Top 20 Overnight Jobs
The concept of an overnight job is nothing new. But as our lives have become more global, more roles now operate graveyard shifts, sometimes to account for different time zones.
In 2018, there were 15 million Americans working evening, night or rotating shifts.
Those working in the emergency services and aviation industries have always had overnight shifts. Likewise, hospitality workers are no strangers to working late into the night.
However, our new lifestyles now want customer support at all hours of the day and night. We want food at 3 a.m.; we want everything to be accessible exactly when we want it.
Now, supermarkets, call centers and even news stations work around the clock to provide you with the things you want.
For some, the idea of being awake late at night is not appealing. However, many people consider themselves night owls and would much rather work through the night when they are naturally awake.
For parents with young children, having the option to do evening work from home can help when working around their childrens' schedule.
Equally, those who suffer from sleeping disorders, such as insomnia, may enjoy the freedom of working instead of lying awake all night.
What Are the Benefits of Working an Overnight Job?
The reasons a person may choose to work an overnight shift vary.
For roles like flight attendants and medical professionals, graveyard shifts might be mandatory. However, if you have a choice, there are benefits to working overnight:
There is little-to-no commuter traffic, making your journey to work quicker and more peaceful.
It can increase your salary. As you are working against your natural body routine, some employers pay extra as an incentive to encourage volunteers to take the shift.
The team is much smaller on the graveyard shift, meaning you have more control over your workflow and decisions, and there are also fewer office politics to deal with.
Depending on your job, working throughout the night is often a quieter, more relaxed experience.
What Are the Disadvantages of Working an Overnight Job?
The main disadvantages of working overnight are the health implications.
Going against your natural circadian routine leads to an increased risk of certain cancers, diabetes and weight gain.
It can also lead to loneliness as your routine is likely the opposite of your friends and family and lacks the usual inter-office socializing.
Tips for Staying Healthy in an Overnight Job
There are ways to mitigate some of the disadvantages of working an overnight job:
Stick to a schedule. Creating a routine will help your body regulate its sleep. If you like to work out in the mornings and read for an hour before bed, make sure you work these things into your routine when working overnight.
Try to avoid sunlight when your shift ends. If you see sunlight, your brain will know it is time to be awake. Wear dark glasses or a hat when leaving your place of work to trick your brain into thinking it is not daytime.
Create the perfect sleeping environment. Invest in blackout blinds or curtains, sleep with an eye mask and earplugs, and make your room around 65° Fahrenheit. If you live in a noisy area, consider using white noise to drown out some of the disruptive noise.
Exercise and eat right. These are essential for everyday life, but even more so when you consider the health implications of being awake through the night. Feeling your best will help your body to regulate itself and cope with the stress of an inverted routine. Exercising and a good diet can also boost your mood and give you more energy, which can allow you to socialize during the day.
Avoid caffeine and alcoholic drinks. Both suppress the REM phase of your sleep, the sleep period during which you dream. Having this is vital to you feeling well-rested. When you wake up or get to work, coffee is fine, but try to avoid caffeine too late into your shift. Consider the common advice to avoid caffeine after 4 p.m. in order not to affect the night’s sleep; invert this to fit your new day sleeping pattern. Try moving around, drinking warm water or listening to upbeat music as alternatives if you feel sleepy.
Top 20 Overnight Jobs
If you feel like working overnight could work for you, here are some potential jobs to consider:
1. Journalist/Freelance Writer
Average salary: $62,400, with more experienced journalists earning $117,170
As a freelance writer, you have the option to work whatever hours you choose. It is one of the reasons so many people are exploring digital nomad careers.
For those who find themselves awake in the small hours of the night, freelancing could be the career choice for you. As a freelance writer, you can earn $25 per hour or more, depending on your expertise.
You do not need any specific qualifications or training to be a writer, just talent, self-motivation and the ability to market yourself.
For those working specifically in the journalism field, most media outlets require you to have a journalism (or related) degree.
With the rise of digital media and 24-hour news stations, journalists are now required to work night shifts to:
- Conduct interviews with those in different time zones
- Complete research for the morning show
- Write and report on any news that happens while others are sleeping
2. Broadcast Technician
Average salary: $45,510, with senior technicians earning $82,080
Broadcast technicians are responsible for keeping strong and clear television and radio signals.
