To an outsider, life in the military might seem like an endless barrage of direction and work, a constant grind with little affordable time for hobbies, personal pursuits, or passions. The truth is, while the work can certainly be demanding, it’s also common to experience long, sustained periods where you might find yourself with time on your hands … lots of time.
For those who see this free time as opportunity, either to earn additional money or pursue a passion, an active-duty military job does offer some flexibility to pursue part-time work or build a small business. And with so many options and opportunities for how you find and pursue extra money, there’s pretty much a side job out there to fit any schedule.
Can Active Duty Military Members Have Side Jobs?
Yes, active-duty military members are allowed to start and run a small business or seek employment with a third-party employer, but you will need to receive permission from your command before starting. If you’re unfamiliar with the process of gaining approval, talk to your supervisor. Of course, any side job will have to take a back seat to the demands of your military work. Deployments or other service obligations will always take precedent, so be sure to let those in charge of your side job know that you’re serving in the military.
How to Choose a Side Hustle
If you’re wondering what type of work to pursue for your side job, deciding on a good fit that will hold your interest and deliver fair compensation could be challenging. Here are a few tips for narrowing the choices:
- Make a list of your hobbies, skills, and interests, and think of how your knowledge and talent can be put to work and earn you money.
- Map out the availability you will be able to offer to your side job, including the days of the week and the number of hours you can work. Also consider how much extra work you want to take on during this available period. This type of outline will help narrow down where you’ll be a good fit.
- Talk to your friends, family, and co-workers about available opportunities, and where you and your skills might fit for a side job. Inviting this type of feedback may lead to opportunities you wouldn’t find on your own.
25 Side Jobs for Military Members
In the days of the gig economy, the labor market relies heavily on temporary and part-time positions. Finding a flexible, temporary, or freelance job has never been easier. In fact, there are many jobs with schedules that are adaptable to employees, so you’ll just have to decide on a good fit for you and your military obligations. To help narrow the search, we’ve compiled a list of 25 side jobs for military members.
1. Dog Sitting/Walking
Extra cash is at the end of a short leash if you opt to pursue a side job as a pet sitter and/or dog walker. Dog walkers and sitters earn about $18 per hour while enjoying flexible schedules. In return, you may be asked to exercise the pets, provide food and water, and pick up any waste, as well as any other pet-specific tasks requested by the client.
2. Food Delivery
If you own your own vehicle, an easy field to enter is food delivery. By working with one of several nationally based delivery apps (DoorDash, Uber Eats, etc.), you’ll be asked to transport goods to a customer in your personal vehicle while enjoying flexible hours and decent money. You might also opt to deliver groceries through services like Instacart or DoorDash. As a plus, you’ll know how much you will earn before accepting an order, but keep in mind that you will have to cover the cost of gas and any needed vehicle maintenance.
3. Ride Share
“Uber” and “Lyft” are synonymous with the ride share industry, and drivers are in demand to serve those living and working on military bases. In fact, Uber specifically recruits active-duty personnel, veterans, spouses, and others with military ties through its UberMILITARY program. Depending on where and when you drive, a full-time driver can earn as much as $130,000 per year. Again, you will have to cover the costs of gas and vehicle maintenance. Employment requires a background check and vehicle inspection, and some areas have local guidelines for ride-sharing vehicles, but the process to start earning money is pretty straightforward.
4. Freelance Photography
Freelance photographers can earn around $39 per hour. In turn, they provide photography services to clients that include setting up their own equipment, the ability to edit photos, and provide the finished result to a client.
5. Security Guard
Just like standing watch in the military, security guards patrol an assigned area in order to protect personnel and property. Duties may include monitoring surveillance cameras, allowing entrance to a property, and reporting of suspicious behavior. The availability of part-time work that takes place overnight or on weekends might also make it a good fit with your military responsibilities. Expect to earn about $16 per hour.
6. Start a Blog
As a blogger, you could earn around $19 per hour while writing content for online publications and websites. You can probably set your own schedule, as bloggers typically work remotely and without a strict schedule.
7. Start a Podcast
If you have the gift for gab and the ability to research and talk about a topic that interests you, maybe consider starting a podcast. While it requires an initial investment in quality recording equipment, a space to record, and lots of upfront effort to build an audience, there is excellent income potential through ad sales, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing.
8. Start a YouTube Channel
If you enjoy being on camera, YouTube offers another opportunity to earn on the side by creating your own channel. Your content can focus on how-to videos (like repairing a sink or changing an oil filter), entertainment (gaming walk-throughs or explainers), a hobby or interest, or maybe even your military experience. Like a podcast, building a successful channel calls for some out-of-pocket costs and work at the outset to build your audience but established content producers earn money from the YouTube Partner Program, direct sponsorships, and affiliate marketing.
If you’re the handy type who knows their way around a tool belt, you might find working as a handyman is a flexible option to earn some extra cash. Odd jobs could include painting, plumbing, minor electrical work, or general repairs around a house or property. You can find work through word of mouth or sign up for work-for-hire sites like TaskRabbit or Thumbtack.
A tutor should expect to earn around $24 per hour while helping students with projects, homework, and other assignments. You will decide how many clients to accept and on a schedule that suits you, while helping students understand a range of subject matters and prepare for tests and quizzes.
11. Start an Online Shop
An online shop allows owners to create and sell custom work and services through specialized websites such as Etsy, Shopify, or Amazon Handmade. Best of all, when you relocate to a new duty station or retire from active service, the business can move right along with you. Think sewing projects (homemade clothes, uniform alterations), photography, woodworking, and other customizable projects where you can sell and showcase your skill and talent.
