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Why These Jobs Are Largely Held by People 55 and Older

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By Samuel Stebbins, 24/7 Wall St.

The U.S. labor force is over 160 million strong. It includes those not yet out of high school, those just starting their first job, and those old enough to qualify for Social Security and Medicare benefits. While Americans of almost all ages are out in the working world, the types of jobs they hold also vary and are often a reflection of their age.

The typical American worker is 42-years-old. However, However, in certain common jobs, nearly half of all workers are younger than 20. In other occupations, most workers are older than 55.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Martin Kohli, chief regional economist for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, explained that this kind of sorting by age is no accident.

Almost by definition, younger workers lack the experience and often the education of older workers. As a result, young people are more likely to fill jobs with little or no education or experience requirements, simply because they are often the only jobs available to them. Meanwhile -- while there are some exceptions -- jobs primarily held by older workers tend to be those that require either an advanced degree, years of experience, or both.

“You don’t need so much education or experience to be a counter attendant; versus a farm manager or judge,” Kohli said.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the median age for the 321 occupation categories with at least 50,000 workers nationwide to identify the jobs with the youngest and oldest workers. All data, including educational requirements, projected growth, annual wage, and age, came from the BLS.


Jobs With the Youngest Workers

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3. Misc. entertainment attendants and related workers

> Median age: 25.1 years old

> Workers age 16-19: 60,000 (26.8% of total)

> Typical entry-level edu. required: N/A

> Median annual wage: N/A

> Projected 10 yr. employment growth: N/A

Miscellaneous entertainment attendants can work in a range of environments from sporting events to hotels and casinos. By median age, the job has the third youngest workforce of any occupation in the country. Nearly half of all workers in the field are younger than 25-years-old, and more than one in four are no older than 19.

Young people are drawn to this occupation largely because there are often little to no education or experience requirements.
 
© andresr / Getty Images

2. Counter attendants, cafeteria, food concession, and coffee shop

> Median age: 22.0 years old

> Workers age 16-19: 105,000 (46.7% of total)

> Typical entry-level edu. required: None

> Median annual wage: $21,280

> Projected 10 yr. employment growth: +23,100 (+4.6%)

They typical counter attendant at cafeterias, concession stands, and coffee shops is just 22-years-old. The job, which has relatively little responsibility, generally entails taking orders for and serving food and drink, cleaning counters and dishes, and using a cash register.

Like nearly every job largely held by younger workers, a degree or diploma or previous experience are typically not a prerequisite for employment. Largely as a result, compensation is relatively low. The typical counter attendant earns just $21,280 a year. Across all occupations, the median annual wage is $37,690.

© Arbobogg Imagery / Getty Images


1. Hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop

> Median age: 21.7 years old

> Workers age 16-19: 149,000 (46.0% of total)

> Typical entry-level edu. required: None

> Median annual wage: $20,930

> Projected 10 yr. employment growth: +28,300 (+6.9%)

Restaurant hosts and hostesses welcome patrons and show them to their seats. A first job for many Americans, more than half of all hosts and hostesses are under the age of 22, the lowest median age of any occupation in the country.

Like other jobs primarily held by those just entering the workforce, there are generally no education or experience requirements for hosts and hostesses. Because the job's requirements and responsibilities are relatively minimal, the pay is low. The typical host or hostess earns just $20,930 a year, nearly $17,000 less than the typical American worker.


Jobs With the Oldest Workers

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3. Crossing guards

> Median age: 53.6 years old

> Workers 65 and older: 13,000 (20.6% of total)

> Typical entry-level edu. required: None

> Median annual wage: $27,630

> Projected 10 yr. employment growth: +6,300 (+8.5%)

The typical crossing guard is over 53-years-old, and more than one in every five crossing guards are at least 65. Jobs that are held disproportionately by older Americans tend to be higher paying than typical and often require years of experience or and advanced degree. Crossing guard is a notable exception.

Those working as crossing guards are responsible for guiding pedestrians or vehicular traffic around places like schools and city innersections. Typically, the job has no educational or experience prerequisites and pays just $27,630 a year, about $10,000 less than the average wage across all occupations.

© Image Source / Getty Images

2. Judges, magistrates, and other judicial workers

> Median age: 55.4 years old

> Workers 65 and older: 14,000 (21.2% of total)

> Typical entry-level edu. required: Doctoral or professional degree

> Median annual wage: N/A

> Projected 10 yr. employment growth: N/A

Over half of all judges in the United States are over 55-years-old, and more than one in every five are at least 65. That judges are disproportionately older Americans is no coincidence.

Becoming a judge typically requires years of experience practicing law on top of seven years of education after high school -- four undergraduate and another three of law school. Becoming a judge also often requires connections, visibility, and political support as most are either elected or appointed to their positions. Such requirements preclude younger Americans from becoming a judge. Only 6.1% of all judges nationwide are younger than 35.
 
© cstar55 / Getty Images

1. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers

> Median age: 55.7 years old

> Workers 65 and older: 293,000 (28.8% of total)

> Typical entry-level edu. required: High school diploma

> Median annual wage: $69,620

> Projected 10 yr. employment growth: -8,000 (-0.8%)

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers are the oldest workers in the United States by median age. The typical farmer or ranger is nearly 56 years old, and more than one in every four in the occupation are at least 65. According to Kohli, older workers are more likely to be in occupations in which self employment is more viable. And many farmers and ranchers are self-employed. Self employment often requires expertise honed from years of experience, and farmers and ranchers typically have years of work under their belt as farm laborers and equipment operators under the direction of a manager.

The median age among American farmers has climbed rapidly in recent decades, suggesting that fewer young people are choosing farming or ranching as a profession.

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