11 “Under-the-Table” Cash-Based Jobs Most People Don’t Think of

In a world where the 9 to 5 feels increasingly restrictive, the allure of unconventional, cash-based jobs is undeniable.

These aren’t just alternatives; they’re gateways to freedom, flexibility, and untapped opportunities. Discover jobs that challenge the norm and redefine the way we think about earning.

Curious? The list might surprise you.

1. Personal Shopper

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Image Credit: maxbelchenko/Shutterstock.

A personal shopper role is best suited for those with a fervent passion for fashion and a keen eye for trends.

Essential traits include strong interpersonal and communication skills, as they must build trust, understand client needs, and articulate style choices. Organizational prowess is crucial for managing diverse clients and purchases, while discretion ensures client privacy.

Technological adeptness aids in navigating online shopping and virtual consultations.

Additionally, a dash of business acumen, especially for freelancers or those starting their own venture, combined with a commitment to continuous learning in the ever-evolving fashion realm, rounds out the ideal profile for this profession.

The industry in the U.S. is evolving rapidly. Statista reveals that 35% of U.S. consumers are willing to pay for style advice ¹.

Zippia’s 2023 data ² further illuminates this trend:

  • 66,549 personal shoppers are active in the U.S.
  • 76.1% are women, with an average age of 40.
  • The ethnic breakdown: 62.0% White, 15.9% Hispanic or Latino, and 10.5% Black or African American.
  • Kansas City, MO, sees the highest demand for these professionals.
  • 46% of personal shoppers now hold a bachelor’s degree.

These insights highlight the growing prominence and diversification of personal shopping services in the modern U.S. market.

2. House Sitting

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House sitting is not just about living in someone else’s home for free. It’s a responsibility that requires trustworthiness and reliability. As of 2023, there are over 4,624 house sitters in the United States.

A significant 73.5% of these house sitters are women, and the average age of a house sitter is 42 years. The profession is diverse, with the majority being White (59.6%), followed by Hispanic or Latino (17.0%), and Black or African American (9.4%).

Many homeowners look for house sitters to take care of their pets, water their plants, and ensure the security of their property while they’re away. This trust is reflected in the average salary of house sitters, which stands at $51,771.

In return, house sitters get to experience living in different places, sometimes even luxurious homes or exotic locations. They also benefit from the opportunity to immerse themselves in diverse cultures, with 62.7% of house sitters speaking Spanish as a foreign language.

It’s a win-win situation: homeowners get peace of mind knowing their home and pets are cared for, and house sitters save on accommodation costs, enjoy a change of environment, and gain a cultural experience.

3. Selling Crafts

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Crafting is not just a hobby, it’s a potential source of income. With platforms like Etsy, crafters can showcase their unique creations to a global audience.

The beauty of selling crafts is that each item tells a story, often reflecting the passion and personality of its creator. Handmade items have a personal touch that mass-produced ones lack. 

Moreover, crafting allows artisans to continuously learn, experiment, and improve.

It’s not just about the money, it’s about the joy of creating something from scratch, receiving positive feedback, and knowing that someone, somewhere, cherishes a product of your imagination and skill.

Success Story

Ashley started selling handmade party decorations on Etsy 11 years ago as a way to earn income after becoming a stay-at-home mom. She focused on her passion for paper crafts and kids’ parties, showing up daily and growing her shop to $3k/month within 4 years. In 2020, her cardstock supplier went out of business so she sourced her own wholesale supplier and launched her own cardstock company.

With just 1,200 Instagram followers initially, she sold out the first shipment in 2 days. Her husband was able to leave his corporate job and join the business full-time once she hit 10k followers.

Ashley credits consistently showing up on social media with growing her organic following. She works weekdays only, from 6am-1pm. Her keys to success are finding your passion, showing up daily, and not relying on instant gratification.

4. Street Musician or Busking

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Busking is an age-old art form that brings music and performance directly to the public. Street musicians have the unique opportunity to get immediate feedback from their audience.

A successful busker knows how to engage with passersby, often tailoring performances to the crowd’s reactions.

Busking can be both challenging and rewarding.

