Seven Great Careers for People Who Want a Life


Check out these flexible-schedule careers that could better fit your lifestyle.

By Lisa Manterfield

Elizabeth Knox, a psychiatric nurse, needed a work schedule that could fit around raising her two children. Since she and her husband couldn't afford to live on one income or pay for full-time child care, she worked the 3 to 11 p.m. shift so they could share child care duties. And when her children started school, she switched to the night shift.

"I didn't like working nights at first," Knox says. "But working 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. meant I could take my children to school in the morning, get some sleep, and be there to pick them up and help them with homework. A lot of nurses with little kids do this. It's convenient."

Luckily, nursing isn't the only field to offer such flexible schedules.

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According to the U.S. Department of Labor's 2011 "Monthly Labor Review," one-fifth of working Americans have "nonstandard schedules" such as evenings, nights, or rotating shifts.

Today, industries such as health care, transportation, and technology are examples of fields that often operate beyond the regular 9-to-5 workday.

If you're looking for a career schedule that would fit better with your lifestyle, check out these flexible-schedule careers to find one that's right for you.

Career #1 - Registered Nurse

Since hospitals operate around the clock, registered nurses could work shifts at all times of the day in order to care for patients, administer medications, and monitor vitals, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. For people interested in a flexible schedule, nursing could be an ideal career as RNs have the opportunity to work nights and weekends, says the Department of Labor.

Education options: To prepare for a nursing career, an associate's degree in nursing is a traditional route, according to the Department. An associate's degree program can provide the necessary knowledge and skills to help you get ready for the national licensing exam.

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Career #2 - Computer Support Specialist

Computer support specialists usually solve computer system problems and offer information technology advice and support, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. If companies have international operations or operate around the clock, they may require computer support specialists to work early mornings or later evening shifts - perfect for early birds and night owls.

Education options: An associate's degree in information technology or a computer-related field is recommended for those wanting to pursue a career as a computer support specialist, says the Department of Labor. Depending on the company, some employers prefer a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field.

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Career #3 - Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

If you want a career where your work schedule can vary and no two days are the same, you might find a career as an emergency medical technician to be exciting and rewarding. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, emergency medical technicians generally need to be available to administer care whenever emergencies happen, which could mean working overtime and irregular hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays.

Education options: To prepare for a career as an EMT, you generally need a high school diploma to enter a formal EMT certification program. Often available at community colleges, this certification program can teach emergency skills such as first aid, CPR, and use of medical equipment, says the Department of Labor.

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Career #4 - Police Officer

If you're looking to get out of the 9-to-5 grind, a career as a police officer might offer you a new and potentially more exciting work schedule. Since a police officer's duties could include patrolling communities and responding to reports of crimes or accidents at anytime of the day or night, you could be called to work nights, weekends, or holidays, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Education options: A high school diploma could be sufficient to get started in the police academy, but the Department of Labor notes that a significant number of entry-level applicants are college graduates.

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Career #5 - Baker

Carb lovers, if you're out there, this one's for you. Bakers, who often work in bakeries, grocery stores, and restaurants, generally create baked goods throughout the day. This means working potentially odd hours, like early mornings, evenings, weekends, and holidays, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Education options: Although some positions may be available with no formal preparation, some bakers might choose to obtain certification through the Retail Bakers of America to further their skills and knowledge, says the Department of Labor.

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Career #6 - Truck Driver

If life on the open road sounds appealing, consider pursuing a career as a long-distance truck driver. Because truck drivers are usually asked to deliver goods all over the country, their schedules often consist of long periods on the road followed by time spent at home between jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Education options: In order to learn how to operate a heavy vehicle, you can take instructional courses to prepare for the commercial driver license (CDL) test, says the Department of Labor. Some states require potential truck drivers to complete driver-training classes that are certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute, adds the Department.

Career #7 - Pharmacy Technician

Health care is a 24/7 service, and pharmacy technicians might be needed around the clock, especially if they work in hospitals or late-night pharmacies, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This could be a great opportunity if your lifestyle is more suited to working flexible evening, night, or weekend shifts.

Education options: Though there are no standard requirements to pursue this position, many employers favor candidates that hold a pharmacy technician certificate, diploma, or associate's degree, says the Department of Labor.

Click to Find the Right Pharmacy Technician Program.

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