My first job did not pay well.
I earned a couple of quarters above minimum wage as a part-time usher at a small movie house, selling tickets, dispensing popcorn, and cleaning the theaters and bathrooms – typical entry-level-job stuff. I worked perhaps 25 hours per week during the summer and 10 or 15 hours per week during the school year, about as much as I could handle with school and extracurriculars.
Then, the theater came under new management. The new boss cut my pay to minimum wage and trimmed my schedule to one four-hour shift per week. Many non-supervisory employees got similar treatment. Most left within weeks. I joined the exodus.
Happily, the supermarket across the street was hiring cashiers like there was no tomorrow; I walked in to apply one day after my movie theater shift and walked out with a job offer. The pay was better – $2 above minimum wage, with scheduled raises every six months and time and a half on holidays. The store manager was nicer and made a point of chatting with cashiers and department grunts daily. And the schedule was flexible; I could work almost 40 hours per week when I wanted.
Although I eventually moved on from the supermarket, I still think fondly of my time there. It taught me that not all part-time jobs are thankless, tedious affairs made worse by pitiful pay. Subsequent workplace experiences solidified this conviction; I now know what it’s like to take a job you love for less money, for instance. And I’ve discovered plenty of part-time jobs – some of which require no specialized educational credentials and little relevant experience – that pay far better than my supermarket gig did.
Top Part-Time Jobs That Pay Well
These are among the top part-time jobs that offer decent hourly pay. Not included are gig economy opportunities through app-based service providers like DoorDash, Postmates, and Instacart – opportunities that may offer competitive pay, though usually without the legal protections of employment.
Unless otherwise noted, wage and job growth data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook.
1. Real Estate Agent
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent required; post-secondary coursework or a two-year degree is preferable
- Training Requirements: Some brokerages run new agents through formal training programs; others pair new agents with experienced ones
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $24.18
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): 32,400 new positions (7% job growth)
If you have a high school diploma, a big personality, and a relentless work ethic, there’s a good chance you can make it as a real estate agent.
Real estate agents don’t need real estate broker licenses, which typically take one to three years to obtain. State-issued agent licenses are easier and quicker to get, though requirements vary by jurisdiction. Before you take your state test, you can prepare with a pre-license test from 360training.com.
Bear in mind that only real estate brokers may own and operate real estate brokerages and hire real estate agents – in other words, operate and grow a real estate sales business. Even after becoming licensed, agents must work under licensed brokers who may, in turn, operate out of franchised brokerages such as Re/Max or Coldwell Banker. Top-performing brokerages may prefer to hire candidates with some post-secondary real estate or business coursework; some prefer candidates with two-year degrees.
Brokerages typically take a cut of agents’ commissions, so earning potential is lower for agents. But take-home pay also depends on property prices and sales volumes. Many agents sell houses as a side gig, lowering their annual earnings, but most brokerages are happy to oblige, which is why this gig makes the list.
2. Fitness Instructor
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent required; post-secondary coursework or associate degree in relevant fields (such as exercise science or kinesiology) may improve job prospects
- Training Requirements: On-the-job training usually involves pairing with more-experienced trainers; instructor certifications (such as yoga certification through the Yoga Alliance) may improve marketability and lead to higher pay
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $19.15
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): 45,700 new positions (13% job growth)
Fitness instructors typically work out of private or public recreation centers, private gyms and health clubs, and practice-specific facilities, such as yoga and spin cycle studios. Some focus exclusively on one-on-one or small group training; others lead larger groups.
Direct-employed fitness instructors usually have the option – and may be required – to work part-time, depending on class schedules and client volumes. Many fitness instructors string together multiple employment or contract arrangements to replicate full-time-equivalent work – leading an early-morning yoga class at one gym, then heading to another facility for a mid-morning Pilates session, for instance.
Some instructors supplement or replace traditional in-person training with remote instruction built around dedicated YouTube channels and anchored by distinct personal branding. Selling subscriptions to your personal fitness training channel is a great passive income opportunity.
