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Five Best Jobs For An Early Retirement

Dreaming of retiring early and getting to enjoy life outside of work? With careful planning and a strategic career choice, you can make early retirement a reality. Let‘s explore five of the top careers for shaving years off the traditional retirement timeline.

Why Retire Early?

Before diving into the job options, let‘s look at why you may want to retire early in the first place:

  • More time for travel and hobbies – By retiring early, you open up years of free time to pursue passions like travel, golf, gardening, and more. No more waiting until 65 or 70!
  • Spend more time with family – Retiring early lets you enjoy additional years with your spouse, parents, and grandchildren while you still have your health.
  • Pursue new ventures – Early retirement provides freedom to explore encore careers, go back to school, or start a business.
  • Reduce stress – For many, the workplace is their prime source of anxiety. Retiring early can dramatically improve mental health.
  • Live life to the fullest – With an extra decade or more of free time, you can truly take advantage of all life has to offer.

Clearly, the benefits of early retirement are substantial. But how can you make it happen? Choosing the right career path is crucial. Here are five great options to consider.

Military Career

After just 20 years of service, members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard can retire and immediately begin collecting their pension. This pension typically equals 50% of their base pay at the time of retirement.

For example, an E-7 with 20 years of service makes about $70,000 in base pay. With a 50% pension, they would receive $35,000 per year in retirement. And thanks to annual cost of living adjustments, that retirement pay will keep pace with inflation.

Beyond the base pay, military personnel receive allowances for housing, food, and benefits that can add tens of thousands per year. Promotions and pay raises during one‘s career further boost retirement income potential.

The military also offers numerous opportunities for education and skills training. This helps set up a second, post-military career. While deployment risks are real, a military retirement can provide exceptional benefits if you‘re up for the challenge.

Salary Data for Enlisted Military Personnel
E-7 with 20 Years Experience: $70,000 base pay
E-9 with 30 Years Experience: $100,000 base pay

Firefighter Career

A job as a firefighter may allow retirement as early as age 50 for some. Most departments offer retirement after 20-25 years of service.

Full-time firefighters earn an average salary of approximately $50,000. With overtime, this average jumps to $70,000+. And unlike military retirees, firefighters also typically qualify for Social Security benefits in addition to their pensions.

For example, a 25 year veteran firefighter retiring at age 50 could receive a pension of $40,000 per year, plus Social Security. Combine this income with smart saving and investments in a 401(k) or IRA early in one‘s career, and a comfortable – even lavish – early retirement is possible.

Most departments help cover the costs of attending a fire academy or community college fire science program. These programs allow you to become a certified firefighter without having to pay for 4 years of college.

Firefighting is certainly demanding, both physically and mentally. But the built-in early retirement benefits are hard to beat!

Railroad Engineer

After just 30 years of service, locomotive engineers can retire at age 60 with full pension and retirement health benefits. The average salary is approximately $85,000/year, with top earners making six figures. With that level of income, saving aggressively for retirement is straightforward.

Some engineers work well into their 60s or 70s since they enjoy the work. Others eagerly await retirement at 60 to begin pursuing other activities like travel.

Retirements in the railroad industry open up abundant job opportunities for newcomers. Major railroads are facing an impending shortage of engineers due to a wave of retirements, so job stability and security are strong.

Formal training programs can help land railroad engineer jobs without needing a college degree. It‘s a potentially lucrative career option for those seeking early retirement.

Average Annual Railroad Engineer SalaryProjected Job Growth
$85,0006% increase by 2026

Airline Pilot

Commercial airline pilots earn an average salary ranging from $100,000 for regional carriers to over $200,000 for major airlines like Delta and United. Pilots typically retire between ages 50 and 60, allowing decades of retirement before the average retirement age.

Many pilots get their initial experience by first serving in the military. After completing service, they transition to civilian flying jobs and work their way up to the major airlines.

For civilian pilots, it‘s crucial to build flight hours and obtain advanced ratings as quickly as possible. Doing so accelerates progression up the seniority list to become captain on large commercial jets. This is where the big salaries lie.

The life of an airline pilot involves lots of time away from home and fast-paced days dealing with weather delays and system issues. But if you love aviation, the predictability of scheduled flight routes makes it a stable long-term career with excellent early retirement potential.

Career Milestones for Airline PilotsSalary Range
Regional First Officer$50,000-$80,000
Major Airline First Officer$100,000-$200,000
Major Airline Captain$200,000+

Physician Career

Physicians have a very long educational journey, often completing 4 years of medical school followed by 3-7 years of specialized residency training. However, the long-term income potential is enormous.

Doctors straight out of residency often start around $90,000. As a physician gains experience and rises to partnership in a practice, income commonly reaches well over $200,000 per year. Various specialties like orthopedic surgery, anesthesiology, and radiology average above $400,000!

This high income allows physicians to rapidly pay off student loan debt that can exceed $200,000. It also enables saving and investing substantial sums each year. If you‘re willing to live frugally and bank large portions of your salary, retiring by your late 40s or early 50s is possible.

Some doctors work into their 60s and 70s because they find the work so meaningful. Others take early retirement and use their medical expertise to teach, volunteer, or pursue medical entrepreneurship ideas.

No career path comes without trade-offs. But for those drawn to medicine, the high salary, personal fulfillment, and early retirement potential make it appealing.

Alternate Paths to Early Retirement

A high-earning professional career is not the only route to early retirement. Many achieve it through diligent saving, investing, and developing passive income streams. Here are a few examples:

  • Starting a profitable side business while working a regular job. The business income can fund retirement.
  • Investing in real estate and profiting from rentals and appreciation rather than stocks.
  • Obtaining lucrative skills like coding or digital marketing through bootcamps. Then freelancing or consulting.
  • Moving to a low-cost foreign country and living off small withdrawals from investments.
  • Cutting living expenses to the bone – extreme early retirement devotees aim for saving 70% or more of income.

The key is consistently living below your means and saving the surplus. When the stock market cooperates, the magic of compound growth can accelerate retirement timelines beyond what seems possible.

Retiring Early in Any Career

While the jobs highlighted here offer clear pathways to early retirement, almost any career can work. The keys are:

  • Maximizing your income via promotions, bonuses, side work, and raises.
  • Minimizing expenses through frugal living, smart budgeting, and discipline.
  • Investing consistently and intelligently, starting as early as possible.
  • Taking advantage of401(k)s, IRAs, HSAs, and other tax-advantaged retirement accounts.

If early retirement is your goal, you now have several promising career paths to consider. However, your interests and strengths should play the biggest role in any career decision. With diligent saving and investing habits, you can cut years off your retirement timeline, regardless of where you work.

The time and freedom of early retirement awaits. Choose your path and start taking steps toward making it a reality today!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.