If you are someone who doesn’t mind burning the midnight oil and working while the rest of the world sleeps, there are many great night shift jobs out there that are in high demand.
Night shift jobs, which are also referred to as 3rd shift or graveyard shift jobs, are a lot more common than people realize. Night shifts are critical in 24-hour industries. And with more opportunities to work from home online, employees may be in completely different timezones than each other or their head office.
Anyone willing to work unconventional hours can not only find a job fairly easily, but can make pretty good money as well.
Pros of Working a Night Shift Job
Why would anyone want a job with an unusual work schedule? There are some clear advantages to working overnight. These include:
- Higher Pay – many 24-hour industries offer bonus pay for working the less desirable “off-peak” hours
- Less Competition – it’s easier to get night jobs and get promotions as fewer people are interested or able to work overnight
- Lighter Workload – depending on the industry, some night shift jobs have a lighter workload
- Fewer Disruptions – at night, there are fewer meetings to attend and fewer coworkers or clients around so you can focus and be more productive
- More Independence – managers typically work the day-shift so you won’t be micro-managed
- Daytime Flexibility – you have more availability during the day to run personal errands, attend appointments, or take classes without missing work
- Shorter Commute – less traffic means your commute is shorter and less stressful
Cons of Working a Night Shift Job
On the other hand, there are also disadvantages to working the night shift, such as:
- Health Issues – shift work is known to increase health risks such as cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer, obesity, and diabetes
- Sleeping Problems – working against your natural circadian rhythm can cause sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep deprivation, which can lead to more workplace accidents
- Heavier Workload – night shifts often mean working alone or with fewer coworkers, so you might be responsible for a lot more than those working the day shift
- Relationships – maintaining relationships and a work-life balance are more challenging
- Safety – working nights can be more dangerous
- Boredom – night shift work can be quite boring and lonely, especially if you are also sleep-deprived
- Lack of Recognition – your contributions and accomplishments might not be recognized
The Best Night Shift Jobs
Some people prefer to work at night, while others have no other choice to make ends meet and support their family.
Ranging from entry-level part-time roles to highly specialized occupations, here are some of the best night shift jobs available.
Emergency & Protective Services Roles
Police officers work around the clock to keep our streets safe. From the easier tasks of issuing traffic tickets and patrolling the area to the more serious responding to calls, making arrests, and conducting investigations, no two shifts will be the same!
A career as a police officer can be fascinating and rewarding. Constables start with a salary in the mid $40,000 while the Chief of Police makes an average of $95,000 per year.
Staying in the realm of public service, you could choose to go the route of a firefighter and save people’s lives (and their properties).
If you are part of a city budgeted fire department, expect to work 24-hour shifts; however, you can usually do other things like sleep on the job or work out, unless there’s an emergency call.
Firefighters earn an average annual salary in the mid $40,000, but states like New York and New Hampshire pay higher.
Paramedic or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
Working as a paramedic or EMT alongside other first responders is another rewarding public service job that requires trained, professional staff at all times.
The average salary is a bit lower, in the $38,000 – $42,000 range, but there are a lot of over-time hours available if you’re able to work longer shifts.
If you are a good listener who can think quickly but prefers not to be on the front-lines, you could help people in crisis by working as a 911 dispatcher. Providing immediate assistance to people in need is challenging, but you are truly making a difference.
Depending on where you live and your level of experience, dispatchers can make anywhere from $13 – $35 per hour.
I spent 2 years of my life “in jail” working as support staff alongside dozens of correctional officers. Although I got to spend my evenings and weekends at home, my coworkers were responsible for the inmate’s safety and security at all times.
Barring any significant threat, the job is generally easier when you work night shifts. You can do things like reading a book to help you stay awake, so long as you can multi-task in the unlikely scenario that there is a threat.
Whether it’s an office building or a shopping mall, many major commercial and industrial properties require round-the-clock security to monitor and protect the facility throughout the night. While security guards are also needed during the day, you might find you have an easier time in the middle of the night as you generally have to deal with few to no people.
In many cases, you are the first line of defense, but ultimately your job is to call local authorities if the situation involves any legit threat.
Healthcare & Caretaking Roles
Nursing & Personal Support Worker
An obvious option for anyone who wishes to work in the healthcare field, particularly a hospital or assisted living facility, is nursing.
When caring for the sick and elderly, these industries depend on providing care around the clock. Nurses, nursing assistants, and personal support workers are always in high demand – especially for the third shift.
Working the night shift is a lot less stressful. Visitors are not usually allowed, and most patients are sleeping. So baring the occasional emergency situation, expect most of your shift to be distributing necessary medication and just keeping an eye on those trying to sleep and get better.
Like nursing, the demand for a doctor’s care never ends, especially in the emergency room. It’s not an easy job, but with an average salary of $250,000, an ER doctor earns $100,000 more than general practitioners. You likely won’t find a higher paying night shift job than this.
