In recent years, it has felt outdated to think about a career in terms of working long hours for many years in a single job and climbing the career ladder in the same profession you chose as a teenager or 20-something. In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic really exploded stereotypes around how and when we do our work.
Part-time jobs have expanded since the pandemic hit, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of people employed part-time for economic reasons (because employers downgraded full-time jobs, laid people off, or otherwise had to alter their workforce) more than doubled from 4.4 million in February 2020 to 10.9 million in April 2020. And even a year into the global health crisis that number remained higher than it was pre-pandemic. As of September 2021, over 20 million people were working part-time for noneconomic reasons such as balancing school or family—an increase of more than 1.3 million year over year.
Below, you’ll find 19 high-paying part-time jobs covering a mix of functions, industries, and levels of experience—along with the median hourly rates and links to help you find current job openings. Each rate, pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2020 data, is at least $20 an hour (with one exception). It’s worth noting that since these are median wages, half of earners in these roles fall below and half fall above this rate. In other words, entry-level positions may pay less, but there are also opportunities to make significantly more.
Why Work Part-Time?
Almost every industry has part-time jobs. These opportunities, typically requiring less than 30 hours of work per week, can give you some consistency without the demands of a full-time job. You might be able to work remotely and, depending on context and employment status, you may earn paid time off or holidays off, too.
You might pursue part-time work because you can’t find a full-time job, need or want to make extra income on top of your existing employment, or enjoy the flexibility or variety these positions offer. “More and more people are pursuing their passions, and this means multiple roles,” says Muse career coach Jennifer Sukola. Working part-time in a competitive field also lets workers “get their foot in the door, gain experience, and find out if they will eventually want to do [the role] full-time.”
As someone who’s been working as a freelancer for a decade, I’ve taken on many, many part-time jobs—sometimes simultaneously—in order to work the equivalent of one full-time job. I currently work part-time as a writer since it’s a competitive field and I live in a city with few staff jobs. But I’ve previously held part-time roles in tutoring, administration, and marketing. I love having free time during the day, pursuing work I find interesting, working from home (as many of my part-time roles have allowed me to do), seeking out clients, being able to take on—and say no to!—assignments as I see fit, and having a multifaceted career that’s not tied to one role or employer.
Median hourly rate: $32.27
A writer creates communication materials: in print, online, or both. Short-form content might include social media or blog posts, pamphlets, and email copy, while long-form content could mean articles, web content, newsletters, reports, white papers, and even books. You might be assigned to a topic, or you might pitch and create content on your own. Regardless, you may also have to conduct interviews and research and will usually work with an editor or someone who oversees the quality of your work. Some writers specialize in a particular topic or form—science or finance journalist, technical or medical writer, or grant writer, for example—while others might write more broadly. Entry-level writing gigs usually require at least one year of experience, which could be in the form of an internship.
Increasingly, media companies have listed part-time writing jobs that can be done remotely—though they usually request that work be done during business hours. In 2021, I obtained a 20-hour a week writing position at Bustle, which is located in New York, and worked 20 hours a week from Boston. Don’t limit yourself to just media, though; lots of organizations—from nonprofits to financial institutions and everything in between—need writers.
(Note: BLS groups tutors with other teachers and instructors and does not provide hourly wage information.)
Tutors help students—children or adults—learn a subject or skill. The material could range from more fundamental subjects like basic math to high-level content like the SAT or college-level physics. Tutoring doesn’t always take place during “normal” business hours, with many clients preferring to meet after work or school hours or on the weekends. Unlike teachers, tutors don’t need formal accreditation, but they do need a deep knowledge of the subject they’re teaching; that usually translates to at least an undergraduate degree in the subject.
Rates can vary pretty widely depending on the subject, your experience, and the location: Tutors in cities like D.C. and New York City can charge $50 an hour and up, for example. If you work on your own, you can charge more, but working with a tutoring agency means they help find students and take care of some of the employment paperwork. When I worked with an agency in D.C., I made $33 an hour, but when I worked on my own I made at least $60 an hour and usually more.
