Having a second job is a lifesaver for lots of people, especially young professionals who can’t find full time employment, or are under-employed.
Extra income from a second job can help you save money for retirement, pay off your student loans, and beef up your savings account. It also protects you from the risk of losing your primary income source. If you lose one of your two jobs, you’ll still have a part of your income to tide you over.
Some people work two jobs out of choice, like a full-time web developer who also moonlights as a coding instructor to help the community. Others might find their 9 to 5 job boring or unfulfilling, so they look for ways to have fun while earning, such as desk jockeys who spend their weekends as a trail guide.
In most cases though, lack of full time employment and low hourly wages are the main motivators.
Because when you can’t make rent and can no longer cut back on your spending, a second job can push you from broke to making ends meet in a few months. Even if you’re bad at budgeting, and can’t stop using your credit cards because your salary isn’t enough, at least you can get a second job.
In this tutorial we look at the benefits and pitfalls with working a second job. You'll learn how to find a second job that fits your goals, negotiate with your current employer for approval, and strategies for staying sane and productive when working multiple jobs.
3 Non-Monetary Benefits of a Second Job
Having a second job doesn’t just give you more money. It also gives you:
1. More Network and Job Opportunities
The bigger your network, the more opportunities you have. Who knows, one of your co-workers or bosses might refer you to your dream job.
2. Test a New Job, Without Quitting the Other One
Still hesitant about changing careers, because you think it’s impossible to get a job in the field you like? Now you can test the waters, and see if you have what it takes to switch careers without losing your paycheck.
You can stay at your primary job, and find part-time or freelance work in whatever career you like. If you don’t’ have a formal background in your target job, you can take a lower paying side gig that teaches you the experience you need to find gainful employment in that field later on.
This strategy also allows you to test if you like the actual work, not just the idea of it. For instance, some people think being a chef is fun, until they realize how brutal and draining it is to work in a restaurant.
3. Balancing Two Jobs Improves Your Skills
If you can’t find full-time employment in your chosen field, you should at least choose a job that teaches skills valuable in your target job.
Want to be a video game animator? Pick a second job editing videos instead of flipping burgers. Can’t find full-time employment as a designer? Work at a T-shirt printing business where you can stencil designs during your free time, instead of waiting tables.
These might not be your first pick jobs, but they are closer to your field so at least you can write the experience in your resume.
Dangers of Working 2 Jobs
Of course, juggling two or more jobs requires more time. That’s time you can’t take back, and time you won’t get to spend with your family, friends, and on your personal needs.
Balance is important. Working 100 hours a week is overkill, but juggling two jobs at 60 to 70 hours a week won’t kill you. As long as you manage your time and obligations wisely, that is.
Business and Legal Implications of Having 2 Jobs
You’re decided you want a second job.
Your first step is not to apply for a bunch of potential side gigs.
What if your employer finds out you’re doing this behind their back?
To avoid a surprise termination or lawsuit, find out if your current employer allows side gigs first. Check your company’s employee manual or consult with your HR manager.
If you’re afraid your boss or HR Manager will take this against you, ask about other employees juggling multiple jobs. What second jobs do other employees have? Are they full-time employees or contractors?
Now let’s say they allow employees to have second jobs. Great!
But you’re not fully cleared yet. Find out about the restrictions they impose on employees working multiple jobs:
Example Restrictions or Limitations
- Can’t work for competitors
- Can’t disclose information about current projects, products, customers, and Intellectual Property information about the company
- Fiduciary duties
- Can’t divert business away from the employer, or solicit its current customers or vendors
- Country and state guidelines for total cumulative work rendered
Sam Nuttall, Office Manager at RH Nuttall, agrees, "There's a disclosure course within the employee contracts. We also make sure that there's no conflict of interest, if an employee informs us of a second job. They have to show that they can complete the hours they're paid for without sacrificing the quality of their work."
Your Options in Choosing a Second Job
1. Freelancing and Flexible Jobs
List all your professional skills and identify which of them can be turned into a freelancing job, which often pays more per hour compared to manual labor.
Working as a freelancer means you complete tasks for multiple clients or employers, some of which are overflow from the workload of their in-house staff.