12. Virtual Assistant
If you can help with tasks such as customer service, social media, or other business-focused tasks, you may be able to make money as a virtual assistant. With flexible hours and the ability to work from anywhere, you’ll likely work for a small business or entrepreneur answering emails, scheduling appointments, and other tasks. Look for work on freelancing platforms like Upwork, or on job sites such as Indeed.
13. Freelance Writer
Freelance writers often work for news sites, magazines, blogs, and other publications, where they accept assignments from editors on topics ranging from breaking news and sports to hobbies and entertainment. Pay will differ from each publisher, so always negotiate, and make clear your rate up front. Ask about deadlines and other expectations.
14. Cut Hair
A talented barber or hairdresser can be tough to find while serving in the military, particularly while on deployment. If you have skills and training, offering haircuts to your fellow service members is a straightforward and flexible way to earn extra cash that could have you in demand. If you go this route, be sure you have the training and invest in quality equipment and tools.
15. Invest in Real Estate
When it comes to making money in real estate, the possibilities seem endless. For example, you can buy a property used for short-term rentals (AirBnB, VRBO), manage a house flip, or eye a long-term play by investing as a limited partner in an apartment syndication or wholesale property purchase. Again, there are so many options for making money in real estate so do your research.
16. Teach English
Teaching English as a Second Language is an in-demand course, both around the world and within the United States. Working as a tutor or teacher typically requires a Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate, and this coursework is available from a number of sources online.
17. Become a Translator
Fluency in a foreign language might be a good entry to work as a translator. There are a number of online platforms that offer translation services offering work to freelancers and contributors. The work can usually be done via a remote location, and the hours are typically flexible.
18. DJ Events
Working as an event DJ (weddings, receptions, parties) is way more work than simply picking out a great playlist. You’ll need quality gear that you know how to set up and break down (and repair if need be), the ability to interact with a crowd and steer planned events, and other skills needed to run a small business. In return, you can expect to earn hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars for a day’s work. But beware: Reputation and word-of-mouth can either make or break this business, so be prepared to work hard to please your clients.
19. Graphic Design
Freelance graphic designers work as independent contractors, offering services to clients and businesses. With the investment of some software (Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, for example) and some training (the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends a bachelor’s degree), a full-time designer could earn around $58,000 annually.
20. Fitness Coaching
Working as a fitness coach or personal trainer is another field that’s easy to prepare for with a certification. Potential earnings increase with your level of education and experience, and it’s important that you’re also in good shape. The median pay for a full-time personal trainer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is about $40,700 but more experienced trainers can pull in as much as $76,000.
21. Make/Sell Jewelry
Making your own jewelry – necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings – is one path to extra money that offers both flexibility in schedule and relatively low start-up costs, plus your profit margins can be substantial. You’ll need a plan for securing materials, attractive design, efficient production of your pieces, and a way to bring them to market (craft fairs, online venues like Etsy or ArtFire).
22. Become an Umpire/Referee
Officials for youth or rec sports leagues are in high demand and the work means a chance to earn about $15 to $30 per game for a lower level of youth sports, $50 to $150 for a high school game, and even up to $800 for work on a collegiate level. If you have the time and opportunity to take on multiple games in a weekend, the potential for earnings only goes up. Each sport or league will have rules and regulations for how to work as an official, but you’ll probably have to attend training and perhaps obtain a certification before you get started.
23. Sell Baked Goods
If you have a talent for baking and marketing, then your pies, cookies, cakes, and breads can earn you extra cash through a home-based business. Home-based bakers can reach customers through social media, farmer’s markets, and other outlets. Costs are low, but you’ll need a plan to reach customers and get the most bang for your buck.
Notaries are public officials who serve as a witness for various acts and transactions that include verifying a signer’s identity, ensuring that participants are willingly taking part in a transaction, and other measures that deter fraud. Each state has its own guidelines for becoming a notary, and there is greater opportunity for those who are willing to offer mobile notary services. Some notaries can charge up to $200 per transaction, in addition to travel expenses.
As a military member, you have access to a VA loan and the ability to buy a home with no down payment. As a means of obtaining passive income, some military families will rent a house when they’re deployed or relocated to a new duty station. As the owner, you could choose to manage the rental or hire a company. Another option for homeowners with some extra space is to rent out a room.
Other Ways to Make Extra Cash While in the Military
If you’re not interested in starting a small business or taking on a part-time job but still want some extra money, there are some other options that still offer opportunity for fattening your wallet.
- Online surveys: A number of apps and websites are looking for users to fill out surveys, watch videos and shop online, plus you can do the work whenever you like. Try sites like Swagbucks, InboxDollars, Survey Junkie and others.
- Take on tasks: You can also find work on-demand doing assorted tasks and small jobs, some as simple as categorizing data, helping someone move, or putting together a piece of furniture. Apps like TaskRabbit and Steady can link you up with work in the “microtask” field, where you can cash in on simple, flexible work whenever it fits your schedule.
- Clean out your closet: Used and unwanted clothes could net you a pretty penny through sites like thredUP and Poshmark. Set up an account to become a seller and you can start earning, with designer pieces being in the most demand and valuable. Motivated sellers can also peruse thrift stores for bargains, then flip pieces through online marketplaces.
About The Author
Craig Richardson is a military veteran who started his journalism career while serving in the Navy. Following overseas deployments to the Med and Middle East, including service in Operation Desert Storm, he left for the private sector but continued with journalism. He has worked for several publishers and news organizations over nearly 30 years and continued to cover stories with ties to veterans and military affairs throughout his career.
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