Jobs that will pay me in vacation time?
September 14, 2009 5:51 PM   Subscribe

What are some jobs/careers/business ventures that would allow me to make a living (~$25k+/year) and only work seasonally, or work on a punctuated schedule, several weeks on/several weeks off?

I am currently gainfully employed in a well paying cubical job with two weeks off a year and weekends... but...

Say I changed to a job/career/small business that would allow me to make an (admittedly scaled back) full time living and only work seasonally, or work on a punctuated schedule, few weeks on, few weeks off (totally off, not on-call or anything). What are some viable options?

I need about $20,000 US dollars a year net (that is, after any hidden costs/expenses as well as taxes). Less is OK if it is commensurate with the cost of living in my new home location.

This must be a serious, legal, somewhat steady job, not overly speculative and not based on exceptional talents, skills or advanced degrees. Capital on hand (for business start-up or education): $50k, but rather not dip into that if possible (see below).

I am willing to move anywhere in the world, provided I can live within a reasonable distance of an ocean (the whole reason for this move would be to spend more time cruising in a sail boat). Bonus points if I can live on the coast (and actually live on my sail boat).

I am willing to do something moderately to very dangerous, provided the income is boosted appropriately.

I am 24, have a college degree (in "liberal arts") and could easily get an MA or technical training in just about any field if needed (and with enough time), but would only do so if it would really pay off. I am OK with (in fact expecting) blue collar grunt work.
posted by DetonatedManiac to Work & Money (33 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
You could work at a golf club as a waiter or a landscape guy. It's grunt work but it's seasonal. I've worked at a golf club and there were a lot of people who worked there over the summer and collected unemployment in the off months, and came back year after year after year. It's also something you could possibly make work around your possible school schedule.
posted by amethysts at 5:55 PM on September 14, 2009

Teaching computer certification classes at a tech college.
posted by Jairus at 5:56 PM on September 14, 2009

Archeology is almost always seasonal, but you'd have to get some unpaid experience first.
posted by oinopaponton at 5:56 PM on September 14, 2009

Working on a whale-watch or other nature tour boat. Crewing some rich person's yacht. Working at a marina.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:58 PM on September 14, 2009

Underwater welder.
posted by fixedgear at 5:58 PM on September 14, 2009

I have a schoolteacher friend who has a sailboat and lives and works within a few miles of his boat in southern California. He seems to love it, though maybe you want more than summers off.
posted by exogenous at 5:58 PM on September 14, 2009

Response by poster: I wouldn't mind being a teacher, I don't know what further education I would need given that my undergrad is so amorphous.

Fixedgear: I like it... I am looking up welding courses nearby as we write... but what makes it periodic? Just you can choose which contracts you take?
posted by DetonatedManiac at 6:10 PM on September 14, 2009

In the Pacific Northwest, the classic decent-to-high-paying seasonal job is commercial fishing in Alaska. While Deadliest Catch-style offshore crab fishing is the most famous/infamous, there are apparently other, lower-key versions (e.g.: closer to the shore). I don't know if you can make your full $20k doing the near-shore versions, though.
posted by mhum at 6:14 PM on September 14, 2009

you might get some ideas from this thread. if nothing strikes your fancy, you might think of something related. good luck!
posted by gursky at 6:22 PM on September 14, 2009

You could try waiting tables in a really touristy area. Another option might be purchasing a boat and offering sail excursions to tourists.
posted by kylej at 6:25 PM on September 14, 2009

I wouldn't mind being a teacher, I don't know what further education I would need given that my undergrad is so amorphous.

To teach tech classes, basically all you need is the tech certification you want to teach, and possibly a 2nd teacher's certification from whatever organization certified the course in the first place.

You have to know what you're talking about, of course, but it would not take a long time to bring a novice up to a level where they could teach the A+ course if they were working full-time towards that goal.
posted by Jairus at 6:26 PM on September 14, 2009

Yesterday I took a shuttle from a small city in Colorado (Estes Park) to the Denver Airport. I didn't really ask what kind of hours/schedule the driver worked, but she mentioned she also trains people for marathons, so I kind of got the impression she makes her own schedule and driving the shuttle was just a way to make extra money. It didn't seem like a bad life, but obviously that kind of thing depends on the location.
posted by darksong at 6:37 PM on September 14, 2009

Work seasonally in Antarctica for Raytheon Polar Services. Oh man, I wish I could do this.
posted by Wordwoman at 6:41 PM on September 14, 2009

What about a live aboard?
You could be scuba dive master or chef or a mechanic and live in the Caribbean.
posted by j at 6:48 PM on September 14, 2009

Response by poster: j : That is the end goal... problem is I don't have those skills yet...
posted by DetonatedManiac at 6:57 PM on September 14, 2009

There's a fair amount of seasonal tax prep work. Requires continuing ed, an accounting background like a CPA +-degree. Sorry that I don't know how much they make.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:04 PM on September 14, 2009


On duty 24 hrs, off 48. Take your accrued vacation time in batches and get several weeks at a time off. Been there, done that, meets all your criteria.
posted by _Mona_ at 7:04 PM on September 14, 2009

How about working on an offshore oil rig? Two weeks on, two weeks off is typical.
posted by acridrabbit at 7:05 PM on September 14, 2009

posted by divabat at 7:09 PM on September 14, 2009

Actually, now I see some discussion that while experienced prepares might make $30k before taxes in 3 months, novices are nowhere near that.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:10 PM on September 14, 2009

I travel all around the west side of Canada and the US as a temp nurse. I've multiple certifications and broad experience, am in demand, and my wage is high. The work is usually hard and long, but I can earn enough in 3 months to keep me well for about the next 9 months.

