If working on your own terms appeals to you, here are six varieties of part-time work to consider.
1. Self-employment and consulting work
Tap your expertise and skill set to launch a part-time gig as a consultant. These are typically short-term projects. The trick to landing assignments is leveraging your professional network. Past employers are a good first stop to test the waters. Contact former colleagues and clients for help in identifying opportunities. For leads, you might get involved with an association in your industry, an alumni group, a local Rotary Club or a regional small-business association. You might also want to use websites such as PatinaSolutions.com, for those with at least 25 years of experience, or HourlyNerd.com, for those with MBAs or graduate degrees.
2. Seasonal jobs
Plenty of jobs run the course of a season, such as fall,winter, or summer, and can help you pay bills and keep busy. If you like to drive, for instance, limo services provide work year-round, but their dance cards fill up during prom and wedding season, from April to June.
Tax preparers are in hot demand during the first part of the year. Large tax firms, including H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt, hire thousands of tax preparers each year to come on board from January until May 1. You usually need to take the firm’s income-tax course in the fall to prepare. To fly solo, become an enrolled agent with the Internal Revenue Service. You can gain experience through AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, where volunteers help lower-income seniors do their taxes. AARP trains all volunteers.
Substitute teaching, working as an adjunct professor or doing private tutoring during the school year is another seasonal possibility. If you like the great outdoors, each year the National Park Service, as well as state and local parks, hires temporary and seasonal employees. There are also guest service and hospitality jobs at park stores and restaurants; they’re available through Aramark, a national firm that’s authorized by the National Park Service to provide facility and concession management.
The holiday season, too, is a great time to land a temporary job. Retailers have a seasonal demand not only for sales clerks but also for customer service helpers, cashiers, stockroom clerks and security guards. You may also find restaurant employment, as a greeter, server, bartender or barista. Package-delivery firms such as UPS and FedEx are inundated with a surge in demand and hire accordingly.
3. Home-based jobs
If you’ve set your sights on a work-from-home job, go straight to a company you’d like to work for and see whether it hires remote workers. You can also use websites such as Upwork.com, which features online positions; Freelancer.com, for project-based work; and VirtualVocations.com, for telecommuting jobs. For those with fluency in two languages, there are a growing number of opportunities for translators and interpreters. To work for certain employers, you need to know specialized vocabulary, such as legal or medical terms.
Graphic designers can find plenty of assignments designing websites, logos, letterhead, business cards, restaurant menus, marketing brochures and much more. If you have a flair for the written word and a clear grasp of spelling, grammar, punctuation and usage, you can find a wide range of writing and editing jobs. Reach out to local associations and organizations, nonprofits, community newsletters and other regional publications. Ask if they need an extra hand on an assignment basis for online and print articles, brochures and press releases.
You might be able to build a business that runs on your own time clock by tapping into your natural talents as a crafter — by, say, making jewelry, sewing pillows and quilts, or creating other one-of-a-kind items. You could sell your creations on a website like Etsy, a marketplace for handmade items.
4. Contract or temporary work assignments
Accountant is the part-time job most requested by clients of FlexProfessionals — a staffing firm based in Washington, D.C., and Boston — says cofounder Gwenn Rosener. A degree in accounting or business is helpful but not required. The most common certification is certified public accountant (CPA). Duties include preparing financial reports, processing payroll checks, invoicing and tracking down delinquent accounts.
Some firms will ask you to monitor checking and savings accounts and track credit card bills, too. If you have the qualifications, you may be in charge of helping to prepare annual tax returns. Many of these positions are virtual, but some are on-site, as well. Employers run the gamut from start-ups and small businesses to churches and local nonprofits. Other popular short-term jobs include administrative assistant, attorney, bookkeeper, marketing communications specialist, project manager, receptionist and sales rep.
5. Hourly assignments
If you sign on to be a personal assistant, you may be asked to handle a variety of tasks: organize bills, papers and appointment calendars; accompany someone to doctor appointments; pay bills; handle laundry duties; run errands; cart around children; walk the dog; track and file medical bills and insurance payments; make meals; shop for groceries. The list of to-dos will depend on your client’s needs.
In essence, you’re a one-stop shop. Advertise your services in community newspapers, on neighborhood listservs, on bulletin boards in apartment buildings, in retirement or adult community residences, and in local grocery stores. Another hourly position gaining traction is Uber or Lyft driver. The beauty of it is, you can turn the app on only when you want to work. Tour-guide, ticket-taking, program-selling and cashier positions are also usually available.
If you’re good with animals, you could try pet sitting or dog walking. The level of activity depends on your charge. Summer vacations, spring breaks and holidays are peak demand times. This tends to be a word-of-mouth service, but advertising your services at a local pet store can help attract clients.
6. Direct Sales
Selling for a direct-sales firm like Avon, Cutco or Mary Kay can be profitable, and there are plenty of opportunities to do so. You can market the goods straight from your home office — all you need are a computer, internet access and a telephone. But there are generally some start-up costs (for a “starter” kit of training materials and products). Legitimate direct-sales companies allow you to “sell back” unsold products that are in good condition if you decide this type of work isn’t for you. You set your work schedule, so that’s a plus. You’ll usually sell a company’s products through home or office parties and online sales.
Earnings are typically commission-based. Contact the Direct Selling Association for information on specific direct-sales companies, and do your due diligence. Visit business.ftc.gov for guidance. Many of these companies have been scrutinized for illegal practices or pyramid schemes. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce,Better Business Bureau or state attorney general’s office to see if there have been complaints about a company in the past.
Whatever kind of part-time work you pursue, one benefit is that you’ll be working outside the typical 9-to-5, so you’ll have plenty of time for other interests, too.
by Kerry Hannon
Kerry Hannon is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her latest book is Getting the Job You Want After 50 for Dummies. She has also written Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness and Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy…and Pays the Bills. Find more from Kerry at Kerryhannon.com.