10 unique side jobs that can help pay off student loan debt

10 unique side jobs that can help pay off student loan debt was originally published on College Recruiter.


Robin Rectenwald has a full-time job working for WordWrite Communications a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania public relations firm, that she absolutely loves. But that hasn’t stopped her from finding unique side jobs to help pay off her student loan debt. Rectenwald graduated from Duquesne University in 2012 with 20 different student loans and $100,000 in loan debt. Now, in 2017, she only has five loans left, and is quickly whittling down the amount she owes.

Before landing her first full-time job in 2012, Rectenwald worked part-time as a customer service representative at Gateway Clipper Fleet, a Pittsburgh sightseeing organization. She worked in the ticket and sales office, where she learned about marketing, sales and customer service – all valuable skills in her current role – and for any future opportunities. She worked for Gateway Clipper Fleet for four years, using that money to make extra payments towards her school loans. Rectenwald recently switched to a new part-time job as a customer care representative at ShowClix, a ticketing software company. For this job, she works from the comforts of her own home answering phones and responding to emails from customers looking to buy tickets to international events.

“Even though I’ve grown as a professional in the PR field and have had a number of promotions that increased my salary since starting out as an entry-level professional, I continue to work a part-time job because I’m trying to save as much money as possible,” says Rectenwald. “With this part-time income, I’ve been able to pay off several student loans and I’m currently using this extra money to pay tuition out-of-pocket for grad school.”

Rectenwald takes these part-time jobs seriously, and puts in maximum effort – something her managers have noticed. She was offered a full-time job in the marketing department at Gateway Clipper Fleet, and is writing a crisis communication plan for ShowClix as part of her grad school program.

“These part-time jobs have not only expanded my network and presented additional career opportunities, it has also given me a unique perspective on marketing and communication strategies.”

And it’s also helped her greatly reduce her student loan debt, and time it would take to pay the loans back.

That’s what Eric Hian-Cheong is also trying to accomplish. He works full-time for a public relations firm in McLean, Virginia, but also has two, unique part-time jobs. He makes $11 an hour as a part-time rock climbing instructor at a local fitness center, and also works as a second shooter/assistant to a local wedding photographer.

“Why limit yourself to just one other part-time job?” said Hian-Cheong.

He works up to 8 hours a weekend, and nets up to $400 a month as a rock climbing instructor – which is right around what he pays each month for his student loans. That job also provides a free gym membership – saving him another $95 a month in gym membership fees.

These jobs have helped Hian-Cheong improve his self-confidence, he says, and also provides an incredible social life outside of the 9-to-5 job.

“I have several friends whose social lives revolve around their 9-to-5, which can get a little unhealthy at times,” says Hian-Cheong.

It’s also helped him network and communicate with a wide variety, and diverse group of people, helping him develop communication, interpersonal, critical thinking, and speaking skills, as he must provide instructions, detail, and clarity, when instructing individuals and a class.

Rectenwald and Hian-Cheong are among the many recent college grads supplementing their income, and paying off student debt with the help of a unique side job. What are some other unique part-time job opportunities one can pursue to help make extra cash to pay off student loans? Consider some of these options:

1. Sports official: Like sports? Then consider working as a referee, official, or umpire, for youth through high school sporting events. Find a local officiating organization, contact your state’s high school league, or contact a youth sports league directly to find out about opportunities. These jobs typically take place in the evening during the week, and all day on the weekends, and can pay anywhere from $15-$45 per hour based on experience and level. If you’re passionate about a sport – that sport needs officials.

2. Personal care attendant: Would you like to make a difference, and help the elderly, adults or children living with disabilities? There’s a nationwide shortage of home health care workers, specifically personal care attendants (PCA). These jobs pay anywhere from $10-$20 (private families often pay more than nursing homes, for example), and hours can be flexible. If you are compassionate, hard-working, and interested in the medical/home health care field, this opportunity is for you. Sign up on care.com to find families to work for in your area, or contact a local hospital or nursing home, or search on CollegeRecruiter to find other opportunities in your area. If you find a family to work for they will likely be more than willing to be flexible and work around your full-time schedule – a major perk for someone seeking a flexible part-time job.

