For millions of women, flexible work schedules aren't just a perk — they're a necessity. Work is the lifeline that helps them financially support themselves, their children, and provide care for their parents. Flexibility could be the route back to a paycheck.
And flexibility is critical, especially to working moms. Women with child care needs are 32% less likely to leave their jobs if they can work remotely. Thirty-one percent of women who took a break from their career to have kids wanted to keep working, but their jobs were too inflexible, according to a FlexJobs survey. Seventy percent said it was tough to reenter the workforce.
For women in low-to-middle wage positions that require less than two years of education, there are a handful of flexible work options that pay well and have promising job growth. Women who have college degrees and professional, white-collar work experience have many more opportunities to choose from.
Flexible schedules take many forms: part-time, freelance, or gig work. It can mean working overnights or weekends or perhaps cutting your schedule down to four days a week. Ultimately, flexibility gives workers a sense of agency and the ability to manage their personal lives.
We found that as the economy bounces back, there are nine flexible occupations for women in the low-to-middle wage range. These positions have gained in female employment and salary/wages since 2017.
Since the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not gather gendered data for all jobs, some occupations are missing wage data. Please note: The data below includes both full-time and part-time employment.
9 flex-schedule jobs with strong wage and job growth for women
1. Couriers and messengers
Couriers and messengers transport messages, packages, and other items between locations. Weekends, evenings, and part-time work are all possible in this role. A cursory glance at job boards finds some employers "willing to work around your school or job schedule."
- Women employed in 2017: 46,000
- Women employed in 2020: 131,000
- Job growth: 185%
- Mean annual wage: $36,452
2. Motor vehicle operators
This category includes taxi and limousine drivers, warehousing and storage drivers and others who work behind the wheel. These positions can range from a regular 9 to 5 hours to overnights/weekends to occasional, part-time work.
- Women employed in 2017: 13,000
- Women employed in 2020: 32,000
- Job growth: 146%
- Mean annual wage: $32,032
3. Vehicle and equipment cleaners
This category encompasses all cleaners who wash or clean vehicles, machinery, and other equipment. Housekeepers and janitors are omitted. Cleaners have the option to work outside of normal business hours, and those who work independently can set their own schedule.
- Women employed in 2017: 46,000
- Women employed in 2020: 66,000
- Job growth: 43%
- Mean annual wage: $30,160
Many barbers work independently and can set their own schedules. Those who work for a small business may have some power to negotiate their work hours.
- Women employed in 2017: 21,000
- Women employed in 2020: 26,000
- Job growth: 24%
- Mean annual wage: n/a
5. Business operations specialists
Operations specialists oversee the workflow between departments in a business, improving the company's efficiency, productivity, and overall well-being. While this is a demanding job, many tasks can be performed outside normal business hours, so flexibility is possible.
- Women employed in 2017: 143,000
- Women employed in 2020: 176,000
- Job growth: 23%
- Mean annual wage: $56,472
6. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
Drivers who have regular routes sometimes begin work very early in the morning or work late at night. Women who need to be home before their kids get back from school, for example, may be able to find a driving schedule that fits their needs.
- Women employed in 2017: 217,000
- Women employed in 2020: 262,000
- Job growth: 21%
- Mean annual wage: $34,632
Work-life balance in carpentry varies greatly depending on the circumstances. Many carpenters work independently, which allows them to set their own schedules. Additionally, once you have a solid client base, you can pick and choose your projects.
- Women employed in 2017: 30,000
- Women employed in 2020: 36,000
- Job growth: 20%
- Mean annual wage: $46,384
Bakers have varied schedules. Some work part-time. Since grocery stores and restaurants sell baked goods throughout the day, bakers may work in the early mornings, late evenings, weekends, or holidays. With bakers in demand, you'll have more power to negotiate your hours.
- Women employed in 2017: 129,000
- Women employed in 2020: 151,000
- Job growth: 17%
- Mean annual wage: $30,368
Much fundraising can be done remotely, and fundraising events are often held in the evening or on weekends. The hours can be long, but since a lot of the work is done over the phone, there's flexibility on when and where the work is performed.
- Women employed in 2017: 65,000
- Women employed in 2020: 74,000
- Job growth: 14%
- Mean annual wage: $77,272 (up 29% in just four years)
Pandemic-battered industries bounce back
Many industries shuttered during the pandemic are beginning to return, and virtually all of them permit flexible schedules. You can now find work in:
- Hospitality: Hotels need housekeepers, front desk clerks, bellhops, room attendants, administrators, maintenance workers and more. Increased tourism also creates job openings for flight attendants, airport workers, event planners and a slew of food and beverage positions.
- Delivery driving: Delivery driving is one of the few roles that became more plentiful during the pandemic. Post-pandemic FedEx and Amazon have continued hiring new drivers in many parts of the country, and shifts range from early morning to the late evenings and weekends.
- Cosmetology: Cosmetologists are back just in time to save us from cutting our own hair again. Hair stylists, nail technicians and other beauty professionals are reentering the workforce. As salons reopen, there may be opportunities to land a job and negotiate a part-time schedule that fits your needs.
- Retail and food service: These sectors have roared back to action and are struggling to fill open positions, giving job seekers a temporary opportunity to push for more flexibility.
- Gig work: Driving for Uber or Lyft; picking up odd jobs on TaskRabbit; walking dogs on Rover. Gig apps provide freedom and flexibility. There are downsides — no benefits, fluctuating market demand — but right now, Uber drivers are needed, so you'll have no trouble finding riders (although drivers aren't getting a slice of the price hikes you've heard about).
Job seekers are in the driver's seat
The pandemic has given workers an upper hand they haven't had in recent years, especially in blue-collar and manual labor jobs in food service, retail, construction, and manufacturing, where employers face a labor shortage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the quit rate in the restaurant and hospitality industries is at an all-time high. This is a rare moment in which an employer may agree to your demands for a specific schedule during the hiring process.
"When employees believe senior leaders are supportive of their flexibility needs," a McKinsey study explained, "they are less likely to consider downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce."
If you have specific requests for your next employer, you need to strike while the iron is hot and look for work today — at the moment, the job market is truly in your favor.