Nursing isn't for everyone, and you have to have experience, but Travel Nursing is a good life for me.
posted by reflecked at 7:11 PM on September 14, 2009

Well a robot made out of meat beat me to it, but yes, tax prep. I know an accountant who only works four or five months a year doing tax prep for a few clients through a small accounting company. And much of the work can be done from home, so he doesn't necessarily have to go to the office.

Another option: run an ice cream shop. The people I know who do this earn more by owning and operating their shop in a vacation town than they do the rest of the year at their "real" jobs.
posted by LolaGeek at 7:16 PM on September 14, 2009

Process technology tech on the North Slope of Alaska -- two weeks on, two off, high demand for workers since most of the oil pipeline-era folks are retiring. Get trained here. Only problem is, you'd have to get used to making more than $25k/year (smile)...
posted by northernlightgardener at 8:42 PM on September 14, 2009

Fly-in, fly-out miner. It was the big thing to do here in AU until the recent crash ($70k just for a cleaner, $100k+ if you're licensed to drive heavy machinery) and looks like it might start to pick up again soon. Usually several weeks on/off at a time, working 10-12 hour days.
posted by polyglot at 9:04 PM on September 14, 2009

Came in here to suggest being a Sloper in any capacity, but northernlightgardener beat me to it!
posted by charmedimsure at 9:16 PM on September 14, 2009

Substitute teacher. You have all the prerequisites. Licenses are cheap and you get to decide how much you want to work. I have a friend who does this for a living because he loves the freedom of deciding his own schedule. Depends on the district, but here rates are between $80 - $100 a day and you are done by 3pm.
posted by imposster at 9:33 PM on September 14, 2009

Wildland Firefighter is EXTREMELY seasonal.
posted by legotech at 10:31 PM on September 14, 2009

I met someone who made his living working three or four months of the year making less-than-deadly catches off of Alaska, and he didn't appear to have any qualifications you don't.
posted by jhc at 10:32 PM on September 14, 2009

My nephew works on a large ship. There are all sorts of jobs available on ships, not just trained and highly skilled engineering jobs. Some ships make overseas runs while others are short-hop mainland based. Large ships have a full staff of folks who provide support, such as cooking. Heck, even live-aboards have chefs.

It helps to have some level of knowledge of seamanship. There are colleges and schools that offer maritime training, depending on your level of interest.
posted by mightshould at 5:08 AM on September 15, 2009

Magazine publishing has some freelance jobs along those lines: you work the two weeks (or so) right before close, then don't work until the next close. Factcheckers, copy editors, proofreaders, and the like.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:03 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised no one has mentioned nursing. I know a couple of people who either per-diem or "traveling" nurses -- in the later case they will travel to a job for three or five months and make enough money to live a basically comfortable life for the rest of the year.
posted by anastasiav at 7:17 AM on September 15, 2009

Someone has mentioned nursing.

Careful with some of the fishing jobs; the implimentation of the quota fishing system in much of Alaska has made it a lot less boom-and-bust; the days of netting $20k in a trip are pretty much done, since before the quota system was setup you could have a good trip, get back in early, and set the market.

Most guide jobs are seasonal, be it whitewater rafting or ski patrol or whatever else.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:11 AM on September 15, 2009

I know this is a bit late to the party, but what about living/working at a ski resort? My boyfriend lived/worked at Wintergreen Resort in central Virginia for about 3 years and misses the lifestyle every day. The variety of jobs is really neat: waiting tables, working as a ski patroller or instructor, working retail at any of the resort shops, working as a snow maker (you would get to ride a snowmobile and be outdoors a lot), etc. etc. Though the jobs themselves might get boring at times, the constant influx of new resort guests coupled with the really wonderful community of people who lived and worked on the mountain was an AWESOME combination. I suspect that many ski resorts around the country offer this same type of community atmosphere. I also suspect (but cannot confirm) that beach/ocean resorts may be the same way if you're so inclined.

Keep in mind that when I say "community atmosphere," I mean that during the busy season, you work, and you partypartyPARTY!, and you sleep for 2 hours before your shift starts. Rinse, repeat. It's just really fun because most employees also live on the mountain (which means you have resort shuttles aka free DesignatedDriver), and are in the same mindset as you about work/life. Everyone knows everyone kinda like Mayberry, and everyone will hook you up with their prospective employee discount unless they hate you (which they won' bums are a very laid back people as a whole). Wanna go to the spa? Make friends with the receptionists and get an awesome massage for half off, or use their pools/hot tubs for free. Wanna ski? Make friends with a lift worker and they'll let you do a run for free. Half off bar tabs is the norm if you're friends with the bartender. The nice part is that right around the time when you get burned out from living the lifestyle, everyone else is burned out as well, and the season is over so you can relax on your sailboat during the warmer months during your copious time off.

In my experience, renting an apartment/house with someone at a ski resort is also pretty damn cheap. I know a shit ton of people who work full time waiting tables from October - March/April, and low part time hours in the summer who support themselves easily.

There are some mountains relatively close to the ocean, also...

Damn...thinking about all of that makes me want to go back! As soon as I am financially independent, you better believe me and my boy are moving back.
posted by Gonestarfishing at 9:30 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

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