Side hustles are common for people in all types of careers, including active duty military. If you’re looking for ways to make extra money on the side, or perhaps to build a business that you could continue after retiring from the military, there are a number of options.
While there are plenty of ways for the average person to make money outside of a full-time job, the situation is a bit different for members of the military. For one, you may have to contend with deployment and other commitments that make it difficult to maintain a regular job.
Additionally, many active duty military families live on a base. The community aspect is strong, and this may open some opportunities to start or grow a side business. Military members tend to trust other military members and they’re quick to hire someone from within the community. This means you may find it easier to get customers for your business if you’re part of the community.
Let’s look at the best military side hustles you can pursue to make extra money while on active duty.
Are Side Hustles Allowed If You’re On Active Duty?
Yes, it’s possible for active duty military to have a side hustle or part-time job, but it must be approved. You have to submit a request through your chain of command. Speak to your Officer in Charge and ask about the process of getting approval.
Typically, it’s possible to get permission for a side hustle or part-time job if it doesn’t present any type of conflict of interest or security threat. Also, it shouldn’t impact your ability to fulfill your duties in any way.
Side Hustles for Active Duty Military
Here are some of the best opportunities for making extra money while serving in the military.
This is a great option for people who are good with their hands and enjoy working with tools. There are always odd jobs that need to be done in any community, and military bases are no different. Whether it’s fixing a leaky faucet or assembling furniture, there are plenty of opportunities here.
Working as a handyman is a very flexible way to earn extra cash. You can work around your full-time job and other commitments. You can also choose the specific types of jobs you want to do and how much you want to work.
As was mentioned earlier, military members often prefer to hire other military members. When families on the base need the services of a handyman, they’re more likely to hire someone from within the community rather than hiring someone else.
Additionally, you may be able to find work through word-of-mouth. If you do a good job for one person, they’re likely to tell others about you and recommend your services.
To learn more, read our article How to Start a Handyman Business.
Mowing and Yard Work
Similar to handyman work, mowing lawns and doing other yard work is always in demand. This type of work is also very flexible. You could focus on mowing, or you could also offer other services like trimming plants and trees, leaf cleanup, mulching, and basic landscaping.
Many people on base have families and they don’t always have the time to do the yard work themselves. This creates an opportunity for you to step in and fill the need.
You don’t need a lot of experience or equipment to get started. With just a push mower, you can start taking mowing jobs for houses with small yards. If you want to grow the business further, you could invest in a riding mower, leaf blower, other landscaping equipment, and a trailer to haul your stuff to jobs.
While mowing and yard work is a seasonal job in most locations, you can also offer leaf cleanup, snow removal, and other related services throughout the year.
People want to keep their cars clean, but they may not always have the time or inclination to do it themselves. This creates an opportunity for you to provide a much-needed service.
You could start by doing simple things like washing and vacuuming cars. Once you get some experience and build up a clientele, you could expand your services to include things like waxing, shampooing carpets, and polishing chrome. Once you have some repeat clients who hire you on a regular basis, you’ll have a nice side business.
You don’t need a lot of equipment to get started. A hose, bucket, sponge, and some cleaning supplies are all you really need.
Babysitting services are always in demand, and military families are no different. In fact, finding a babysitter is often more challenging for military families. They may not be surrounded by other family members like most civilians. As a result, military families often turn to others within the community to watch their kids.
This is a great way to make some extra cash, and it can be very flexible. Many babysitting gigs will be in the evening or on weekends, which may fit well with your schedule.
The most important thing is that you’re responsible and reliable. Families need to know that their children will be safe and well-cared for. It’s likely that they’ll feel safer with another military member than with someone to whom they have no connection.
Pet Sitting and Dog Walking
Pet sitting and dog walking are great ways to make extra cash, and they can be very flexible as well. You can take dog walking gigs in the evening or on weekends, or whenever it fits into your schedule. This makes it a perfect way to earn some extra money with minimal impact on your life.
Families on base will appreciate not having to board their pets when they’re traveling. And, like with babysitting, military families often feel more comfortable trusting another military member with their pets than someone else.
