Legitimate Cash Jobs: Over 22 of Today's Best-Paying Options
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Want immediate access to the money you make? Nothing beats cash jobs when it comes to getting paid directly and being able to use your new funds right away. But you already know that. What you might not know is how to find a legitimate job that doesn't require turning a check into cash every two weeks. Whether you're looking for full-time opportunities or side gigs, this article will introduce you to several jobs that pay cash and are legal to perform.
Of course, many people are interested in finding "under-the-table" work (i.e., work that isn't reported to the government). Almost any kind of job can fit into that category—including many of the cash-paying jobs featured below—if both an employer and employee (or client and service provider) agree to that illegal arrangement. Those who've had previous run-ins with the law are often especially drawn to that type of agreement because above-board jobs for people with criminal records (including felons) aren't always easy to find. But even if you feel that you have good reasons for earning money under the table, you should know about the potential risks and consequences of doing so.
Regardless of what's motivating you to work for cash, jobs are definitely available that can provide what you need. And you can greatly expand your options by gaining new skills through vocational training. So take this opportunity to explore several different possibilities. Most of the featured examples can easily fit into more than one of the following categories. Learn more about:
Unless otherwise noted, the hourly wages cited below are based on nationwide averages as of May 2018 for employed workers.1 Wages for self-employed people are often higher.
Full-Time Cash Jobs
Jobs that pay cash don't have to be side gigs. In many full-time vocations, getting paid in cash is an accepted practice. Here are some examples:
1. Skilled Tradesperson—Prepare to start earning some serious cash. Many skilled tradespeople have opportunities to work as independent contractors and to request cash-only payments. Here are the average wages for five of the top skilled trades jobs:
- Electrician—$28.46 per hour
- Plumber—$27.96 per hour
- Carpenter—$24.58 per hour
- HVAC technician—$24.12 per hour
- Welder—$21.33 per hour
2. Mechanic—Help out people who need essential repairs to their vehicles, bikes, boats, or outdoor power equipment. If you work for a small shop, set up your own space, provide mobile services, or work out of your home, then you can probably get paid mostly in cash. Check out the average wages for five of the most common mechanic specialties:
- Diesel—$23.63 per hour
- Automotive—$21.02 per hour
- Marine—$20.35 per hour
- Motorcycle—$18.87 per hour
- Small engine—$17.76 per hour
3. Massage Therapist—Offer professional massage services in a studio or spa setting, your home, or your clients' homes or workplaces. Many massage therapists only accept cash payments. The pay is $22.06 per hour, on average. However, if you are self-employed and registered, then you may be able to charge much higher rates.
4. Photographer—Provide professional photography services to individuals, couples, and families, or take breathtaking photos that you can sell as art or stock photography. Photographers who are paid employees make an average of $20.56 per hour. However, self-employed photographers often get paid in cash and charge higher rates.
5. Construction Laborer—Assist with all kinds of construction projects, from building houses and office buildings to installing and repairing in-ground water and sewer systems. This type of work is often seasonal and short-term, but many jobs pay cash daily, weekly, or biweekly. And with formal construction training, you can gain a wide enough variety of skills that you can line up work year-round. The average construction laborer makes $19.40 per hour.
6. Delivery Truck Driver—Deliver goods around your city or region and receive cash payments for your efforts. Some companies pay their drivers cash commissions based on the value of their deliveries. Other companies hire on-call delivery drivers who are able to work on a moment's notice. You may need a commercial driver's license for some positions. The average pay is $17.75 per hour.
7. Hairdresser or Barber—Give people the haircuts or styles they desire. When these professionals operate their own businesses, they are often paid in cash. But even when they're employed by someone else, they frequently earn cash tips each day. Hairdressers make $14.51 per hour, on average. Barbers earn about the same amount ($15.97 per hour). Self-employed beauty pros have the opportunity to earn a lot more. Here are some additional beauty jobs that often pay cash:
- Makeup artist—$34.63 per hour (for theatrical and performance makeup artists)
- Skincare specialist—$17.48 per hour
- Nail technician—$12.43 per hour
8. Caterer—Prepare, deliver, and serve food for a variety of special events, such as weddings, birthdays, fundraisers, and banquets. Although you don't need to be a professional chef, culinary training can greatly strengthen your skills in areas like food preparation, sanitation, and budgeting. Many caterers only accept cash payments from their clients. Employed catering professionals make an average of $12.04 per hour, but you can earn substantially more by running your own catering business.2
9. Food Truck Vendor—Get in on the newest culinary craze to hit the streets. Food trucks are wildly popular, and they have the advantage of mobility. With a proper truck, the appropriate licenses, an understanding of local bylaws, and the ability to prepare mouthwatering food, you can run an all-cash business. Depending on your level of experience, you may want to get some culinary arts training.
