Great Careers for Single Parents

by Lindsie Polhemus 4 years ago in advice / career / list

Creating work-life balance is never easy. That’s what makes finding the best careers for single parents an absolute must-do for you!

Great Careers for Single Parents
Photo by London Scout

The best careers for single parents are much more than money-makers. Yes, these professions certainly bring in an income. That’s why you need a job, right? But they also provide the freedom, flexibility and independence that many working moms and dads need—especially when you’re parenting alone. Okay, so you’re not really alone. You’ve got help from family, friends and maybe even from your soon-to-be new co-workers. When it comes down to it, choosing one of the best careers for single parents can make your life (and your job as a parent) much easier.

Not every single parent is cut out for every career. You have skills, and should use them to your advantage. Maybe you have a BA in English, a teaching certification or a few decades worth of experience working in sales. Whatever your skill set, matching it to your career makes sense. That said, you’ll find that there are times when you’re ready to branch out and learn something new. If your resume doesn’t fit into one of the best career categories, consider making a change—right now. This might mean digging up old experiences that you can apply to a new field, working with a mentor or going back to school (an online program offers the flexibility that you need as a single parent).


Photo by iDriss Fettoul

You want total freedom. The ability to work when you want to, where you want to and for whom, are all topping your must-have list when it comes to your career. You want a job that lets you work from home when the kids have a snow day, lets you make it to every parent-teacher conference and class party and still gives you a livable wage. If being ‘free’ is what you crave, then freelancing may be for you. As a bonus, this is a broad career choice that encompasses a wide range of different fields.

What can you do as a freelancer? If you’re a wordsmith, writing is a top choice. Freelance writers work for businesses, websites, magazines, newspapers and even educational institutions. If you have expertise in a specific area (such as parenting, technology, science or education), you can take your knowledge and write about it—all while getting paid.

Other popular fields for freelancers include graphic design, web design and social media marketing.

While freelancing offers more freedom than most jobs (which is perfect for the single parent), it also doesn’t equal guaranteed work. You’ll need to do some serious networking (especially in the beginning) to find clients. Even though you may have steady periods of regular work, when the stream of jobs dry up you may go days, weeks or even months having to cut back on your budget. Keep this in mind when deciding whether the freedom and flexibility of freelancing is worth it.

Handmade Crafts

Photo by Kristina Balić

If it seems like everyone’s on Etsy or similar websites, they just might be. Websites that let regular people (like you) make a career out of selling handmade crafts have skyrocketed in popularity, making it easy to make money while staying home. Selling handmade crafts is a career that doesn’t require you to step foot out of your house (except to buy materials).

Handmade crafting includes anything from making your own jewelry to knitting hats for children. You’ll need to make an initial investment in the materials, but can fold that cost into the price of the goods that you sell.

In order to make this business profitable you need to market yourself, promoting your crafts on sites such as Etsy and Pinterest. You can also create your own website to sell your crafts on. If the online marketplace isn’t for you (or you crave real face-to-face interactions), you can also sell handmade items at fairs, craft shows and arts festivals.

Not only does this career option give you the ability to parent without as many restrictions or boundaries of a 9 to 5 office-type of job, but it also lets the kids get in on the action. Your crafty kiddo can help you knit, crochet, bead, bedazzle or craft whatever you choose to make!

Affiliate Marketing

Photo by Luis Llerena

You’ve always enjoyed sales, but only want to work with products that you truly believe in. Affiliate marketing allows you to do this. The first step to making this career profitable is to have a website of your own. Affiliate marketing means that you’re selling products (such as eBooks) that other people created. When a customer buys a product that you’re selling, you get a percentage of the price.

There are a few different routes to go when it comes to being an affiliate. One the largest and most well-known affiliate programs is Amazon’s. After being accepted you can add affiliate links to blog posts that you write (on your own website), place banner product ads (again on your website) or sell through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. When someone clicks on your links (each link includes your seller code) and buys a product, you get a commission.

Other major retailers (such as Target) also offer affiliate programs. If you’d rather help the little guy out, plenty of writers and bloggers have their own eBook and printable affiliate programs. These work the same way that the bigger guys’ programs do—add a link/ad to your own website, promote it, wait for customers to make purchases and collect a commission.


