Making ends meet: The world of second jobs for teachers
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Being a teacher is an important professional calling — but it’s no easy task.
Some people look at the profession and imagine it’s an easy job, with summers off and plenty of free time in the afternoon once the students go home. However, those in the know regarding what it’s really like to be a teacher know that this generalization couldn’t be further from the truth.
Being a teacher is as tough as it is important. Teachers often work long hours — with tremendous responsibilities that extend both in and out of the classroom — and are constantly dealing with an array of challenging student personalities, needs, and demands (not to mention the needs of the parents and their school administrators).
Another key factor working against most teachers is compensation. The notion that teachers are overworked, underappreciated, and underpaid has become a professional cliché of sorts in the United States, and has led to a growing phenomena among educators — getting a second job to make ends meet. According to a recent Washington Post article, “Many teachers are paid so poorly, in fact, that they have to take second jobs to pay their bills. A study released earlier this year found that in 2015, the weekly wages of public school teachers in the United States were 17% lower than comparable college-educated professionals — and those most hurt were veteran teachers and male teachers.”
The article points out that this unfortunate situation is not isolated to any specific teaching grade level or geographic region of the country: “Nationally the situation is bleak. While other professions have seen compensation growth, teachers’ salaries have stagnated for four decades. In fact, over the last decade in 30 of 50 states, teacher pay has actually not kept pace with the cost of living. Forty-seven states face teacher shortages, and there has been a 30% decrease in enrollment in teacher credentialing programs in recent years.”
Since the phenomena of teachers taking on second jobs doesn’t seem to be decreasing or ending anytime soon, a good strategy for these intrepid educators is to leverage their professional experience, skillsets, and work schedules to their advantage. If you’re a teacher looking for additional employment, consider the following ideas to earn some extra money and help make ends meet.
Most teachers have a great eye and ear for the effective flow of ideas, proper word use, and grammar, and can often spot a mistake quickly — often the result of reviewing countless student essays and reports. That’s why seeking work as a freelance editor can be a rewarding and lucrative option for teachers.
Freelance editors are typically well compensated (average hourly wages can range from $25–$40 per hour or more, depending on the project and your experience level), and opportunities are available in all genres, from nonfiction to fiction and more, so you can feasibly work on subject matter that naturally interests you. Also, depending on the project deadline you can carve out a schedule that works around your teaching chores and other life responsibilities, making this a potentially attractive option.
Getting paid to tutor individuals outside of work seems like a natural fit for someone who’s already employed as a teacher — and if it’s in a subject that you’re well versed in, then you’ll have little or no prep involved to get started. Since tutors generally set their own hours and pay scales (often based on level of commitment and subject complexity), how much you make can entirely depend on you. Furthermore, you’ll have the flexibility to set your own hours and venue.
Do you have a talent for clearly and easily explaining complicated or technical processes? If so, then consider looking for additional work as a technical writer. Technical writers create and review instruction manuals, journal articles, company documents, and how-to guides in an effort to make technical or scientific information easier to understand. This typically requires a background in science, technology, engineering, or computers, but the good news is that if you teach in this area, it may be a great choice for you for a second job.
The pay is typically good (average hourly wages can range from $30-$50 per hour or more, depending on the project and your experience level). Plus, you can sometimes work on a per-project basis, allowing you to control how much additional work you take on, and work around your existing schedule.
Most teachers have a background in and propensity for working with younger people, which may make employment as a childcare worker an easy transition for them. If you have a capacity for caring for children, then consider a second job as a childcare worker. You can often do this type of work with an agency or as a self-employed individual (meaning you can set your own fee scale and availability), and because peoples’ needs for childcare varies you can likely find work for whatever time of day makes sense for you.
Although this might not seem to be the most instinctual choice for a second job for teachers, take a moment to think about it. In the era of Uber, Lyft, and Seamless, the need for drivers and delivery people has never been greater, and you shouldn’t have a problem finding extra work. In addition, shifts are often available at night, early in the morning, or on weekends, which means you can pick up some extra pay without interrupting your teaching schedule. Also, after a tough, mentally taxing day of teaching, driving as a second job might be a nice change of pace.
If you’re a teacher, you may not be looking forward to the idea of a second job, but it may be a necessity for you. If this is the case, you can make it easier on you by choosing your second job wisely. Use the information and ideas presented here to help you make the choice for a second job as easy as possible.
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