Companies often hire freelance editors, designers, writers, transcriptionists, data-entry specialists, and even coders. Freelance music teachers, dance instructors, and yoga teachers are also good job options if you want to make money while taking your mind off work.
The best thing about freelance jobs is you can do most of them at home, or anywhere you have stable internet connection. Most freelance jobs also have a flexible schedule, so you can adjust it to fit your current routine. Learn how to get started freelancing:
2. Starting a Side Business
While this may not technically be a job, a side businesses is another option you can pursue. Whether it's freelancing, as mentioned above, or one of the many other side businesses you can pursue.
You have a bit more control with running your own side business, than with adding another type of job to your schedule. The drain on your time and challenges to your schedule can be just as demanding though. There are likely to be more setup costs as well, though the earning potential can be quite a bit higher.
Learn how to quickly start a side business in our multi-part series, or begin with these articles:
- Side BusinessThe Best Side Business Ideas (That You Can Do Part Time)Celine Roque
- Small BusinessHow to Start a Side Business - While Working a Day JobCeline Roque
3. Service Industry Jobs
This is a collective name for customer-facing jobs, such as waitressing, working in a fast food, or helping shoppers in a retail store. Phone-based customer service representatives are also included in this category.
As you can imagine, service jobs are physically and mentally draining. It’s hard to put on a smile and help dozens of people a day. It’s also hard to be on your feet and serve food and drinks for hours. But the good news is you can earn decent spending money from the tips you get.
4. Seasonal and Contractual Jobs
These jobs are perfect for employees with predictable down times every year, like teachers who have summer breaks.
Contractual and Seasonal Job Options
- Retail jobs during holidays
- Resort jobs during summer
- Tax season jobs for accountants and bookkeepers
- Trail maintenance jobs during camping and hiking season
- Ski teachers during winter
- Tour guides
- Summer festival jobs
5. Caregiving Jobs
Includes all types of work where you care for kids, adults, and elderly. Caregiving jobs are also tiring, but not as much as service jobs where you’re on your feet the whole shift. These jobs also have a higher rate compared to many service jobs in the retail and food industry.
Not sure what type of career will fit your lifestyle? This guide will help you:
How to Split Your Time Between Multiple Jobs
Five PM usually means the start of happy hour at the pub, or the mad rush to go home and beat rush hour traffic.
That won’t be the case for you, once you start working on that second job. Clocking out of your first job means you have to start preparing for the next shift, that’s why it’s best to find jobs with complementing schedules.
Below are examples of feasible schedules from two sources with a regular day job, and a flexible side gig.
Rebecca Lee says, “I wake up at 3:45 AM every morning to arrive at the hospital and begin my work as a Nurse Manager at 5:30 AM. Then I get home around 5:00 PM and start researching and strategizing for my website at RemediesForMe.com, where I write and edit articles.”
If working two jobs in one day is too much for you, try a job you can do on weekends, like what Jimmy did.
“I’m a wedding photographer and IT professional. Majority of weddings are held during weekends, so there’s little time conflict with my usual Monday to Friday schedule, says Jimmy Chan.
But there’s a catch. He works every day, especially from summer to fall (a.k.a. wedding season). His winters are also busy, as that’s his free time to update his website and meet potential clients.
As these two examples suggest, it’s easy to squeeze in a few hours after week nights, and on weekends for a part-time job. Working two full-time jobs might work for a short time, but it’s almost impossible to maintain it for a long time.
Time isn’t the only thing to consider when balancing two jobs though. Think about these factors as well:
1. Travel Time between Jobs
An important consideration if both jobs have a fixed schedule. Allot enough time to get from Job A to Job B, otherwise you’ll always run late and you might end up losing one or both jobs.
2. Different Dress Codes
Do you need to bring a change of clothes or a uniform for your second work? You have to allot an extra five to 10 minutes to switch clothes if you brought them with you at work, more if you have to go home first.
3. Stress Level and Physical Energy for Each Job
One job might pay more, but be twice as stressful as a lesser paying job. Consider: will you have enough energy for the second job if your first job is stressful?
For example, do you think you can handle working a full day tutoring kids, and another four hours doing customer service work on the phone? I did this after college and I didn’t last a year because both jobs severely tested my patience—first in dealing with kids, next in dealing with grumpy customers. It’s brain draining and stressful.
