Teach a Craft Or Run Errands — Plus 6 Other Gigs Perfect for Seniors

An older man running an errand picks up items at a store.
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Older workers are re-entering or staying in the workforce in the highest numbers in decades. And many of them are giving the gig economy a shot.

According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the participation rate for seniors age 65 and up has increased nearly 10 percentage points since 1999.

Flexible work arrangements through side-gig apps and work-from-home jobs are making the transition easier. The customer-service and retail industries are also tapping into this burgeoning population of workers with targeted recruiting through AARP and churches.

All this amounts to a lot of competition among employers — and ripe job opportunities for retirees.

8 Jobs For Retirees

From errands to English-teaching or from ride-sharing to renting, these part-time jobs for seniors are tailor-fit for any older worker who wants to make a little extra money.

1. Become an Airbnb Host

Got a spare room, apartment, house ― even a tent in a serene backyard? You can rent it out for extra cash on Airbnb.

Airbnb is an online marketplace that allows folks to list their space for short-term rentals. Airbnb, after all, is short for Air Bed and Breakfast, which refers to the co-founders’ initial idea of charging guests to stay on air mattresses to help pay their San Francisco rent.

In our guide to becoming an Airbnb host, staff writer Carson Kohler outlines all the do’s and don’ts of hosting on Airbnb. The five big tenets to qualify are:

  1. You must be able to provide the essentials, including toilet paper, soap, linens, and at least one towel and pillow per guest.

  2. You must be responsive to your potential guests, answering requests and inquiries within 24 hours.

  3. You should accept reservation requests when you’re available.

  4. You should avoid cancellations. In fact, the Airbnb cancellation policy is pretty strict — you’ll find it outlined in our guide above.

  5. You should be able to keep a high overall rating from guests.

Before listing your home or apartment online, be sure to check with your local government, which may regulate or outright ban short-term rentals.

While there is no cost to register your rental, some things to consider are fees Airbnb charges every time someone books your space, in addition to municipal short-term rental taxes. Depending on your area, taxes and fees could reach as high as 21% of your listing price.

2. Chauffeur With Uber or Lyft

An smiling older woman drives a car.
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By now, you probably know the gist of driving with ride-sharing services: You use an app to connect with people who need rides. You drive them somewhere in your own car, and they pay automatically through the app.

The two biggest players in the space — Uber and Lyft — have an intense rivalry, but both apps are fair options if you’re just starting out.

Each app is fundamentally the same for drivers: You log in when you want to work, wait for a notification that means someone’s hailed a ride, then pick them up and drop them off at their destination. You earn money based on how many rides you take, and you automatically get paid each week (or more often, if you choose) through direct deposit.

To become a driver, applicants need:

  • To be at least 21 years old.
  • A four-door automobile, 2002 or newer.
  • A valid U.S. driver’s license.
  • At least a year of driving experience.

Beyond that, senior editor Dana Sitar breaks down the nuances in our Lyft vs Uber guide.

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3. Rent out Your Car

If you don’t feel like chaufferring others around — or driving at all, for that matter — you can rent out your unused car.

If you try to do that on your own, you’ll probably invalidate your insurance. And you have to find customers.

But companies like GetAround and Turo will find the customers for you and provide the insurance. Even General Motors launched a car-sharing service called Maven for owners of a GM vehicle (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet or GMC) that’s a 2015 model or newer.

Creating an account with all three companies is free.

Listing your car on GetAround costs $20 a month, plus a one-time $99 installation fee for a remote receiver to unlock your car for customers. Maven and Turo don’t charge monthly fees but take a percentage of earnings from your listing.

According to Maven estimates, renting out your car for a day could earn you between $80 and $225 depending on the model.

Payout is in as little as five days (for Turo) or as much as a month (for Maven).

4. Run Errands for Others

Through side-gig apps like TaskRabbit and Postmates, getting paid to run errands is as easy as it’s ever been. With both apps, users can browse through a list of tasks that locals need help with. Grocery runs, picking up a package from the UPS store, taking someone’s animal to obedience training — all fair game.

Postmates is focused on delivery-related tasks. You can deliver via car, bicycle or foot. Just create a free account, then you’ll receive a welcome kit in the mail within a week (a free delivery bag and a prepaid card to make your purchases). Link the card to the Postmates Fleet app, and you’re off to earning extra money.