3. Dental Hygienist
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: Three-year associate degree required
- Training Requirements: All states license dental hygienists; requirements vary but typically include a licensing exam and continuing education
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $35.97
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): 23,700 new positions (11% job growth)
If you’re a regular at the dentist, you’re already familiar with dental hygienists’ duties. They include:
- Using specialized tools to clean teeth, which requires good hand-eye coordination
- Preparing patients for dental X-rays and operating X-ray equipment
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Communicating with dentists as needed
Many hygienists work part-time by choice, balancing family obligations or other income streams with the dentist’s chair. If you’re not planning to work full-time as a hygienist, it’s fair to wonder whether the three-year associate degree is worth the expense and time commitment, but the high hourly earning rate may prove irresistible. Plus, hygienists work in predictable office environments during regular business hours – an appealing prospect for busy professionals.
4. Makeup Artist
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: Self-employed artists may need no formal credentials, but post-secondary certification (vocational school or community college) may boost employment prospects
- Training Requirements: New artists may train under more-experienced artists on the job; certificate programs generally provide extensive practical training
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $30.89
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): 300 new positions (7% job growth)
Despite the low number of available positions, the commercial makeup artistry is growing rapidly. It’s a great way to gain exposure to the performing arts or media industry without enduring years of education or training. To boost your job prospects, consider specializing in a specific makeup discipline, such as hair or prosthetics.
Not all makeup artist jobs are suitable for part-time work, and you’re unlikely to find a role without early or late hours. For instance, the makeup artists responsible for a local TV news station’s morning broadcasts may only work four to six hours per day, but they might report to work at 4am.
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent plus additional coursework or college degree in tutored subjects required
- Training Requirements: Self-employed tutors may not need formal training; some tutoring companies have internal on-the-job training programs
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $11.22, assuming a median annual salary of $23,345 (per Glassdoor)
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): Not indicated
Tutoring is an extremely flexible job that’s ideal for subject matter experts seeking part-time or seasonal work. It’s a popular off-season pursuit for full-time teachers; I’m friends with a math teacher who spends most of his summer break as a math tutor, pulling down a pretty impressive side income in the process.
You don’t have to be a licensed teacher to find success as a tutor, though. All you need is some sort of credential – ideally, a two- or four-year degree – in your chosen subject and plenty of patience. Lots of tutors are self-employed, but you’ll have an easier time finding clients – and encounter fewer client issues, such as nonpayment – when you work through a reputable company such as EF Education First or VIPKid.
6. School Bus Driver
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent required
- Training Requirements: Variable on-the-job training required, usually one to three months; drivers must obtain and maintain commercial drivers’ licenses with passenger and school bus endorsements but can generally do so after hire
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $16.56
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): 32,800 new positions (5% job growth)
Growing up, you probably had a favorite school bus driver. I remember mine, a jovial older guy with jokes and stories galore. He seemed impossibly old at the time, but I’m pretty sure he was a recent retiree trying to stave off boredom.
If you’re willing to sit for your state’s commercial driver’s license exam – which is significantly more involved than a standard driver’s license exam – and endure a couple of months of on-the-job training to learn routes and safety requirements, you too can become some kid’s favorite school bus driver.
Depending on class schedules, passenger volumes, and personal preference, school bus drivers generally work early mornings and mid- to late afternoons. There’s a great deal of part-time potential here, though scheduling may be strict and drivers may be subject to minimum hours-worked requirements. Compared with other jobs that don’t require extensive prerequisites, the hourly pay is pretty good, and many drivers belong to labor unions.
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: Post-secondary certificate required, typically 6 to 12 months’ coursework at an accredited community college or technical school
- Training Requirements: Variable on-the-job training combining practical work with skill and safety instruction; some states require formal certification by organizations such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $16.58
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): 29,500 new positions (23% job growth)
Phlebotomists collect and manage blood samples. Most work in clinical settings, such as hospitals and outpatient medical facilities, but some work on contract with nonprofit organizations such as the American Red Cross. In addition to drawing blood, phlebotomists are responsible for labeling, storing, and entering data for blood samples.
