Careers with part-time potential that can actually yield a decent income?
December 26, 2011 5:58 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to hear more about jobs like occupational therapist or dental hygienist that have part-time potential and a bigger paycheck (not to mention higher demand). I'd just like to make a list of possible jobs that I can further look into.

Well, it doesn't have to be a huge sum, but enough to support me. I don't plan to have children, I am not currently married but one day I hope to find a spouse to share costs with. I plan to live frugally for my life. I just would rather not spend all my time at work. I'm not adverse to getting into something on a full-time basis at first and then with some experience and credibility move down to part-time.

I used to be somewhat of an idealist and wanted a "fun" or fulfilling job that I could also do part-time, but now I just would like a job that pays reasonably well so I can just have my fun outside of work. I'd just like to make a list of possible jobs that I can further look into.

On career tests, I usually end up getting jobs in education or counseling, but they don't always pay well and I'd have to do them full-time. I'd like to hear more about jobs like occupational therapist or dental hygienist that have part-time potential and a bigger paycheck (not to mention higher demand). Yes, I know most of these jobs require a Master's Degree.

I'm still in college so I don't really have any relevant work experience, yet. I'm in the career deciding phase wherein I'm making a list of possibilities to further explore with career shadowing and eventually volunteering and internships.

And to not limit myself or put me in a box, it would be nice if the careers would be something in demand or make career change somewhat easy if necessary.

I know this sounds like I a lazy (and part of me is), but I don’t really get impressed by all the stuff that most people get impressed with. Sure, I’m not a total ant-malterialist as in I would like to buy books, go on vacations, buy things for my hobbies (like campling gear ect.) I’m not having kids, so that’s one huge cost saver there. I wouldn’t mind if my future husband and I lived in a very modest apartment or home for the rest of our lives.

I like the idea of being a tutor. If I teach an in-demand subject I could charge a decent sum (looking into a science and/or language major) but I'm concerned about making this into something that I could actually do for a long time. What if technology advances and it makes tutors really unnecessary? Or that something happens in the future that causes current teachers decide they want to be tutors making the price for tutors drop? How would this look on my resume if I were to change careers?

I'm quite an introspective person and I've read many career articles and taken many personality tests. What I've gotten from these is that I like to help people, I like to teach (this was my childhood "What I want to be when I grow up" ... until I learned more about it as an adult) . Working in retail has taught me I don't like being around people all the time and prefer small groups. I love the idea of being my own boss. Although the somewhat weird hours makes that less attractive. I would rather have a job where I work all my hours in 3 or 4 days a week.

I dunno, give me some ideas.

This is my fist AskMe question but I've been lurking for about a year. My FAVORITE place on the webs to get advice from mature, reasonable, and intelligent people .
posted by eq21 to Work & Money (14 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Sassyfras at 6:02 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I came to say, nursing. I know nurses that work about 24 hours a week but end up with what would be considered great full-time pay, with benefits....but I don't know how much seniority you have to build, or how accomplished you have to be, to get to that point.
posted by availablelight at 6:07 PM on December 26, 2011

Other services like massage therapist and waxing allow for a tremendous amount of flexibility and not a TON of up front investment.

Where I used to live (Santa Barbara), I had quite a few single and not-single mom friends very happy with this type of work for the flexibility and money.
posted by k8t at 6:37 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

No way of knowing about tutoring in the future, but - I have a couple of friends who tutor for a living and it meets your criteria. I am also dreaming of a job that meets criteria like yours and looked into tutoring, but didn't go for it, because I hate driving and don't want a car. Depending on where you live, you really need to drive a lot - and I live in the Bay Area, where it's generally pretty easy to get around without one, but tutoring would bring me to tons of distant suburbs within one day (not doable on bart). If you like driving though and do own a car (or plan to own one) yes, this can be very lucrative. One friend works for a tutoring company and tutors on her own; at the company she gets about $50/hour. On her own she gets like $90/hour, and she says some of her friends get even more (when you consider how much she spends on gas and car upkeep, it's less, but still). She teaches high school students calculus, physics, English, and history. Another friend just started and works only for a tutoring company; she gets about $35/hour to tutor APs and SATs at the company's site and at student's homes.

I thought of working at Kaplan, an SAT tutoring company, which I think pays like $20ish/hour to start with, because I wouldn't need a car for that. But after research, it looked really crappy. Plus, I'm also pretty introverted, and tutoring a group of kids (without a car I couldn't do one-on-one) is a huge performance, a lot of social interaction, not for me.

With tutoring, you do have a somewhat flexible schedule, and work pretty part-time (for some companies you have to write reports after each session about how the student is doing, in addition to time tutoring. And depending on what you're tutoring and how you do it, you probably have to read the kid's textbook, do some research, and plan lessons. So it's not just the time you spend with the student). And if you work with a company, you do get steady work, even though you get paid less. But you work mostly evenings and weekends - the exact time everyone else you know is free.

Wow, sorry about the wall of text. Basically, this could work depending on how you feel about driving, where you end up living, and your personality type. I didn't realize I had so much to say about tutoring! I am really interested in the other ideas though. I would totally go back to school to become a vet tech or dental hygienist or something if those jobs meet those qualifications...
posted by fireflies at 7:28 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nursing can be good for flexibility but it can take a while--lots of night work and/or swing shifts.