To get started, you’ll need to be comfortable around animals and have a reliable way to get around (a car or bike). You can create a profile on Rover so pet owners can find you, or you can simply talk to people in the community and rely on word-of-mouth.
House sitting is often needed when families go on vacation or travel for work, and they may look for someone to watch their house while they’re away.
This is relatively easy work since you’re mostly responsible for checking in on the house and making sure everything is ok. You may have some other tasks like watering plants, bringing in the mail and other packages, or basic maintenance around the house.
To get started, simply talk to people in your community and let them know that you’re available for house sitting. Once you’ve worked for a few families in the community, you may start picking up more work through word-of-mouth advertising.
House sitting is another service where trust is very important. Homeowners don’t want to hire just anyone to watch their house while they’re away. The fact that you’re on active duty and a part of the community will make it easier for you to land these jobs.
If you’re into photography, there are a number of ways you can make extra cash with your hobby. Many families on base hire photographers to take family photos, especially around the holidays. This is a great way to make some extra money while doing something you enjoy.
You could also offer your services for special events like birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations. There are plenty of opportunities when a photograph will be needed, and marketing your services to others within the community is a great way to pick up these gigs.
Another option is to sell your photos online through stock photo marketplaces like Shutterstock and Depositphotos. You can earn royalties every time one of your photos is downloaded. This is a great way to make money passively from something you love doing, although it’s difficult to make a huge amount of money with stock photography.
If you’re good with cars, you can offer your services as a mechanic to others in the community. This is a great way to make some extra cash, and it can be very flexible since you can work on people’s cars whenever it’s convenient for you.
Many people on base don’t have the time or knowledge to fix their own cars, so they’ll be happy to pay someone else to do it for them. You could also offer to do basic maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations.
To get started, simply talk to people in your community and let them know that you’re available for car repairs. You can also advertise your services online or in local classifieds.
If you’re good with hair, you can offer your services as a barber or hairdresser. This is a great way to make extra money, and it’s usually pretty flexible since you can work on people’s hair whenever it’s convenient for you.
Many people on base don’t have the time or ability to cut their own hair, so they’ll be happy to pay someone else to do it for them. You could also offer to do other types of hairstyling like coloring or highlights.
To get started, simply talk to people in your community and let them know that you’re available for haircuts. Many of your clients will come back every time they need a haircut, so with some effort, you could build a nice side business.
Start a Blog or Niche Website
If you’re interested in starting an online business, creating a blog or niche website is an excellent option. A niche website is very similar to a blog, but it’s highly focused on a particular topic.
An online business could be an excellent choice if you’re looking for something that you can take with you if you’re deployed somewhere else, or you could continue to work on it when you retire from active duty.
While there are many online business models you could pursue, building a blog or a niche website allows you to work on something you enjoy while benefiting from unlimited income potential. You could make money from advertisements, affiliate programs, sponsored content, or by creating and selling your own products.
The downside to starting a blog is that it will require some time and patience. Most new sites don’t make very much money for the first 6-12 months, so you may need to put in a lot of work before you start to see the payoff. But once your site is established, it could be an excellent source of income.
For more details, please read my Guide to Building a Profitable Niche Website.
Start a YouTube Channel
Another online business option is to start a YouTube channel. This could be a great way to make extra money if you enjoy making videos and if you’re good on camera.
You could create an informational channel with “how to” types of videos, or create a channel that entertains in some way. It’s possible to create a channel that targets others in the military or uses your experience, or you could create a channel based on a hobby or interest.
Just like building a website, you’ll need to put in a lot of effort at the beginning, but once you start gaining viewers, it could become a very lucrative business. YouTube channels can make money from ads (the YouTube Partner Program), direct sponsorships, and affiliate marketing.
This type of online business requires minimal equipment or gear to get started. You could even use your smartphone camera to create your first videos and upgrade your gear once you start making money.
Start a Podcast
If you’re interested in starting an online business but you don’t want to be on camera, podcasting could be a great option. This is another type of online business that can make money through ads, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing.
You could create a military-themed podcast where you discuss your experiences or provide advice for other service members. Or you could create a podcast on any other topic that interests you.
Again, this is an online business that requires plenty of upfront work to build momentum, but once you have an established audience, the income potential is excellent.
