It’s good to already have a full-time job, especially in an uncertain economy, but sometimes you need more money. A part-time job can provide extra income for a better car or that swimming pool for the kids. You might even be struggling to pay off student loans or old medical bills. With so many possible side jobs, it’s helpful to know which ones are worth your attention. The following 33 ideas stand out from the crowd.
All median hourly wages are as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2015.
Outdoor Gigs and Jobs
Working outdoors holds its unique attractions. The wildness of nature is closer to your senses, and you’ll tend to meet more interesting people. Plus, some folks just do better under the sun and the open sky.
- 1. Landscaping for homeowners and local businesses promises to grow along with the rest of the economy as a way for landscaping shops and individual entrepreneurs to rake in the green stuff. Homeowners want their residences to look good for friends and family, and they want to increase the potential resale value of their properties. Businesses want the outside appearances of their retail outlets and offices to reflect the same professional attitude as their inside operations.
Trained landscape architects see a median pay rate of $30.68 per hour from their employers, but independent entrepreneurs can do quite well. The right tools, a reputation for fair dealing and a good eye for aesthetics go far in building a strong word-of-mouth following. Licensing requirements for landscaping services vary considerably from state to state, so check out your own state’s laws and regulations first.
- 2. Pest control is a never-ending job that doesn’t call for years of training or a college education, making it suitable for part-timers who don’t mind eradicating cockroaches, mosquitoes, bedbugs, mice and other common problems. Pest-control workers can expect a median pay rate of $15.46 per hour from employers, which usually provide on-the-job training and handle all state licensing issues for their technicians.
The erratic nature of the work and the typical marketplace profile of small, independent companies that focus on local pest-control services make it fairly easy to find a part-time position in the field, especially for weekends and evenings.
- 3. Termite-control technicians focus on serious infestations of termites, which cause enough damage to residences and businesses in the southeastern United States and other regions that treating the problem qualifies as its own subspecialty. The qualifications and pay rates are much the same as for other pest-control field positions, but termite-control technicians typically will travel between multiple jobsites with heavy tools for drilling into infested wooden structures and for digging trenches against subterranean termites.
Needless to say, this pest-control position works best for individuals who enjoy strenuous physical exercise.
- 4. Driving for Uber or Lyft, the two biggest ride-hailing services in the United States, can be a great way to make the most of the large investment you’ve put into car payments, insurance premiums and other expenses associated with having your own personal ride close at hand. In spite of widely publicized horror stories about vomiting drunks, rowdy college students and other pickups from hell, the vast majority of clients just want a safe, quick ride in a clean car to their destinations. Business travelers pose an especially attractive class of clientele for most drivers.
- 5. Recreation workers don’t make much money with a median pay rate of $11.21 per hour, but the job carries its own merits for highly social individuals who enjoy working with children or leading adults in recreational activities at public parks, nursing-care facilities and many other venues. A reasonably bright outlook for growth in the industry and expanding awareness of the importance of exercise for senior citizens and other at-risk populations promise continuing employment for enthusiastic recreation workers.
- 6. Gutter cleaning is one of those dirty little jobs that no one wants. You can make a decent side income by offering to clean out other people’s rain gutters. It helps to pass out promotional flyers that politely explain the damage that years of uncontrolled flooding from clogged rain gutters and downspouts can cause to residential building foundations. A stout ladder, an inexpensive gutter cleaning kit, heavy work gloves, reliable transportation and a general liability insurance policy may be all you need to begin.
- 7. Masonry can’t be outsourced overseas, and the strong growth predicted for this broad job category over the next decade makes it an attractive proposition for individuals willing to tackle its training requirements and a long apprenticeship that leads to recognition as a fully qualified mason. You’ll help build the homes, schools, hospitals and other physical structures needed for an expanding population.
- 8. Property photography for real-estate agents supplies an entertaining excuse to wander around outdoors, snapping pictures of lovely homes and gardens for fun and profit. You’ll need a decent camera body, a good-quality tripod and at least one wide- or ultrawide-angle lens, but real-estate photography isn’t nearly as demanding as other applications. You’ll also want the ability to take high-definition videos, but many digital cameras now include that function. Indoors photography is obviously a major part of the job, so familiarity with indoor lighting issues is a must. Good image-processing software will help with furnishing both high-resolution images and Web-optimized versions ready for posting to the website of a real-estate agency.
