16 Early-Morning Jobs for People Who Wake Up With the Sun
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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.
For many people, getting up bright and early is the best way to get a jump-start on their workday. A quick run, followed by a shower and a cup of coffee, gets these early birds off on the right foot.
If you find yourself in that category as a morning person, your career options are plentiful.
16 Best Early-Morning Jobs
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Here are some ideal jobs for early birds. Estimated pay figures are the most recent as of publication and may change.
1. Flight Attendant: Airport-Related Job
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Want to spend your days in the air, but have no desire to become a pilot? Airlines need flight attendants to keep everyone safe on the plane in addition to serving drinks and meals, cleaning up and helping people use those tricky in-flight entertainment systems.
This is a great job for early morning people, since a 7 a.m. flight starts boarding far earlier, and flight attendants need to be there well in advance. While airlines have different requirements, generally you need to be at least 21 years old and have a high school diploma or GED.
Estimated Pay: Salaries typically range between around $70,000 to $98,000, with the median annual income being $81,907.
2. Airport Ticket Agent: Airport-Related Job
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When people need to check in two hours before their early flights, airline ticket agents need to be there to greet them, help them check their bags and assist customers in getting to their gate.
This is also one of the best early-morning jobs for travel lovers with other commitments, like kids to pick up from school and other regular obligations. You can often work at one airport and keep a somewhat regular schedule, yet you can still have a lot of travel perks.
Early morning shifts can begin at 4 a.m. or even earlier, so this is definitely a job for an early bird. Of course, some shifts last late into the evening hours as well, so be sure to find out the specific schedule of any position before committing.
Estimated Pay: Ticket agent salaries range widely, according to ZipRecruiter, from as low as $18,500 to as high as $79,000. The average ticket agent in the U.S. makes $42,878 per year.
3. TSA Agent: Airport-Related Job
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If you don’t mind the potential of a little drama while enforcing security protocols, a TSA agent position could be a good fit.
TSA agents screen passengers, cargo and bags for dangerous and prohibited items, as you know if you’ve ever been through an airport. They also keep passenger traffic moving through the security checkpoint entering terminals.
The TSA says the ideal agent is a people person, dependent, adaptable, observant and detail-oriented.
Estimated Pay: Airport security-related salaries within the TSA range between $28,000 and $42,000 per year — the “D band” on the TSA’s pay scale. With each increasing pay band, TSA employees make more money, with the highest topping out at $172,500 for the highest-ranking positions.
4. Air Traffic Controller: Airport-Related Job
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Someone has to direct all those early-morning flights. While air traffic controllers work all hours of the day, some have the opportunity to start before the sun rises.
As an air traffic controller, you will monitor and direct aircraft movement, control ground movement on airport and taxi runways, issue landing and takeoff direction, and transfer flight control to other nearby towers.
Air traffic controllers must have a degree from an Air Traffic Training Initiative Program, as well as having completed courses at the Federal Aviation Administration academy.
Estimated Pay: The median pay of air traffic controllers in May 2021 was $129,750, which comes out to $62.38 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
5. Baker: Food Industry Job
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Since picking up a muffin or croissant is a morning ritual for many, someone needs to be there nice and early to make sure the tasty treats are ready.
You could start your own baking business or work for someone else, but either way, working at a bakery is a good way to start your workday in the early-morning hours. To get this early-morning job, you should have food service and baking experience, though some bakeries will train people eager to learn the ropes.
Estimated Pay: The salary for bakers ranges between $30,000 to $41,000, with the average annual income coming to $35,761, according to Salary.com.
6. Barista: Food Industry Job
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Every morning, hordes of uncaffeinated workers stop at their local cafes for a cuppa joe to help them start their day. Baristas and cafe workers have to be at work bright and early to get everything ready.
Job duties typically include preparing drinks, serving customers, and cleaning and running a cash register — all in a polite and knowledgeable manner.
Restaurant and barista experience is helpful, but many coffee shops are willing to train the right person who can have a smile on their face at 4 a.m. for the early morning shift.
Estimated Pay: Baristas are typically paid hourly wages which come to a median of $23,902, Salary.com finds.
7. Supermarket Stocker: Food Industry Job
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If you venture into your local supermarket in the early morning hours, you’ll likely see a stock team working hard at filling the shelves and getting groceries ready for people to pick up that day.
To keep the aisles clear for shopping rushes, supermarkets typically have crews working late or early shifts stocking the shelves. Be ready to do some heavy lifting during your shift as you organize and stock a variety of cans and boxes.
Estimated Pay: The average stocker gets paid just under $14 an hour for an annual total of $26,930.
8. Mail Carrier: On-the-Road Job
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Spend your workday making the rounds and delivering letters and packages to people along your route as a mail carrier.
People who work for the post office have to show up for the early morning shift to get the mail organized and ready for the day before they hit the road and start delivering. Many shifts end in the early afternoon.
To qualify for this gig, you must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have a good driving record and be able to pass a number of screenings (including criminal, drug and medical checks).
Estimated Pay: The national average pay for mail carriers is $34,496 per year.
