July 25, 2024


Science It Works

These Side Jobs Will Be the Most Popular in the US

Few times in American history has the “side gig” been as important as it is today. With many Americans suddenly discovering that their main gig wasn’t something they could continue to do safely in the midst of the pandemic, finding additional forms of employment is about more than a little extra spending money right now.

But what sort of potential side gigs stand to be the most rewarding — and the least risky — in the coming months? Using those side gigs that Americans rated as being the most popular in past surveys, GOBankingRates has produced this study that could indicate which of these jobs are likely to get a surge of interest based on the average wages and a very general assessment of its potential risks for contracting the coronavirus — though one should be careful to keep in mind that those risks can vary greatly depending on the specific circumstances and that scientists’ understanding of the virus is still evolving.

Last updated: Sept. 7, 2020

If you love the cinema and enjoy order, ushering might be the perfect side gig for you. Theater ushers are the last lines of defense between a popcorn fight and a pleasant viewing experience. A good sense of customer service and patience will serve you best in this gig, as well as a willingness to be on your feet most of the time.

Look up theaters such as AMC or Cinemark for usher jobs, or check in with your local theater. Benefits likely include free movies and popcorn. However, your options could be limited depending on your state as some may still be requiring theaters to remain closed. And even if they are open, the job would mean being around a large volume of people — always potentially hazardous during the pandemic.

Even families that employ full-time nannies or use day care services often need extra help taking care of their children on the weekends. You can help fill this need so parents can get more done — or simply go on a date every now and then — by working as a nanny, caretaker or babysitter.

Word of mouth is still a powerful method for finding good work in this field; however, you can also sign up with reputable resources like Care.com or Sittercity.com. Be advised that caretaking experience is expected. Some parents might also prefer candidates with certifications in CPR and some early childhood education or training. One perk of this job is that you might be able to watch your own children while watching the children of others, making it an ideal job for stay-at-home parents. However, it would definitely involve extended periods of time around others and indoors.

If you’ve ever scrolled through the jobs section of Craigslist, you’ve likely seen a number of postings that call for a brand ambassador or brand marketing representative. Full-time brand ambassador jobs exist, but many of these opportunities pop up on a part-time basis to support special events. However, lockdowns and other social distancing measures could seriously limit the number of opportunities available, so be sure you’re clear on how your state and/or city are handling the crisis.

Clubs, bars and music vendors are always on the hunt for extra muscle on weekends and for major events. To increase your chances of being hired as a security guard or bouncer, sign up for a training course that culminates with licensure. Physical fitness is another requirement of the job, as you’ll need to be able to handle unruly and, oftentimes, inebriated patrons.

However, if bars and clubs aren’t open in your area, there will be no patrons to handle, inebriated or otherwise. And even if they are open, there would be distinct COVID-19 risks with being around so many other people.

If you’re the type of person who notices minute details — such as the fold of napkins at a dinner party — you might want to consider pursuing an event assistant gig. As an event assistant, you’ll be responsible for completing behind-the-scenes tasks that help make weddings, birthday parties, corporate events and more run smoothly.

While this side hustle idea might seem glamorous, be advised that event assistants work long hours, spending much of that time on their feet. Also know that event assistants are not event guests, meaning you will not partake in event happenings. If you are lucky enough to be in an area where events can be held safely, this could be an option, but it’s definitely worth being sure you understand the risks involved first.

Fast Food Worker

  • How much it pays: $11.18
  • COVID-19 risk: Medium

Fast food workers are responsible for greeting customers, taking orders, assisting with kitchen prep and cleaning the restaurant. A high school degree or equivalent might be required, though some positions require no education — just on-the-job training. While the wages are relatively low, food service is an essential industry and you’re more likely to be able to find work. Just be sure you’re careful about following any and all safety precautions and keeping your distance from others as much as possible.

Host or Barback

  • How much it pays: $11.54
  • COVID-19 risk: Medium

Securing a job as a host or barback is an excellent way to break into the restaurant business. These positions are ideal for individuals who have little or no restaurant experience but are interested in working their way up to waiting tables or working as a bartender.