Phlebotomy isn’t a job for the squeamish. Strong nerves, sound hand-eye coordination, healthy reserves of compassion, and attention to detail are all essential to success in this field. If you’ve got those basics down, you’ll find plenty of part-time or occasional work in phlebotomy at outpatient clinics and blood drives, respectively.
8. Childcare Worker
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent required for many positions; post-secondary work or degree may be necessary for advancement
- Training Requirements: Variable on-the-job training; larger employers may have formal training programs that take days or weeks to complete; some states require formal credentialing, usually the Child Development Associate Credential
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $11.17
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): 27,200 new positions (2% job growth)
Childcare workers work in a variety of settings: at pre-K schools, multi-location childcare franchises, independently operated day care facilities, and private homes. Although supervisory and specialty positions generally require some post-secondary education, it’s easy for high school graduates to find entry-level work in this field.
It’s also easy to find part-time work in childcare, whether that means a morning shift at a licensed day care facility or two days per week in a private home that you find through Sittercity. Bear in mind that larger day care facilities may pay less than private families; your income needs and expectations may dictate the type of work you seek.
9. Massage Therapist
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: Post-secondary award from an accredited massage therapy program required for most positions
- Training Requirements: Most states require state-issued certification or licensing, which involves sitting for an exam
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $19.92
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): 35,400 new positions (22% job growth)
Massage therapy isn’t the laid-back profession you might assume it to be. Many massage therapists work alongside physical and occupational therapists, helping seriously injured or impaired patients cope with severe pain or impaired physical function. Even massage therapists working at resorts or day spas, where patients are more likely to be physically healthy, must be patient, attentive to detail, and wholly focused on the task at hand.
Massage therapists typically work in half-hour or hour-long blocks, which makes for flexible scheduling. If you only want to work three or four hours per day as a massage therapist, you should have little trouble finding a home for your services.
The downside is that massage therapists often work as independent contractors, losing out on some of the protections of traditional employment, such as OSHA health and safety regulations and protections against certain types of discrimination, including age discrimination.
10. Income Tax Preparer
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent required; post-secondary coursework in finance and related fields may improve job prospects
- Training Requirements: Variable on-the-job training required, usually under the supervision of more-experienced staff
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $18.93, assuming a median annual salary of $39,390
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): 4,800 (6% job growth)
Income tax preparation is highly seasonal work. Beyond the specific skills needed to prepare and review clients’ income tax returns accurately, such as familiarity with tax preparation software and basic math, it’s not particularly skilled work. Income tax preparers are not certified public accountants (CPAs) or enrolled agents (EAs), both of which require exhaustive study.
Tax preparers’ peak season runs from late January through mid-April. During this period, tax preparation companies need as much help as they can get. If you’re looking for full-time work, it’s yours, but if you’d prefer to work a few hours after you get out of your day job, you can probably make that happen too.
Tax preparers must be patient, attentive to detail, and tolerant of repetition. Those working face to face with taxpayers need strong communication skills too. You must also be prepared to find work elsewhere during the nine or 10 months that your skills aren’t in demand.
11. Web Developer
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: Self-employed developers need no formal education credentials; most employers require an associate or bachelor’s degree
- Training Requirements: Variable on-the-job training requirements; programming language certifications may improve job prospects
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $33.38
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): 20,900 new positions (13% job growth)
Nearly 20% of Web developers are self-employed. They find their own clients, set their own hours, and otherwise march to the beat of their own drummers. If they want to work part-time, they are free to do so.
A close friend of mine spends a few hours each week, usually in the evenings or on weekends, on freelance Web development projects referred to him by mutual acquaintances. I don’t know exactly how much he makes on Web development, but it’s significant; when he went back to school full-time, he was able to support himself without really upping his development workload.
Web development is also surprisingly easy to break into. Many developers are self-taught, though if you’re looking to work for a reputable company, you’ll likely need an associate degree in computer science or graphic design. You’ll also need to pass pre-hire development tests, which can be rigorous. But if part-time work is your thing, it may be best to put together a portfolio of your best work, hang out a shingle, and let your results speak for themselves.