Many professional medical services require working at night, such as sonographers, ultrasound technologists, MRI technologists, radiologists, neuroscientists, and lab technicians.
Many of these roles require the use of highly specialized equipment that is also being used by the ER. Staff needs to be available at all times in case of an emergency, but they also need to book appointments for non-emergency patients. For this reason, many hospitals offer appointments 24/7.
Veterinary Technician & Emergency Vet
Pets have emergencies, too. They can also get sick or injured and require overnight care. A vet or vet tech can either work on-call to respond as needed or might be scheduled to work the night shift to treat animals in need.
Consider being a caregiver if you can see yourself enjoying working with the elderly or people with disabilities, mental health issues, or special needs. While most caregivers are generally assigned to help people with their daily tasks, some patients may require overnight supervision or assistance.
While caregivers don’t generally make a lot of money, anyone who chooses to work the overnight shifts in this industry will likely earn an income that’s above the top range of a daytime caregiver’s annual salary.
Overnight Babysitting & Nannying
Are you good with children? If so, you should look into being a nanny or overnight babysitter.
A family might need to occasionally leave their child unattended and require someone to visit and monitor children throughout the night. Or the parents might need to travel for work or work the night shift themselves and need a responsible adult around.
Babysitters are typically paid in cash, under the table, so this is a good option if you need money fast. As an overnight babysitter, you could charge a more premium rate, and since it would likely be for at least ten or so hours, you could make a pretty good day’s pay.
Or, you could work as a nanny. Nanny’s might live with a family to provide around the clock childcare services in exchange for room and board, but they can also be paid by the hour and live on their own.
Customer Service & Hospitality Roles
Every business that is open late at night, early in the morning, or 24 hours a day requires customer service staff.
This could mean working as a cashier at a convenience store, answering the phones for a utility company, or dispatching tow-truck drivers. There are plenty of opportunities depending on your skills and the types of businesses in your community.
Front Desk Clerk
Along the same lines are front desk clerks. While these positions are usually found in hotels, other organizations such as 24-hour gyms, college residence buildings, or substance abuse facilities also require front desk clerks.
IT & Tech Support
Certain companies need to offer 24 tech support these days, especially if it’s an online or utility company. Companies also require IT professionals to do maintenance, install updates, and make back-ups overnight when the business is closed.
Ranging from roles as a help desk technician helping customers troubleshot their tech problems for a salary of $40,000, to database and network administrators diagnosing server issues for $70,000 a year, there are great career options in IT that pay well.
Restaurant & Fast Food Workers
Restaurants and other food service companies are open long hours, and they need people to prep before opening and clean up after closing.
Between the coffee shops that open in the early morning, the bars and fine dining restaurants that stay open late, and the diners and fast food places that never close, there are plenty of different shift options in the restaurant industry.
There are also different roles to choose from, including servers, cooks, bakers, drive-thru attendants, cashiers, cleaners, and shift supervisors.
While bartending is not a 24-hour business, depending on where you work and when, a bartender could be on the clock up until 6 in the morning!
Bartenders usually get paid a decent flat rate, but the amount of tips they can pull on a nightly basis or typical weekend shift can be quite lucrative. Getting certified as a bartender is easy to achieve, and once you master the art of making drinks at a fast pace, you should see quite a lot of tips come in.
Retail & Grocery Stocker
Major retail and grocery stores need people to restock the store shelves at night. It may not be glamorous, but it’s pretty straightforward and ideal for people that prefer to work alone.
Shipping & Receiving or Warehouse Worker
On that same note, businesses need staff available to accept and verify deliveries when a delivery truck arrives. And then, they need staff to unload the trucks and store the inventory properly. If you are physically fit and organized, this might be a good job for you.
Transportation & Delivery Roles
Taxi & Rideshare Driver
From needing a safe ride home after a night out to getting to the airport on time for an early morning flight, taxi drivers or rideshare drivers can be busy at any time of day. This is a great job for anyone who has a clean driving record, knows their way around town, and doesn’t want to sit behind a desk.
Another industry that works around the clock is truck drivers. Truck drivers are known for pulling long hauls, and depending on their schedule, may have to work overnight to get deliveries to a site by morning.
Drivers can make their own hours and may find their job is less stressful in the middle of the night because they don’t have to deal with traffic as much. It’s also a great way to see the world.
Pilot & Airline Staff
Another great way to see the world is from above, working as a pilot or airline staff member.
Although not all airports allow flights to take off or land in the middle of the night (usually due to sound restrictions), there are red-eye flights and time zone changes that mean you’ll be working overnight.
Air Traffic Controller
You may be surprised to learn that an air traffic controller is a 24-hour job. At major airports, passenger flights and cargo planes can come in at any hour of the day or night, and therefore they require an experienced professional to manage air traffic.