This is also the reason you should avoid taking two physically exerting jobs. It’s extremely tiring to spend the whole day on your feet, especially if you’re always on the move cleaning tables or stocking shelves. The best scenario is to combine one desk job that stimulates your mind, and another somewhat physical job that exercises you while freeing up your brain.
However many jobs you have, you can learn more about how to get more productive. We have a number of productivity tutorials here on Envato Tuts+ that can help:
- ProductivityHow to Create Your Own Productivity SystemDavid Masters
- Time ManagementGet More Flow: Sort and Schedule Your Tasks by Creative Energy LevelAnnie Mueller
Challenges of Working Two Jobs and How to Overcome Them
1. Balancing Work Schedules and Personal Errands
Balancing two jobs means dealing with two bosses and two sets of deadlines. All the sources I talked to rely on a calendar to keep track of their commitments in and out of work.
But calendars aren’t fool proof, so you can still lose track of time or forget an appointment. So it's important to be honest with your boss so they can help you if something unexpected comes up in your other job. They’ll also understand if you can’t make it in last minute meetings or events.
As for personal errands, it’s common for people with multiple jobs to do them during lunch or on their ride home from work.
2. Not Getting a Vacation Leave or Down Time
Yes, many people with two or more jobs have trouble going on vacation. It’s not impossible though, you just need to plan in advance.
Advise friends and family to notify you at least three to four weeks in advance, so you have two weeks to notivy both employers and another one or two weeks to fix your schedule. This gives you enough time to either delegate your work, or finish some of your work in advance.
It also helps if you read your employer’s procedure for covering shifts, so they can’t easily decline your request for time off. If they forget to schedule your leave, they can help you fix it.
3. Not Having Time to Eat
What’s the easiest thing to forget when you’re busy running around one task after another? Eating. Your full time job will give you a lunch break, but you have to remember to eat after three to four hours so you don’t feel faint or develop an acid problem.
Pack two lunches—one for each job—if you want to save money. If one of your employers doesn’t have a communal fridge, consider packing a sandwich or ordering takeout.
Another option is to use a slow cooker to make a big serving of one recipe good enough for two to three days.
What I do is prepare all my meals on Sundays, and then make one slow cooker recipe that night. Whatever I cook the previous night will be ready for a packed lunch on Monday and dinner the next day. Then I freeze the rest for leftovers on weekends or any day I’m too lazy to cook.
Monday night, I load another bag of prepped food into my slow cooker so I have a different lunch for Tuesday and Wednesday dinner. I repeat the same process whenever I only have one meal left at the fridge.
It sounds like too much work, but in reality, I only spend less than 10 minutes loading my slow cooker with food and setting the timer. On weekends, I spend about two to three hours chopping veggies and meat to place into freezer bags.
4. Losing Sleep
There’s no one rule here that can apply to everyone, because your sleep will largely depend on your work schedule.
Try to get a solid six to eight hours block of sleep, whether you have a 9 to 5 job or a graveyard shift. If you have an irregular schedule, or more than two jobs, try to squeeze a 30 minute nap in between jobs. You can also try any of the Polyphasic sleep schedules described here.
Taking it a Step Further (Working 3 Jobs or More)
Is working three jobs possible?
Lyn Alden, Electronics Engineer, website builder, and freelance writer is one of the many people that prove it’s possible to have three or more jobs.
“I’ve been an electronics engineer for eight years, while pursuing other opportunities as a writer and builder of financial websites. My main job has set hours, while my side hustle of writing and building websites can be ramped up or pulled back whenever I want.”
From the examples I’ve read and the people I’ve talked to, it’s feasible to have three jobs if it meets the following criteria:
- At least two are part-time or require only about 4 hours of work or less
- Freelance or flexible, so that you can control your schedule or you can work any hours you wish as long as your deliverables are finished on time
- The jobs are complementing so it’s either the same type of work in a different setting (i.e. teaching at a school and tutoring kids in private) or uses the same skills required in your main job (i.e. working as a software programmer, and developing games on the side)
- Two jobs with a fixed or flexible schedule, and another jobs on an as-needed basis.
Of course, balancing two jobs or more complicates things like your schedule and leaves. But this also diversifies your income source and skill set. You have to weigh these pros and cons against your long term plan before you decide if you're ready to take on more responsibility.