While it requires resilience, dealing with varying weather conditions, and sometimes stringent local regulations, the freedom to perform, the immediate audience connection, and the potential for generous tips make it a fulfilling endeavor for many musicians.

5. Dog Walking

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Dog walking is not just a simple task of taking a pet for a stroll. It’s a thriving industry that has seen significant growth, especially in recent years.

As of 2022, the US professional dog walking market size has reached a staggering $1 billion, with the sector experiencing a 5.5% growth in the same year. This growth is further evidenced by the fact that the number of dog walkers in the US has increased by 5% in 2022, with professional dog walkers earning a combined total of $452.1 million.

For the walker, this profession offers more than just a flexible source of income. It provides opportunities for physical exercise, the joy of bonding with various dog breeds, and a chance to be a part of an industry that saw Americans spend $9.5 billion on services like professional dog walking in 2021.

For pet owners, the benefits are manifold. With 69 million US households owning a dog and between 30-60% of dog owners not regularly walking their dogs, the demand for professional dog walkers is evident. These professionals ensure that pets get the necessary exercise and socialization, especially when owners are busy or away. Moreover, with the rise of pet-centric apps and platforms, finding and offering dog walking services has never been easier.

It’s worth noting that dog walking is more than just a service; it’s a reflection of the bond between the owner and the pet. A significant 64% of dog owners believe that walking their dog is a direct reflection of the affection and love they have for their dog. However, life happens, and 57% of dog owners have admitted to skipping at least one walk per week for various reasons.

6. Bike Repair

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Bike repair is an essential skill in the ever-growing world of cycling enthusiasts. As more people turn to cycling for its environmental benefits and as a form of exercise, the demand for skilled bike mechanics has surged.

A well-maintained bike ensures safety, longevity, and optimal performance.

Bike repair services range from simple tire changes to complex gear adjustments. Moreover, with the advent of electric bikes and advanced gear systems, there’s a continuous need for upskilling in the repair domain.

Some shops charge up to $100 an hour. So, a cash-based side job could fetch $50-60 per hour.

For those passionate about cycling, mastering bike repair can also lead to significant savings and even open avenues for starting a business or conducting workshops.

7. Metal Scrapper

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Image Credit: Sirisak_baokaew/Shutterstock.

Metal scrapping is more than just collecting and selling metal. It plays a crucial role in environmental conservation and the economy.

Recycling metals reduces the need for mining, conserving natural resources, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

For instance, recycling steel uses 60% less energy than producing it from raw materials.  Moreover, the recycling industry creates numerous job opportunities. For individuals, metal scrapping can be lucrative, with different metals having varying values.

It’s also a way to declutter spaces, turning unused metal items into cash. However, it’s essential to be aware of state regulations and ensure proper separation of business and personal equipment.

8. Home Bakery

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Starting a home bakery can be a dream come true for many baking enthusiasts.

It offers the chance to earn from a passion, allowing for creativity and innovation in recipes. Home bakers can cater to various events, from birthdays to weddings, and even tap into the growing trend of online sales.

The market for baked goods, especially unique and personalized items, is vast.

However, starting a home bakery is not without challenges. Some considerations include compliance with state regulations, ensuring hygiene standards, and managing business expenses.

But the joy of seeing satisfied customers and the aroma of freshly baked goods can make it all worthwhile.

9. Make-Up Artist

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Being a makeup artist is a blend of creativity, skill, and understanding of individual client needs. There are various niches within this profession, from bridal makeup to special effects for movies.

A beauty consultant, for instance, advises customers on products based on their skin type and preferences.

Editorial makeup artists work in the fashion industry, crafting looks for runway shows and photoshoots.

Celebrity MUAs have the privilege of working with stars, while special FX MUAs create stunning effects for entertainment.

Freelance makeup artists enjoy flexibility, taking on diverse projects.

10. Yardwork Specialist

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A yardwork specialist understands the intricacies of different plants, soil types, and the best practices to maintain a healthy and aesthetically pleasing garden.

With the increasing urbanization, many homeowners lack the time or expertise to care for their yards, creating a demand for specialists.

