Between strikes and the onset of summer vacation, millions of teachers may be looking for full or part-time work over the next several months. The good news is that jobs are plentiful. At 3.9 percent, the nation’s unemployment rate is at its lowest level in more than a decade.

However, for those planning to return to teaching in the fall, the best bet may be to look for side hustles that you can do as often or as infrequently as you’d like. These jobs are often flexible enough that they can provide part-time income even during the school year.

Notably, the ability to earn a little money on the side may be more important to teachers than most other groups — and that’s not just because teachers are historically underpaid.

In many parts of the country, teachers are shut out of the Social Security retirement system because their schools send retirement contributions to teacher pension funds instead of to Social Security. Theoretically, that’s trading one retirement system for another. But in reality, Social Security offers unique benefits that can be pivotal to guaranteeing retirement security.

No other retirement system offers “spousal benefits,” a retirement stipend based on your spouse’s work history, not yours. for instance. These benefits are particularly important when a couple is relying on retirement income from both spouses to make ends meet. School teachers are often barred from claiming these benefits because of something called the government pension offset. This can come as a horrifying shock to retirees and recent widows/widowers.

A second provision, called the Windfall Elimination Provision, can also bar teachers, who also worked in private industry, from getting Social Security benefits on their own work records for the years they paid into the system. But taking side hustles can allow teachers to accumulate enough credits in the Social Security system to offset the windfall elimination provision. That can potentially qualify you for hundreds of dollars in additional monthly retirement income.

Find a fit

To figure out the best side hustle for you, consider what you want to achieve, says Marion McGovern, author of “Thriving in the Gig Economy.”

“Are you simply trying to make money or do you want to do something that’s associated with your career?” she asks. “The choices are almost limitless.”

Unpack your skills

Want to use and potentially improve the skills you learned by teaching? Realize, then, that you developed numerous skills as a teacher and each one opens up different job opportunities in the gig economy, according to the editors at SideHusl.com. First, you’re good with kids/people; second, you are likely to be an expert on a particular topic; third, you know how to set up a lesson plan and teach. Some jobs require all of these skills; others just need one.

To prep or not to prep?

Are you willing to spend time on lesson planning in the hope of earning more over time, or would you prefer a simple gig that doesn’t require all of that preparation? If you’re willing to do the lesson planning – or if you have an established lesson plan that could prove popular with a wider audience than just the students at your school — there are several sites, including Udemy and Thinkific, that could potentially publish your course and allow you to earn recurring income for years to come.

John Michaloudis, who dubbed himself “chief inspiration officer” at MyExcelOnline.com, for instance, used to teach colleagues in his office how to use Microsoft’s Excel software for free. But, realizing that few people were properly trained to negotiate this software, he created a course on Thinkific. In a matter of six months, he was pulling in $20,000 in revenue each month. Needless to say, he quit his day job.

To be sure, few classes are this popular. Michaloudis had a leg-up in that he’d established a following for his Excel workshops before creating the course on Thinkific. But, the beauty of an online course is that it can remain posted for years. Once posted, all you need to do is spread the word about your class to earn continuing income.

The main difference between Udemy and Thinkific? Udemy purports to help you market your course, but may limit the amount you can charge for it and will take a big portion of the revenue if the site brings you clients. Thinkific doesn’t help you market your course, but leaves the price points to you. It also charges a far more modest 10% of your revenue. Michaloudis says his strategy is to use both platforms. He has a mini-course on Udemy, which he uses to market his more expensive course on Thinkific.

Tutor

If creating lesson plans is more than you can bear over the summer break, consider tutoring through a site like Wyzant or Varsity TutorsWyzant tutors earn between $18 and $36 per hour after the site takes its ample 40% commission, according to rating and review site SideHusl.com. Varsity Tutors pays between $15 and $40 per hour, after its undisclosed commissions.

Ella Tyler earns between $15 and $27 per hour helping kids ace English classes and the LSAT test by tutoring online with Varsity Tutors, for instance. The retired lawyer says she needed to go back to work when she overspent remodeling her historic Texas home, but couldn’t find a local position in her rural Texas neighborhood.

“One of the problems of being in the middle of a small town in Texas is that there are no real professional jobs that you can do on a temporary or part-time basis,” she says. Meanwhile, she says she can tutor online from virtually anywhere where she has a computer and a decent internet connection — even when she’s technically on vacation. The money isn’t bad, either. “Twenty-seven dollars an hour is downright respectable pay,” she says.

Tutors who want to set their own rates and aren’t anxious to share so much of the revenue, can also use a neighborhood site like Nextdoor or Craig’s List to advertise tutoring specialties and availability for free. Of course, neither of these free sites does any client-prospecting for you. 

Specialize

In addition to these broad-based options that could provide income for any teacher, there are options that may appeal to those who specialize.

For instance, you might be interested in teaching English to Chinese kids through a site like VIPKID or QKids. Pay promises range from $14 to $22 per hour, however the curriculum is set. All you need to do is familiarize yourself with the program and teach. The catch: The classes are held on Chinese time, which means you might be teaching in the middle of the night.

Your specialty is history? What about creating a tour with Tours by Locals? You set the agenda; decide how many people you can include; set the price (which should include the cost of any activities you’re arranging, such as museum entry fees and the cost of transportation); and say what dates and times your tour will run. Tours by Locals posts your trip, books visitors and collects the payment in exchange for a 20% commission.

Teach art? Numerous sites, including Etsy, Sociey6 and RedBubble, will help you sell the art that you make either as prints; crafts or on print-on-demand phone jackets, t-shirts and coffee mugs.

Gourmet cook? Consider cooking for EatWith. Teach shop? You could get handyman gigs through Takl — or teach do-it-yourself classes on Thinkific. Have mad computer or organizational skills? Consider Worldwide 101, Belay or Upwork. SideHusl.com lists some 200 different options in 21 different job categories.

“It used to be really hard to find opportunities to earn extra income,” says McGovern. “But as much as people like to deride the gig economy, it enables a lot of people to diversify the way they make money.”