Retirement is elusive for millions of hardworking people, but if you are in the right career it can be almost guaranteed. Not only that, but you will have a high chance of early retirement. Instead of waiting until you are 65 like most retirees, you can get a head start on enjoying retirement. Plus, you will have a sizable nest egg of saved wealth to make life more comfortable, easy, and fun. Some people put in their required number of years, and still retire young enough to enjoy life. Here are nine career paths can help you achieve the rare reward of an earlier retirement.
1) Military Service
Accept a career in the U.S. military and you have a fantastic opportunity to retire in just 20 short years. While many military personnel leave the armed forces much earlier than the 20 year mark, if you are committed and are able to prove yourself, a military career is a great path to early retirement. After retirement, you will be eligible for a generous pension. This applies to people who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. You can receive 50% of your normal pay, plus incremental increases to keep up with inflation, during retirement. A career captain in the military, for instance, can earn total compensation from $70,000 to $100,000. Anyone still active in the military also has the chance to earn promotions and pay increases. If this kind of career appeals to you, it is perhaps the best guarantee of an early retirement. You can also enter any branch of the military without much formal education, which is not true in most careers. While in the military you will receive lots of career training and education, free of charge.
Fighting fires may be hazardous work, but many people find it rewarding and exciting. Plus, it’s an important and necessary service to the community. Most firefighters, in non-volunteer communities, earn at least $45,000 or more per year. They also get to enjoy the fringe benefits of a pension plan to help them retire earlier, with more money saved. You can learn many core firefighting skills at a community college, so the education is affordable. You work longer hours, but then have more time off between shifts. Be careful about budgeting your money and continue to save in an IRA or other investment account and you retire early.
3) Railroad Engineer
Many kids dream of being a railroad engineer, and many adults do too – since it pays around $85,000 a year. The retirement benefits are also great, because most people who work driving trains retire by age 60. That is several years earlier than the typical retirement at age 65, and you will retire with full benefits. That means that you can earn a huge amount of money, save for retirement, and still get paid a lot after you leave the job. Plus, you get to toot the horn on a locomotive as part of your $85,000 and up career. That, in and of itself, is a pretty cool perk and many engineers also travel extensively on the job.
4) Airline Pilot
Commercial pilots are in big demand in the workplace, and the typical salary is around $125,000 a year. You can learn to be a pilot without going to college, by joining the Air Force. Most commercial pilots learned that way, and got trained on the job for free. If you decide to go to a private flight school instead, that’s also an option. The tuition may be high but pilots earn so much that they usually have no problem repaying student loans. Keep in mind that you can pilot commercial airplanes and jets or helicopters. Helicopter pilots also earn a lot of money and there are many career opportunities available to them. Saving for retirement in this high-income career is not difficult, and many pilots retire quite early with a large nest egg.
Physicians, surgeons, and even veterinarians all earn some of the biggest salaries of any occupation. Thus, entering the medical profession as a doctor is a fast track to early retirement. The earning power is so substantial that you can live quite well while still having lots of extra money. Invest that surplus income wisely and you will amass a tremendous nest egg early in your career. The biggest obstacle is student loan repayment, since doctors must stay in college for many years. Do an aggressive job of repaying those loans and then you will be free to save for your retirement. Doctors earn salaries that typically start at around $90,000 a year and then go as high as millions of dollars. Your salary will depend on what type of medical specialty you choose, and where you decide to work. Those who work in private hospitals performing highly specialized surgery, for instance, tend to be in the highest income bracket. Anesthesiologists, who are also doctors, can also earn huge salaries and oftentimes they work fewer hours than physicians.
6) Air Traffic Controller
FAA air traffic controllers earn an average of $120,000 per year and get two round trip flights each year, free of charge. Many air traffic controllers retire at age 50. They can do that by simply staying on the job for 20 years. If you want to retire even earlier, it is possible. Once you have completed 25 years of good service you are eligible to retire, regardless of your age. Someone could learn the skills in the military starting at age 18, for instance. Then they could get hired at age 22 or 24 and go to work for the FAA for 25 years. That would qualify them for retirement before they are 50. That is almost 15 years faster than the average age of retirement. In fact, most air traffic controllers are required by their employers to retire by age 56. If early retirement and high pay in a high-intensity job sounds good to you, consider becoming an air traffic controller.
7) Insurance Broker
People who sell insurance for a living as brokers earn about $50,000 a year. The opportunity to earn considerably more is there, though, based on what kinds of clients you attract and how much insurance they need. As a result, being an insurance broker can be a very profitable career. Most insurance brokers are also self-employed, so if you want to earn a lot in a career where you’re your own boss, this might be for you. One of the best things about selling insurance is that you can earn what is known as residual commissions. Every time a person renews their insurance that you originally sold them, you get paid. If they buy insurance and renew it for the rest of their life, you continue to earn every year. The commissions may not be gigantic, but they do add up, multiplying your profits. Save carefully and you, too, can retire early.
Right up there alongside doctors in terms of high-paying salaries with a chance to retire early are orthodontists. They can open a private dental practice or join an existing team of dentists and earn right out of college. The salaries typically start high and are comparable to what physicians earn. Since dental school is costly, tuition is a challenge, and student loans may exceed $100,000. The earning potential is high, though, and while earning more than $100,000 a year it is possible to repay those loans quickly. Once that major source of debt is out of the way you can begin saving for retirement at a fast clip and retire early.
9) Law Enforcement Officer
Another public service sector job that can be hazardous but rewarding is a law enforcement career. Most police officers earn at least $45,000, depending on where they work. Detectives can earn considerably more than that. There are many positions in the law enforcement field that may not necessarily be dangerous but may afford a decent retirement as well. It takes a lot of personnel to run law enforcement agencies and a desk job could just as easily yield a nice retirement pension. Meanwhile you get to retire from most law enforcement jobs after just 20 years. Then you will enjoy pension benefits that are usually about 50% of what you earned on the job.