Do you function better in the morning or in the evening? In a National Sleep Foundation poll, 37% of males and 44% of females reported being an “owl,” or evening person versus a “lark,” or morning person. Younger respondents were more likely to be night owls; more than half of all respondents age 18 to 29 said they work best at night.
Of course, if you’re a night person, it can be truly tough to get up at six in the morning to report to work. So what can you do if you only fully wake up and come alive after you get home from your daytime job?
Trade it in for a new one! Here are some of the best jobs for night owls.
1. Freelance Writer
While freelance writing is technically a business rather than a job, it’s an obvious one to include on this list, because you can write whenever your mind functions best. And yes, I’m writing this in the evening (just to make a point, since I’m actually more of a morning person).
How much you’ll make depends on your ability to find good clients and how efficient you are. Although I’m usually paid by the article, I aim for at least $20 per hour.
2. Air Traffic Controller
This is one of the most highly paid jobs with night shifts. The median annual wage for air traffic controllers is $121,280, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You don’t even need a college degree to get these jobs, according to the Federal Aviation Administration website, although you will have to go to the FAA Academy.
Unfortunately, night shifts sometimes alternate with day shifts, leaving some controllers feeling groggy, according to a recent article in the New York Daily News.
3. Casino Dealer
When I was a blackjack dealer, I usually opted to leave early (when the traffic slowed), but many casino dealers love working after midnight. It’s quieter, and customers are more relaxed.
Since at most casinos, tips are pooled and added to paychecks as an hourly rate, you don’t lose anything by working the slow late shifts. Friends who still work for my former employer say they average more than $20 per hour with tips.
Bartending is another job where you can do well without a college degree, as long as you work in the right place and are assigned to the right shifts. Fortunately for night owls, evening shifts produce the best tips. Weekends are usually better than weekdays, so bartending can be a great part-time second job if you already work during the week.
5. Security Guard
When I was a security guard, I liked working in the evenings. It was cooler (I worked in Florida), and I was allowed to spend time reading, writing and cruising the Internet.
Night security positions are often relaxing, and some allow free time for various activities that don’t interfere with the work. The downside is the pay. The BLS reports that the median annual wage for security guards is just $27,550. However, they do note that 10% of security guards make over $43,000, so watch for those better-paying gigs, or work your way up to them.
The mean annual wage for firefighters is $48,270, and a full 25% top $61,500 per year. Perhaps the best positions are in towns where you work long shifts, staying at the station until there is a situation. For example, the Austin, Texas fire department says “All firefighters work rotating shifts of 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off duty.”
Friends in these positions tell me that you’re generally allowed to read, write or watch television during those long slow nights.
In recent years, babysitting has become more lucrative for adults. Since you’re an independent contractor, you can decide which hours you want to work. In other words, you can take only jobs that start in the evening, or even offer overnight babysitting for other night owls who work the late shifts at their jobs.
8. Mail Sorter
It isn’t easy to get career positions at the post office, but they often hire for what they call casual positions, which are normally temporary jobs. For example, I sorted mail seasonally for two years, working September through December each year. The work wasn’t difficult, didn’t require any previous experience, and paid about $13 per hour.
The shift started at 11 p.m. and finished when the mail was sorted, which was usually between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. These positions provide no benefits and, in my case, involved only 30 hours weekly. In other words, this isn’t a career, but a nice way to make some extra cash working at night.
9. Repossession Agent
One of my favorite night jobs was working as a repo man (repossession or recovery agent). This is another position that rarely works out as a career and, in my opinion, it’s best suited to men and women under the age of 40 (I was about 21 at the time).
The pay varies quite a bit, especially if you’re paid per successful repossession rather than per hour. But it is fun to legally steal cars in the middle of the night.
10. Pizza Delivery Driver
I made decent money delivering pizzas when I was younger. A friend tells me he makes about $14 per hour as a pizza delivery driver. It is all about the tips, because most places pay minimum wage, and some may pay only the tipped-employee minimum wage, which is just $2.13 per hour. Still, being a pizza delivery driver can provide a nice side income, especially if you work only when tips are best, which is at night on the weekend.
It also helps if your employer provides a vehicle or pays extra for your car expenses. I’ve worked for employers using both arrangements, and I profited from the latter by driving a cheap car that got good gas mileage.
Other Jobs for Night Owls
There are many positions that offer both day and night shifts, allowing you to apply only for the latter. Here are some examples:
- Disc jockey
- Limo driver
- Merchandise stocker
- Night school teacher
- Hotel desk clerk
- Highway toll booth attendant
- Liquor store clerk
- Gas station attendant
- Movie projectionist
- Customer service representative
Finally, many online jobs and contract work can be done at night. For example, as a search engine evaluator I often put in late hours. Other online work you can do at any time includes website testing, translating documents, proofreading and freelance editing.
Your Turn: Are you a night owl? Tell us about the best nighttime job you’ve had.
Steve Gillman is the author of, “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. Of the more than 100 ways he has personally made money, writing is his favorite (so far).