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Change of seasons: taking seasonal jobs for extra cash

Updated on June 17, 2013
Raking by r0Kk on Flickr
Raking by r0Kk on Flickr

There are certain professions where work comes and goes depending on the season. Teachers, for example, tend to have summer and winter breaks. Farmers are busy during the warmth of spring and summer but have more downtime during the fall and winter. Unless a place stays cold year-round, it’s difficult to employ ski instructors in the heat of summer.

If you’re looking for temporary work or a way to pick up part-time cash, it’s not a bad idea to look into seasonal jobs. By applying for jobs when employers are most desperate, you have a greater chance of scoring a gig. If you prove yourself long enough, you might even be able to swing a longer-term position.

Tax time by Alan Cleaver on Flickr
Tax time by Alan Cleaver on Flickr

Temping for tax agencies in spring

Starting in January, people start worrying about their taxes. (Well, some people. Other people wait until April and do their taxes in a blaze of glory.) From late winter into early spring, tax prep businesses are eager for people to help mitigate the flow of new customers.

Depending on your skill set, you can either help prepare taxes or do data entry. Data entry doesn’t require prior knowledge of tax law, but you do need to be able to type quickly and accurately. Your typing speed doesn’t necessarily reflect your keying speed, nor does it give an indication of how fast you can enter numeric data.

If you want to do data entry, it wouldn’t hurt to learn 10-key. Like touch-typing for the number pad, 10-key can drastically increase your ability to key numbers from tax returns.

If you have some basic knowledge of tax preparation, you can be a tax prep specialist. Some places will even train you how to prepare taxes so long as you hire early enough before tax season. H&R Block has an income tax preparation course that can lead into seasonal work.

Landscaping in spring

Spring: a time of greenery, a time of flowers, a time of beautification. When everyone’s eager to get their yard bolstered up from the winter blahs, that’s when landscaping is big business. While landscaping can be done from spring and through summer, landscape hiring tends to occur slightly before spring.

In addition to working for a landscaping agency, landscaping is something that can be pulled off as a solo gig with the right amount of business savvy and door-knocking persistence. If you’re looking to go at it alone, find a distinguishing factor for your business, be it a knowledge of edible plants, the ability to do pest control, or just a sharp eye for design.

Some landscaping design tips from YouTube

Mowing by Martin Cathrae on Flickr
Mowing by Martin Cathrae on Flickr

Mowing lawns in summer

Don’t forget a tried-and-true fun money-maker: mowing lawns. If you have a riding lawnmower, you can be boon to people with large yards or high acreages of land. Mowing lawns can even be lucrative in the long run: it can get your foot in the door with higher-paying and more permanent gigs such as golf course landscaping and grounds-keeping.

Being a camp counselor in summer

Although working as a camp counselor doesn’t necessarily pay well, there are other tangible benefits, including experience, getting to meet cool kids, and sharing what you love. Depending on your age, you can opt to be a counselor for kids, teens, or even adults.

It’s not necessary to be a woodsy tree-hugger to be a camp counselor. The growing number of specialty camps available means that camps are always on the lookout for people with unusual skills. Technology camps are fast becoming popular, and skilled 3D designers, programmers, robotics wizards, and Arduino hackers are in high demand.

Depending on where the camp is located, you might score a vacation with room and board. For college students, experience as a tech camp counselor--or counselor elsewhere--can work into resume fodder for teaching and specialized experience.

Raking leaves in fall

Much like with landscaping in the spring, once the leaves start falling, people start hiring people to beautify their lawns once again. If you already do landscaping work, get referrals from clients and segue from pruning leaves to raking them.

Piles of leaves by David Armano on Flickr
Piles of leaves by David Armano on Flickr

Picking up retail gigs in winter

Black Friday is a turning point in retail, a coup’ d’état for holiday spending. But businesses need retail help long before the day after Thanksgiving. Holiday hiring starts in mid- to late October, and gigs can last up through January and beyond.

Although the work can be both stressful and boring, the increased demand for holiday help is useful for getting retail work experience and picking up temporary gigs for holiday cash.

This article on Forbes suggests other holiday work beyond the usual cashier and retail gigs, including window display designers, customer service representatives, and social media marketers, all of which are needed during the crush of holiday sales.

Hanging Christmas lights in winter

Hanging Christmas lights and installing other Christmas decorations can be very lucrative if you carve out a niche for yourself within your local community. Many businesses want to have festive displays for the holidays to attract prospective customers. Unfortunately, planning and hanging lights can be expensive and time-consuming. If you can take this frustration out of their hands and provide them with a decent-to-awesome display, you have a viable side business for the winter months.

The key to this business is overhead and know-how. If you can get a hold of Christmas lights on the cheap and aren't afraid of ladders, so much the better. Once you get your first customer, you can likely work on a referral system for others businesses in the surround area. You can find additional information on Christmas light installation businesses online.

Christmas lights by oatsy40 on Flickr
Christmas lights by oatsy40 on Flickr

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