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Part-Time Jobs: How Teachers Can Thrive in the Gig Economy

Dollar bills hanging out to dry.

Don’t get down to your last dollar this summer.

Part-time jobs are part of the reality of teaching. Many teachers pick up side hustles to supplement their income during the school year—and especially over the summer. Fortunately, the gig economy is flush with flexible and rewarding part-time jobs for teachers, some of which can even help teachers boost their résumés.

Further Reading: How to Make Your Teacher Salary Work When the Bills Come Calling

Here are some of the best ways that teachers can make extra cash during the summer.

Teaching English Online

My friend and former colleague Kelly teaches English to Chinese students through the online teaching portal VIPKid, and she says it's the best job she's ever had. She teaches from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m., before her kids wake up, but she knows other teachers who teach eight hours overnight. The flexible schedule is great, and she loves that there's no lesson planning, curriculum development, or grading. It also pays pretty well for a side gig; VIPKids says its teachers can make up to $22 an hour.

VIPKid offers perks, too, such as professional development opportunities; they even have a teacher happiness liaison who takes teacher concerns straight to higher-ups. (Where can I get one of those?!) And VIPKid isn't the only game in town—DaDa and Qkids offer similar web-based English-speaking services.

SAT Prep Tutoring

This kind of part-time job is perfect for teachers who want to keep their skills sharp during the summer. One of my colleagues, Eva, runs a very successful SAT prep business out of her home. She lives in a wealthy community where parents readily spend $125 an hour to help their children prepare for the SATs. Eva sets her own hours and chooses how many students she tutors. Because she's very good at what she does—she says that her students usually boost their SAT scores by about 100 points—she's in high demand.

Nannying

While working as a nanny might not supplement your teaching résumé, it does keep you engaged with kids—and it sometimes comes with unexpected perks. My friend Jacqui was able to go on summer vacations to Jamaica and Disney World with the family she works for. She says her job has been incredibly rewarding, even beyond the epic vacations: she's watched the children she nannies for grow up, and she's attended their proms and graduations. "The people who say you don't know love until you have your own children," Jacqui says, "well, those people have certainly never nannied."

Guiding Tours

A graduate student who takes a college class I teach works as a tour guide on the Freedom Trail in Boston. She's only a volunteer, but she hopes to be a social studies teacher, so the experience looks great on her résumé. The flexible schedule is a boon, and she loves being outside while immersing herself in history.

There are plenty of part-time jobs in this industry, and a quick visit to local historical websites can find you the right match. Some tour guides make a decent buck: Trolley tour conductors in Boston make about $20 an hour and usually net between $4 and $8 in tips per tour. Some organizations even give you the opportunity to see the world: Urban Adventures, an organization that conducts tours in 68 countries, is always looking for agents to lead off-the-beaten-path tours.

Driving for a Rideshare Service

My friend John drives for Uber to make extra money. He enjoys the flexibility, he meets interesting people, and he has interesting conversations with tourists. He also likes exploring different neighborhoods and college campuses. However, he doesn't like the wear and tear that he's putting on his vehicle; he doesn't like the Boston traffic or the fear that he might pick up one of his students, either. Nonetheless, it's a perfect summer job, and he'll even drive a few shifts during the school year when he wants to pick up a few extra bucks. Other companies, such as competing rideshare service Lyft and delivery service Door Dash, offer similar flexibility.

Going Far Away from the Classroom

Sometimes, though, teachers need a side hustle that's as far removed from teaching as possible.

One of my colleagues serves beer and hot dogs at Fenway Park; working at a stadium can allow you to see your favorite sports team or catch that hot summer concert you can't miss. Another teacher I know is a server at a high-end restaurant; she enjoys the people she meets and the tips she makes. Many teachers tend bar—something about teaching, I suspect, makes them good listeners and able to handle anything. My colleague Josh works year-round at Planet Fitness. He gets a free membership and a decent hourly wage, and he works as many hours as he can handle. Rose works at a hair salon on the weekends; she gets her hair cut and colored for free on top of her hourly wage and tips. These kinds of gigs give teachers the break they need from the classroom while putting a little extra cash in their wallets.

Further Reading: What You Should Know about Summer School Teaching Jobs

Look, sometimes teachers need to work part-time jobs to make ends meet—especially when they're out of the classroom during the summertime. Finding the right position can help make your side hustle fun, rewarding, and profitable.