Photo by Joanna Kosinska

This career requires at least a bachelor’s level education, along with a state teaching certification/license. If you already have these (or are willing to go to school first), working as an early childhood or elementary school teacher is an amazingly awesome match for a single working parent. Why? Primarily because of the schedule.

Let’s say it’s summer vacation and you have a Monday to Friday office job. Your kids have three months off from school. You’ve signed them up for camps, found a babysitter and have taken a few days off from work here and there. But for the most part you’re missing out on your kids’ time off and you’re spending most of what you’re making at work on child care expenses.

Now, let’s say you’re an elementary school teacher. Summer rolls around—and, you have those three months off. Not only do you have summers free, but you have a week or so off between Christmas and New Year’s along with spring break and your day actually runs on the same start and finish time as your child’s. Other than a few in-service days, your schedule basically matches up with the kids all year round.

Even though you have summers off, your teaching job will still pay a full-time salary. The consistent work, steady pay and benefits (which are typically negotiated by a union for you) are all major pluses when you’re a working single parent.

Customer Service 

Photo by Peignault Laurent

Are you a people person? Do you enjoy helping others? Then customer service might be the job that you need right now. The big-time bonus that this field offers single parents is the ability to either work in an office environment or work from home.

Depending on who you work for, some companies offer at-home customer service jobs. These telecommuting options provide more flexibility than having to go into a call center, but that doesn’t automatically mean you have the same freedom as a freelancer.. Most of these jobs require you to work a set schedule. This might mean that you’re answering calls Monday through Friday for four hours a day while the kids are at school or possibly working a 40-hour week.

One of the advantages to working an at-home customer service job is the obvious—you’re at home. You don’t have to sit in rush-hour traffic, there’s no worrying about spending extra cash for gas, parking or other travel-related expenses and you never have to feel that pit in your stomach as you realize you’re running late and can’t possibly get home in time to pick up the kids from the school bus.

Even though you’ll have to work on a set schedule, you’ll also have guaranteed work. There’s no wondering where your next job (or next paycheck) is coming from—like a freelancer would.


Photo by Olu Eletu

Business need bookkeepers. It’s a fact of life for them. They need someone to do their accounting, organize receipts and make sure that their finances are completely in order. Some bookkeeping jobs require specialized knowledge of accounting practices or even a CPA certification. Other jobs in this field are more of a data entry nature, and don’t require a college degree.

What is it about bookkeeping that makes it one of the best careers for single parents? It has the option for flexibility. Telecommute positions as well as contract-type jobs allow parents to set their own schedules and work around school (or after-school activities). You may also have the opportunity to work at home in the evenings. This means that you can hang out all day with the kids, and then start working when the kids go to bed.

Bookkeeping also provides parents with the choice of working one steady job (which may mean a more structured schedule and less freedom) or the option of taking on several smaller jobs (basically, freelancing as a bookkeeper). Opting to work for several clients breaks up your work day, gives you freedom and lets you pick and choose where and when you work.

Fitness Trainer 

Photo by Scott Webb

You’re into your health and love working out. The fitness trainer field may be a career that matches who you are and what you love to do most of all. After all, you’re always looking for ways to get to the gym—so, why not make some money while you’re working out?

Being a fitness trainer isn’t a career that everyone can just jump into. It takes time, work and often requires some sort of certification. There are several different institutions and organizations that offer personal or fitness trainer certifications. The American College of Sports Medicine, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the International Sports Sciences Association, the National Strength and Conditioning Association and several other similar groups all offer certification exams. While you might not need a certification for every fitness trainer position, it always helps when it comes to your credibility as a professional.

Working in the fitness training field may let you adapt your schedule to fit your child’s. You can set up appointments around your child’s day, waiting to see clients until your child is at school/daycare and ending your last session before pick-up time.

Fitness training also allows you to work for someone (such as an established gym), start your own business or pick and choose a few different clients.

Web Developer

Photo by Tirza van Dijk

Calling all computer pros—web developer is a career for techies that also gives single parents the chance to spend time with their kids. For this job you’ll need technical experience. While not every job requires a college degree (or higher), most do. If you don’t already have a degree, you might want to get one before trying to find a job in this field. It only adds to your knowledge and credibility. Practical experience creating websites, coding and designing are all necessary for doing this job well.

Like freelance writers, web developers have the option to work on a job by job basis. Yes, you can get a 9 to 5 job working for a tech company. Or, you can work from home and create your own business. This option is ideal for the single parent who needs the freedom to care for their child.