Masonry is hard physical work with lots of kneeling and lugging heavy weights, but it pays well for manual labor. With a median pay rate of $19.06 and up per hour, depending on industry specialization, cement masons, bricklayers and other masonry workers do well enough with a skillset that never goes out of style.
Comfy Home Businesses
Working at home means not having to leap from your bed early in the morning to spruce yourself up for the boss and business customers. Traffic jams can honk and blare, but you don’t care. You can work at your own pace and never leave your place!
- 9. Website design may seem an over-saturated field, but quality always trumps quantity. If you understand responsive design, grok HTML markup tags and CSS templates, comprehend small-business concerns and possess a working knowledge of search-engine optimization, then you’re sitting pretty. Many small-business owners will happily shell out $600–2000 for a simple e-commerce website with a strong landing page and 10–20 other pages that clearly explain what the business does and how its goods and services will completely satisfy customers.
Effective website design calls for listening carefully to your client’s requirements and then deploying industry-standard tools for capturing leads, handling email newsletters, illustrating products and services, denying illegal intrusions by criminal hackers, enhancing website performance with multi-level caching and performing critical management chores such as regular backups. Knowing how to make the most of WordPress, Drupal or another popular and effective content-management platform will put you far ahead of the great majority of would-be e-commerce providers.
- 10. Etsy still dominates even eBay when it comes to showcasing the wares of talented home craftspersons who lack the resources to flog their creations to a wider retail marketplace. One-of-a-kind dolls flutter their eyelashes at bespoke wedding invitations, and beautiful handmade soaps battle for attention alongside artistic flower-themed earrings and custom-made black lace dresses. Almost anything handmade or unique is fair game for Etsy.
Since Etsy’s policy shift in 2013 to allowing direct competition from mass manufacturers, sellers of truly handmade or rare items have adapted by forming small cross-promotional groups of like-minded artisans and hitting popular social-media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram with aggressive campaigns to get out the word about their special offerings. Many individual entrepreneurs make their livings entirely through Etsy with some reaching six-figure annual sales.
- 11. Writing for content brokers such as Textbroker, Constant Content, ArticleBunny and others can add a fair amount of filthy lucre to the bottom line for overworked moms who don’t want to leave their children alone during the day, lazy bums who hate stirring far from their comfy chairs and disabled individuals who wish nonetheless to stay busy. The industry is overrun by bottom feeders that pay extremely little, but the three firms mentioned previously rank among the best available opportunities for freelance writers who are just starting out.
Other reasonable possibilities include Writer Access and Upwork, the latter of which is best treated as a jungle that hides its best treasures from all but the canniest, most businesslike writers.
- 12. Graphic design offers plenty of remote freelance opportunities from design shops that are always on the lookout for experienced graphic artists who can create compelling logos and other custom images for businesses ranging from tiny startups through Fortune 500 heavyweights. Unending demand for attractive brochures, innovative printed-media campaigns, image-heavy websites and other marketing methods virtually guarantees a steady stream of work for talented freelancers with a history of delivering to specifications and meeting deadlines.
The median pay rate of $22.55 per hour for full-time graphic designers in the industry is reflected by freelance rates of $50 per hour and more, which of course must cover all expenses such as self-marketing, business taxes and occasional transportation to local client offices for personal consultations.
- 13. Blogging can bring surprisingly robust financial benefits to a savvy businessperson. In a world awash with low-grade, poorly written articles, niche websites that consistently post lively, cogently written articles about popular topics such as competition sailing, Southern cooking or vintage automobiles attract devoted audiences that can be monetized in various ways.
The heyday of making gushers of cash at popular blogs through Google AdSense has passed, but affiliate marketing remains a lucrative approach with Amazon referrals at the top of the heap. Other bloggers keep their websites free of outside advertising, making their nuts by placing in-house advertisements for their own products and services such as personal advice sessions, niche e-books and professional website design. Some bloggers even use the popularity of their websites to gather a list of potential contributors to a fundraising campaign at Kickstarter, Indiegogo or another crowdfunding platform.
- 14. Virtual assistants make and break appointments, do research on the Internet, read and respond to emails and otherwise handle many of the tasks that a client would normally perform personally. In a multitasking world, a fair number of highly paid professionals and businesspeople prefer to free up their limited time for more valuable activities than waiting on the telephone for a receptionist or digging through virtual mounds of unanswered emails.
