After a 25-year career as a documentary film producer, AC Warden was feeling burned out. "The subjects were getting more sensational and budgets were being cut. Work was getting a lot less satisfying but I wasn't ready to retire," says Warden, now 56.
So three years ago she began looking around for a more fulfilling career option. She heard a story on NPR about the Celebrant USA Foundation, which trains people to officiate at ceremonies marking the big events in life, from weddings to funerals. "My friends always said I was the most spiritual person they knew."
She was intrigued and began taking classes online to get certified. The courses took one year and cost $1,200 and Warden became a celebrant in 2004. She officiated at more than 60 weddings last year and also does funerals, house blessings and commitment ceremonies. Though she doesn't earn as much now as a celebrant - about $30,000 a year after expenses - as when she produced films for PBS and National Geographic, she says she enjoys the work.
And, without a pension and huge savings for retirement, the income will help with her retirement expenses. "It's demanding in its own way but you can shape it to be what you want it to be. I work with people at transitional times in their lives but it's not as high pressure or grinding as working in television. It's very spiritually fulfilling and I envision it as something I can do till I die."