With the growing use of technology in just about every sector, web development jobs are in need right now—and in the future. You can feel fairly confident that working as a web developer will equal a steady paycheck and an abundance of jobs to choose from. Obviously, like other freelancers, working for yourself means the possibility of being jobless at any time. That said, there are always websites in need of development!


Photo by Taylor Davidson

The base pay for most people who work in the service industry isn’t exactly stellar. Even so, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a full-time income in it. When it comes to income potential in the service industry there’s one key word to consider—tips! Adding tips to your pay often turns a job as a bartender or server into a real money-maker.

Even though you’ll have to leave your child to go to work, this career allows you to work a non-traditional schedule. If Monday through Friday days don’t work for you, go with a nighttime or weekend job. On the other hand, if you only want to work while the kids are in school, you can pick a lunch-time position. You may also have the ability to earn a livable wage while working a few days a week (depending on how many hours you work and what the tips look like).

One of the pluses to working in the service industry is that you don’t need a specific degree. Whether you have a Bachelor’s in English Lit, an Associate’s in early childhood or no degree at all, you’ll be able to find a job as a server. This makes the need to go back to school (spending time away from your child and using money you might not have) non-existent.

In-Home Child Care Provider

Photo by London Scout

You have little ones at home already, so why not add a few more into the mix? If you truly enjoy spending time helping young child to grow and develop, this may be the career for you. That said, turning your home into a child care center isn’t always easy. You’ll need to find out what your state’s licensing requirements are and meet them. This most likely includes having an inspector or someone from the state/local department of public welfare, early childhood or education visit your home. They’ll make sure that you’re meeting all requirements and issue your license.

Depending on where you live, you may need to get licensed as a home-based child care provider even if you’re only watching a few kids.

The top reason for choosing in-home child care provider as a career (as a single parent) is the ability to spend the day with your own child, without losing any money. This is ideal for a parent with a child under elementary school age. If you have an older child, the ability to work at home also comes in handy. You don’t have to rush off to work in the morning and you’ll be there when your child comes home from school at the end of the day. You’ll also be there for your child during summer vacations, spring breaks and other days off from school.

Direct Sales

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

Direct sales jobs offer endless possibilities—that is if they’re real. Before jumping in on the direct sales bandwagon, check out the company thoroughly. While there are plenty of real businesses that offer genuine opportunities, you’ll also run into many scams. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

The major bonuses of these jobs are that you don’t need a degree (or even prior work experience), you can set your own hours, you have the ability to work when you want and you can make more than a livable income. For some people, direct sales also equals a social network or community that can turn work into a fun experience.

Direct sales jobs require you to sell something—obviously. But, instead of going into a store to work, you get to work from home, a friend’s house or anywhere else. You can work while the kids are at school, work while you’re on vacation and work while you’re waiting for dinner to finish baking in the oven.

What can you sell? Depending on the company you work with, anything from body wraps and health items to jewelry and designer handbags. Most direct sales companies are what’s considered multilevel marketing organizations. This means that you don’t just make money by selling. You also make money when you recruit new salespeople, when they recruit new salespeople and so on.


Photo by Hans Eiskonen

You’re the sole support for your child. That means you need a career with real-money making potential. Real-estate offers that! A career selling real-estate doesn’t just provide you with financial freedom, but it also gives you scheduling freedom. Yes, there are times when you’ll need to be at work. A client calls and you need to show a house. You have a closing that can only happen on one specific day. You have an open house that you absolutely have to be at. If it seems restrictive, compare these few scheduled parts of the job with being in an office all day.

Being a real-estate agent for the most part means setting your own schedule. If you need to have an afternoon off to go to your child’s school pageant, you can do that. You can also opt to work in a team. This means that you share the commissions, but you also share the responsibilities (making it easier to care for your child and work at the same time).

Even though you don’t need a college degree, most states require you to take a set number of pre-licensing education hours. You must also take and pass a real estate exam, before becoming a licensed agent.

The best careers for single parents include a range of jobs in many different fields. Depending on what you enjoy doing, what type of education you have and what works best for your needs, it’s entirely possible to find a career that lets you parent and make a living at the same time!

Lindsie Polhemus
Lindsie Polhemus
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Lindsie Polhemus

Lover of dogs, wine, and buffalo chicken. Laughing through this thing called life.

See all posts by Lindsie Polhemus