Create and Sell Printables
If you’re crafty and you enjoy creating things, you may want to consider creating and selling printables. These are digital products that people can download and print from home.
There is a huge demand for planners, calendars, checklists, and other organizing printables. You could create these yourself using a program like Canva, or you could hire a designer on Fiverr to create the printables for you.
Once you have your design ready, simply list your product on Etsy and start selling. You can also create your own website using Podia to sell the products without relying on a marketplace like Etsy. Growing your own audience will take more time and effort, but you can cut out the middleman.
You could create printables specifically for military members or military families, or you could target some other niche. The possibilities are virtually endless.
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Create Online Courses
If you have expertise or knowledge in a particular area, you could create an online course to share that information with others. This is another online business that offers unlimited income potential and it can be done from anywhere.
You could create a course on anything from budgeting to cooking to fitness. As long as there’s a demand for it, you can create a course on just about any topic. Once you’ve created your course, use a platform like Teachable or Podia to easily create a website and sell access to the course. Your students will be able to log in and access the course materials and learn at their own pace.
You could also package together a few courses into a bundle or use a lower-priced course as an introductory offer that funnels more customers to a related course that’s higher-priced. There are plenty of different possibilities here, and creating courses can be an excellent way to make money.
Starting a print-on-demand business is a great option if you want to sell physical products but you don’t want to deal with the hassle of manufacturing, storing, and shipping inventory.
With print-on-demand, all you need to do is create your design and upload it to a platform like Teespring. Then, when customers order your product, the platform will take care of manufacturing, printing, and shipping.
Another option is to build your own e-commerce site with Shopify and connect it to a print-on-demand provider like Printful. If you’re not tech-savvy, don’t worry, it’s a lot easier than it sounds. There are plenty of beautiful Shopify templates you can use to easily create your own site, and Printful integrates with Shopify so all the orders will be fulfilled without any work on your part.
You can sell t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, tote bags, or just about any other type of product. While you can create any type of product you want, you could start a shop especially for military members or military families and create products they would appreciate. Wear or use your own products around the base as an advertisement.
This is another legit online business opportunity that offers excellent income potential and can be done from anywhere. You don’t even need to have any design skills of your own since you can hire freelance designers to do that part of the work for you.
If you’ve been living and serving in different parts of the world, you might be fluent in other languages aside from just English. You could use your language skills by working as a translator.
There are plenty of online platforms that offer translation services, and you can sign up to work as an independent contractor. Or you could reach out to companies directly and inquire about opportunities.
Generally, online translation work is highly flexible and can be done whenever it fits into your schedule. Most platforms allow you to work as much or as little as you want. Assignments might include things like translating an article, writing a text-based translation for a video, or translating a company’s marketing materials.
If you’re looking for a way to make money online, this could be a great option. It’s also an opportunity that can be done from anywhere since all you need is an internet connection and a computer.
Another great way to make money online is by working as a virtual assistant. There are plenty of businesses and entrepreneurs who need help with things like customer service, social media, administrative tasks, and more.
As a virtual assistant, you can work from anywhere and the hours are usually flexible. You could be doing things like responding to emails, scheduling appointments, or managing social media accounts.
The possibilities are endless, and if you have the skills that businesses need, this could be a great option for making money online. You can start by creating a profile on a freelancing platform like Upwork, or reach out to businesses that you think might benefit from your services.
Write a Book or E-Book
If you have an idea for a book or an e-book, you could start writing and then self-publish it on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. While there are other self-publishing platforms, Amazon is the most popular due to its massive reach.
This is a great option if you want to make money online but don’t necessarily want to deal with customers or clients. Once your book is published, it will be available for anyone to purchase, and you’ll receive a percentage of the revenue from sales. Amazon will print paperbacks as they’re purchased, and they also handle all of the order fulfillment and customer service related to shipping.
You can write fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, or any other type of book. If you’re not sure what to write about, consider creating a military-themed book or something that would be useful for active duty members or veterans.
Of course, this is another option that requires you to put in a lot of work before you’ll see the payoff, but it’s possible that your book could earn money for years to come. And if you can continue to write additional books and grow your side hustle income.
