30 Great Side Jobs

By Thursday Bram on 9 January 2013 (Updated 29 November 2013) 6 comments
Photo: familymwr

There are thousands of side jobs out there these days, but they aren’t necessarily created equal. Some are better than others, especially in terms of how much work you have to do compared to how much money you earn. These are a sample of the better side jobs you may be interested in. (See also: 12 Side Jobs for Stay-at-Home Moms and Dads)

1. Tutoring

If you know a particular subject well, you can find many opportunities to tutor, both through employers and on your own. The best-paid tutors often specialize in helping with test preparation, particularly for graduate and professional exams.

2. Medical Testing

While there can be some serious side effects that can go along with being a medical test subject, there can also be some decent money. Do your research before agreeing to a particular trial and make sure that it won’t interfere with your other obligations before signing the paperwork.

3. Pet Sitting

Not all pet owners prefer to put their pets in a kennel when they travel — some prefer that their pets get to stay home. Some pet owners even need someone to handle pet sitting duties (like walking the dog) when they’re home. If you’re fond of furry friends, such a side job could be a good fit.

4. Landscaping

Mowing lawns and handling other landscaping tasks is hard work, but if you just do it for a few people on the side, it can be a manageable workload. For anyone willing to do gardening, landscape design, or other specialized work, there’s more money available.

5. Teaching

For anyone with a skill or an area of expertise, teaching can be a decent option. Don’t just look at colleges for adjunct positions, though. Many different types of organizations will bring in a teacher to offer a specific class.

6. Bartending

Food service jobs in general are often suggested for side jobs, but bartending jobs are the cream of the crop. There are usually better tips, at the very least.

7. Catering

You don’t have to start a catering company of your own to land a side job with one. Many catering companies rely on part-time and seasonal help to staff events as needed. From waiting tables to cooking the food, caterers need lots of help.

8. Party Planning

If you’ve got the knack for putting on a great event, you may do well as a party planner. You can plan parties on your own, as well as check into companies that are hiring part-time help.

9. Photography

While it can take a while to build up a successful photography practice, especially if you want to get into a competitive field like wedding photography, many photographers bring in assistants to help with specific shoots on a routine basis. You can work your way up to establishing yourself on your own and earn some money along the way.

10. Virtual Assisting

For those of you with a background in business administration, you can offer your skills up to small businesses that need help. If you can do it online — and there are few business tasks you can’t do online these days — someone will pay you to do it.

11. Performing

It’s tough to make a living as a musician, but there can be some surprisingly lucrative gigs, particularly if you aren’t trying to put your own music out there. There are plenty of events where the organizer wants live music, and if you can perform their favorite pieces, you can get paid.

12. Consulting

For professionals who have been in the game for a while, consulting on your area of expertise with different companies can be a great source of income. If you are currently working in the same field, though, double check to make sure that moonlighting doesn’t violate your contract.

13. Advertising

There are all sorts of opportunities to make money, provided you don’t mind being associated with the company doing the advertising. Some companies will pay people to put ads on their cars or wear specific T-shirts, while others are looking for sign spinners. As long as you’re comfortable with the product, it can be a good opportunity.

14. House Sitting

You have to be absolutely trusted by anyone who will hand over the keys to their house and head to the airport. House sitting can be a good opportunity, although there aren’t always big dollar signs attached to the job, but there are often other perks.

15. Transcribing

Despite what those ads for medical transcriptionists claim, there is skill required to become a transcriptionist. But it’s a side job that you can train for in your spare time and, once you’re up to speed, there are a lot of opportunities out there, especially if you specialize in medical or legal transcription.

16. Altering or Tailoring Clothes

There used to be plenty of places where you could get clothes altered to fit better. There’s still a serious demand for such skills, especially during a time when people want to get as much wear out of their clothing as they can.

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17. Providing Customer Service

Many companies rely on part-time customer service reps to handle phone calls, either from a call center or from their own homes. It may not be the most fun side job, but the work is steady.

18. Selling Cosmetics (or Other Products)

Selling Avon make up has been a way to make money on the side for years, and there are plenty of other companies that use the same methods to move their products. Serious salespeople can make a lot of money by selling these products, though it’s not a good fit for everyone.

19. Caring for Children

From babysitting up to providing daycare, there are plenty of different opportunities out there for offering child care.

