If you’re an actor, you know that it’s hard to find day jobs with the flexibility you need to go on auditions. If you’re auditioning for theater, especially non-union gigs, the auditions and rehearsals will likely be at night. But if you’re auditioning for union theater jobs, as well as TV, movies and commercials, you’ll often have last-minute auditions during the day.
That can make having a traditional office job tricky. But we all still have to pay our rent, so what’s an actor to do?
Although many actors opt to get jobs as servers or bartenders, those jobs often have evening hours that either conflict with theater rehearsals or they leave you too tired to do much the next day. Instead, it’s better to find day jobs that are open to a flexible schedule.
Here are five ideas for day jobs you can get as an actor in Chicago.
- Dog Walker
If you love animals and love being outside, being a dog walker is a great gig. The beauty of this job is that you usually don’t have to pick up a dog at any specific time. Usually, clients are given a two-hour window of when you’re going to walk their dog, but you can usually juggle things around enough to go to an audition. You can also start your own dog walking business by putting up fliers in your neighborhood or you can opt to work for an agency. The pay is pretty good, too, about $11 to $17 per hour if you work for an agency. Also, pet sitting is another good option. As long as you can fit in three to four walks a day for the dog you’re staying with, you can earn up to $40 to $60 per night. One downside — Chicago winters.
Being a nanny or babysitter can potentially be a great job for an actor as well. You just need to be able to find coverage for your kids when you have an audition or work for a family that is very flexible with you taking time off. One great resource for finding last-minute back-up babysitting help is the Facebook group “Chicago Improviser/Actor Babysitting Network.” In Chicago, most nannies and babysitters earn between $15 to $20 per hour.
- Uber or Lyft Driver
One of the advantages of driving for Uber or Lyft is you can control how much, and when, you want to work. You simply turn on your app when you’re ready to pick up riders and turn it off when you’re not. Your earnings will vary depending on how many rides you get a day as well as what the going rate for a ride is at any given time, but on average, Uber or Lyft drivers can make about $20 per hour in Chicago. Just got to keep your car clean and in good shape!
- Social Media Manager
If you’re pretty savvy with social media sites and understand how to write snappy copy, being a freelance social media manager is another great way to make a living as an actor. Many companies hire outside contractors part time to help with their social media accounts, so you can work for several different companies at a time while working from home. Typically, social media consultants can earn anywhere from $12 per hour to about $50 per hour, depending on experience. Also, if you have any experience with posting content or building websites, it will make you even more valuable.
- Leasing Agent
A popular job among Chicago actors is working as a leasing agent for a company such as Apartment People or Chicago Apartment Finders, where you help to find people apartments. It’s good if you need flexibility because you work on commission and make your own schedule. According to Salary.com, a leasing consultant in Chicago can early about $31,000 a year.
Of course, if one of these jobs doesn’t fit your needs, you can always try to use your own talents to make money. For example, do you know how to sing or play the guitar? Maybe you can offer lessons. Fluent in Spanish? You could work as a tutor. Know how to do accounting? You could try working as a freelance bookkeeper or accountant, rather than working for a company. The possibilities are endless.
Also, there are many other jobs out there that might work for you if you ask for what you need up front. In your interviews, tell them you are an actor who is looking for a position where you would be permitted to call in at the last minute and go to an audition. You might find a company that’s willing to support your vision!