Taking on temporary workers can save a fast-growing small business from overstaffing while testing out future employees, says Gwenn Rosener, a founder of Flexforce Professionals, a recruiting and staffing company in the Washington, D.C., area.
See also: 5 great jobs you can do from home.
The work can be an attractive option if you’re retired and need extra money. If you’re employed and looking to switch careers or land a new position, contract work allows you to try out a job and keep your résumé alive at the same time.
Firms like Flexforce place college-educated workers with 10-plus years of professional experience who are willing to work between 10 and 30 hours a week and want flexible work schedules.
If that schedule appeals to you, here are five small-business jobs you might consider. Rosener says these jobs “require special knowledge or expertise that the [small business] owners don’t have, nor have the time to learn.”
Pay ranges, which will vary based on factors such as experience and where you live, are primarily derived from U.S. Department of Labor data. For more salary examples, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics’“Occupational Outlook Handbook.”
1. Bookkeeping and accounting
The nitty-gritty: Jump into this one with eyes wide open and a sharp pencil. Owners have usually been doing this job, but then they discover they’re snowed under and need to concentrate on building the business. You’re likely to confront a backlog of bills to be paid, bank accounts to be reconciled and so forth. Chances are, there’s not a proper ledger or accounting system in place either. Typically, bookkeeping or accounting positions start off part time (as little as one or two days a month) and then gradually expand into more of a commitment if the business grows.
Median pay: $16.36 per hour; $25 to $35 per hour for basic bookkeeping skills; CPAs or jobs at the controller/CFO levels are generally paid $45 to $70 per hour.
Qualifications: For accounting work, an accounting degree is usually required. A certified public accountant (CPA) certification is best. Knowing how to use the software package QuickBooks is often a requirement for smaller businesses. The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers offers a bookkeeper certification, as does the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers. Community colleges and universities in your area are good places to look for continuing education offerings.
2. Human resource manager
The nitty-gritty: As a company hires more employees, tasks such as recruiting, benefits administration, payroll and employee relations all become vital to building a top team. Someone who knows employment law and practices, as well recruiting and employee-screening techniques, can save a business time and prevent potential personnel issues.
Median pay: $47.68 per hour. A typical range is $30 to $100 per hour. The higher range is for specialized knowledge in areas such as compensation and technical recruiting.
Qualifications: Many professional associations offer certification programs. Although certification is usually optional, some employers prefer or require it. Check out the Society for Human Resources Management for educational offerings.
3. Office manager
The nitty-gritty: This position is generally at the core of a company. It can easily morph into a full-time post if you’re looking for one. You’re often a bookkeeper, office supply manager and a salesperson. You could find yourself recruiting new employees, handling employment paperwork, scheduling vacations and even running recycling programs.
Median pay: $37.45 per hour. For basic office and administrative management, pay can range between $20 to $30 per hour. For higher-level operations management, $50-plus per hour.
Qualifications: Nothing trumps prior experience in a similar high-paced job. A strong work background that demonstrates managerial chops and ease with juggling a variety of roles is what this position comes down to. The business owner wants to instantly feel that things are being turned over to a capable pro who can keep the trains running on time. The International Facility Management Association offers a competency-based professional certification program for administrative services managers that’s worth exploring.
4. Sales representative
The nitty-gritty: Marketing and sales are the heartbeat of a small business. But as the company expands, it’s tricky. If the owner’s time is spread too thin, he or she has trouble devoting enough time to continually pump up new business and follow up on leads. An energetic and skilled salesperson adept at cold-calling, networking for new clients and keeping existing accounts happy can keep things rolling while the owner focuses on big-picture strategies. This can be grueling work if you’re thin-skinned, especially when it comes to cold calling. So slip on your persuasive shoes and polish up your confidence and composure. It’s meet and greet time.
Median pay: $27.22 per hour base. Many positions are structured with base pay plus commission.
Qualifications: Business owners look for candidates who know their market, have experience in their industry and have established relationships and contacts. Experience with “customer relationship management” software such as Salesforce.com may help. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many people in this occupation have either the certified professional manufacturers representative (CPMR) certification or the certified sales professional (CSP) certification, both offered by the Manufacturers’ Representatives Education Research Foundation. Obtaining these credentials typically involves completing formal technical training and passing an exam.
5. Web strategist
The nitty-gritty: A website is the public face of a firm and a prime marketing tool for most businesses these days. Potential customers want to be able to find a company on the Web and conduct business online – without ever picking up a phone. A savvy small-business operator will want to bring on board an expert who can pinpoint the best ways to leverage the Web and social media to grow the business. That’s where you come in. You may be hired to do one piece of a plan, but many start-ups need someone who can do it all. You may be a techie and create applications like a retail checkout tool or write software code. Your creative side may be called on to design the layout of the website and incorporate audio, graphics and video. The job might entail monitoring website traffic, answering comments, updating content and fixing broken links.
Median pay: $36.37 per hour. The range can be $35 to $80 per hour for Web designers and developers, depending on technical skills. Social media and Web content pros can command $25 to $40 per hour.
Kerry Hannon, AARP’s jobs expert, is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her latest book is Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy…and Pays the Bills.