Exemplary hosts have excellent customer service skills, as they are most often the first representative guests see when they enter a restaurant. They are required to keep track of reservations and waiting lists, to seat guests at their tables and to complete other miscellaneous tasks, such as cleaning menus.

Unlike hosts, barbacks do not usually interact with guests. Instead, they can be seen stocking the bar with ice, glasses, alcohol and other necessary items. Barbacks sometimes also clear dining tables, though this is usually reserved for bussers. If this does sound like it could appeal to you, start checking on whether or not bars are open in your area or when they might be and how you can keep safe while working at one.


  • How much it pays: $18.90
  • COVID-19 risk: High

Tutors provide an invaluable service to those seeking academic help or alternatives to professional help. Customers, most of whom will likely be students and their parents, will want you to field their questions and concerns about math, English, history, science or another subject. You’ll have to take their class schedule into account, working primarily after school or on weekends. Tutoring might work best if you live on or near an academic campus. Sites like Care.com can link up tutors with prospective students.

And while visiting a number of students in their homes can present a clear risk for contracting the coronavirus, the potential for tutoring online or remotely via video chat presents an option that almost erases the risks to you and your pupils.

Make That Money:  27 Most Lucrative Side Hustles for People Over 50


  • How much it pays: $12.88
  • COVID-19 risk: Medium

It’s easy to squeeze in shifts working nights and weekends as a server, waiter or another restaurant worker if you work a traditional 9-to-5 job.

Working as a server usually requires on-the-job training, and you should be prepared to be on your feet for long periods of time. Having good people skills is also a must with this side gig. And if restaurants haven’t reopened for in-person service in your area, you might consider calling around now to ask about when they’re thinking that could be possible. At the very least, it could help you begin establishing a relationship with potential employers so you’ll have leads when business picks back up.

House Cleaner

  • How much it pays: $12.89
  • COVID-19 risk: Medium

Some people thrive on cleaning and organizing, so working as a house cleaner could be the ideal side hustle for this personality type. Many housekeepers work for an agency, though some are self-employed. Either way, the job often allows for a flexible schedule, as you can typically choose how often and when you work. This job can be strenuous, so it’s best for people who don’t mind being on their feet and doing physically taxing work. Also, keep in mind that your risks greatly increase if you’re cleaning while the residents are still there. Scheduling times when people won’t be home could be one good way to reduce your risks.

Retail Sales Associate

  • How much it pays: $13.27
  • COVID-19 risk: Medium

Retailers are often busiest on weekends, which presents a great opportunity for those looking to bring in a little extra cash. Retail sales associates work in the customer areas of stores to help maintain orderliness and appearance, and to assist shoppers with any needs they might have. Retail associates spend the bulk of their shifts standing and are often required to be able to lift items weighing up to 25 pounds. In addition to their hourly pay, most retailers give their employees a discount on store merchandise.

And, with plenty of essential businesses in need of these sort of clerks, this is one position that’s much more likely to have openings in your area. Just be aware that it will involve being around more people than many other jobs.


  • How much it pays: $13.46
  • COVID-19 risk: Medium

Many people romanticize working as a bartender. What could be better than making drinks for friends, listening to a good playlist and pocketing cash tips?

However, as any bartender will tell you, the job isn’t as easy — or as fun — as it might seem. To get started as a bartender, you can enroll in bartending classes, but nothing can replace experience. Many bartenders work their way up to the position after working as hosts, bussers, servers or waiters. Most will work as barbacks — which involves carrying heavy buckets of ice and cases of alcohol — before they make it to that coveted spot mixing drinks behind the bar. Once again, if this appeals to you, you don’t necessarily have to wait until bars in your area have reopened to begin looking for which establishments might be a good fit.

Stretch Your Finances: 100 Ways To Make Your Money Last Until You’re 100

Food and Beverage Delivery Driver

  • How much it pays: $14.53
  • COVID-19 risk: Medium

If you have a reliable car, a good driving record and free time on nights and weekends, consider part-time work as a food and beverage delivery driver. While at one time delivery drivers were limited to pizza parlors and restaurants that offered takeout, the opportunities for delivery drivers today are endless.