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There are many different services you can offer as a freelancer, including writing, graphic design, web development, and more. If you have any skills or talents that businesses or individuals need, you can start offering your services online.
Think about the skills you already have and how you can use them to help clients. Chances are, you’ve developed some valuable skills in your current job or past jobs, and freelancing is an ideal way to monetize those skills.
The great thing about freelancing is that you can work from anywhere and the hours are completely flexible. You can also take on as many or as few clients as you’d like. It could be a side gig that brings in a little bit of extra cash each month, or you could grow it to become a full-time job after you retire from active duty.
Military Side Jobs
Most of the side hustles above involve starting a business, but here are some side jobs that may be more ideal for you, depending on your situation.
Work at the Commissary or PX
If you’re stationed on a military base, you may be able to get a job working at the commissary or post exchange (PX). This could involve working in the store, stocking shelves, or even cashiering.
It’s a great option if you’re looking for a flexible job that’s close to home. It’s also ideal for those who want to make some extra money but don’t have any interest in starting a business or offering a service.
Food delivery can be a great side hustle for anyone, including military. DoorDash is one of the most popular food delivery services, and they’re in thousands of cities and towns.
You can sign up to deliver food from local restaurants to DoorDash customers in your area. The hours are flexible (work whenever you want, subject to availability), and you can make decent money. You’ll need to remember that you have to pay for gas, and the extra miles can lead to higher vehicle maintenance costs, so be sure to budget for those expenses.
This is a great option if you have your own car and are looking for a relatively easy way to make some extra cash. It’s also ideal if you’re looking to start making money quickly. You can sign up today and start working within as little as a few days.
Another similar option is to work as a grocery delivery driver for Instacart. Instacart is available in most major cities and towns, and they offer flexible hours.
You can sign up to be a full-service shopper or just an in-store shopper. Full-service shoppers shop for the groceries and then deliver them to the customer’s home. In-store shoppers just shop for the groceries and someone else handles the delivery.
Just like making deliveries from restaurants, this is a good choice if you’re looking for something that allows you to start making money quickly.
Ways to Make Extra Money in the Military
Maybe you’re not really looking to start a business or work a side job, but you’d like to make some extra money here and there. You might want to consider these options.
There are many different websites and apps you can use to make extra money with online surveys. They won’t make you rich, but they’re an easy way to make some extra money in your spare time. And you can do it whenever you’d like.
Some of the most popular survey sites include:
Swagbucks and InboxDollars give you points for taking surveys, watching videos, and shopping online. You can then redeem your points for gift cards or PayPal cash. There are other sites like Survey Junkie and Rakuten that focus exclusively on surveys.
Taking online surveys is a relatively easy way and anyone can do it. You don’t need any specific skills or experience.
There are many websites and apps where you can make money by completing small tasks or microtasks. These usually involve doing things like answering questions, categorizing data, simple research, and other basic tasks.
Just like surveys, you won’t make a ton of money with microtasks, but it’s simple, flexible work that anyone can do for some extra cash.
Another way to make money with small tasks is by doing the work in your local area rather than online. Apps like TaskRabbit and Steady are ideal for this. You can browse tasks in your area and choose the ones you want to do.
Rent Out a House or Room
Renting out a house or room is an option for any homeowner, but it’s especially relevant for members of the military. Individuals and families move on and off military bases frequently. Some choose to stay in military housing and others prefer to stay somewhere on their own.
If you own your home, you can rent it out to people who are looking for a place to stay, either temporarily or more long-term. This is a great way to make some extra money and it can help offset the cost of your mortgage or other housing expenses.
Another similar option involves keeping your house after you’re deployed somewhere else. Instead of selling the house when you move, you could keep it and rent it out to another military family. You might want to hire a property manager since you’ll be living far away, but that’s up to you.
Final Thoughts on Military Side Hustles
There are many different ways to make extra money in the military. You can start a business, work a side job, or take on some freelance work. You can also rent out your house or room, do online surveys, or complete small tasks for money. The choice is up to you.
The best option for you will depend on your skills, interests, and availability. But no matter what you choose, there’s sure to be something that can help you earn some extra income.