3. Marketing Specialist
Median hourly rate: $31.64
A marketing specialist is responsible for promoting or selling products or services to new or existing customers—which might be individuals and/or organizations. Specialties include email marketing, market research, social media, e-commerce, and search engine marketing (SEM), but the work fundamentally centers around understanding a target audience and knowing how to reach and persuade them to take action. You may need an undergraduate degree in marketing, communications, or even journalism.
Companies sometimes hire part-time marketing specialists to help with particular campaigns or to provide expertise in a particular type of marketing. Smaller organizations might only need—or have the budget for—10 or 20 hours of marketing and communications work per week. In my case, I offered my copywriting and editing skills on a per-project basis, bidding for work based on my availability and the rate I would charge for the work ($40 and above).
4. Graphic designer
Average hourly rate: $25.66
A graphic designer supports a business by creating illustrations, graphics, and other visual concepts and content. Projects can vary from a short-term deliverable like a flyer that needs to be visually appealing to a large-scale project like a book or magazine. According to BLS, a college degree or equivalent coursework is usually essential for developing the necessary skill set, which may include web management if they’re putting these designs online. Graphic designers can be hired with a year or less of experience, which students can bridge with an internship, summer job, or pro bono work with a club or faculty member.
Part-time graphic designers can work consistently with one organization or with many clients by the project as part of an agency or as freelancers, but they usually need to have more significant experience before striking out on their own.
5. Exercise Trainer or Group Fitness Instructor
Median hourly rate: $19.48
Fitness instructors work with individuals or groups on developing their strength, fitness, flexibility, and related skills. They can work with a variety of ages and experience levels and teach various types of classes (such as kickboxing, Zumba, pilates, or spin), depending on their own experience and training.
A personal trainer certification can take several months to complete, but you only need to be 18 and have completed high school to be eligible. You may not need credentials to teach group classes, but some employers will require or encourage certifications in the specific type of fitness (for example, a yoga studio might only hire instructors who’ve completed a yoga teacher training program). Instructors usually teach classes or train clients part-time at gyms, studios, camps, community centers, and other locations. As a trainer, you might also work directly with clients, scheduling by the session.
6. Massage Therapist
Median hourly rate: $20.97
A massage therapist works with clients on the muscles and soft tissues of the body to decrease pain and tightness, relieve pressure, and improve health. They can work with a variety of client types in a variety of settings, from salons to doctors’ offices to hospitals. Usually massage therapists complete a program with 500 or more hours of study and hands-on training and most states require a certification or license (the exact requirements vary by location). There may be the opportunity to focus on a specialty like sports massage or deep tissue massage. Depending on the workplace, a massage therapist may work in shifts or as scheduled with clients, but there’s often flexibility based on the workload and clientele.
7. Insurance Sales Agent
Median hourly rate: $25.08
An insurance sales agent sells policies to prospective customers. The policies mitigate against certain types of risk: Life insurance provides financial compensation to an insured person’s beneficiaries in the event of the policy holder's death, for example. Like a number of sales jobs, this type of role requires you to talk to strangers every day, identify their needs, and work with them as they complete a detailed application. The actual position could range from working a call center to meeting clients in person. You only need to have completed high school according to BLS, though employers often look for a bachelor’s degree, and in any case, you’d be required to obtain a license. There might be flexibility around working from home, especially if you’re selling over the phone, and working non-traditional hours.
8. Executive Assistant
Median hourly rate: $30.34
An assistant might be expected to handle administrative tasks in and outside of the office: managing calendars and meetings, handling expenses, greeting visitors, answering the phone, and dealing with other clerical tasks. But an executive assistant, who usually supports one or more leaders in an organization, might also do higher-level work including pulling together research, sales material, and other important information for one or more executives. Usually the more senior the executive you work for, the higher the salary. Employers usually look for an undergraduate degree in a business-related field like marketing or accounting, especially if the candidate has no prior experience.
