Change of career at 51
April 21, 2016 1:48 AM   Subscribe

I work in a job which, though currently secure, may not be in the next couple of years. I'm 51 and would like some advice on what to do if things go pear shaped.

I'm 51 and have worked in the same job in theatre for 21 years. We will have to move from the premises which I work on in the next four years and there's no guarantee we will find new premises. Therefore there is a chance I may get made redundant. No one in the organisation has hinted at that, and they have a good record for trying to offer staff another job as an alternative to redundancy, but my job is quite niche
My job is in stage props and I am required to repair them when I get the time, as well as hire them out to clients. I'm a qualified carpenter but I haven't done any 'real' carpentry for 21 years. I'm still using tools on the repairs so keeping my hand in to some extent.
I'm just wondering what I could do now to prepare myself should the day ever come that I'm laid off? I'd love to spend more time in the workshop, but I have so many other duties such as admin, driving the company van, maintaining the premises and keeping stock organised that I find this difficult. I think if I was laid off I'd like to get back into serious carpentry but I''ll probably be mid fifties by then and not sure I'd be up to working on construction sites.
Sorry if my question is a bit vague and muddled, as it's all based on scenarios that may never happened. But I was a boy scout so like to be prepared.
posted by blokefromipanema to Work & Money (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you considered doing custom cabinetry and starting your own business? Seems like it would be much less physically demanding than construction sites and you could use some of the skills you've gained in your theatre job. If that sounds good you could start doing some side projects in your home or for friends for the cost of materials in your spare time. Take lots of photos and start a website for your business with these examples.
posted by hazyjane at 3:23 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

I was thinking custom cabinet-making as well. You could start now, as a side-line, and start building up clientele. Do small projects for friends, they'll tell their friends, and should you need to go full-time with it in the future, you can do so.

My sister does woodworking, painting, sewing, upholstering, interior design, etc. She's been doing it as a side-line for years. She works a 30 hour week at her primary job, and the rest of the time she does her design work.

You're not a carpenter, you're a craftsman. Think of it that way.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:24 AM on April 21, 2016 [5 favorites]

Custom cabinetry or furniture *plus* the wild flexibility of prop making is a big differentiator - a lot of custom cabinetmakers are pretty stock. Art nouveau? Neoclassical? Steampunk? Dressed-up IKEA?
posted by clew at 3:29 PM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oooh! Clew gave me an idea.

How about you start crafting some Steampunk items for people's costumes? Intricate watches, jewelry, walking sticks, etc.

Open an Etsy shop showing examples of your work and also take commissions for custom pieces. Again, you can do this now, and build up a following.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:31 AM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

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