come from teachers.... they loved it... I didnt see enough time each day for riding .. grew up riding and not seeing my parents but at well scheduled shows.
              Keep exploring, keep checking your passions...
              IN GOD WE TRUST
              OTTB's ready to show/event/jumpers. Track ponies for perfect trail partners.


              • #8
                I just want to wish you well since you and your family have been thru so much since your sister's death.
                Do something that you want to do that will give you fulfillment and help others.


                • #9
                  I got laid off and went back to school to earn a BSN. I was around 42. I graduated then lasted all of 18 months as a nurse before I ran screaming out of the hospital (OK not quite but that's what I wanted to do).

                  It wasn't the patient care that got me, rather it was the lack of professionalism among my colleagues, the constant in-fighting, the little cliques, incompetence, penny-pinching by management, 50 hour or longer weeks, nights, weekends, holidays, paperwork out the butt, short staffing, covering call-outs, strained back, aching knees, screaming family members, mandatory training on my "days off", oh, and the place smelled funky.

                  I wouldn't be riding at all now if I was still working at the hospital. I hadn't been riding for a while when I went to school but I probably could have. Once I started working though, it would have been impossible to maintain any kind of routine. Add that to the fact that when I got home I'd literally have to pull myself up the stairs using the handrail because my knees and back were killing me.

                  My 2 cents is unless you have some grand passion to be abused by just about everyone skip nursing. I don't regret the education because it is sort of an "insurance policy" but if I never work another day as a nurse it'll be too soon.

                  BTW I'm 49 now, I usually ride 5X/week and do one evening as a therapeutic riding side-walker. I have a lab/office job. My current employer encourages ergonomic safety and my knees and back are just fine.
                  "Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple” – Barry Switzer


                  • #10
                    Here's what you ought to do. Become a medical laboratory technician (2 year degree) or a medical technologist (4 year degree). Clinical laboratory scientists make nearly as much as nurses do, with about 1/8 as much on-the-job stress. If even that. You can get a job this second, anywhere in the world, they will pay you to relocate, plus a fat sign-on bonus. There is a HUGE lack of registered MTs because about 20 years the government in its all-seeing wisdom decided the schools were too "expensive" and the hospital-based programs were virtually all closed down. Now, a majority of the currently-employed MTs are retirement age -- duh!!! I REALLY worry who is going to take care of us when we get old and end up in a hospital. The laboratory is the LIFEBLOOD of the hospital!! Seventy percent of all diagnoses depend directly upon labwork!!

                    I was a professioinal horse trainer while my daughter was young, then worked in research labs for many years. (My first BS was in 1977; I went back for my second BS, in Medical Technology, in 2003.) Being an MT has given me sufficient salary and freedom to truly enjoy my horses (I have four) on an amateur basis (I foxhunt and do local shows.) I much prefer this over having been a professional horse trainer.

                    The field of medical technology is absolutely fascinating. I guarantee you will never be bored. You can probably even find a hospital willing to pay your tuition in exchange for a promise to work for them after you graduate (I did). Good luck! Look into it! You won't regret it!
                    "To ride a horse is to borrow freedom."


                    • #11
                      I have no comment on the particular career paths, but support an effort to embark on a new career path. I think it has become easier to make this transition, too. Educational institutions are more focused on the adult learner seeking to make a career shift and technology makes education available in formats such as on-line courses, web casts, etc. It's not straight diadactic education in the classroom any more. I'd also suggest that the adult learner works a bit smarter. I remember when I returned or my master degree that I was not distracted by dating or partying as some of my younger colleagues were.

                      Returning to school is like most things -- once you get used to doing it, the activity becomes routine. I have 3 "mature" member of my staff currently going to school part time and they are doing well balancing work, kids, home, and school. So go for it, Chai!
                      Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


                      • #12
                        Only go into medicine if you are willing and able to work nights, weekends, holidays. There are no real days off in medicine and someone has to be there 24/7. Those at the bottom of the totem pole generally have to pay their dues and work their way up.


                        • #13
                          I went the LVN/LPN route and while I'm only 30 it was a career change for me and I don't regret it all. Yes we get paid less than RN's but LVN is not a bad job to have while working towards RN which takes a year after LVN school so its not like your stuck being an LPN

                          My LVN course was 12 months no prerequisites or waiting lists. Because nursing homes are the primary workplace of LVN's there are jobs still out here even in this economy while RN's jobs are getting scarcer and new grads are having a hard time.

