I tried sitting at a desk. It was boring!
June 17, 2010 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Suggest some non-traditional jobs to get me out of my office for good!

I'm tried of being an office worker. I would like suggestions on non-office jobs where I could ideally earn a living wage (or through a combination of jobs) and have enough free time to pursue my non-commercially viable fiction writing on the side. Suggestions for jobs with flexible or odd hours, involving travel (int'l or otherwise), or seasonal work would all be welcome.

Possible relevant details: I have a BA, three solid years of work experience in a marketing related field, strong writing and editing skills, fairly computer proficient and definitely not a type A personality. Currently live in a large metro area but willing to move. Prefer higher quality of life over being highly compensated.

Just looking for some suggestions to help me think outside the box. Thanks!
posted by the foreground to Work & Money (20 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Teach English abroad.
posted by griphus at 11:24 AM on June 17, 2010

Growth areas for the furture are Nursing Assistants, especially with elderly people. Depending on care arrangements, you may have a lot of flexibility and/or down time for writing. Plus, a job like that is full of stories.

Also recommend working in adult continuing education and distance learning. Lots of flexibility and variety and it's a growth area as well.
posted by cross_impact at 11:26 AM on June 17, 2010

Park Ranger!
posted by alex_skazat at 11:32 AM on June 17, 2010

Flight attendant, though you'll have to go through training. This site has some information and FAQ, but I have no way of verifying information provided on it.
posted by knile at 11:38 AM on June 17, 2010

Be a freelance journalist?

Go into commission-based sales, so that you don't have to work a 9-5 day, and you get to be out of an office?

Become a teacher?
posted by Kololo at 11:43 AM on June 17, 2010

If you're fit and enjoy being physically active, you might consider firefighting.
posted by angiep at 11:45 AM on June 17, 2010

Look into being a Justice of the Peace in your area.
posted by trishthedish at 11:45 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

delivery truck driver.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:54 AM on June 17, 2010

Join the miltary.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:04 PM on June 17, 2010

High five for hating office life! As soon as I quit my office job, my life got so much better.

Anything kid-related (babysitting, nannying, arts and gym classes, tutoring, teaching, entertaining) can be lucrative if you tap the field correctly. Parents now pay a small fortune to cultivate their children, and they'll pay double for a young, motivated person to mentor their kids. I know a guy who made serious bank one summer in DC by being the 25 year-old dude babysitter who was wildly popular among all the little boys in the neighborhood. At one point these moms got into a bidding war over who would get him for a Friday night, and someone wound up paying him $80/hr to feed the kids pizza and put them to bed. Not kidding.

Look into WWOOF if you're fine with living abroad, though I'm not sure how much time you'll have to write when you're working on a farm. However, that program tends to provide experiences and new opportunities that an office job squelches. You also don't make money, but rather sheltered and fed by the host farm.

Food service jobs, retail (maybe a bookstore would be fun?) are out-of-office and pretty flexible.
posted by zoomorphic at 12:10 PM on June 17, 2010

Alaskan crab fisherman?
posted by kjs3 at 1:17 PM on June 17, 2010

Being a flight attendant is NOT what you want. The hours are extremely long and the jobs are very hard to get and keep. Not to mention that you're not going to get to see any of the cities you stop through. It is not a high quality life unless you do it for a long time and get your pick of routes. It's also barely a living wage these days.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:05 PM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

You could take some classes at a CC and get certified in archaeology. The jobs are usually in 'cultural research management" firms- commercial archaeology is done when there is construction in areas that may have cultural remnants (we could just use the old cliche "Indian Burial Grounds"). You can travel, and between jobs you'd have time to do other stuff, and it's SO FUN! I honestly don't know how prevalent these jobs are and how easy it would be to get one though [I was almost certified and then decided to do something different].

I'd also suggest Massage Therapy (I'm a therapist), but this is not the economy you want to try that in, it's way too slow and it'd be hard to get a job.
posted by starfyr at 3:30 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Join all of the temp companies you can find. Seriously. If you have office experience but don't like traditional office work, you can wind up in some interesting places AND you won't be stuck there forever. I earned a good living as a temp for over 10 years... and it wasn't always office work. Some of the temp jobs I got were very interesting indeed.

Also, sign up as a substitute teacher. If you don't mind working with kidlings.

The great thing (I think) about working temp and as a sub is that *you* decide when to work and *you* decide what jobs you take. If you're in a city of any size then you can make a pretty penny.

If you want to travel, get yourself a cheap rv and sign up as a work camper (workamping.com). It can lead you to some very beautiful places.

You could also try house sitting - lot's of opportunity for travel there!
posted by patheral at 4:24 PM on June 17, 2010

Friend makes great money in store management for Trader Joes. Somewhat flexible schedule, active, social, challenging, people love you, some opportunities to move around.
posted by purenitrous at 6:43 PM on June 17, 2010

What about joining the Peace Corps or doing some other kind of nonprofit work?
posted by bindasj at 10:08 PM on June 17, 2010

Peace Corps is an awesome experience but I really hesitate to recommend this. It's not really high on the compensation scale, and the quality of life entirely depends on your placement. You could have lots of free time or you could end up in a culture where it would be awkward to spend a lot of your time alone (presumably your writing time). Explore it if you're interested in the experience, but I don't think it will help you achieve your goals.

Also, I just wanted to point out: a lot of non-profit work *is* office work. I had a fun non-profit job for three years, and while I was able to get out of the office to teach classes and do other events, much of the remaining time was office drudgery. You could always luck out and find the right situation, though.
posted by emkelley at 3:17 AM on June 18, 2010

not to piggyback, but something like temping - how would one get/maintain health insurance? when i was looking for a job, all the jobs were temp to hire, rather than just temp. if i had only wanted temp jobs, i would have been hard pressed to find a job (and that's even now when i'm looking at jobs.)

are the actual temporary positions just not advertisted?

i'm just asking because i see temping given as answer to these questions quite a bit, but IME it doesn't seem to be viable as a job. i know that insurance is offered thru the temp agencies, but if you're not working a job for them at the time, wouldn't you lose/not be able to afford the meager ins they offer?

and to help the OP, maybe getting involved with a green energy firm or installer? i know there are training programs, but with your background, maybe you could get in the door as a marketing person and somehow leverage getting a lot of travel and/or outdoors "seeing how it's done" time visiting sites and taking people on tours or something. totally brainstorming, no idea if that's how it works or not.
posted by sio42 at 7:22 AM on June 18, 2010

sio42... I forget that health insurance is important to most people because I've lived without for so long... I just live without health insurance, but really if you make enough money, you can afford your own (it's becoming more affordable every day I understand).

The actual temp positions are not advertised, you have to tell the company that you're looking for "temporary only" or "long term temporary" positions - and explain why.
posted by patheral at 10:12 AM on June 18, 2010

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