20. Freelancing

For a lot of creative professionals, freelancing is a logical way to make money on the side. There are many different types of freelancers, from writers to graphic designers to social media specialists.

21. Guiding Tours

Even if you don’t live in a place known as a tourist destination, there are lots of opportunities to lead tours, especially if you’re willing to do the research to put them together yourself. Think about variations, like ghost tours or tasting tours, to expand your opportunities.

22. Providing Beauty Services

There are lots of part-time jobs in the beauty industry, especially if you have a knack for making other people look good. Just in hair care, different people can handle cutting, dying, braiding and more. In some places, some or all beauty-related jobs require licenses, so do your homework.

23. Delivering Items

Many different types of companies need delivery drivers, from pizza to furniture. It’s just a question of finding a job that fits into your schedule.

24. Cleaning

While typical cleaning gigs don’t pay as much as one might like, many specialized types of cleaning can pay much more. Using organic cleaners, tackling pet stains, or washing curtains — it’s just a question of finding a niche.

25. Repairing Furniture

If you have the skills to restore a piece of broken furniture to its former glory, there are plenty of people who will pay you to do it. Some will even pay you to build custom original furniture, if that’s more your thing.

26. Computer Troubleshooting

Technical skills are in great demand, especially among people who need occasional help with problems that seem too trivial to take to the store. If you’re willing to provide some basic IT support, you can wind up with a lot of customers.

27. Personal Shopping

There are plenty of people who will happily pay someone to shop for them, both for everyday purchases like groceries, and for bigger things.

28. Crafting

The rising demand for handmade items has made it easy to make money from a variety of skills. You can sell everything from scrapbooking skills to scarves — and there are even some companies that will now hire you directly so they can sell your work.

29. Cooking

There are a variety of cooking jobs these days that don’t require you to ever set foot inside a restaurant. You can work as a personal chef, cooking up a week’s worth of meals and delivering them to a customer, for instance.

30. Providing Handyman Help

Everyone needs a little help around the house sometimes, if only for those jobs that take two people. If you’ve got the skills to take care of a building, you can find a lot of work.

Have you ever held a side job? What was it?

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Guest's picture
Diane

I absolutely LOVE this list Thursday! The right amount of information to get the imagination going.

For guided tours also think of history or architecture. A friend of ours does a guided tour on women history in our city and it is incredible what you will learn. Plus she was shocked at how quickly it sold out and had to partner with the local trolley service.

Quick question: have you heard of any mystery shopping companies that are legitimate and do not requires the shopper to pay a fee? Or do all MS require shoppers to pay a monthly fee?

Guest's picture
Guest

For God's sake, please quit telling people to get into transcribing, particularly medical transcription. I have been an MT for 25 years and haven't had a raise in 5 years. Many people in my field have lost their jobs because the work is being outsourced and off shored either to companies overseas, or the work is being done via voice recognition. Yes, you can get an editing position, but the pay is horrible. I have four friends who were working for a transcription company, their client decided to offshore, and they are unemployed now. Another company called Heartland closed up shop and moved all their transcription to India. There are highly skilled, reliable, efficient, and trained workers in this field who cannot find jobs, so please do not suggest that some hack who gets a degree in 6 weeks can make any money at this!

Guest's picture
Guest

I'll second that. I took one of those online courses; I thought medical transcription would be a good choice because I already had medical training (I was an RN for several years) and could type really fast. It turned out that wasn't nearly enough; when I finished I discovered the only jobs available were for people with actual work experience - no experience=no job. A Catch-22 maybe, but there was no getting around it. And that was several years ago, when the outsourcing was just starting. Now - there's no way I'd encourage anyone to do that. Any courses out there, regardless of how good they are, are just a big waste of time and money.

Guest's picture

Wow, what a great list of side jobs. It's not hard to find one if you really look, I think the challenge comes in getting some to want to find one. It is great to be able to supplement your income.

Guest's picture

Hi Thursday,

I would like to thank you for compiling this great list of jobs which I believe can be great sources of income for anybody looking for extra income in these days of turmoil economic situations. Personally, I would love to do quite a few of these jobs to supplement my income, or even make a living in difficult economic circumstances. Thanks a lot for writing this great article :).

Guest's picture
Andy

This is a great list of side job ideas. I would, however, urge anybody who is thinking about a side job or earning secondary income over and above their day job to think about whether it impinges on their day job and to make sure it doesn't ....