Median hourly rate: $35.37
An accountant prepares, reviews, and files financial documents and maintains and organizes detailed tax and other records. In some cases, they might also weigh in on business decisions, suggest strategies to reduce costs or increase revenue, and make other recommendations. They can work for individuals who have complex financial needs or larger organizations, either in-house or at an accounting firm that works with multiple external clients.
An accountant needs an undergraduate degree to work, and becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or getting another relevant certification can make an accountant look more attractive to employers. Many accountants do work full time, but smaller businesses might only require assistance during tax season or at the end of every quarter. If you pursue the part-time route, you may need more than one client or job to maintain regular work.
10. Real Estate Agent
Median hourly rate: $24.63
A real estate agent is a professional who helps clients sell, buy, or rent a property. This could include a house, an apartment, a residential building, or a commercial property (and less frequently industrial or agricultural properties). Agents keep track of what’s on the market, show properties, facilitate interactions and negotiations between parties, and help clients complete relevant paperwork and records to close deals. They also stay on top of trends in the market so they can advise on how much a property might be worth.
You do need your real estate license to become an agent, which requires some pre-licensing courses, but besides that, you only need a high school degree. Many real estate professionals do have bachelor’s degrees, so sometimes it helps, but employers look for your ability to close on a sale first and foremost. Real estate agents work odd hours (since many people can only go to open houses or viewings at night and on the weekends) but they also have a lot of flexibility to set their own schedules.
11. Physician Assistant
Median hourly rate: $55.48 per hour
A physician assistant (PA) works in a variety of medical settings (including hospitals and outpatient clinics) and can diagnose and treat patients as well as assist—as the name implies—doctors and other medical professionals. They can work with a doctor doing surgery, help a patient manage a treatment plan as the provider they see most often, order tests, write prescriptions, and handle a long list of other responsibilities. PAs could work in emergency medicine, trauma surgery, transplants, family medicine, pediatrics, and other specialties—meaning you can choose the area of healthcare that interests you once you decide that this career path is of interest.
You’ll need a master’s degree to become a physician assistant. Though most PAs work full time, smaller practices can use part-time PAs, and sometimes larger clinics and hospitals only require part-time shift work (but bear in mind those shifts could be overnight or on weekends).
12. Computer Programmer
Median hourly rate: $42.88
A computer programmer makes sure that an application or software runs correctly by writing code for new software and features and/or testing and fixing code on a regular basis as bugs are discovered. A bachelor’s degree is helpful, but some programmers can obtain positions with an associate’s degree or no degree at all. Some companies hire part-time programmers, or you can pursue freelance or contract opportunities.
13. Software Developer
Median hourly rate: $52.95
A software developer designs applications and programs—unlike programmers, who typically execute on a plan or optimize a program, developers are more involved in the creative ideation and problem-solving when an app is in its early stages. They might analyze user needs, brainstorm ways to address those needs via an application or feature, design the various elements of that software, lay out different pieces of the project for programmers to execute on, and handle documentation.
Developers are in high demand: BLS projects developer jobs will grow 22% between 2020 and 2030, much faster than the 8% average growth for all occupations. Some companies require an undergraduate degree, although it isn’t essential. A developer can potentially work remotely and part-time—it just depends on the context and workload. Developers can sometimes work more flexible hours, too.
14. Occupational Therapist
Median hourly rate: $41.48
When someone is struggling to complete everyday tasks due to injury, illness, pain, and/or disability, an occupational therapist (OT) helps that person adapt their movement and behavior to manage those tasks more effectively. They might focus on helping people do professional work or on enabling them to simply get out of bed and dress themselves. They could work in a person’s home or in a professional setting like a hospital or school.
This position requires a master’s degree as well as licensing. If a school only needs assistance for a few children, for example, an occupational therapist may only need to work part-time hours in that environment. Like some other medical professionals on this list, they can also manage their own businesses and set their own hours.