                          I can't imagine the public healthcare changes will have a major impact on nursing in fact there shortage will get worse as more people have access to healthcare. My state CA has ratios in place so a nurse can only take x number of patients at any given time. Maybe pay will go down but I'm from NZ and we have socialized healthcare and the pay for nurses is still competitive.

                          It's not for everyone though but after looking after horse poop human poop is nothing


                          • #14
                            i'm fast approaching fifty myself and have recently started a new job in healthcare. this is a little different from nursing or teaching, but i make decent money (tax-free,too!) and love it.
                            i'm providing a home and family for a young man with some developmental delays. he loves living here and has a community outreach helper twenty hours a week, who takes him bowling, to the ymca, art classes, etc., so dh and i still have plenty of couple time built in.
                            i have a lot of free time to ride and he likes to 'help' around the farm.
                            i found a nice horse for him, the cat and dog sleeps on his bed, which pleases him immensely, and the pets are pretty happy about it too, so it's a very easy and congenial way to make a very good wage.
                            we love it so much that we're applying for another young person (probably a foster child placement this time) to round out our new little family--i'm really hoping for a young lady who wants to ride a lot--maybe pony club?
                            i have a friend who cares for the elderly in her home and manages to ride a lot too, so it can be a very flexable job.
                            and while we've had some challenging moments. it's still a pretty great way to spend the day, imo.


                            • #15
                              Radiological Tech is a two year community college course-and it pays very well. And if you work in a clinic or doctor's office (some centers are stand alones and some are in a medical building) then you work 9-5 Monday thru Friday. If you have a 4 year degree but it isn;t medical all at, for RN you can take the prelims, and go to school full time for one year (in a lot of areas they offer this) and another year if you want to be a nurse practitioner. You don't have to work in a hospital or a 24/7 situation-many nurse practitioners (depending on specialty) work for a medical practice and only during the regular office hours (such as a GYN office or family practitioner). Plus an RN or NP certificate you can work in a doctor's office or HMO and still have a regular schedule and usually benefits. County or local health clinics also employ lots of nurses, LPNs and sometimes radiological techs. Whatever you decide I wish you the best, it's very hard to change your life but really can be worth it.
                              Last edited by JanM; Jul. 7, 2009, 08:29 PM.
                              You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                              • Original Poster

                                Thank you to everyone who responded. Your opinions and suggestions have been a great help to me. I think I have been a bit naive in wanting to get into a field where I can help people, and your responses have been extremely helpful in assessing the reality of these professions and how they affect owning horses or running a small farm. Thanks!


                                • #17
                                  I am excited because I intend to retire from commercial horses completely by 50 so I can get my amateur card and show ApHC Masters! Juggle the horses? No just enjoy them!!!
                                  "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"


                                  • #18
                                    I forgot one career-training isn't too long, you can do it at a hospital, clinic, doctor's office or free lance and you make great salary--Respiratory Technologist. Almost everyone needs this at some time in their life either after a surgery, if you have a respiratory condition, chronic conditions like cystic fibrosis or asthma, or for during therapy for a brief illness. A friend's brother does this and goes on two and three month special substitute jobs and makes so much you wouldn't believe it. Or you can get into the home health care free lancing and arrange oxygen deliveries and other equipment and run your own business. And I'm sure you could do this in any geographic location-especially doing home treatments in an underserved area like the countryside. It's a field that's definitely growing with the rise in asthma and COPD.
                                    You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                                    • #19
                                      Well, after over 30 years of nursing I ran screaming from health care and into an entirely new line of work where the RN is an asset.

                                      I work for a company that contracts with juvenile justice and family and children services to do assessments on families in crisis. I am an independent contractor, which means I can pick and choose what assignments I take. I am reaosnably computer literate and a whole lot English language competent, which is an even bigger asset than my years of experience as a pysch nurse.

                                      I interview people, write up my report, go to court a couple times, and I am DONE. Most of my work is done at home in my comfy clothing. I ride when the weather suits me, and schedule my face to face time around my home and horse tasks, for the most part.

                                      No, it isnt as lucrative as nursing, but it doesnt feel much like 'work' either.

                                      I TRIED to go back to health care last year, part time in a veteran's home. Vets were great, money was good, on paper I only had to work 2 measly shifts a week, but omg I could not handle the evil, evil nursing staff and the oblivious administrative staff, and the sheer weight of trying to ACCURATELY medicate 50 or 60 patients in the time frame alloted. I could not take it. I lasted two months and cried like a baby when I had to leave my old guys.

                                      I am helping folks, I am using my skills, and I am working at home. Cant beat it.