The traditional job market is no longer enough for many people. They need to supplement their income, pursue their passions or gain new business skills. Moonlighting jobs can provide all of these benefits and more.
I surveyed 200 lifelong learners at Skill Success, one of the top online learning platforms, and engaged in enlightening interviews with 150 moonlighters and industry leaders. Most of them are from the United States, and the rest are from various parts of the world. My goal is to empower you with the knowledge you need to navigate the world of moonlighting jobs in 2024 and beyond.
We will explore the prevalence of moonlighting, the motivations that drive people, the diverse array of moonlighting job opportunities, the essential skills to consider, the challenges you may encounter, and expert tips to help you thrive.
If you’re ever felt financial pressure, thought about making more money, or are curious about the changing world of work, keep reading. I will give you the information and expert advice you need to navigate moonlighting jobs in 2024.
What is Moonlighting?
Moonlighting is a term used to describe the practice of taking on additional employment or side gigs, often beyond one’s primary job or profession. It’s like having a “second job” or engaging in supplementary work.
There are many different types of moonlighting jobs available, including:
- Freelancing: Freelancing is working on a contract basis for multiple clients, rather than for a single employer. Freelancers typically have specialized skills that they offer to clients on a project-by-project basis.
- Part-time job: A part-time job is one that is worked for fewer hours than a full-time job, typically less than 40 hours per week. Part-time jobs can be found in a variety of industries, including retail, food service, customer service, and healthcare.
- Side business: A side business is a business that is started and operated in addition to a primary job. Side businesses can be any type of business, but they are often small businesses that can be operated from home or part-time.
- Gig: A gig is a short-term, on-demand job. Gigs can be found through online platforms or by networking with people in your field. Some popular gig jobs include driving for a ride-sharing company, delivering food for a food delivery app, and doing online project-based jobs on Upwork or Fiverr including writing, graphic designing, coding, and teaching.
Moonlighting in the US: How Prevalent is It?
Our survey reveals that moonlighting jobs and side hustles are a significant part of the American work landscape. Approximately 6 out of 10 people (56%) are currently engaged in moonlighting jobs or side hustles in addition to their main source of income. 37% are male, while 63% are female.
Nature of the main source of income
When we inquired about the nature of their primary source of income, respondents provided the following breakdown:
- Full-time job: 53.47%
- Part-time job: 8.91%
- Freelance work: 4.46%
- Self-employment: 15.84%
- Other: 17.33% (retirement pension, social security disability benefits, family’s support)
Most moonlighters have a full-time job as their main source of income, showing that many are managing a typical, demanding work schedule alongside their side jobs.
The second most common primary source of income for moonlighters is self-employment. This includes people who own their own businesses or work as freelancers. This shows that many moonlighters are entrepreneurs who are balancing their own businesses with other ways to make money.
Categories of moonlighting jobs
When asked about the category of their moonlighting job, respondents offered the following insights:
- Freelance work: 34.34%
- Gig economy: 13.64%
- Side business: 36.36%
- Other: 15.66% (a combination of two or more categories)
This data suggests that a substantial portion of moonlighters are engaged in entrepreneurial activities beyond their primary employment. These businesses can be quite varied, such as online stores or consulting and executive recruitment services, showcasing the entrepreneurial spirit of moonlighters.
Freelance work represents another significant segment of moonlighting. In this category, individuals often work on specific projects using their skills. This suggests that many moonlighters use their talents to find freelance jobs, which can cover a wide range of fields like creativity, technical work, or professional services.
Benefits and Motivation Behind Moonlighting Jobs
Our survey found that the top three benefits are:
- Additional income (167 responses)
- Skill development (95 responses)
- Pursuing passion (87 responses)
Other benefits include flexibility, networking opportunities, and other factors such as having fun, staying active, increasing marketability, and international work.
The data suggests that people are moonlighting for a variety of reasons, but the most common reason is to earn extra money. This is understandable in today’s economy, where the cost of living is rising and many people are struggling to make ends meet.
However, the data also shows that people are moonlighting for reasons other than just money. Many people are using their moonlighting jobs to develop new skills, pursue their passions, and network with other professionals. This suggests that people are looking for more than just a paycheck from their work. They want to find jobs that are challenging, fulfilling, and allow them to grow as individuals.
Income from Moonlighting: How Much Do They Earn?
When it comes to moonlighting, a key aspect that demands attention is the financial side of the equation. Our survey sought to understand the percentage of total annual income generated from moonlighting jobs or side hustles. Here’s what the respondents shared:
- Less than 10%: 58%
- 10% – 25%: 31%
- 26% – 50%: 6%
- 51% – 75%: 3%
- More than 75%: 2%
For most moonlighters, moonlighting adds some extra income, usually less than 10% of what they earn yearly. It’s like a financial booster, not their main income source. Around 31% get a more substantial boost, with moonlighting contributing 10% to 25% of their yearly earnings. A smaller group heavily counts on moonlighting, with it providing between 26% to 50% of their yearly income, making it a major financial pillar for them.
It’s important to note that these are just averages. The amount of money you make from moonlighting will vary depending on your industry, your skills, and how much time you put into it.
If you’re thinking about moonlighting, it’s important to have realistic expectations about how much money you can make. Learn financial management and make sure that you’re moonlighting in a way that doesn’t jeopardize your primary job or your health.
Expert Insights on Managing Multiple Income
To provide further guidance on effectively managing and budgeting additional income from moonlighting, I consulted financial experts. They offered valuable advice on adapting financial plans, optimizing savings, and securing one’s financial future while navigating the complexities of moonlighting.