For example, you can consider working for popular delivery apps like UberEats, Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates, to name a few. This is also one job that has notably been in very high demand since the start of lockdowns in many parts of the country. If the coronavirus has shut you out of your normal work, this is one area where you might have good prospects at finding a short-term replacement.

Stylists, Massage Therapists and Personal Trainers

  • How much it pays: $22.19
  • COVID-19 risk: High

Hairstylists need special training and certification, plus the ability to be on their feet for long periods of time. It also helps to be outgoing and good at making conversation, to keep clients coming back. Not to mention, many Americans just got a rather clear reminder of just how much they appreciate what their stylists and barbers are doing for them.

Massage therapists also need special training and certification, but it can be very satisfying work for people who enjoy being able to administer care. Likewise for personal trainers, you’ll need to get certified before you can start safely taking on clients, but that can actually be appealing to the right kind of gym rat.

While gyms and salons might not be open in your area, this could also be a good window for you to start learning more about how to get yourself certified and how businesses are adjusting their practices to stay safe during the pandemic.

Hair Salon or Spa Receptionist

  • How much it pays: $15.02
  • COVID-19 risk: Medium

Hair salons and spas are often bustling on the weekends with clients who want to kick back, relax and pamper themselves. You can take advantage of busy weekends by finding a side gig as a hair salon or spa receptionist.

To be successful as a receptionist, you need a friendly demeanor, a great attitude, excellent customer service skills and the ability to stay organized and schedule appointments. Receptionists often get discounts on salon or spa services as well.

There’s likely to be a big surge in demand as soon as an area starts reopening salons, meaning even a normally quiet neighborhood barbershop might be ready to consider having someone to help them manage customers. So checking with area businesses might be one way to find options.

Uber or Lyft Driver

  • How much it pays: $15.97
  • COVID-19 risk: Medium

Ride-sharing apps have become so popular that “Uber” is now used as a verb as well as a noun.

You must meet several requirements to become a driver for a ride-share service. For example, to become a Lyft driver, you must be at least 21 years old, own an iPhone or Android phone and meet other requirements that vary by city. As a driver, you’ll set your own hours and generally choose the area where you want to drive.

The ease with which anyone with a car can download the app and be ready to start taking rides is one thing that could make this an appealing option, especially for people who are temporarily out of work due to the crisis. You’ll also have a chance to work the hours that suit you without necessarily putting down roots that will make it difficult to return to your old job as soon as it’s possible.


  • How much it pays: $12.20
  • COVID-19 risk: Low

Another great outdoor job is that of a lifeguard. Working as a lifeguard at a local pool, gym, water park or beach is not exclusively for high school students on summer break. In fact, any person certified through an accredited lifeguard training and certification course — which includes CPR, first aid and automated external defibrillator (AED) training — can do the job. Whether or not public beaches or pools are open in your area is also a clear concern, but once again, you can start doing the necessary research now even if they aren’t.

Survey Taker

  • How much it pays: $12.78
  • COVID-19 risk: Low

Sites like Swagbucks allow you to get paid to take surveys in your downtime. Companies, brands and organizations work with the site to get consumer opinions, and you get rewarded with cash back and gift cards for your time. The pay per survey varies, but some pay up to $50. This side gig is an easy way to earn some extra cash, and you don’t need any special skills to do it.

Get To Work: 50 Cities Where You Need a Side Hustle To Get By

Construction Worker

  • How much it pays: $20.06
  • COVID-19 risk: Medium

If you don’t mind physical labor, working in construction can be a fruitful side gig. Construction workers perform various tasks at project sites, including loading and unloading equipment, clearing work areas and operating hand and power tools.

The training required depends on the specific gig, with some requiring apprenticeship programs and others simply requiring on-the-job training. That said, construction work is always in high demand among workers for its good pay, so it can be hard to find in the best of times let alone during the pandemic.