Air traffic controllers are generally high paying jobs (wages start at $60,000 and go into $200,000!). If you choose to be the one to work the graveyard shift, not only will you find yourself dealing with much less air traffic than during the day time, you usually also get a higher bump in pay.
Airport, Train, Bus & Subway Station Staff
Many transportation hubs like airports, train stations, bus stations, and subway stations never close. Depending on the station’s demand and size, there are jobs available in customer service (ticket sales, information booths, currency converters, and car rentals), cleaning, baggage handling, maintenance, or working at a food kiosk.
Creative & Entertainment Roles
The news never sleeps. Working as a journalist, broadcaster, TV or radio host, or a reporter is a great option for any night owl looking to have their news story break first thing in the morning. Although printed newspapers are becoming a thing of the past, people generally wake up and look at their phones to get the latest local news and updates from around the world.
Freelance Writer or Artists
A job that requires little more than an Internet connection is a job that can be done at any time of the day. So if you are a skilled writer, graphic designer, photographer, or whatever your talent may be, if it can be done online, why not start your own side hustle or small business?
In most casinos around the world, gambling never takes a breather. Someone must be there to work the blackjack and craps tables.
While some dealers love the intensity of full crowds at their tables, some enjoy being able to do the same job at night when the tables are generally less busy. Dealers get paid a flat hourly rate, meaning they will get paid the same while dealing with fewer people.
Musicians, singers, dancers, comedians, and other entertainers are often needed at special events or could have a regular gig with a local bar, nightclub, or concert venue. While it’s hard to make a living as a performer, you can get paid a good hourly rate.
Labor & Trades Roles
In some industrial industries, whether its utilities or manufacturing, the company might need to keep its doors open 24/7, whether it’s trying to upkeep productivity or if equipment needs to be on for numerous hours for testing. This is a prime opportunity to work for a big name manufacturer and get paid the big bucks to work overnight to contribute to the team. While these jobs tend to be more intense and required major safety training, this can be a lucrative career.
A lot of roadwork construction is done at night when traffic is less of a problem.
The average construction worker makes $30,000 – $35,000 per year and only requires a high school diploma. There is a lot of on the job training that will teach you more about pouring asphalt, digging trenches, and preparing construction sites.
An experienced project manager can make $150,000, and is responsible for things like getting permits, ensuring health and safety, and accounting.
If you happen to have a criminal record, construction is one of the industries known to hire felons.
Think about every service that you use (or might use) throughout your day. Plumbing, electricity, your furnace, your car – any of these things could break down or have issues that require a professional tradesperson. Jobs in the trades already pay well, but you can charge more to make emergency calls at any time, day or night.
Schools, hospitals, offices, and commercial buildings all require custodians to keep the places cleaned and maintained. This work is done outside of the business’s operating hours or peak times, which usually means you’ll be working at night.
While most people who do business with the United States or Canadian postal service are used to dealing with this service in the daytime, the postal service is a 24-hour industry that requires people around the clock.
In addition to delivering mail, one of the biggest jobs required is mail sorters. In most cases, this is a temporary job hired during busy seasons like the holidays when the mail volume requires extra hands throughout the night. These jobs generally are considered casual but pay reasonable hourly rates for some extra side income.
Federal Employee Roles
Finally, if you find the private industry does not suit you for a graveyard shift, you could consider being a civil servant and working as a Federal Employee.
Many federal government jobs require around-the-clock staffing. When you work an evening shift, you can usually get differential pay up to 10%. Plus, being a federal employee comes with some of the best benefits out there over any private industry.
What’s great about being a federal employee is that there are numerous possibilities of career paths you can take, many of which have the opportunity to pursue non-standard work hours.
Some ideas are becoming a park ranger at one of the many national parks or a security guard at one of the many federal government buildings. Alternatively, if you want something less in the spotlight, you could pursue jobs at the Department of Energy monitoring infrastructure or working cybersecurity detail overnight.
Tips for Night Shift Workers
As a night shift worker, there are a few things to keep in mind that can help make your life easier:
- Keep a Routine – try to keep the same schedule on your days off when it comes to eating and sleeping
- Eat Well – avoid sugars, eat more protein, and don’t skip meals
- Limit Caffeine – it is better to have caffeine at the beginning of your shift so that it won’t interfere with your sleep
- Lights – make sure your bedroom is dark when you’re trying to sleep by using a blackout curtain or sleep mask
- Exercise – exercise after you wake up instead of after you’re done work
- Make the Time – make spending time with your loved ones a priority, and don’t neglect your hobbies or interests
Night shift jobs are not for everyone. They can really take a toll on your health and your relationships.
However, if you prefer the pace of working at night, are a natural night owl, or are in a position where working nights is your only choice, there are plenty of options for part-time hourly work or full-time careers.
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.