Are you a night owl? If so, recent research shows you have some advantages (higher productivity and achievement) and some disadvantages (more prone to overconsumption of food, alcohol, and tobacco).
But in any case, you don’t choose when you feel most awake. It’s just your chronotype; “the internal circadian rhythm or body clock of an individual that influences the cycle of sleep and activity…”
However, you do choose your work, so why not get a job that lets you work when you’re at your best? That’s right, tell your current boss that your job is a poor fit for your personal chronotype (for best effect don’t explain), and start looking for a better fit. To help you get started, here are twenty jobs for night owls.
1. Night Watchman
The title makes this an obvious choice. As a residential security guard in Florida I loved the night shifts because they were cooler and I spent a lot of time just riding around in a golf cart or sitting at the beach (really, it was part of the job description). In addition to being relaxing, some nighttime positions allow you to read or go online between doing rounds.
The downside is the pay; the median annual wage for security guards is only $25,770.
2. Limo Driver
As a limousine driver you’ll work a lot of evenings, and you can make decent money. But don’t expect much of that pay to come from your employer. Most of it will be in the form of tips from passengers.
You never know what you’ll get for a tip; limo driver Abdul Faraj was given a life-saving kidney. But cash is more common. Royal Executive Transportation advises their customers to tip drivers 20% for good service, and they give an example of a $100 tip on a $500 bill. If you had two of those runs in a night you’d be doing well.
Sure there are a few early morning drinkers, but you can probably sleep in if you’re a bartender. Night shifts are much more common, and if you work in the right place you’ll make good money. To maximize your pay see my post on how to increase your tip income.
4. Air Traffic Control Specialist
That’s what the Federal Aviation Administration calls air traffic controllers, and if you look over the requirements you’ll notice that you don’t need a college degree for these jobs. Not bad for a position with a median annual wage of $122,410.
And yes, there are many night shifts, although it’s not clear that you can be guaranteed only nighttime work.
5. Blackjack Dealer
I was a blackjack dealer for about ten years, and I don’t recall ever getting up early to go to work. Most of the action is at night, so evening shifts are not difficult to get. I received paid training at a casino, but you may have to attend a dealer school.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says the median wage of gaming dealers is under $10 per hour, but I certainly made more than that. ABC Casino College in Arizona, says, “Casino dealers in Arizona make between $15 – $25 per hour to start.” They add that making $100,000 annually is possible, along with full benefits.
6. Third Shift Mail Sorter
The Post Office career page has information about full-time permanent positions, and some of those involve night work. But there is also seasonal mail sorting work that’s always done at night.
A decade ago I started one of these jobs in August and worked until January, at a rate of $13 per hour (I assume it’s higher now). The shift was from 11:00 each evening until the sort was finished, which was typically between 6:00 and 7:00 the next morning. I was called back to work the following year.
7. Repossession Agent
I used to steal cars in the middle of the night, but legally. As I heard one man explain to his little boy “Well, Billy, when you can’t pay for it you don’t get to keep it.” Well said. I would never be a repo man now (it can be dangerous), but it was fun when I was 21 years old.
If you’re paid per repossession your wages can vary quite a bit from week to week.
Search “night shift baker” on Indeed.com and you’ll always find openings. That’s because in order for bread and pastries to be ready first thing in the morning they have to be made in the middle of the night. Expect to go home around sunrise. Median annual wage: $25,090.
The key here, if you’re a night owl, is to freelance or at least get a job writing at home, so you can choose when to write. I’ve been pecking at the keyboard with two fingers for 13 years and I aim for at least $20 per hour, but faster writers can do better.
10. Pet Sitter
The price for pet sitting overnight is $50 to $75 according to CostHelper.com. The nice thing about this work is that apart from a small amount of time feeding and playing with the animals you can do what you like. For a night owl that means you can spend your evenings writing or working online to generate more income while you’re being paid to hang out with the cats or dogs.
Although you may not have a choice at first, many firefighters work night shifts. How do you become a firefighter? FireScience.org recommends volunteering in order to get experience and make contacts. Afterward you can go for paid training.
The median annual wage for firefighters is $48,030, and the top 10% average $81,500 per year.
12. Pizza Delivery Driver
Do you like to drive? Be a pizza delivery driver. Evening shifts are common, and I don’t recall ever working an early morning when I did this work. This position also made our list of best second jobs, because of potentially high tip income and the possibility of working shifts after finishing your regular nine-to-five job.
13. Disc Jockey
If you’re an independent disc jockey doing weddings and parties you’ll almost always work evenings (who has big parties in the morning?). As a radio DJ you’ll have to be sure you’re hired for a night slot. The BLS lumps DJs in with “announcers” and says the median wage is a little over $30,000 annually.
14. Movie Projectionist
The median annual wage for a motion picture projectionist is just $22,100. On the other hand, running movie projectors is something you can learn on the job, and you get to see movies, and you won’t have any early mornings.
15. Night School Teacher
The title makes it clear that this fits our list, although this position is also called “continuing education instructor,” or “adult education teacher.” When we lived in Florida my wife taught Spanish two evenings per week in one of these local programs, and she was paid $20 per hour plus a minor retirement benefit.
She has a bachelor’s degree, but you can get hired without one depending on the type of class you teach. For the “How to Use Facebook” and “Dance the Tango” classes experience matters more than a degree.
16. Night Stocker
Those shelves in Walmart and other stores need to be stocked, and the best time to do that is when the aisles aren’t crowded. Since night work is considered undesirable by most people, you often get a “shift differential” of an extra dollar or so per hour, making the pay slightly better than awful. But at least you get quiet work without customers, and in the cool of the night.
17. Night Auditor
Hotel clerks are called “night auditors” when they work the overnight shifts. The pay is low (about $22,000 per year), but the stress level is certainly lower than if you work the front desk on busy early-evening shifts. Also, because most people are not night owls, these positions are often easier to get.
18. Newspaper Delivery
People want their morning paper as soon as they wake up, which is why delivery starts in the middle of the night. When I did this work I started at midnight, sorting papers and inserting ads, and then I filled the newspaper boxes around town. I finished by six in the morning.
You can make a decent hourly rate if you do just the delivery part, and you get paid per-paper, and you’re efficient. Before taking the job, talk to other drivers to see what they’re making.
19. Taxi Driver
If you drive a taxi as an employee you’ll have to negotiate with your boss to get those night shifts. But if you work as an Uber or Lyft driver you can choose to work when you like. The data shows that you can expect to make anywhere from $11 per hour to $30 per hour depending on the city, and depending on the specific hours you work.
20. Gaming Surveillance Officer
Casinos see more action in the evening, so that’s when they need more surveillance officers (also called surveillance technicians). And your night owl tendencies will be appreciated, because it’s tough to stay alert while staring at video monitors all night.
The BLS says the median annual wage for gaming surveillance officers is $32,630, and $52,500 for the top 10% in these positions.
Other Night Work
In addition to work that’s normally done at night, there are many jobs that have some night shifts. Hospitals need nurses, toll highways need booth attendants, and convenience stores need clerks at night. Since these shifts are often difficult for employers to fill, asking for them specifically when applying might even help you get the job.
You can find nighttime work on the big job websites. A search for “night shift jobs” on Indeed.com turns up openings for janitors, lab technicians, package handlers, customer service reps, and many others.
Finally, for more complete night-owl freedom, consider freelancing instead of working for an employer. Writing was mentioned above, but other freelance work you can do at any hour includes document translation, editing, and search engine evaluation.
If you’re a night owl, tell us which jobs you’ve had that best fit your chronotype.