The population is aging, so occupational or physical therapy with a concentration in geriatrics will probably be in demand, although there will always be a need for pediatric and sports therapists, too. You could also open your own massage practice, although I think it would give you more flexibility if you offered additional services (physical therapy, or some other kind of occupational/home care service) because recreational massages are probably not very recession-proof, but offering something that insurance would pay for would.

You could, for example, go into physical/sports/occupational therapy part-time as your stable gig and do massages (or even teach yoga) on the side for extra income.

Your strength in education/counseling would probably translate well into physical rehabilitation fields because you definitely need to be compassionate with your clients, and you will have to teach them how to do things.

Another line of work that has always seemed really interesting to me is prosthetics or orthotics. You do custom work, it's very personal and compassionate work, you have to use creativity and your hands to build and fit the device, and you really are making a very tangible difference in someone's life. Also, I randomly met a guy who makes prosthetic eyeballs. It's also very creative, custom work and the people he serves are really grateful for the work he does. Insurance covers it, too. Although you do have to be cool with bodies/faces that are injured or deformed.
posted by elizeh at 7:32 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I work as a lab technician while I'm in school and the barrier to entry is way lower than a MS (I had to prove I graduated high school) and I get paid about 2x min wage for my area, hourly - and that doesn't count the bonus for evening, nights, or weekends. I only work 'casual' status but there's two techs who are married and have families and work 24 hours in two weekend 12 hour shifts.

Frankly, if you can work weird hours and live near a large hospital, there are niches to find that don't require advanced degrees. The 'peripheral' medical fields sometimes require a certificate or associate's from the local community college and are often part-time - generally these have some form of 'tech' in the name.

The 'nursing' shortage is not really as promising as it sounded a few years ago - no one wants to hire new grads and certain markets (IIRC California, for one) are saturated. In many areas there are 2+ year waiting lists to get into comm college programs.
posted by cobaltnine at 7:36 PM on December 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

You may find it useful to poke around the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.
posted by aka burlap at 7:42 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by argonauta at 7:43 PM on December 26, 2011

Sonographers/radiographers seem to be able to pretty much set their own hours, are paid well, and are in demand. My experience with this (as admin staff in an ultrasound clinic) was in Australia, but I've heard it's a similar situation in North America.
posted by snorkmaiden at 12:00 AM on December 27, 2011

What about a medical technician/technologist? I believe that they are either two year or four year programs and they pay decently. Also, the work is coo.

And fourthing nursing, although as stated above you won't be able to get out of school and automatically work the shifts you like. And although you can get a Bachelors in Nursing with an RN, you can also get your RN through an associates program.
posted by pintapicasso at 5:56 AM on December 27, 2011

Substitute teacher
posted by bq at 7:28 AM on December 27, 2011

My boyfriend's in the dental field so I know lots about dental hygiene. It's a two-year community college degree. I think it's a lot more in demand than it used to be with the economy and all, but not nearly as flooded as nursing. Unless you work for the government for one of those awful giant multi-dentist clinics, you're generally working an 8-hour or less day, and most dentists only work part-time, so you're likely to have about a 25-30 hour week. There are also dental staffing agencies in most medium-to-large cities in case you were working a few days a week but wanted to fill in at other offices on your days off. I would estimate that the average starting dental hygienist makes about $20 an hour, but the boyfriend recently worked with a woman who made somewhere in the $50-$60/hour range working part-time. He said this was high, but not ridiculously high.

Occupational/physical therapy assistants are two more careers you might look into. Also a 2-year associate's degree, also start at about $20/hour, but I don't know if a part-time schedule is something that would be easy to find in those fields.
posted by jabes at 7:47 AM on December 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Be careful when selecting a field of work. During lean times, people flock to these careers and schools will over-sell the benefits. One school (Sanford Brown) is famous on the forums for first telling you that you don't qualify & that you have to take the prerequisites, and then once you finally do graduate leaves you with a worthless degree.


It's not impossible to break in to a career once having a degree, but many graduates find themselves in a position where they don't have a license & need to work for a year to get a license - a catch 22. How do you work without a license, yet how do you get a license without working?

Sonographers have a high incidence of repetitive stress injury - holding the sonography machine up to patients at odd angles is flat out painful and most wash up within 5 years.

Dental Tech requires a good deal of strength to hold open jaws on sleeping patients, etc.

Do some serious research & hit the forums. has good forums for researching schools, etc.

Nursing is difficult to break into - one nursing program administrator said to my friend "5 years ago I had to stand on the street corner & grab people to be interested in this program, now there are hundreds of people applying every year." Graduation rates are high & it's tough to find a job when you have no experience. But, I know a lot of nurses & I know people going in for nursing who believe will end up in stable careers, but there will be lean times straight out of school unless you get lucky.

Long story short: Do your research.
posted by Muffy at 8:03 AM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have had pretty good success with freelance/pt bookkeeping and teaching small businesses how to use Quickbooks. I support myself and my fulltime-student husband and only work about 25 hours a week.
posted by hishtafel at 4:28 PM on December 27, 2011

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