3. Health care industry administrative assistant: Health care jobs are in-demand at the clinic and hospital level, too. Both hospitals and clinics often seek part-time evening and weekend help in scheduling, insurance verification, and as front desk/customer service staff. These jobs can pay anywhere from $10-$20 per hour, and offer a great opportunity to develop customer service, communication and critical thinking skills. Training is also usually provided for those with transferable skills, and these jobs are impressive to employers when reviewing a resume.

4. Driver: Like driving? Want to work when it’s convenient for you and as an independent contractor? Then consider driving for Lyft or Uber, or other ridesharing services. Expect to make anywhere from $10-$25 per hour, based on when you work and tips.

5. Food delivery service: Food delivery services are exploding. Companies like Door Dash, Bite Squad and Uber Eats are growing fast, and seeking independent contractors to deliver meals. Like pizza delivery jobs, the perks of these jobs are the potential earned in tips.

6. Part-time package handler: If you like hard work and getting a workout – not to mention paid health insurance and tuition reimbursement opportunities, consider working for a package delivery company, such as UPS, FedEX and now, Amazon.

7. Restaurant and retail industry: Working in the restaurant and retail industry is the perfect opportunity to work part-time day, evening and weekend hours around a full-time schedule. In addition to some extra cash, there are definite professional development opportunities for workers in the restaurant and retail industry gain. Whether it’s as a bartender, hostess, cook, or server, or management, the restaurant industry is always looking for good help. Same for retail jobs, as employers in these industries want someone who can work as a sales associate and fill in the many evening and weekend shifts available. When searching for retail jobs, search for opportunities with companies that interest you. Like the outdoors? Consider a sporting goods or outdoors-focused store. Like interior design, think IKEA, or other like companies. Want to work in a mall – endless opportunities.

8. Security guard: Forget the rent-a-cop reputation, security guards are valued and have many responsibilities that employers need in today’s era of heightened security. Security guards are needed at shopping malls, hospitals, casinos, sporting events, special events, and more. Especially beneficial for law enforcement students or others interested in security in general.

9. Airport/airline jobs: Whether it’s as a baggage handler, food service worker, custodial services, ticketing for an airline company, customer service, there are numerous flexible job opportunities at a large airport near you. Check with your local airport or specific airline to learn more.

10. Gig economy job: As explained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a job in the gig economy “describes a single project or task for which a worker is hired, often through a digital marketplace, to work on demand.” This can range anywhere from working computer repair, to furniture moving. It can include working as a laborer – such as a landscaper, or working as a musician part-time on the weekends. The opportunities are endless based on your interests and expertise. Learn more about the gig economy.

When focusing on unique side jobs to pay off student loan debt, focus on these things:

  1. Make sure the job does not conflict with your full-time job.
  2. Try to find something that fits a passion of yours, and/or is different than a full-time job. When you do something you like, you are more likely to stick with it, especially when also working a full-time job.
  3. Try to learn, or incorporate additional job skills, that can benefit you as you advance in your career.
  4. Remember the goal of these jobs – even if you don’t find a job that fits your passion or interests – is to help pay off student debt. Keep an eye on the big picture, and stick to it. In time, it will make a major impact on reducing your student loan debt.

A full-time job in your desired field is a great way to start a career. A part-time job that can help pay off student loan debt is a great way to supplement your income and reduce financial stress. Both provide great opportunities for the recent college grad to stay on the path to success, personally and professionally.


So where does one look for these unique part-time jobs? Start by registering with College Recruiter to have job alerts emailed to you. Then visit our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

By College Recruiter
College Recruiter believes that every student and recent grad deserves a great career.