Earn more, work less: 8 great jobs that escape the rat race

Sadie Nardini
Sadie Nardini

Yoga teacher and self-titled "Life Stylist" Sadie Nardini advises her clients, "Think huge-small and medium have a lot of competition." That's just what she did when she went from being a broke, harried studio yoga teacher to harnessing technology, streamlining her workload, and earning in a day what she used to make in a week. In 2010, she put in the hours she wanted and netted close to $300,000.

Nardini got her start as a yoga teacher moonlighting after her day job in cubicle land. Eventually, she got fed up with laboring long days for little money doing office work and decided to teach full time. Soon enough, she was teaching 25 classes a week and feeling just as burnt out as before. "I love the scene in 'Finding Nemo' where he swims into the current with the sea turtles and speeds effortlessly toward his goal," she says. "I asked myself, 'How can I be more passive and less active income-wise?'"

Nardini posted free online videos to gain a wider audience. Now she has 25,000 subscribers on YouTube and 40,000 Facebook followers. She started selling DVDs and teaching at large conferences instead of small classes. She branched out into wellness counseling and life coaching. On a practical level, she set up automatic responses on her website and outsourced all of her administrative work.

Nardini says that fear gets in the way of people actually doing something instead of just talking about it. "People often have skills that they doubt anyone will care about. I advised a friend who loved making bracelets to sell them on Etsy. A magazine featured her work and within a month she had earned more money from her bracelets than she had made in a year working an office job."

Here are seven more jobs that offer flexibility, fun, and a good wage:

Massage Therapist

According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), the majority of massage therapists work under 27 hours a week. Massage therapist Jenny Adams, who has practiced in Pennsylvania for 20 years, describes the benefits of her career: "I get to wear comfy clothes, set my own hours, and work with wonderful people. Most days I see three to four clients which leaves me plenty of time for other things."

Gyms, doctor's offices, sports teams, and spas all employ massage therapists. Some massage therapists are self-employed and travel to people's homes.

Background requirements:

  • 300 to 1000 in-class hours (varies state to state). See the AMTA website for info.

  • National certification exam for therapeutic massage and bodywork.

  • Some states require additional certification.

Earning potential: $60 to $100 per hour

Technical Writer

Are you the only one of your friends who actually reads the manual before powering up a new electronic device? If you are a clear communicator with a good head for technology, you might want to consider a pursuing a career in technical writing-according to the Bureau of Labor Statics, the field is expected to grow by 18 percent between now and 2018.

Technical writers translate technical information supplied by experts into easily understandable language for everyday consumers. They usually work for computer systems and software companies, but could also be employed by engineering or architectural firms or in the medical industry. Many are freelance.

Background requirements:

  • Most Technical writers hold a Bachelor's degree in English, Communications, or Journalism.

  • Being comfortable working with computer systems is a must and desktop publishing and multimedia software experience is also helpful.

Earning potential: $40 to $75 per hour

Make-up artist

Being a make-up artist involves more than just helping people look pretty. Some create detailed prosthetics for film and television. Top fashion and celebrity make-up artists such as Bobbie Brown have created their own multi-million dollar cosmetics lines.

Background requirements:

  • There are no specific requirements for becoming a make-up artist, but you can take courses at a school such as Make-up Designory (MUD), which has campuses in Los Angeles and New York City.

  • Some budding make-up artists get their start by working at a department store cosmetics counter or volunteering to do make-up for local theater productions.

Earning potential: Entry level make-up artists earn about $15 per hour, but a Hollywood makeup artist who works on successful films can earn a upwards of a million dollars a year.

Internet Tutor

Internet tutoring covers every imaginable topic and student group: online teachers might help young kids manage homework, do SAT prep with teens, or coach pre-meds in organic chemistry depending on their expertise. One of the larger and more reputable online tutoring companies is Tutor.com. This is a great job for teachers, teachers-in-training, or graduate students interested in earning extra cash or creating a freelance career.

Background requirements:

  • A degree in teaching or another advanced degree is a big plus.

Earning potential: $15 to $100 per hour depending on educational background.

Social Media Consultant

This business is still the "Wild West" of the publicity world, and one that you can break into with little formal training--if you have the know-how and ambition. Helping companies market themselves using social media tools is an exploding field. Today, most companies and organizations, large and small, need to promote themselves on the Internet and many are hiring savvy media professionals to help them do so.

Most freelance social media consultants start by building their own presence on the web through blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools. You can also offer to publicize a small business or other enterprise for free to gain experience.

Background requirements:

  • A Bachelor's degree in Marketing or Communications can be helpful but not a necessity since the field is changing rapidly.

Earning potential: $20 to $300+ per hour depending on experience and success rate.

Private chef

Private chefs work in client's homes or deliver meals to them. Some specialize in a particular cuisine or cook for people with special nutritional needs.

Restaurant chef Kate Duncan had a promising career cooking at a hip bistro in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but, as she puts it, "no life." The hours were brutal--she often fell into bed after 2 am and barely made ends meet financially. When a friend suggested she apply for a job cooking for an affluent family who likes to entertain, she jumped at the chance. She now makes more money working 30 hours a week than she used to in 65, enjoys a social life, gets to the gym every day, and generally finds the change "amazingly positive."

Background requirements:

  • Cooking in a restaurant offers great experience, but some private chefs get a job straight out of a one- or two-year culinary school program.

  • Gaining experience in the catering business is another path.

Earning potential: $25 to $50+ per hour

Personal trainer

Personal trainers work one-on-one with clients at a gym or home to evaluate and improve their fitness. The Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that the aging Baby Boomer generation is driving up the demand for fitness workers and the field is projected to grow by about 29% over the next decade.

Background requirements:

Earning potential: $30 to $100 per hour

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