At the onset of summer vacation, millions of teachers may be looking for full or part-time work. The good news is that side hustles for teachers are plentiful.
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. They also have bigger retirement planning challenges.
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.
Side hustles can help teachers earn extra money to make up the slack.
Side hustles for teachers
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, Thinkific, and Teachable 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.
If creating lesson plans is more than you can bear over the summer break, consider tutoring through a site like Wyzant or Varsity Tutors. Wyzant tutors set their own rates and the site takes a 25% 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.
In addition to these broad-based options that could provide income for any teacher, there are options that may appeal to those who specialize.
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. EatWith allows you to sign up to offer home-cooked meals at home. Chefs can earn hundreds of dollars in a single night.
“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.”
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