As television and radio channels now broadcast 24/7, technicians are needed throughout the night to fix any technical issues.
Live events also rely on broadcast technicians to keep their shows streaming effortlessly. The setup and fine-tuning of all the equipment is sometimes completed during the night, especially if the show is early morning.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs in this role will increase by 9% over the next 10 years.
There also can be roles for broadcast technicians in new media outlets on places like YouTube and other platforms which may stream live content through the night.
3. Emergency Room Doctor
Average salary: $208,000
It is no surprise that medical professionals are required to work graveyard shifts.
Many accidents occur in the evenings or late at night, especially on weekends or after a sporting event. Patients also need care 24 hours a day.
Doctors working the night shift need to always be well-rested and alert.
They must acquire a medical degree and complete years of training before they are fully practicing doctors.
Average salary: $35,400, with top-level paramedics earning $59,860
Just as ER doctors are needed for night emergencies, paramedics are always the first on the scene.
They administer first aid and try to stabilize the patient as best they can.
A higher education qualification in emergency medicine technology is recommended for anyone wanting to become a paramedic. More advanced paramedics have associate or bachelor's degrees, as well as 1,200 hours worth of instruction.
5. Registered Nurse
Average salary: $73,300 and can increase to over $100,000 depending on experience
For most nurses, 12-hour night shifts are common.
Nurses support and assist the doctors and patients on their wards. Nurses are the reason emergency rooms run smoothly.
While nursing salaries are not as high as doctors', according to the BLS, nursing roles are predicted to increase by 7% over the next 10 years.
Nurses are required to have completed certain courses or qualifications dependent on the type of nursing role, varying from a 75-hour vocational course to a doctoral degree.
6. Physician Assistant
Average salary: $112,260
A physician assistant is often used to replace ER doctors as a cost-cutting technique. They can assess and diagnose a patient and administer medication, just like doctors.
Training to become a physician assistant includes a graduate degree in science or medicine and a master's in an approved physician assistant program.
The number of job roles is predicted to grow by 31% by 2029.
7. Psychiatric Aide
Average salary: $32,590 with more experienced aides earning $47,690 or more
The primary role of a psychiatric aide is to assist with patients’ treatment and care. Aides are typical in:
- Substance abuse facilities
- Residential living centers
- Psychiatric hospitals
As they are entry-level positions, the night shifts may be seen as a 'rite of passage’ for new workers to prove themselves doing something undesired by others.
No formal education is required to become a psychiatric aide – all their training is done on the job.
You can also receive certification or licensing from the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians.
Psychiatric aides can administer medication and check vitals but need to be supervised by a trained nurse or doctor.
8. Residential Counselor
Average salary: $12 to $14 per hour, or around $21,000 to $26,000 per year
A residential counselor's primary role is to provide care and support for those that cannot look after themselves, such as preparing meals, bathing and dressing.
Residential counselors may also provide emotional support and advice.
They work with:
- Troubled youths
- Those with special needs
- Substance abusers
- Those in need of overnight supervision
Residential counselors are also employed by high schools and universities where students live on campus.
A high school diploma is enough to become a residential counselor, but a college qualification in social work, human services or psychology is advantageous.
Those working on a school campus may receive meals and a subsided education.
9. Police Officer
Average salary: $65,170
Police work is another emergency service that can be either extremely busy or exceptionally quiet while on the graveyard shift.
Just as they would during the day, police respond to emergency calls regarding public disturbances, robberies and road accidents, to name but a few.
A high school diploma is enough to apply to the police. You then need to complete a 12-week training course covering local, state and constitutional law, criminal investigation, and civil rights.
Some police positions need further qualifications in law or criminal justice.
Average salary: $50,850
Firefighters have a unique working pattern as they work in 24-hour shifts.
During that time, they can cook, clean, test equipment, even sleep. But they must be prepared and ready for any emergency call.
To become a firefighter, you need a high school diploma and then pass a written exam, physical test and an interview.