15. Physical Therapist
Median hourly rate: $43.75
Like an OT, a physical therapist (PT) can help someone with an illness or injury, but in this case they’re working on pain management and mobility. They’re an integral part of someone’s recovery after a stroke, for example, or in the wake of surgery. A PT might work with a variety of patients—from senior citizens to professional athletes—wherever those patients are, from nursing homes to hospitals to outpatient settings like sports teams or physical therapy clinics.
PTs need to be licensed and complete their doctor of physical therapy degree, and some go on to do residencies or fellowships to further specialize. They can work part-time during regular business hours, on evenings and weekends, or a combination of both.
16. Dental Hygienist
Median hourly rate: $37.06
A dental hygienist assists a dentist in cleaning teeth, assessing patients for teeth and gum disease, and communicating best practices around oral health. A dental hygienist often interacts with the patient more frequently than the dentist, which means they need strong customer service and interpersonal skills as well.
This role requires completion of a three-year associate’s degree (instead of a bachelor’s degree) as well as a licensing program. A lot of dental hygienists work part-time, coming in a few days a week, according to BLS, and some may work for more than one dentist or office.
17. Speech-Language Pathologist
Median hourly rate: $38.69
A speech-language pathologist (sometimes called a speech pathologist) helps both children and adults with communication issues. If someone has a challenge, whether it be a speech, language, swallowing, or other communication disorder—which might result from a stroke, hearing loss, developmental delay, Parkinson’s disease, autism, or other causes—the pathologist can work with them to mitigate or overcome it. Some speech-language pathologists work in schools or other places where children might be present—before or after school as well as during free periods and as an alternative to their regular classwork. Others work in settings such as hospitals, assisted living centers, private practices, corporations, and the military.
It varies by state, but a master’s degree is essential and licensing may be required too. On the bright side, the number speech-language pathologist roles is projected to grow 29% from 2020 to 2030, so those who’ve completed their training and licensing are in high demand.
18. Translator or Interpreter
Median hourly rate: $25.16
Translators and interpreters convert one language into another—translators via the written word and interpreters via spoken languages. They might assist non-English speaking patients in a hospital or work at a conference center or meeting place where individuals speaking different languages are congregating. They could also work to translate written work such as a manual or book from one language to another.
It’s essential to have a deep knowledge of languages in this role—with complete fluency in both (whether you grew up bi- or multilingual, majored in a foreign language in college, or otherwise gained competency). An undergraduate degree can sometimes be enough, according to BLS, but sometimes organizations look for continuing education or certifications in the case of court or medical interpreters or translators. Many translators can work remotely. Those who are self-employed tend to have variable hours.
Median hourly rate: $27.08
Plumbers are the professionals who install, maintain, clean, and repair water, gas, septic and other systems as well as fixtures from toilets to dishwashers. You could be working in a person’s home or in a commercial or municipal building, depending on the context and your specialty. As companies work to be more sustainable, plumbers may also help with conserving water.
To become a plumber, you would only need a high school degree but there’s often vocational training, apprenticeship, and licensing involved. Plumbers are very much dependent on client work, so depending on your boss (and especially if you’re self-employed) you can set a limit on how many clients you take on or the hours you’re available to work.
Even though they’re increasing in popularity, part-time jobs can sometimes be hard to find. It’s estimated that up to 85% of all jobs are obtained through networking, and part-time work is no exception.
So how do workers go about finding and procuring a high-paying, part-time job? “They can first identify the industries or type of work they want, and then make a list of companies within those industries,” Sukola says. Then network actively and often, both with employees at the companies they’re interested in to see if part-time work is available and with other part-time workers who hold the kinds of roles they’d like to get into.
The key, says Sukola, is having an entrepreneurial spirit: Sometimes positions only materialize because you asked if part-time work was available and a role was adapted or created for you.