TaskRabbit works a little differently. The services are much broader, including home improvement, maintenance, administrative, cleaning, event planning and — of course — delivery and other errand-related tasks. Creating an account is also free.

Income from both apps varies on a task-by-task basis. There aren’t any minimums in the amount of tasks you’re required to complete, either. You’ll be able to see the rates and choose to accept them before embarking on the errand.

While not average earnings, some high-performing users make more than $2,000 a month. See how these Taskers made thousands using TaskRabbit.

5. Teach Your Craft at Michael’s

A ship in a bottle rests on the sand at a beach.
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Can you knit? Do needlepoint? Build a ship in a bottle? These crafts, once thought of a throw-backs, are back in a big way.

The arts-and-crafts retailer Michael’s unveiled its Community Classroom in late 2018. The program offers a way to connect local “Makers,” aka people skilled in hands-on crafts, to teach at the nearest Michael’s. It’s up to the teachers, however, to recruit students for their classes. Michaels splits the profits from student registration, with Michael’s keeping 30% of the course price, and the teachers pocketing 70%.

The program is still in beta as it expands to all U.S. Michael’s locations, but most Michael’s stores currently offer it. No previous teaching experience is required and the program is open to everyone — not just Michael’s employees.

To become a Community Classroom instructor, submit a proposal that includes:

  • A detailed description of what you plan to teach.
  • A personal bio that explains your expertise, including a photo of yourself.
  • Logistics, such as the location, required materials for the lesson, date and time.

Accepted instructors receive Community Classroom ID and a 15% in-store discount.

6. Tutor English Online

English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teachers are in high demand. To keep up, many international education companies hire virtual teachers and offer bonuses if they refer other teachers to their platform. Overall, requirements to become an ESL teacher are pretty low.

In most cases, teaching English online requires a bachelor’s degree (in any field) but not always. Several companies hire ESL teachers with associate’s degrees, or no degree at all.

To qualify, ESL teachers must:

  • Be 18 years or older.
  • Be fluent in English, usually with citizenship from a native-English-speaking country.
  • Have a smartphone, computer or tablet with high-speed internet access.
  • A high-school diploma.

Teachers who meet the minimum requirements can expect hourly rates between $10 and $16. Top-performing or well-credentialed candidates frequently make more than $25 an hour.

Prefered candidates have a bachelor’s degree, early-morning or late-evening availability, previous teaching or tutoring experience and a certification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

In our guide to teaching English online, we dive deeper into the job requirements plus offer specifics on seven of the top ESL companies.

7. Work at Your Favorite Store

As the labor market remains tight, companies that would normally fill customer service positions with teenagers have flipped the script, instead opting for seniors who have decades of soft skills well-suited for the roles.

In-demand industries include fast-food restaurants, retail stores and call centers. Companies with frequent national hiring events (typically near the holiday season at the end of each year) include Aldi, Amazon, Gap, Inc., Sitel, Target, Taco Bell and UPS.

Pro Tip

Job-hunting trends are always in flux. Don’t know where to start? AARP has loads of resources, including the Back to Work program for people re-entering the workforce after 50.

Never attended a big hiring event? We covered all you need to know to land a job at an in-store hiring event near you. Big things to remember: do your research before the event, come with some questions and dress to impress. A copy of your resume won’t hurt, either.

8. Work From Home

Rather not work in a store? Snag a work-from-home job. Several of the companies mentioned above hire remotely, and overall the remote workforce is booming.

The most popular remote jobs are in customer service. In these gigs, workers typically respond to customers over the phone, via email or through instant messages. Tracking trends in customer complaints and questions are a large part of these roles as well.

Pro Tip

The Penny Hoarder’s Work-From-Home Jobs Portal makes the remote-job hunt easy. Our journalists scour the web for the best gigs, vet the companies and aggregate the latest listings in one place.

Companies that frequently hire remote customer-service jobs include AAA, American Express and Apple — as well as several others that don’t start with the letter A.

There are many other remote job opportunities out there besides customer service, too. Other popular fields include IT, media and marketing.

Basic computing skills are needed for all remote jobs, and your home office could need a little updating to land certain gigs. Before you apply to your online dream job, review what home-office essentials are commonly required by remote employers.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

Staff Writer Carson Kohler contributed to this article.