Alternatives to Working Traditional Jobs

I get asked a lot about alternatives to working, and it seems like an entire generation of people is waking up to the fact that, rather than sitting in an office cubicle all day long for a fixed paycheck, they have other options.

Before we get into this, let me just say that I respect everyone who has a job of any kind, and you won’t hear any of the condescending bullshit other bloggers often spout about how you’re a slave, drone, or idiot if you work a 9-5 job. If you’re a man, or woman, working to put food on the table for your family, I salute you, and I’m sure what you’re doing is honorable.

That said, there’s definitely a growing level of dissatisfaction with the traditional working paradigm all across the world. It’s no longer good enough to spend your one and only precious life working for someone else’s fortune, doing the same mundane tasks day in and out. Lots of people are waking up to the fact that there are alternatives to working a 9-5 job, and spending 30-40 years of your life doing something that doesn’t fulfill you.

Before I started my own business I had a varied and interesting working life. I never settled for second best, and despite the fact that I hadn’t even graduated from college until recently, I still believed in myself and that I deserved to be happy at work. Over the course of 15 years, I worked as a salesman, a furniture delivery guy, an administrator in an office, an English language teacher in Asia, and an oil and gas technician offshore.

All of these jobs taught me valuable life skills and served their purpose at the time, but it wasn’t until I started my own online business that I can say I experienced true satisfaction in my work. I’m not going to lie and say I live in some sort of heavenly bliss, and there are times my online work is a slog, too, like when I’m invoicing clients or taking care of banking and taxes, but on the whole it’s very satisfying and I like that I have a huge level of freedom, with no boss breathing down my neck constantly.

That said, online business is only one way to escape the 9-5 noose. If you feel like you need to change work in some way because the 9-5 lifestyle doesn’t suit you, then this list of options will appeal to you. If you’re happy with what you do, then stick with it. This is just for those who are looking for another way.

Alternatives to Working 9-5

Shift Work – For those who aren’t ready to start their own business or who simply aren’t in the realistic position to do so right now, or who want to free up some time to try starting a business while keeping a steady paycheck coming in (sensible idea), shift work could be a godsend.

It’s possible to work a 36-40 hour week over the course of x3 shifts. They are usually in the manufacturing industry, like auto manufacturing or textiles, and involve clock x3 12 hour shifts a week. The other 4 days, when you’re off, are yours to do whatever you feel like with.

This is a great way to keep working while using the remaining days to follow your passion or start your business. It’s a ‘get it over and done with’ approach, and if I did ever have to go back to work for any reason, I would definitely choose this lifestyle until my business gets back on its feet.

Shift work can be a great support while getting your own business off the ground or can be a good alternative to working 9-5 all by itself.

Rotation Work – This is what I used to do while I worked on the rigs. It involved working 28 days straight, 12 hours a day, out on a platform in the ocean, followed by 28 days off. I usually lost 2 days of my time off due to being exhausted and traveling, but I still had a solid 26 days to travel, write, and do whatever I wanted.

This kind of work can be difficult to find, and certainly, at the time of writing, you won’t be finding any work in the oil and gas sector. Some of the industries you can find this rotation work in are energy, private security, and mining. There’s work for all kinds of tradesmen, and you will likely get to travel all over the world.

I enjoyed my time working on the rigs and it taught me a lot, but I personally wouldn’t go back to it now because of my family. The time with Mrs. and Junior Freedom is just too precious to trade in, and while the money was colossal, I will soon surpass that income from running my business online, and so I don’t see the risk and time lost with family to be worth it.

Working Online – This is a way of life that is absolutely exploding, and if I’m 100% honest, if you’re not in on this you are missing possibly the biggest change to work patterns that have happened in te last 100 years.

EVERYTHING is going online, and that trend is only going to continue as time marches on and both workers and employers realize the immense benefits to both parties.

If you work in the creative fields, write, market, do admin work, teach languages, or do just about anything that can be made into a digital product/service, working on the internet is a real possibility for you.

You don’t have to take the risk of stepping out on your own to do this, either. You can work for an existing online company and make a steady salary, or you can freelance and have multiple clients sending you checks every month.

A lot of people are afraid of this freelancing style work because the clients come and go frequently. They think that this insecurity isn’t something they could deal with, but let me tell you, I was working for a MASSIVE company and felt that I was on rock solid ground for the rest of my life, and the work dried up in a matter of months and I was left to start again, with no income.

Having a diversified range of clients and customers from all over the planet actually makes me feel more secure than ever. If one goes, I still have others to pay me, and I can replace that one with countless others out there who need me.

Remote and online work won’t suit everyone. It is probably better suited to introverts and people who like to work as lone wolves. It can a little isolating and some of the comrade enjoyed in traditional jobs is definitely missing, but I wouldn’t work any other way now because it suits me perfectly.

Consulting – One of the other fundamental changes the world is going through is that you are no longer being paid for what you do, but what you know. This makes it possible to work as a consultant, provided you have some sort of expertise.

Lawyers are a great example of consultants. They’re paid because they know something you don’t, and they are paid handsomely. They can largely set their own schedules, although they have to be available to clients who need them. There are, however, others types of consultants who have a much larger degree of flexibility, and who can really call their own shots.

To become a consultant, develop a skill and become the best at it. Become renowned in your industry and you will soon be able to charge a premium for your time, as well as pick and choose when to work, which engagements to accept, etc.

Consulting will require you to be confident and willing to take the lead/take responsibility for results. The freedom it will bring, however, is unparalleled.

Working Abroad – If you really just need a break from what you’ve been doing and want to get the hell out of dodge for a while and expand your horizons, working abroad is a great option. There are lots of things you can do in this inter-connected world, and lots of countries you can travel and work in.

If you’re willing to pull pints, farm, teach English, and earn your living by labour, you can go just about anywhere. Jobs in construction, hospitality, and education can take you all over the world and let you live an alternative working lifestyle.

I worked on farms in Australia, taught English in Indonesia, worked offshore in the Indian ocean, and pulled pints of beer in the Canary Islands, allowing me to experience a wide variety of work and form ideas about what suited me and what didn’t.

If you have enough cash stashed away, you could even take a mini-retirement.

Alternatives to Working Summary

The truth is, you’ve got to work in some shape/form to put bread on your table. You cant sit back and do nothing unless you have a lot of capital and can invest it, living off the interest. However, you don’t have to go down the traditional career route, and there are lots of ways to do things differently.

Everyone has a unique personality and set of traits that will mean certain lifestyles suit them, while the same lifestyle would drive another person to drink. Find what works for you and live it. Life is too damn short to spend it living someone else’s idea of how things should be.

What other alternatives to working a traditional job do you know of? I’d love to hear and I’m sure some of the other readers would, too.

Until next time,

Desire. Decide. Persist.



  1. Great advice.

    Life is work, work is life.

    It only makes sense for the individual to find work that is personally-fulfilling as well as productive in society to have “meaning” in life.

    ~ Bro. Jed

  2. Another career choice is medical or nursing for shift work. But beware, a 12 hour shift at night kills your day after your three days are over. You can make big money traveling as well and seeing the world, but you have a lot of things to think about and need to be able to keep yourself sane and busy when the shift is low or your patients are few. Solid article!

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