11. 991 Dispatcher
Average salary: $41,910
Responsible for coordinating all the emergency services, a 911 dispatcher assesses a situation, guides people through lifesaving first aid and ensures the correct units arrive at the scene.
No previous experience or prior special education is needed.
Training is on the job. You need to pass a 911 dispatcher certification, which includes training on:
- CPR and how to walk others through it
- Resource allocation
- How to obtain necessary information from callers
- Legal and liability training
The role is expected to see a 6% increase over the next 10 years.
12. Security Guard
Average salary: $33,030
Several buildings require 24/7 security, including hospitals, banks and retail outlets. Responsibilities may include patrolling the grounds and watching all security cameras for signs of intruders.
Entry-level positions require a high school diploma, an interview and a background check.
For some supervisor roles, a degree in law enforcement or criminal justice is advantageous.
13. Air Traffic Controller
Average salary: $127,805
Whether it be a commercial, cargo or chartered flight, airplanes pass over different airspaces at all times of the day and night.
As an air traffic controller (ATC), you will be expected to work weekday, weekend and graveyard shifts as part of your regular working routine.
Unlike some other positions, to work as an ATC, you need to be a US citizen.
While you need to be under 30 at the closing date of the application, it is not a job you can get fresh out of high school. It requires one of the following:
- Three years of prior work experience showing progress in responsibility
- A bachelor’s degree
- A combination of work experience and post-secondary education totaling three years
- A degree from a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program
You will also need to pass a medical and security exam.
Despite the 2020 pandemic devastating the travel industry, ATC jobs are still predicted to increase by 1% by 2029.
14. Flight Attendant
Average salary: $56,640
A flight attendant's schedule has them working all hours of the day and night, all year round.
While they do not always control their schedule, working on the red-eye flight usually means a quieter shift, as all the passengers are asleep.
Training is on-the-job and you need a high school diploma to apply.
Although 2020 saw many flight attendants losing their jobs, the BLS still predict this role to increase by 17% over the next 10 years.
15. Merchandise Stocker
Average salary: $29,660
Merchandise stockers are responsible for re-stocking shop floors and shelves and making sure the warehouses are organized. The best time to do this is at night when all the shoppers are asleep.
While the role requires no specific skill set, it can be quite physical with a lot of heavy lifting.
16. Truck Driver
Average salary: $45,260
Like flight attendants, truck drivers find themselves away from home a lot and working odd hours of the night.
These days, there are restrictions on how long a truck driver can drive and how long they must rest. But not on when they can drive. The night can be the best time for truck drivers as the roads are much quieter.
You need to complete a truck driving course before starting.
Average salary: $27,700
For those bakers who specialize in bread, pastries and cakes, most baking happens in the early hours of the morning before the stores open.
No prior experience is needed, and all the training is completed on the job. Ideally, you should have a natural talent and passion for baking.
Job roles are expected to increase by 5% over the next decade.
Average salary: $23,680 with the addition of tips
Bartenders are the busiest at night. While they do not need any special training or qualifications, bartenders need to have:
- Organizational skills
- The ability to multi-task
- A great memory
- Quick thinking
- The ability to work well in fast and chaotic environments
Job roles are predicted to increase by 6%.
19. Database Administrator
Average salary: $93,750
As a database administrator, you are responsible for storing, maintaining, updating and backing-up computer systems. The best time to do this is during the night when no one is using the system, to minimize disruption.
A database administrator will have a bachelor's degree in an information or computer-related subject.
Job roles are anticipated to increase by 10%.
20. Computer Support Specialist
Average salary: $54,760
Many tech-related businesses offer 24/7 support, meaning that your work schedule will include 9-to-5s and graveyard shifts.
Depending on the exact job description, you may need an associate degree or post-secondary qualifications.
The job outlook predicts an 8% increase.
For some, overnight jobs are mandatory. For others, it is their preferred lifestyle choice.
An overnight job:
- Is often quieter than the day shift
- Comes with more freedom
- Has fewer distractions, so you can get more work done
However, it also comes with a health warning. To avoid feeling the fatigue of the graveyard shift, try to:
- Create a routine and stick to it
- Maintain a healthy and active lifestyle
- Try to socialize with friends and family as often as you can