9. Truck Driver: On-the-Road Job
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You don’t want to get stuck in rush hour traffic if you’re a truck driver. That’s why many drivers start early (think 4 a.m. or earlier) to beat the rush and get a start on their days on the road.
To qualify for a driving job, you need to obtain a commercial truck driving license, pass medical exams and demonstrate the attention to detail and aptitude needed to safely maneuver your huge vehicle through tricky situations, like heavy traffic, bad weather and big cities.
Estimated Pay: The average base salary for a truck driver in the U.S. is $77,578, per Indeed.
10. Refuse and Recyclable Materials Collector: On-the-Road Job
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Refuse and recyclable materials collectors start their days long before you hear the trucks rumble through your neighborhood in the morning. Trucks typically have drivers and helpers.
If you’re driving, you will need a commercial driver’s license. While experience is preferred, drivers and helpers typically learn the details of their jobs as they work, including how to operate dumpster trucks and side-loaders.
Refuse collection experience is preferred, especially for drivers, though helpers can have diverse backgrounds, including construction and manual labor. Many of these jobs also require people to pass a background check and drug test.
Estimated Pay: As with any other job, garbage collector salaries vary by state. But the national average comes to $14 per hour or $29,000 annually.
11. Ride-Share Driver: On-the-Road Job
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With more than 2 million drivers working for Uber and Lyft these days, the ride-share industry isn’t going anywhere. If you’re a sociable person who would love to set your own flexible schedule, then driving for ride-share might be one of the best early-morning jobs for you.
Early birds who live near an airport can definitely benefit from travelers trying to get to their early-morning flights. Requirements include the obvious: a driver’s license, proof of vehicle registration and insurance, and a Social Security number.
Estimated Pay: Keep in mind that many Uber and Lyft drivers only work part-time. However, ride-share drivers who work full-time hours make a median annual salary of $37,802.
12. Morning News Producer: Office Job
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If you love working with people in an intense environment, consider becoming a morning news producer. The producer typically runs the show and organizes the director, studio crew, reporters, field crew and photographers, getting everyone ready to put together a high-quality newscast each day.
Duties include monitoring the wire services for stories, finding leads, communicating with everyone, making sure the timing is right, and editing and organizing the show so the flow is perfect.
You’ll need relevant experience for these positions, and a college degree in broadcasting is very helpful, in addition to good communications skills and social media savvy.
Estimated Pay: A morning news producer’s salary can range from $17,500 to as high as $116,500 per year. The national average is $51,902, ZipRecruiter reports.
13. Freelancer: Office Job
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Freelance writers typically set their own hours and work whenever they have the time or find the inspiration. For this job, you need to be able to write well and adhere to deadlines.
No formal training is required, but having a collection of published clips is a good way to get your foot in the door. This is also a great option because you can work remotely and have the option to work in a different time zone. The office is in New York but you’re in California? No problem.
If you’re a graphic designer and you work for a design firm, you typically have to keep office hours. But if you work as a freelance graphic designer, you can largely keep your own hours, aside from specified times to meet with clients.
This means you can wake up at 4 a.m. and work until noon if that’s the schedule that best suits you. You need a good eye for design, and many find a college degree in graphic design or a related field to be very helpful.
Estimated Pay: The national average for a freelancer is $68,958 per year, which works out to about $32 an hour for part-timers. In the freelance world, salary ranges vary greatly depending on your chosen field (e.g. writer, designer, programmer, etc.).
14. 911 Operator: Office Job
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If a tense, high-drama morning position is what you are looking for, then you might think about becoming a 911 operator.
These resilient men and women receive calls for ambulance, police and fire department assistance while also dispatching emergency personnel to the source of the call.
They also log their calls, track emergency vehicles and provide detailed information on reports of events that happened during their shift.
Requirements can vary by state, but most 911 operators have a college degree in a related field, like criminal justice, emergency management or communications.
During training, operators learn a variety skills including advanced first aid and CPR, basic telecommunications, suicide prevention, critical incident stress and more.
Estimated Pay: The median salary for a 911 dispatcher in the U.S. is $41,400 per year. (Salary.com)
15. Personal Trainer: Physically Active Job
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Personal trainers can set their own hours, which works out well for many early birds with clients who prefer early morning sessions.
To get a job in this industry, you’ll likely need a personal trainer certification, as well as a first aid and CPR qualification.
While your hours might lean heavy toward early morning, you’ll still need to be available other times throughout the day. You can either work directly for a gym or go solo with your own personal trainer business.
Estimated Pay: According to PT Pioneer, personal trainer salaries vary widely based on hours worked and region of the country. Salaries range from $23,000 and to $76,000 per year.
16. Military Member: Physically Active Job
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“In military basic training, there’s no such thing as sleeping in,” Military.com says. “You’ll get up at 5 a.m. every single day.”
Joining the armed forces is a huge commitment. But if you don’t mind the early hours while serving your country, then the military might be a great option.
You’ll also receive other great benefits, like health care, free food and housing, paid vacation, tuition assistance and a guaranteed retirement.
Estimated Pay: Service members are paid based on years of service and rank. Base pay can start in the mid-$20,000s and gradually increase to six figures for long-tenured service members. Keep in mind that the military also pays a housing allowance and other financial perks that also increase as tenure grows.