Repair Worker

  • How much it pays: $20.38
  • COVID-19 risk: Medium

Thanks to sites like TaskRabbit and Handy, it’s easy to find side gigs doing repairs and performing other handyman services. With TaskRabbit, you can search job tasks to find ones that fit your skill set, set your own rates and choose your own schedule. But before becoming a Tasker, you must register online and attend an onboarding info
session in your city. And of course, trying to coordinate your visits with times when most or all of the residents won’t be there can greatly reduce your potential risks.

Pet Sitter

  • How much it pays: $13.33
  • COVID-19 risk: Low

Pets are part of the family, and some people are willing to shell out cash to ensure their fur babies receive endless love and care. If you have experience caring for animals like dogs and cats, you should consider a side gig as a pet sitter.

Websites like Rover.com and Petsitting.com can help you find pets that need care in your area. Services offered by these websites range from daily walks to caring for an animal in your home while the pet owner is away.

How much you make as a pet sitter depends on many factors, including the service you are providing and your experience with animals.


  • How much it pays: $14.31
  • COVID-19 risk: Low

There are countless part-time telemarketing jobs available for anyone willing to work nights or weekends. Even better, these jobs sometimes allow you to work from the comfort of your own home — which is perfect if you’re looking for jobs that offer work-life balance.

As you likely know, telemarketers call potential customers over the phone in the hopes of persuading them to buy products or services. Sales skills are a plus, though not necessary, as most companies provide their workers with a prepared pitch. Thick skin, however, is a must.

You can find telemarketing opportunities online on FlexJobs.com and via internet job boards. Those that allow you to work from home are clearly preferable for reducing your risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Auto Mechanic

  • How much it pays: $21.58
  • COVID-19 risk: Medium

Automotive mechanics and service technicians are responsible for diagnosing and repairing issues with automobiles, maintaining inventories of tools and car parts and working with customer service and sales teams. Although no college degree is typically required for this job, the diagnosis of automotive malfunctions now usually requires electronic testing equipment, so formal training is required for most jobs in the field.

Looking For a Change? 17 Side Jobs That Don’t Require a Desk or a Screen

Driver (Not Ride-Sharing)

  • How much it pays: $22.03
  • COVID-19 risk: Medium

Most part-time drivers now work for a ride-share company, but it’s possible to have other driving gigs, including driving public transportation buses, school buses, trucks and limos.

Bus drivers are assigned to specific routes, and are responsible for safely transporting passengers while keeping to a strict time schedule. Requirements for this side hustle can include obtaining a specialized license, completing training lessons, passing health screenings and submittin
g clean background checks and drug tests. However, it’s important to note that the coronavirus risk factors here can vary greatly. Driving a public bus, for instance, is going to be a lot more dangerous than a limo with just a passenger or two per trip.

Lawn Maintenance Worker

  • How much it pays: $15.56
  • COVID-19 risk: Low

If you want to make extra money on the weekends but don’t want to spend your time indoors or inside your car, consider a gig as a lawn maintenance worker.

To get started, you can contact landscaping companies near where you live, or you can look for opportunities on services like GreenPal, which connects individuals who need yard services with lawn professionals via its website, YourGreenPal.com.

The pay you’ll earn when working for private clients might vary, so do your research so you know what an acceptable hourly rate is.

Data Entry Clerk

  • How much it pays: $16.74
  • COVID-19 risk: Low

Data entry might not sound too exciting — you’re essentially just filling out fields in a document — but it’s the perfect job to veg out to. Data entry clerks provide logistical support to large projects that require filtering through a lot of information. Brush up on your Excel and Google Sheets skills before seeking out this easy part-time job.

Sites such as Clickworker crowdsource at least hundreds of thousands of independent contractors to help with projects such as processing data. Data entry is a side hustle you can do without quitting your job. And, as a job that is likely easy to do remotely in most cases, it can be an ideal job for someone with preexisting conditions that might put them at additional risk for COVID-19.

Craft Seller

  • How much it pays: $18.63
  • COVID-19 risk: Low

Thanks to online marketplaces like Etsy, you can turn your crafting hobby into a successful side hustle. To sell on the site, you pay a small listing fee, plus fees for transactions and payment processing. But you’ll gain access to over 33 million buyers, which can help you to make a substantial profit. Some successful Etsy shop owners make six-figure revenues.