Know about tax implications
Establish financial priorities
Be organized and track your income streams
Diversify your savings and investments
Challenges and Drawbacks Faced by Moonlighters
Our survey shows that the top three challenges are:
- Lack of free time (145 responses)
- Strained work-life balance (107 responses)
- Impact on health (54 responses)
The top three challenges faced by moonlighters are all related to the fact that they are juggling two or more jobs. Lack of free time and strained work-life balance are common challenges for anyone who works long hours, but they can be especially challenging for moonlighters, who are often trying to balance their moonlighting jobs with their primary jobs, family obligations, and other commitments.
The impact on health is another concern for moonlighters. Working long hours can lead to fatigue, stress, and burnout. Moonlighters may also have difficulty getting enough sleep or eating healthy meals when they are working two or more jobs.
Moonlighting can be a great way to earn extra money, develop new skills, and pursue your passions. However, it is important to be aware of the challenges that come with it. To provide valuable insights, I consulted experts, including industry leaders, psychologists, and life coaches. Continue reading to delve into their expert advice in the next section.
Read more: 5 Ways to Manage Work-related Stress
Expert Guidance on Navigating Moonlighting Challenges
As we explore moonlighting jobs, it’s important to be ready for any challenges that may arise. In this section, we’ll learn from experts. They will share practical tips on how to deal with the difficulties that often come with moonlighting.
Prioritize your mental health
Protect your time
Make self-care non-negotiable
Delegate and automate
Keep tracking your progress
Is Moonlighting an Effective Way to Improve Your Skills?
According to our survey, 73.74% of moonlighters believe that moonlighting is a means to enhance their skills or gain new ones. Here are some of the soft skills that moonlighters can develop:
- Communication skills: Moonlighters refine communication by interacting with colleagues, clients, and supervisors across dual roles, enhancing both written and verbal abilities.
- Problem-solving and decision-making skills: Managing multiple job challenges prompts the development of effective problem-solving and decision-making capabilities.
- Time management skills: Balancing dual roles necessitates effective time management, leading to improved time management skills.
- Organizational skills: Juggling both jobs fosters organizational prowess, ensuring efficient task management.
- Adaptability: Moonlighters adapt to changing situations and varying workloads, nurturing adaptability skills.
- Resilience: Confronting the demands of moonlighting hones resilience, equipping individuals to tackle challenges effectively.
As a moonlighter myself, I have learned a lot by juggling multiple jobs. It’s a journey that has taught me invaluable lessons and allowed me to acquire skills I might not have otherwise.
Top Moonlighting Jobs in 2024
Aside from soft skills, our survey also revealed a fascinating array of the most sought-after technical (or hard) skills and jobs for moonlighters in 2024. Here’s a glimpse of the specific skills and roles mentioned by our respondents:
- Accounting and Bookkeeping
- Social Media Management
- Photography and Graphic Design
- Virtual Assistance
- AI and Technology Implementation
- Letter Writing and Publishing
- SEO, Web Development and Content Writing
- Plumbing and Electrical Installation
- Notarizing and Legal Knowledge
- eCommerce Development
- Data Analytics
- Online Language Tutorial
- Finance and Accounting
- Online Sales and Networking
- Customer Service
- Delivery App Driver
- Fitness Instructor
Selecting the Ideal Moonlighting Job
Choosing the right moonlighting job is a significant decision that involves several considerations. Here are some steps to help you select the ideal moonlighting job:
- Consider your interests and skills: What are you passionate about? What are you good at? Choose a moonlighting job that will allow you to use your skills and interests. This will make the job more enjoyable and rewarding for you.
- Think about your time and energy commitments: Moonlighting can be time-consuming, so it is important to choose a job that fits into your schedule. Consider how much time and energy you have to commit to your moonlighting job without sacrificing your primary job, your relationships, or your health.
- Consider your financial goals: Why are you moonlighting? Are you trying to save money for a down payment on a house? Are you trying to pay off debt? Choose a moonlighting job that will help you to achieve your financial goals.
- Do your research: Once you have a few job options in mind, research the companies and the jobs themselves. Read reviews from other employees and learn about the company culture. This will help you to choose a job that is a good fit for you.
- Test the Waters: If uncertain, start with part-time or project-based moonlighting to assess your interest and compatibility with the role.
Ready to apply? Read these articles to gain actionable advice from HR professionals and industry experts.
From our survey and enlightening interviews with experts, it is clear that moonlighting is not just a trend but a transformative experience for many.
The motivations behind moonlighting are as varied as the roles individuals take on. Moonlighters aspire to increase their income, develop new skills, and passionately pursue endeavors that resonate with their interests. They are not only diversifying their financial portfolios but also enriching their skill sets in the process.
Yet, moonlighting is not without its challenges. The juggling act of balancing multiple roles often leads to increased stress, limited free time, and strained work-life balance. However, moonlighters are resilient individuals who navigate these challenges with determination and adaptability.
Moonlighters are not just embracing change; they are driving it. They are learning new technologies, developing soft and hard skills, and exploring diverse career paths. They are the architects of their own financial destinies, harnessing the power of moonlighting to forge unique career trajectories.
If you want to embark on this journey and gain new skills, subscribe to the Skill Success All Access Pass. It provides access to an entire library of courses that can help you acquire the skills needed for various types of side hustles, gigs, businesses, and full-time jobs. Embrace lifelong learning and set yourself on a path to success in the world of moonlighting.