The best pay rates go to savvy freelancers who vigorously market their personal brands as trustworthy, reliable enablers who know how to deal diplomatically with difficult people and find relevant information quickly. An experienced freelance virtual assistant with niche expertise might charge up to $60–80 per hour for helping busy, well-heeled clients such as CEOs of small companies and senior executives of larger companies. Flexible retainer agreements are common for clients who only need occasional services scattered across the month.
- 15. YouTube stardom has evolved from humble beginnings into a remarkable Internet phenomenon with a few individuals growing quite wealthy from their popularity. Pop superstar Justin Bieber jump-started his career on YouTube with the help of his devoted mother, who regularly posted music videos of Bieber to YouTube’s growing audience. In 2014, an eight-year-old known only as “Evan” was raking in more than a million dollars a year for his family by appearing in videos featuring cutesy toy reviews.
Most YouTube stars make far less, but the scope remains large for carving out a lucrative niche with a devoted audience. Offbeat cooking shows, quirky fashion reviews and other topics with a spin have gathered considerable success. “My Drunk Kitchen” and “PewDiePie” are classic examples of the kind of unique approach that can prove highly profitable for an inventive video artist.
- 16. Medical transcription still offers a good income for detail-oriented individuals who enjoy listening to doctors and other health-care professionals spout their jargon. A medical transcriber is charged with translating that medical gibberish into written reports that ordinary people can understand and may also be tasked with deciphering the wackiness that can result when said health-care professionals use voice-recognition software to record their verbal notes.
At a median pay rate of $16.77 per hour, more than a few individuals have found it worthwhile to complete the one-year community-college or vocational-school program required for certification as a qualified medical transcriptionist. Gaining experience at managing electronic health records and training others to cope with those electronic systems will help with retaining employment over the next decade as cash-strapped medical providers increasingly automate their transcription work or outsource it to other countries.
On-Site Client Services
An independent business that serves clients at their own workplaces and homes can bring in a fair amount of money. The majority of the clients you encounter will have reasonable expectations, and it’s not a problem to walk away from overly demanding clients or unreasonable prospects after politely telling them that you feel yourself unable to meet their requirements. You needn’t worry about the boss firing you because you’re the boss.
- 17. Personal trainers visit their clients’ homes or offices with can-do attitudes and annoyingly cheerful demeanors. Many well-heeled businesspeople and professionals are willing to pay for personal sessions with a buff exercise or yoga instructor who has been through the mill and knows how to get there with a minimum of fuss. A good personal instructor possesses the combination of steely determination and a firm grasp of diplomacy when dealing with wheezing, out-of-shape clients. Some personal trainers even carry full-scale weight sets in their vans.
Many freelance personal exercise instructors charge between $50–80 an hour, depending on local competition and the regional cost of living, and discounted package deals are almost universal in the industry.
- 18. Phlebotomy tends to provoke occasional snickers and stupid jokes about vampirism. Still, if you’re not weirded out by the thought of poking needles into flinching patients to draw blood for insurance-policy examinations, blood donations and other medically indicated purposes, then the pay is reasonable enough. At a median pay rate of $15.21 per hour, phlebotomists do better than the majority of low-skilled workers. Some independent phlebotomists gravitate over time into higher-paid medical specialties such as nursing.
State certification as a phlebotomy technician requires a total of perhaps 140–160 hours of classroom and clinical training at an approximate cost of $600–2800, depending on the training program and other factors. Blood will always flow, and having experience at slurping it into sterile vials and bags is a useful skillset that can be acquired at relatively little cost.
- 19. Personal shoppers give their clients the benefit of a strong sense of fashion and an awareness of how to burnish their clients’ public images in obvious and subtle ways. The Association of Image Consultants International purports to offer several levels of certification, but the majority of personal image consultants rely on their own reputations and word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied clients.
A well-regarded personal shopper might charge a nominal $60–80 per hour, but the industry typically sees package deals for regular visits. Image consultants are expected to keep up on current fashion trends, and heavy networking across social networks such as LinkedIn is virtually mandatory.
- 20. Dog walking evokes images of yapping poodles competing with tiny chihuahuas and enormous Great Danes in chaotic races to nearby fire hydrants and interesting bushes while a struggling human tries to drag them all along. In truth, most dogs are a reasonably well-behaved lot at the ends of their leashes, and busy professionals are willing to pay good money to be relieved from their daily walkies.