12. Graphic Designer
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: Employers generally require a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, but self-employed designers may not need post-secondary credentials
- Training Requirements: Certification in specific disciplines, software, and programming languages might help job prospects; otherwise, training generally occurs on the job
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $24.21
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): 8,800 new positions (3% job growth)
Graphic design is another field popular with freelancers and solopreneurs. Those seeking full-time employment with blue-chip ad agencies and marketing firms generally need bachelor’s degrees to get noticed, but talented designers may get by on the strength of their work product alone.
Plenty of graphic designers work as glorified hobbyists who happen to attract paying clients; my Web developer friend moonlights as a graphic designer – the fields are complementary in some respects – and seems to do well. If you’re just starting out, create a profile on freelance work platforms such as Upwork, which are far more visible than a personal website.
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: No formal education required
- Training Requirements: Variable on-the-job training, usually not more than a week
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $10.45
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): 775,300 new positions (14% job growth) for all food and beverage serving and related workers, of which caterers are a subset
Caterers belong to the broad and amorphous category of “food and beverage serving and related workers,” which the BLS defines as pretty much any food service occupation other than servers.
Most food service jobs are amenable to part-time work, but catering is especially apt. While professional caterers might work enough to qualify as full-time employees, less-seasoned caterers might pick up a gig every week or month to supplement income earned elsewhere – often in other food service occupations – or while studying full-time. At upscale venues and posh private residences in major metro areas, caterers may earn substantially more than the median hourly rate – perhaps $15 or $20 per hour before tips.
14. Local Delivery Driver
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent
- Training Requirements: Variable on-the-job training, usually less than one month; some positions may require a commercial driver’s license
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $14.66
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): 30,100 new positions (2% job growth)
The flip side of the online retail boom is healthy growth in local delivery driver positions. Local delivery drivers, which the BLS defines as “delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers,” typically drive commercial trucks or vans within circumscribed local delivery areas, which may range in size from many rural counties to a few square miles of an urban core.
Local delivery hours and pay vary by specialty. When I worked in the restaurant business, I crossed paths with produce and meat delivery drivers whose days began well before dawn and ended by mid-morning; these days, I’m more likely to wave to the UPS woman delivering packages during regular business hours. Generally, parcel delivery is seasonal, spiking around the holidays, while wholesale delivery and other subsets remain busy year-round.
15. Restaurant Server
- Degree or Certificate Requirements: Some employers require no formal education; upscale restaurants may demand a high school degree or post-secondary certification
- Training Requirements: Variable on-the-job training, ranging from a few days for downscale restaurants to several weeks for upscale restaurants
- Median Hourly Pay (2018): $10.47
- Growth Outlook (2018 – 2028): 170,200 new positions (6% job growth)
Restaurant service – waitering and waitressing – is the granddaddy of all part-time jobs. According to the BLS, more than 2.6 million restaurant servers work in the United States, with about 170,000 predicted to join their ranks through 2028. Automation may eventually curb or reverse food service job growth, but the work is there for the taking until that time.
Not all restaurant service jobs are created equal, however. Fast-casual service workers earn little more than minimum wage and may not be eligible for tips; full-time veteran servers at Michelin-starred – or aspiring Michelin-starred – restaurants may earn close to six figures after tips. But whatever the type of establishment, it’s not difficult to find part-time restaurant service work with little training required.
If none of these jobs call your name, don’t despair. Many occupations not on this list are amenable to part-time work, and many employers happily oblige full-time employees looking to downshift to part-time work for family or health reasons.
This flexibility isn’t limited to low-skill or modestly compensated occupations, either. Most of the physicians at my wife’s clinic work less than full-time. Keep that in mind as you ponder going back to school or changing careers; if your employer is willing to be flexible, you might not have to quit your job entirely before you’re ready to make the leap.
What’s the best part-time job you’ve ever had?