Four years ago, when I was pregnant with my first baby, I had this little inkling in the back of my mind that I really would be happier working part-time once baby was born. The problem was that I did not want to simply give up my career and look for an entry-level or low-skill part-time job.
I wanted to use my degrees and previous work experience. I wanted to continue to do the type of work that I enjoyed and had grown to be great at. But it’s not easy to find part-time work that uses a degree that you worked hard for (and may still have associated debt) and I really felt like my dream of working part-time was a one that would never materialize.
For several months, I didn’t do anything about my wish to work part-time while continuing to use my education and work experience. Then once Little Miss S was born, it wasn’t a little inkling in the back of my mind anymore. I KNEW that was what I needed to do.
The most obvious solution is to ask your current employer if working part-time, continuing to do the same work (or the same type of work) you already do is an option. I tried that first and was met with a resounding “no way”.
So I started making plans and figured I had three basic options.
Three Ways to Use Your Degree to Work Part-Time
One option is to start doing freelance work. Essentially, you would do the same job you currently do for your employer, but on a contract basis rather than as an employee (and possibly for other companies). This would allow you to take on as many or as few projects as you want, giving you a way to control your workload.
There are many professions that lend themselves well to freelance work. Think about a graphic designer who leaves a big ad agency to do freelance work, or a marketing guru, or an accountant. There are countless other professions that could allow an individual to do freelance work, although it may require the person to specialize in a very specific area of their field. For many professions, setting yourself up as a freelancer may take a bit more creativity.
Another option is to consult. This is different than freelancing in that you would be helping others do what you know how to do rather than doing it for them (as with freelancing). Often times consulting also comes with some “doing”, but the general idea is that you are giving guidance, advice, and lending your expertise to another company (or individual) to help them do something themselves.
Think of how a marketing guru might consult a company’s marketing department in creating a marketing strategy. The consultant isn’t doing the actual marketing work for the company, but is rather helping that company get better at performing their own marketing.
Again, there are many, many professions that would lend themselves well to this type of work and it would allow you to control your number of clients and your workload.
Teaching is an option for those with advanced degrees. There may be some opportunities for teaching kids or teenagers, but I’m going too talk about teaching adults. For that, there are two basic scenarios: teaching degree-seeking adults (college/university students) and teaching non-degree-seeking adults (continuing education and professional development).
The latter option is easier if you work in a field that requires professionals to continue their education beyond their degree or certification with what is usually called “continuing education units/hours”. You may need to do some research to determine exactly what types of courses professionals need and are interested in, but it could be an easy market to tap into.
The other option is to teach college or university courses. From my experience, a general rule of thumb is that no instructor should teach students who are pursuing a degree at the same level as the instructors highest degree. So if your highest degree is an associate’s degree, you are probably not qualified to teach at college level.
But if you have a masters degree or higher (and possibly if you have a bachelor’s degree plus a significant amount of experience), this could be a great option for you. Many colleges and universities hire adjunct instructors, which is a fancy name for instructors who only teach on an as-needed basis. As an adjunct instructor, you would accept or reject teaching assignment offers based on your own availability and are typically compensated on lump-sum based on the number of credit hours the course is worth (paid in increments over the semester).
I actually do a combination of all three of these. I own a small consultancy (just me) through which I do some freelance type of work and some consulting. Plus, I teach 1 to 3 classes a semester at the community college. I can take on as much or as little work as I wish, and for the time being I enjoy having enough work to keep me busy three days a week. My “official” work hours work out to about 7 hours a day for each of those three days. This gives me two days off during the week to spend time with my littles, get housework done, run errands, etc., and gives us all more time to relax and enjoy family time on the weekends.
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Do you work part-time using your degree? How do you do it? Have you tried these options? Join the conversation in the comments!
Do YOU wish to work part-time using your degree, but aren’t sure how? Email me at littlebitsofgranola(at)gmail(dot)com. Maybe we can brainstorm some options for you!
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