Childlessness continues to rise among well-heeled singles, and the animal-care industry is unlikely to suffer financially as pet ownership relentlessly grows in popularity across economic booms and busts. The business of dog walking mostly is populated by small shops or individual entrepreneurs, and advertising for clients can be as simple as putting out a few dozen posters in strategic locations.
- 21. Technical support is an excellent freelance opportunity for technically inclined individuals who are as familiar with network cables and the innards of personal computers as with the backs of their own hands. A surprising number of small businesses struggle along with virtually no in-house expertise to deal with hardware problems and software glitches. Signing support contracts with local small businesses could bring in a steady monthly income with the possibility of lucrative side jobs like building websites or installing upgraded networks and software-support infrastructures.
Experienced freelance support technicians may charge $60 per hour and up, and discounted package deals are common. The biggest selling points for most prospective clients are reliability, obvious competence at the job and a patient manner with hard-pressed business owners. A good working relationship with a reasonable client is worth its weight in copper-stranded connection cables.
- 22. Couriers and messengers shuttle between disparate locations with such items as sensitive or time-critical documents and medical samples destined for quick laboratory testing. Reliable motorized transportation usually is a must, but freelance couriers in congested urban environments like New York City may rely instead on bicycles or even fast walking. Some in-house messengers never leave sprawling company premises during the course of their duties.
A trustworthy appearance and reasonable physical fitness are more or less the basic qualifications for this job. At a median pay rate of $13.12, the job isn’t a bad choice for friendly folks who enjoy dashing about without too much thought on the deep meaning of it all.
- 23. Tutoring adults who need assistance with industry certifications required for their jobs or high-school students who have trouble with some classes can be a rewarding side enterprise for patient individuals who understand not just the topic at hand but how to courteously reach another mind with the essence of that topic. Depending on the complexity of the topic, a good tutor can earn between $20–40 per hour although discounted package deals are common.
Naturally, deep familiarity with the topics of interest is a must, and having a college degree looks much better on a resume than merely a high-school diploma. Still, an uncommon ability to teach outweighs official credentials for many clients, so don’t let a lack of formal education stop you from helping other people learn.
- 24. Bookkeeping could be a terrific sideline for an individual who loves working with numbers and who is familiar with the bookkeeping requirements of small businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs. Completing the certified bookkeeper program at the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers adds luster to your professional resume, but it’s not mandatory.
A freelance bookkeeper likely will benefit from informal alliances with local certified public accountants, who are always on the lookout for conscientious, careful bookkeepers for their clients. As with any line of work associated with personal or business finances, a professional liability insurance policy is a must.
- 25. Personal organizational consultants bounce into the homes and home-based offices of total strangers and saucily suggest how to place this or that bit of furniture and how to arrange the contents of various closets. They may also suggest dumping a load of what they call unneeded junk. On top of that, they have the nerve to charge for this nosey-parker behavior. Surprisingly, such services actually are quite popular with many clients who feel overwhelmed by the clutter that seems to relentlessly accumulate around their busy lives.
An experienced organizational consultant might charge clients anywhere from $30–60 per hour for a one- to four-hour visit, depending on the extent of the mess and the desired outcome. Some consultants extend their services to suggesting software packages and other outside services to further cope with a daily torrent of details.
- 26. Musical instruction is a classic favorite for musicians looking for a few extra dollars. If you strum a guitar with aplomb or tickle the ivories of a piano with dexterity or handle any other popular musical instrument with reasonable facility, then you’re in the market. If you also have a gift for teaching other people how to play that instrument, then you’re golden.
Many parents will be happy to pay you $20 per hour and up to teach their children how to stop producing horrible sounds and to start soothing the ears of listeners. Also, it’s expected that musicians will be a little odd, but dressing nicely and speaking well will attract more word-of-mouth referrals.
Retail, Hospitality, Warehouse and Other Jobs
A conventional part-time job frequently is the most comfortable approach. You won’t have to tangle with business taxes or marketing, and the hours are typically more predictable. If your moonlighting gig is located close to your regular workplace, then it’s all the better for minimizing your daily commute.
- 27. Retail clerks smile at customers, ring up purchases and wrap up or bag purchases for carrying away. It’s not at all like being in the military or flying jumbo passenger jets. It’s a peaceful enough job if you discount the occasional screaming child who wants that candy bar right now or the jerk who thinks you’re an unfeeling robot. At a median pay rate of $10.60 per hour, most retail clerking positions won’t make you rich, but neither will they involve angry bees or runaway Mack trucks.
