Ask the Engineers: What's the best way to prepare for a useful retirement?

Professional Engineering

'What’s the best way to prepare for a useful retirement (in my case, volunteering in the heritage engineering sector)?' (Credit: Shutterstock)
'What’s the best way to prepare for a useful retirement (in my case, volunteering in the heritage engineering sector)?' (Credit: Shutterstock)

Are you stuck in a career rut or planning your next move? In each issue, we're putting your burning questions to our panel of seasoned engineers.

In Issue 4, Bob Rainbow asked: "What’s the best way to prepare for a useful retirement (in my case, volunteering in the heritage engineering sector)?"

Have a plan. What were your favourite parts of your job, what gave you the most joy? Make a list to see how you can find a way to spend time doing this. Volunteering is an excellent way to achieve this. Maybe think about getting a social-media platform up and running to learn a few new skills and then maybe post a few videos about your knowledge or current projects/passions. Some of the most engaging people on social media are in their eighties, talking about their passions, such as the work they are doing on things as diverse as vintage racing cars, aeroplanes, canal barges, bridges or castles.

Dave Hughes


Before I retired I made a timetable with five slots a day for seven days a week. I told myself that if I couldn’t fill each slot with something I wanted (or needed) to do then I shouldn’t be retiring. It helped set my budget and gave me a mix of ‘activity’, ‘creative’, ‘teach/volunteer’ and ‘learning’. Be ‘useful’ by all means, but remember to have fun!



Sounds like you’ve already got a plan! Remember that you are doing it for enjoyment! You’ve worked hard all your career to earn this time. Keep your mind active, and always be prepared to share your experience and lessons learned with those around you. I know that there is a lot of knowledge you’ve collected over the years that can still be passed on, even in retirement.

Andrew MacGillivray


Having just reached the age of 55, I am now thinking about how many years I want to work before retiring, and looking at the things that interest me now (classic motorsports) and how I can get involved in a voluntary fashion as I get closer to retirement. Of course with every retirement there is always the list of works to do around the house. 

Ian Oldfield


I would suggest fully maintaining IMechE networks and local involvement. Other personal ‘satellite’ engineering activities can then be brought to the Region or Centre for presentations or visits. Some further expertise can then also flow the other way, into the external activity – win-win, as they say...

Ian Weslake-Hill


Although I am still a few years from retirement (hopefully), I am already thinking about how to remain active, intellectually, physically and work related. I think volunteering is definitely something I would consider, along with a new area of study – possibly a language or musical instrument.

Robert Davidson


At 29, I’m no authority on the subject but I would completely agree with volunteering. There are some amazing things going on with retired engineers at the heart. I volunteer with an excellent team at the charity Remap and would recommend it to any engineer looking to use their skills into retirement.

Will Henson


The best way is to try to reduce working hours first, particularly if there is a handover period. Use the time to build your interest in those things you want to do in retirement... it’s the actions that have no cost that are worth the most. 

Pete Barnett


Volunteer for your local committee. Take up a hobby. Do an Open University course – there are many free ones. Whatever you do, do not flop out and relax! How many times have you heard successful people say they have never been so busy?!

Brian McMahon


While you are working, think this one through carefully and do your research, and try things out. When you retire a huge part of your life and reason for living will suddenly disappear. You need to fill that gap in a fulfilling way.

Michael Reid


Find a role that interests you, that you will enjoy and means you are contributing something. It is harder to put up with the not-so-nice aspects of a job when you are not being paid to do it.

Richard Bossom

Get to grips with the future factory: sign up now for our Advanced Manufacturing briefings (19-23 July), part of the Engineering Futures series.

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


Read more related articles

Professional Engineering magazine

Current Issue: Issue 5, 2021

001 Cover online

View all

Professional Engineering app

  • Industry features and content
  • Engineering and Institution news
  • News and features exclusive to app users

Download our Professional Engineering app

Professional Engineering newsletter

A weekly round-up of the most popular and topical stories featured on our website, so you won't miss anything

Subscribe to Professional Engineering newsletter

Opt into your industry sector newsletter

Related articles