5. Pet sitter
The nitty-gritty: If you prefer catering to pets rather than people, give me your paw. Pet sitting is a legit business these days. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. households have a pet, and last year they spent an estimated $47.7 billion on them, an increase from $17 billion in 1994, according to a survey by the American Pet Products Association in Greenwich, Conn. As vacationers head off for summer frolic, someone's got to tend to those members of the family that can't fit in the suitcase. The upside: This is a pampered clientele that will be tail-wagging happy to see you. The level of activity depends on your charge. If it's a canine client, you'll need a certain level of fitness and a love for walking, and an aptitude for Frisbee tossing. Not so much playtime is required for cats, hamsters and fish. Clearly, you can't be squeamish about cleaning out kitty litter boxes and picking up after any waste or mess the pet has created on your walks. That comes with the territory. A level head able to handle any veterinary crisis is vital. With animals, you need to be prepared to deal with the unexpected. Work arrangements differ. If it's a dog or two, the owner may be willing to allow the dog to stay at your home. Other owners will prefer that you make visits to their home once or twice a day to feed and walk pets, dole out treats and clean litter boxes, if applicable. Depending on how footloose you are, you might opt to stay overnight at the owner's home. Of course, you'll toss in gratis newspapers and mail pickup and flicking on lights as part of your service. You can work for a pet sitting company or advertise as an independent contractor. Local vets and pet stores can get the word out about your service.
The hours: Flexible. They can be as little as an hour or two a day, depending on the number of and type of pets you're caring for and the arrangement. Summer vacations, spring breaks and holidays are peak demand times.
Median pay range: The charge for a single visit to a pet ranges from $10 to $22, depending on the location, and $45 or more for overnight care. You might charge $25 or so a day if the pet stays overnight at your pad.
Qualifications: Animal instincts and a reputation for being a responsible pet owner in your own right go a long way in this world. This tends to be a word-of-mouth service. You might consider joining the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. The roughly 8,000-member trade association offers a certification and national listing service searchable by ZIP code for pet owners looking for a reliable sitter. If you're interested in becoming certified, you can buy the at-home certification course online. It costs $245 for members. The course consists of pet care, health, nutrition and behavior, business development and management, and a complete pet first aid course. Fetch! is one national pet-sitting and dog-walking service that lets you set your own hours and choose your assignments. You can also check with your local pet-sitting services for opportunities. Call this puppy love.
Kerry Hannon is the author of What's Next? Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job.