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7 perfect side jobs for firefighters

Looking to pad your paycheck? These side jobs are perfect for firefighters


Building your clientele (and your paycheck) as a personal trainer will take time.


One of the most desirable aspects of working as a firefighter is the scheduling –working 12 or 24 hours on and four days off means you’ll have a nice (consecutive) chunk of time away from work. Often, tacking on a second job to fill off-time makes sense, not to mention side jobs are a brilliant way to cushion a modest firefighter paycheck. Here are some of the best side jobs, with especially flexible schedules, for firefighters.

1. Instructor: CPR, ACLS, PALS

You already know the ropes when it comes to CPR, ACLS and PALS, so why not make some money off of it? Matthew M. Henry, a safety consultant for American CPR and an EMT, tells, “CPR, ACLS and PALS instructors have the opportunity to earn from $100 to over $1,000 for a single client/training opportunity, but the average class sessions garner $200-$400 (about $40-$100 per hour) depending on many students are in the class and how many topics are taught.”

2. Emergency technician

Don’t let the job description confuse you – we aren’t suggesting a part-time EMT job, per se. Firefighters and paramedics may be able to find work in other emergency technician fields, such as phlebotomy, transfusion clinics, stress testing labs and emergency departments, on a part-time basis. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median hourly wage for phlebotomists is $18.49. In order to make more money as a phlebotomist, earning a certificate is encouraged. Certificates can be obtained through an online program or at many college campuses nationwide.

3. Bartender

Bartending wages (and job availability) vary greatly based on your location. But if you’re able to land a side job as a bartender, tips can be a huge source of income. In competitive cities like Washington, D.C., bartenders make around $18.30 on average per hour. BLS measures the national median pay at around $14.59 per hour. In many states, bartenders have to go through a training and certification process before serving. In the highest-demand areas, like New York, certification courses can cost around $595.

4. Landscaper or groundskeeper

Landscaping may be a seasonal or year-round side job, based on where you live. Seasonality can provide even more schedule flexibility if you’re not completely sold on the idea of landing a consistent second job. According to BLS, the average hourly wage in 2021 for landscapers and groundskeepers was $16.94. If you land a grounds job at a golf course, you may even score a few free rounds as a bonus.

5. Personal trainer

Building your clientele (and your paycheck) as a personal trainer will take time, especially if you don’t want to work for a “chain gym” like Gold’s or 24 Hour Fitness, but the schedule flexibility for personal trainers is great. According to, the average compensation for a personal trainer is about $19.59 per hour. Working independently (outside of a chain) will likely earn you more money, once you’ve built up your clientele. shared the story of two Michigan paramedics, Gavin DuBetz and Stephanie Viener, who took their side training jobs to an entrepreneurial level, opening CrossFit Menace.

6. Real estate agent

A real estate agent’s commission is typically 5 to 6 percent of the home’s sale price. So on a $300,000 home, a real estate agent can make around $16,500 in commission (estimating a 5.5 percent commission rate). While real estate is a flexible second job, it does require building a client pipeline to make money, which can be a time-consuming process. Various colleges and online programs offer real estate classes or degrees. These courses outline the nuances of real estate, which may better prepare you for the trials and tribulations in this line of work.

7. Carpenter

Carpentry can be a great side job, especially during the summer months when landscapers need additional help building decks, fences or other features requested their clients. Carpentry licensing varies greatly from state to state. Some states don’t require a license, but in other states you’ll need a contractor’s license. Either way, consider filing an LLC as a way to protect yourself should any business debts or liabilities arise in this side job.

Other options

Do you have a talent, hobby or passion you could monetize? Are you an artist on your off-days? Why not sign up to be an instructor for Paint Nite? Do you love dogs? Become a dog walker or dog sitter at Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Start your own business in your downtime.

This article, originally published 04/07/2016, has been updated with current information.

Editor’s Note: What side jobs have worked well with your work schedule? Share your stories with

The FireRescue1 Lifestyle content series is written for the off-duty firefighter. Here you’ll find content on everything from the latest automotive and entertainment trends to tips and tricks for financial planning – all written from a firefighter’s perspective, with an eye toward what makes you unique even when you’re not at the station.