You can transform ordinary yards into beautiful outdoor spaces by offering services like lawn maintenance, planting, pruning, and even landscape design.

Moreover, working outdoors can be therapeutic, and there’s a sense of satisfaction in seeing a well-maintained garden. Plus, with the right marketing, word-of-mouth referrals can keep you busy throughout the year.

11. Tutoring

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As a tutor, you have the flexibility to set your schedule, making it an ideal side gig for many. Beyond the obvious advantage of earning, tutoring helps in honing your communication, organization, and time management skills.

It’s not just about teaching, it’s about understanding individual student needs, adapting teaching methods, and making complex topics understandable.

Moreover, tutoring is a continuous learning process. Students often pose questions that challenge you, keeping you on your toes and ensuring you’re always learning.

With the rise of online platforms, you can even tutor students globally, broadening your impact.

The Changing Landscape of 9-5 Jobs

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The traditional 9-5 job, once seen as the epitome of stability and success, is increasingly being questioned in today’s dynamic work environment.

While it offers predictability, for many, the reality extends beyond these hours, often without compensation for the extra time.

This structure can sometimes stifle passion and creativity, making work feel more like a grind than a fulfilling endeavor.

Several factors contribute to the growing disillusionment with the 9-5 routine ³:

Extended Working Hours

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The notion of working from 9 to 5 often translates to longer hours, sometimes stretching from 8 to 6, with unpaid breaks.

This means employees spend a significant portion of their day either working or commuting.

Work-Life Imbalance

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With technological advancements, the boundary between work and personal life has blurred.

Many professionals find themselves answering emails and calls outside of business hours, leading to burnout and decreased personal time.

Rigid Structure

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The 9-5 structure doesn’t cater to individual productivity patterns.

Research shows that humans can’t focus on a single task for extended periods ⁴, and a rigid schedule doesn’t allow for the flexibility that modern workers crave.

Health & Personal Reasons

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For some, health conditions or personal responsibilities make the traditional work structure unsustainable. The need for breaks, medical appointments, or caregiving duties can clash with fixed working hours.

The Rise of Freelancing

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The allure of freelancing is growing, with studies indicating a shift away from traditional employment.

The freedom to choose projects, work hours, and the potential for higher earnings are drawing many to this mode of work.

Changing Work Values

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Today’s workforce, especially millennials, values experiences, flexibility, and purpose over stability.

A rigid 9-5 job might not offer the fulfillment they seek.

Numerous unconventional job opportunities offer flexibility, passion, and financial rewards. While these roles come with their challenges, they provide an alternative to the rigid structures of conventional employment.

As work dynamics shift, it’s essential to recognize that one size doesn’t fit all.

Embracing diverse work styles and understanding individual needs can pave the way for a more inclusive, productive, and satisfied workforce.

More from Viral Chatter

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A recent revelation about the wages of Domino’s cashiers has ignited a conversation about compensation in the fast-food industry.

Jessica Hernandez, a TikTok user, shared her astonishment upon discovering the potential earnings of a Domino’s cashier in her locality.

‘No Tip, No Dine’ Rule Sparks Controversy Over Tipping Etiquette

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Tipping has long been debated in many parts of the world. While some countries view it as a norm or a gesture of appreciation, others find it rude or unnecessary.

The United States, in particular, has a deep-rooted history with tipping, tracing back to its codification as part of The New Deal in 1938.

Despite its long-standing presence, tipping, especially in fast-casual restaurants where sit-down service isn’t standard, often faces scrutiny.

Sources

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Image Credit: Krakenimages.com/DepositPhotos.
  1. statista.com/forecasts/764368/us-consumers-willingness-to-pay-for-personal-shopping-style-advice
  2. zippia.com/personal-shopper-jobs/demographics/
  3. zippia.com/house-sitter-jobs/demographics/
  4. ideapod.com/working-9-to-5-why-the-daily-grind-isnt-for-everyone/
  5. health.clevelandclinic.org/science-clear-multitasking-doesnt-work/
  6. hepper.com/dog-walking-statistics/

This article was produced and syndicated by Viral Chatter.

Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.