Once, I had a job where I had to show up for work at 4:45 a.m. It was nice to be off work in the early afternoon, but the 4 a.m. wake-up call wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.
But, for many people, getting up bright and early is the best way to get a jump-start on their workday. While some prefer for night owl occupations, if you’re naturally inclined to get up before the sun rises, some of these “early bird” jobs might be just right for you.
When bakeries open in the morning, staff need to be ready to serve people with a smile and dish up their freshly baked goods. Since picking up a muffin or croissant is a morning ritual for many, someone needs to be there nice and early to make sure the tasty treats are ready.
You could start your own baked goods enterprise or work for someone else, but either way, working at a bakery is a good way to start your workday bright and early. To get this gig, you should have food service and baking experience, though some bakeries will train people eager to learn the ropes.
Every morning, hordes of uncaffeinated workers stop at their local cafes for a cuppa joe to help them start their day. Baristas and cafe workers have to be at work bright and early to get everything ready for people stopping in for their morning fix.
Job duties typically include preparing drinks, serving customers, cleaning and running a cash register. Restaurant and barista experience is helpful, but many coffee shops are willing to train the right person who can have a smile on his or her face at 4 a.m.
When your flight takes off at 7 a.m., guess who has to be there far earlier? That’s right, the people flying the plane. If you love being up in the air, consider training to become a pilot. Plus, the travel perks of the job are huge. Spend this weekend in Barcelona and then spend next weekend in New York City!
The qualifications are rigorous to become a commercial or private pilot, and you’ll have to pass extensive training and be able to pass a pilot physical. While many commercial pilots have extensive military backgrounds, not all private pilots do.
4. Flight Attendant
Want to spend your days in the air, but have no desire to become a pilot? Airlines need flight attendants to help keep everyone safe on the plane in addition to serving drinks and meals, cleaning up and helping people use those tricky in-flight entertainment systems.
This is a great job for an early bird, since a 7 a.m. flight starts boarding far earlier and flight attendants need to be there well in advance. While different airlines have different requirements, generally you need to be at least 21 years old and have a high school diploma or GED.
5. Airport Ticket Agent
When people need to check in two hours early for their crack-of-dawn flight, airline ticket agents need to be there to greet them, help them check their bags and offer assistance in getting to their gate.
This is also a great job for travel lovers with other commitments like kids to pick up from school and other regular obligations. You can often work at one airport and keep a somewhat regular schedule, yet you can still have a lot of travel perks.
Shifts can begin at 4 a.m. or even earlier, so this is definitely a job for the early morning crowd. Of course, some shifts last late into the evening as well, so be sure to find out the specific schedule of any position before committing.
6. Morning Radio DJ
Do you have boundless early morning enthusiasm? Consider becoming a morning radio DJ and picking the right tunes, hosting the best contests for listeners and giving traffic updates to help everyone else get to work. Working as a morning DJ offers plenty of benefits, including free show tickets, local notoriety, and getting o skip rush hour since you’re at work so early.
Morning radio DJs often start off with small community or college radio stations, sometimes as volunteers, before moving on to paid gigs at larger stations. You’ll need a great radio voice, an ability to be cool under pressure and some reels of previous broadcasting experience to prove your mettle in this competitive field.
7. Mail Carrier
Spend your workday making the rounds and delivering letters and packages to people along your route as a mail carrier. People who work for the post office have to show up bright and early in order to get the mail organized and ready for the day before they hit the road and start delivering. Many shifts end in the early afternoon.
To qualify for this gig, you must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have a good driving record and be able to pass a number of screenings (including criminal, drug and medical checks).
8. Newspaper Delivery Person
The days of tween newspaper delivery people are largely over. Now, instead of kids on bicycles lobbing rolled papers into neighborhood bushes, many newspaper delivery people are adults who drive their routes.
Since people want to read the paper first thing in the morning, this gig can start very early. Some routes involve delivering to businesses and pay boxes in bulk, while others involve door-to-door subscriber delivery. Generally, you’ll need to have a good driving record and reliable vehicle (though some bulk deliveries provide a truck for you to drive), and many of these positions pay mileage in addition to an hourly wage.
9. Morning News Producer
If you love working with breaking news, consider becoming a morning news producer. The producer typically runs the show and organizes the director, studio crew, reporters, field crew and photographers, getting everyone ready to put together a high-quality newscast each day. Duties include monitoring the wire for stories, finding leads, communicating with everyone, making sure the timing is right and editing and organizing the show so the flow is perfect.
You’ll need relevant experience for these positions and a college degree in broadcasting is very helpful, in addition to good communications skills and social media savvy.
10. Refuse and Recyclable Collector
Refuse and recyclable collectors start their days long before you hear the trucks rumble through your neighborhood first thing in the morning. Trucks typically have drivers and helpers.
If you’re driving, you will need a commercial driver’s license. While experience is preferred, drivers and helpers typically learn the details of their jobs as they work, including how to operate the Dumpster trucks and side-loaders. Refuse collection experience is preferred, especially for drivers, though helpers can have diverse backgrounds, including construction and manual labor. Many of these jobs also require people to pass a background check and drug test.
11. Truck Driver
You don’t want to get stuck in rush hour traffic if you’re a truck driver. That’s why many drivers start bright and early (think 4 a.m. or earlier) to beat the rush and get a start on their days on the road.
To qualify for a driving job, you need to obtain a commercial truck driving license, pass medical exams and demonstrate the attention to detail and aptitude needed to safely maneuver your huge vehicle through heavy traffic, in bad weather and through big cities.
12. Supermarket Stocker
If you venture into your local supermarket early in the morning, you’ll likely see a stock team working hard at filling the shelves and getting groceries ready for people to pick up that day. To keep the aisles clear for shopping rushes, supermarkets typically have an overnight or early morning crew hard at work stocking the shelves. Be ready to do some heavy lifting during your shift as you organize and stock a variety of cans and boxes.
13. Farm Worker
Farmers are traditionally known as people who are up well before dawn, getting to work in the fields and barns as soon as the sun comes up, if not before. If you want to work hard first thing in the morning, consider getting a job on a farm. From milking cows to firing up the tractor and maneuvering it across the fields during planting or harvesting season, this job will provide you the early morning hours your crave.
Experience operating farming equipment and working on a farm is preferred, though many farmers are willing to train people with a good attitude and work ethic.
If working a set schedule isn’t your thing, consider one of the many fields where you can be your own boss.
Freelance writers typically set their own hours and work whenever they have the time or find the inspiration. For this job, you need to be able to write well and adhere to deadlines. No formal training is required, but having a collection of published clips is a good way to get your foot in the door.
If you work for a design firm, you typically have to keep office hours, but if you work as a freelance graphic designer, you can largely keep your own hours, aside from specified times to meet with clients. This means you can wake up at 4 a.m. and work until noon if that’s the schedule the best suits you. You need a good eye for design, and many find a college degree in graphic design or a related field to be very helpful.
Need more ideas? Here are a few other ways to make money as a freelancer.
Your Turn: Are you a morning person who’s found a great job that fits your early-bird nature? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.