Park Ranger

  • How much it pays: $19
  • COVID-19 risk: Low

It’s hard to beat getting paid to walk among nature. There are certainly people who prefer to spend their time outdoors year-round, but park work can also be seasonal. Park ranger duties might include general surveillance of the park, cleaning up trash and ecological projects such as restoring wildlife habitats. If you work in an area with a high tourism rate, such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, expect to field a lot of tourists’ questions.

The National Park Service offers seasonal employment opportunities, though salaries depend on the park, the scope of duties and the type of position itself. But this is all contingent on whether or not parks are currently open in your area, so research opportunities carefully.

Freelancer – Web Design

  • How much it pays: $27
  • COVID-19 risk: Low

Web design is one job that can pay very well, be done remotely and is often freelance work that wouldn’t require leaving a full-time job. It does require familiarity with the software used to build sites, and if you want to find work it’s probably a good idea to understand more than just one platform. However, if you are someone with the technical know-how who’s temporarily out of work due to the crisis, this is one area where you could find some work to sustain you while you wait out a return to your normal job.

Freelancer – Graphic Design

  • How much it pays: $27
  • COVID-19 risk: Low

Good graphic design is often what makes the difference in a product that captures an audience and does its job and one that doesn’t get noticed. If you want to find regular work, you should make sure you’re familiar with a range of potential software platforms used to create graphics, touch up photos or create original artwork. However, if you can learn to use the tools employers will want, anyone with a solid sense of aesthetics can begin seeking out remote, freelance design work that can pay well and keep you socially distanced.

Freelancer – Photography/Video

  • How much it pays: $28
  • COVID-19 risk: Low

Instagram might have made everyone an amateur photographer/videographer, but it’s also drawn that much more attention to the difference professional care can make. Whether it’s in corporate marketing or editing wedding videos, being able to help create/manipulate still and moving images has a wide variety of applications. And with good pay and the chance to work alone in many cases, this could be an ideal option for work during the pandemic.

Freelancer – Editing/Writing

  • How much it pays: $30
  • COVID-19 risk: Low

Freelancing encompasses such a wide range of skills and talents that it can be paralyzing to figure out which one to market. Some common freelancing opportunities to consider include: editing, technical writing, proofreading, copy editing, ghostwriting and blogging.

Check websites such as Upwork, LinkedIn, Indeed and Craigslist for available opportunities. If you work as a freelance writer, you might even be able to turn your writing into a passive income stream. What’s more, it’s done remotely as often as not, giving you a good line on a job you can do safely from home.

Freelancer – Business Consulting

  • How much it pays: $34
  • COVID-19 risk: Low

The ability to get paid for business consulting will typically be contingent on having specific skills/knowledge you can bring to the table. As such, it’s important that you can clearly identify what verticals you can be a subject-matter expert in and pursue work there. If you are someone who’s temporarily laid off because of the virus, it’s entirely possible your industry is still working in certain areas where you could moonlight as a consulting expert. So before you start chasing work completely outside your field, be sure you can’t capitalize on the experience you already have.


  • How much it pays: $39.96
  • COVID-19 risk: Medium

If you’re musically inclined, you can turn your talents into some extra cash. Musicians and singers can get paid gigs performing at a variety of venues, including theaters, lounges and orchestras. It’s helpful to secure an agent if you want to get paying gigs
regularly, but you’ll likely have to begin performing for free before you can charge to be an entertainer.

While performing live gigs is going to be impossible in some areas, social media and video sharing sites offer a range of opportunities for you to start building an audience from home. Even if you can’t play a show now, you could be securing a fan to come to one as soon as it’s possible.

More From GOBankingRates

Beverly Bird, Sean Dennison and Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: Wages were sourced from either the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Glassdoor or ZipRecruiter. COVID-19 risk was determined by this analysis. In order to make ranking possible, low-risk jobs were given a COVID-19 risk score of 1, medium risk jobs were given a score of 2, and high-risk jobs a 3. Jobs were then ranked on their wage and risk, with wage weighted double.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: These Side Jobs Will Be the Most Popular in the US