If you can snag a position at a superior workplace like the famed Wegmans supermarket chain in the northeastern United States or The Container Store, then you’re in gravy.
- 28. Bartending appeals to outgoing folks who like to meet many different people. The hours can be quite flexible at bars that have enough personnel depth, which works well for college students, parents with young children and others who must juggle conflicting demands on their time.
The low median pay rate of $9.39 per hour is offset by a high potential for substantial tips, especially for a sympathetic individual who doesn’t mind lending an ear to depressed or lonely patrons who just want someone to listen to their problems. As a bonus, the unusually personal nature of these casual contacts means being comfortable with passing out business cards and quietly listening for more lucrative job opportunities.
- 29. Construction offers many opportunities for semiskilled or skilled individuals to supplement their income by temporarily hiring on with general contractors who are flooded with work. The unusually variable nature of the construction industry makes it rife with part-time and temporary full-time work for experienced carpenters, general laborers and other workers who understand that construction managers greatly value punctuality and attention to detail.
Unsurprisingly, construction managers, experienced crane operators and other specialists are in demand and can draw high pay rates for their services.
- 30. Chalkboard artist is a real thing at Trader Joe’s, which entertains its devoted fans with colorful, hand-drawn works of art masquerading as promotional signs. The job officially is listed as nothing more than an ordinary crew position, but everyone at the store knows better. Without those signs, Trader Joe’s would be just another nice but somewhat boring store with lots of great foodstuffs.
If you have magic fingers, then this would be a great way to display your artistic talents while earning money. As a bonus, Trader Joe’s is well known for treating its part-time crew members right with an industry-beating pay rate of $13.38 per hour.
- 31. Warehouses for retail chains like Toys R Us and Target typically hire hundreds or thousands of temporary part-time workers during the Christmas season, and the pay for low-level manual labor can be surprisingly good. You can watch Craig’s List and local job boards for these positions, or you can take your chances with a temporary-employment agency such as Kelly Services, Manpower or Adecco.
The physical requirements are fairly strenuous, and it’s worth noting that Amazon, the Internet retail giant, is notorious for asking the company’s hires to sign an agreement to not work for any remotely competitive retail business for eighteen months after leaving Amazon.
- 32. Forklift operators earn a little more than most warehouse jockeys at an average wage of $12.89 per hour. Employers may provide on-the-job training, or a job-seeker might choose to pay $100–200 for a local hands-on training program. Some community colleges offer low-cost, OSHA-compliant forklift training along with their other vocational courses. As with most part-time warehouse positions, employer demand is greatest around the Christmas season.
- 33. Burger flipping isn’t a bad alternative if all else fails. Minimum-wage kitchen positions at giant restaurant chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King may not race your motor, but little can go wrong with these streamlined marvels of efficiency. Limited part-time work on a flexible schedule is unlikely to slowly drain away your sanity, and employees do get a limited discount on their own meals.
No matter what second job ideas you take on, give yourself time to become accustomed to their natural flow. It’s easy to stumble over the unexpected aspects of any endeavor. Especially in outdoor or industrial jobs, accidents can happen with unfamiliar tools and procedures. Your health and safety come first.
1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Masonry Workers, December 17, 2015
2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers, March 30, 2016
3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Brickmasons and Blockmasons, March 30, 2016
4. Nicole Fallon, Etsy Changes Handmade Seller Rules, October 1, 2013
5. Erin DeJesus, The Next Generation of Culinary Stars Is Already on YouTube, March 10, 2015
6. Michael Grothaus, Meet The Father-Son Team Making $1.3 Million On YouTube, May 4, 2015
7. Lena de Casparis, 8 YouTube Stars Who Are Taking Over the World, October 15, 2014
8. Trey Parker, Felix Kjellberg (a.k.a. PewDiePie), April 21, 2016
9. Spencer Woodman, Exclusive: Amazon makes even temporary warehouse workers sign 18-month non-competes, March 26, 2015
10. The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, 5 Ways to Succeed as a Freelance Bookkeeper, Volume 1: Issue 23
11. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical Transcriptionists, December 17, 2015
12. Aaron Taube, Why The Container Store Pays Its Retail Employees $50,000 A Year, October 16, 2014
13. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Graphic Designers, December 17, 2015
14. Hugo Martin, Uber and Lyft continue to gain popularity with business travelers, April 23, 2016