Day jobs. We don’t like to think about them, but they are a reality for most of us. Even though I dream of landing that amazing series regular role, right now I still have to pay my bills. I like to think of myself as a collector of day jobs. I always have more than one at a time (right now I have 6) and I’ve done a variety of types of jobs.
So I thought I’d share with you my top 10 list of day jobs. With the exception of the first one on the list, I have held every single one of these jobs and have always been able to attend auditions without issues.
This is a stereotype for a reason. Lots of actors work in the food service industry. This is the one job on the list I haven’t held. Restaurant jobs are very competitive and I don’t have any experience. But I’ve heard many positive things from friends of mine who do work these jobs. There typically is someone who can cover a shift for you when you have an audition or book work. And there’s always the chance to cover someone else’s shift to make extra money.
2) Substitute teacher
I’m currently a K-12 substitute teacher. I haven’t had the chance to teach in a while due to scheduling issues, but I’m keeping myself on the roster at the district that hired me. In order to get an emergency 30 day substitute teacher license (which is what I have) you need to have a bachelor’s degree in any subject and pass the CBEST test. Then once those are done, you can apply to any public or private schools as a substitute. You will also have to do a background check as well as get cleared for TB. Both of those are pretty easy and most school districts will either completely pay or partially pay for those to be done.
Temping is another great day job with great flexibility. You can accept jobs when you can take them and not take jobs when you have a conflict. Many temp jobs can lead to regular employment. And the bonus of getting a job that way is that your boss already knows that you are an actor and need flexibility. So if they are offering a regular job, most likely the flexibility should not be an issue. There are a ton of temp agencies out there. Some of them specialize in temp jobs for the entertainment industry.
4) Box office/telesales
This is another one of my current jobs. I’m currently working as part of a national box office for a franchised theater company. But before this, I worked in the box office and telesales room for a local theater company. Telesales was great for me. You have guaranteed base pay plus commissions for what you sell. When tickets went on sale for each season, my commissions would be about 4 times what my base pay was for that pay period. It’s also super flexible and at least at the place I worked, if you were in when one of your customers called for you, you would still get your commissions for that sale. After the theater I worked for decided to outsource their telesales, I went to work in their box office. That job was only during shows which were in the evenings or on weekends. So I pretty much never had a conflict with auditions.
If you are a fast typist, working in transcription could be perfect for you! I tried this, but sadly even though I am a fast typist, I’m not fast when I’m listening and typing at the same time. Many of these jobs are working from home and you don’t have to work regular hours. You get an assignment and it needs to be done by a certain time (the place I worked gave me 24 hours to complete each assignment). You get paid by the word or by the line so the faster you type, the more per hour you technically make. This job does require some upfront money to purchase equipment you need to help you do your job properly, but it’s not much. All I had to purchase was a foot pedal which I found online pretty cheap (in fact, I’m selling mine if any of you are interested in doing transcription work!).
This is yet another job that I am currently doing. I did babysitting work in high school and college, and I’m back to doing it now. I’m registered with UrbanSitter, which is like an online dating service for babysitters and families. Families who need a sitter contact me and they can see my minimum rates before hiring me. I pretty much only babysit for “date nights” because those rarely conflict with auditions. But if you have a parent who likes to stay out late, you can make a pretty significant amount of money while you are watching kids sleep.
7) Data entry
Data entry is another great work from home option. I currently do data entry for a film screening company. I take the data from surveys and help to match them up. If you can find a company that needs this type of work done, while it may not have regular hours, they tend to be good chunks of time as you get each assignment. Just be careful when you find data entry jobs on Craigslist. I’ve found a lot of those to be scammed and advise anyone applying to them to research the company that they are for. Out of all those scams there might be a diamond in the rough.
8) Theme park/tour guide
I have been a tour guide at one movie studio and a season theme park employee at another. The season theme park job was great. It actually got me my SAG eligibility! For Halloween work (which is what I did at Universal Studios), most of the jobs are at night so they don’t conflict with auditions. And they are very understanding about needing flexibility. And the tour guide job I had was not the most flexible one, but if you work at Universal Studios as a tour guide, they actually encourage actors to apply. It’s a tough job to get (I applied recently and made it through 2 rounds before getting cut), but if you can get it, they are very willing to work around auditions. I was actually surprised about how much they can shift schedules to make sure that your job doesn’t get in the way of your career.
9) Virtual assistant
Being a virtual assistant is another great work from home option, but again, many jobs posted are scams. I recommend searching for these jobs on sites other than Craigslist and doing a lot of research. But if you can get a job as a VA, you will have pretty decent flexibility. The VA job that I do is helping put tax information into a spreadsheet. I also do some VA work helping with social media. If you are interested in working as a VA, tell your friends about it. Some of the best VA jobs I got are from referrals!
Finally, if you have to have a “real” job while still trying to pursue acting, receptionist positions can be a flexible option. I highly recommend anyone going in for an interview as a receptionist to be very upfront and honest about needed flexibility. Usually, there is someone who covers for the receptionist when they take lunch (or there are multiple receptionists at the office). If they know about your need for flexibility in advance, they can make sure that someone else in the office can cover for you when you are gone.
So those are my top 10 day jobs for actors! I know there are a ton more out there (and I’ve worked some of them) and I’d love to hear your day job successes and horror stories!