When school’s out for summer, many teachers head back to work. It might be boredom, or it might be needing the extra money. No matter why you want to find summer work, the gig economy has made it even easier. Here’s a look at some of the top choices for this summer.
Best Gig Platforms for Teachers
This post takes a look at the best gig economy platforms for teachers. It doesn’t include traditional summer jobs like summer school or summer camps. If you know of something else or want to share your experiences, please leave a comment at the end of this post.
Uber lets you choose between driving people or delivering food orders. Some people like chatting with passengers. Others want peace and quiet.
Uber drivers report a median hourly income of $18 per hour with a range of $12 to $25. What you make depends on both your market and how well you work the system.
To become an Uber driver, you need a clean driving record and an eligible car. Uber approves all new drivers who meet the requirements, but it takes a week or two to get approved.
If you want to keep your Uber account when school starts up again, you may need to occasionally drive on nights or weekends. Uber doesn’t post a specific policy for deactivating inactive accounts, but various online posts say drivers were deactivated after anywhere between 30 to 90 days of not driving.
Lyft is a passenger-only service. If you want to drive people, whether Uber or Lyft is better depends on where you live and even the time of year.
Lyft hourly earnings closely match Uber. Drivers report an $18 median with a $12 to $25 range. Lyft’s bell curve is slightly fatter in the middle with fewer drivers earning at both ends.
Lyft has similar requirements to Uber. Each service sets different car requirements by region, so check the other if you’re not eligible for one. Lyft says the online application takes about 30 minutes. In some places, you will need to bring your car in for an inspection which could take a few weeks.
To keep your Lyft account active, you may need to drive at least once a month. Again, Lyft doesn’t post a clear policy, but some drivers report getting warning emails after 30 days of not driving.
Shipt is primarily a grocery delivery service but also works with a few general merchandise stores. Some orders have you do all of the shopping as a personal shopper. At other stores, store employees pick the orders, and you just deliver.
Shipt shoppers report average hourly earnings of $15 with a range of $4 to $31. Shipt Shoppers rely heavily on tips, so your earnings depend on your market, the quality of your service, and learning to choose the right orders.
Shipt’s requirements are a little unusual for the gig economy. They actually have a recorded video interview. Approval times vary from days to weeks based on your area’s needs.
You can make Shipt a true summer-only job if you want. While they do deactive inactive accounts, you can reactivate your account at any time just by logging in.
Instacart works similarly to ship. Each service partners with different stores, so which one is better depends on your area.
Instacart shoppers report average hourly earnings of $12 with a range of $8 to $17. It’s harder to substantially increase your earnings with tips than Shipt, but the base earnings are more consistent.
You can sign up with Instacart as long as you can pass the background check. There’s no interview like with Shipt. The background checks usually take a few days.
Instacart doesn’t have a stated inactivity policy. Some shoppers report being deactivated after a few months without working but that they were able to request to be reactivated. Others report going over a year without being deactivated.
Amazon Flex is Amazon’s delivery service. You go to an Amazon warehouse, get a trunk full of packages, and deliver them to the customers. Amazon only uses Flex drivers in select markets.
Amazon’s hourly pay slightly beats Uber and Lyft. Drivers report a $19 average with a $14 to $31 range.
You’ll need a clean driving record and a mid-sized or larger car to drive for Amazon Flex. Since you’re not driving people, the process to join goes faster, and you can download an app to get started.
Amazon Flex generally lets drivers go 180 days without making deliveries before deactivating them (check your app for the current terms). You won’t be able to take the entire school year off, but you can keep your account active by taking advantage of some of your holiday time around the Black Friday and Christmas rushes.
DoorDash only does food deliveries. You pick up customer orders from restaurants that contract with DoorDash and deliver them to the customers.
DoorDash has the lowest reported pay of gig platforms. Drivers report an average of $13.83 per hour with a range of $7.25 to $41.30.
DoorDash accepts any driver with a clean background check and driving record age 18+. In some cities, you can use a scooter or bicycle instead of a car. Most Dashers are approved within a few days.
DoorDash has no posted inactivity policy, and drivers report going months without driving. My guess is that they go by when your background check expires since they won’t want to pay for background checks on people who aren’t working for them.
Tips for Teachers Using Gig Platforms for Summer Work and Beyond
Here are some tips for making the most out of the gig economy for your summer job.
Know your school district’s moonlighting policy.
Some districts have policies about taking side jobs during the school year or even during the summer. You may think what you do in your own time is none of their business, but schools have moonlighting policies for two reasons.
- Making sure there are no conflicts of interest like you working for a company that sells things to the school.
- Making sure you’re not doing anything that can affect the reputation of you or the school like creating an OnlyFans account.
If your summer gig or side job doesn’t have either of the above concerns, getting approved is usually just a formality.
Understand self-employment taxes.
Most gigs teachers take in the summer are self-employment income. You’ll need to pay your own taxes as an independent contractor.
You may also need to make estimated tax payments instead of waiting until April to pay. Setting aside 1/3 of your 1099 income is usually a safe number until you do the actual math.
Estimated taxes for May and June are due June 15th. Estimated taxes for July, August, and September are due September 15th.
Most gig platforms let you pick a very flexible schedule, so take advantage. If you do, you won’t even feel like you’re working during your vacation time.
You can easily take a few weeks off if you have a trip planned. Many apps don’t even require you to schedule ahead at all, so you can work when you feel like it and stop when you don’t.
Some teachers set schedules and income goals. Others only work when they get bored or have no plans.
Boost your savings.
If you’re going to work on your vacation, you shouldn’t feel guilty about using at least some of the money as fun money. Once you’ve had your fun, covered any important expenses, and topped off your emergency fund, it’s time to think about the future.
If you’re not already maxing out your IRA, make that your goal for the summer. If you want to save even more, open a SEP IRA and contribute up to 20% of your gig app profits as a tax-deductible retirement contribution.
Know your local market.
Depending on where you live, summer can either be very busy with lots of work to go around or completely dead with other workers competing for jobs.
If you’re an Orlando teacher, gig platforms will have tons of orders from tourists. If you’re in a city that empties out in the summer, you might be competing for a small number of orders with restaurant and retail workers who aren’t getting enough hours.
If you’re not in a good market for gig apps, they may still be an option. You can often work in other cities, so you can use the gig economy to subsidize your summer travel.
What are your tips and strategies?
If you have apps you like to use for summer work, tips for how to make more money, or strategies for using your summer income to optimize your budget, leave them in the comments.