Jobs That Pay Cash Daily
Yes, you can earn daily cash. Jobs that pay people throughout the day (or at the end of each day) are widely available. Consider any job in which you can earn tips. Or check out jobs in which it is normal to get paid in cash only. Look at these examples:
10. DJ—Playing music for the masses is not only fun, it can be a great way to earn cash. If you play in nightclubs or other venues and take song requests, you can receive tips from the patrons or attendees who are making those requests. You can also get cash payment from the venues and organizers that hire you. So audio production training can really pay off. The average pay is $18.77 per hour, but you can earn a lot more if you're self-employed.
11. Junk Removal Laborer—Taking junk and garbage away from residential and commercial properties can be a good cash business. After all, a lot of people don't have a truck or the physical ability to remove large amounts of waste on their own. The average hourly wage is $14.85, but self-employed junk removers can command higher compensation.
12. Door-to-Door Salesperson—Selling door to door involves canvassing neighborhoods in order to sell a variety of goods or services, such as knives, vacuums, or window-cleaning services. Most door-to-door salespeople work on a commission basis, and there are many companies that will pay the commission in cash—daily. Jobs like this are often easier to do when you've completed some business training. The average hourly pay is $16.40.
13. Taxi Driver—Being friendly and knowing how to get your passengers to their destinations quickly can allow you to earn great cash tips. Taxi drivers make $13.68 per hour, on average—plus tips.
14. Bartender or Server—Working in restaurants, bars, and other food and beverage establishments can lead to excellent cash earnings. Average wages are $12.88 per hour for bartenders and $12.42 per hour for servers. But cash tips can sometimes total in the hundreds of dollars for just one shift.
15. Housekeeper—Cleaning residential and commercial spaces can be a good way to earn some cash every day. Average pay is $12.30 per hour, but you can take home a lot more money by working for yourself.
16. Ice Cream Truck Driver—Bringing smiles to children's faces by selling them frozen treats is a fun and fulfilling way to make money. And it's often a cash-only business, so you probably won't have to wait around for a paycheck.
17. Street Musician—Sharing your musical talents with the public can result in good tips, which could mean cash in hand each day you work. Find high-traffic locations (preferably with lots of tourists) and check your local bylaws to make sure you'll be allowed to perform in those areas. (Some cities require buskers to apply for special permits.)
Side Jobs That Pay Cash
It's definitely possible to find (or create your own) part-time jobs that pay cash. Start by thinking about your existing skills and interests. Or explore resources that advertise odd jobs. (Craigslist and other online classified sites are often worth checking out.) Here are a few ideas for cash-paying side gigs:
18. Tutor—Do you excel in a certain subject area that you could teach to someone else? If so, tutoring could be a great way to earn extra cash on the side. Many kids and college students require tutors to help them better understand subjects, from English and history to mathematics and science. On average, employed tutors earn $17.28 per hour.2 But it's common for self-employed tutors to charge much more and only accept cash payments.
19. Grounds Maintenance Laborer—Do you enjoy spending time outdoors? Why not provide cash-only services to people who need their lawns mowed, garden beds weeded, or trees trimmed? If you have the necessary skills and experience, you could even build retaining walls or lay brick walkways. Getting a short education in landscaping technology may open up even more possibilities. The average wage for this kind of job is $17.17 per hour, but if you work for yourself, you may be able to charge double that amount—or more.
20. House or Pet Sitter—How would you like to spend your spare time taking care of people's homes or animals while they're away? It's a fairly simple way to earn cash. You can find work by advertising your services on online classified websites. Average pay for a dog sitter is $12.69 per hour.2
21. Childcare Provider—Does the joy and laughter of children brighten your day? Have you ever thought about providing childcare services on the side? Many parents require babysitters in the evenings and on the weekends, and they usually pay with cash for each job. Average pay for employed childcare workers is $11.83 per hour.
22. Artist—Are you a skilled artist or craftsperson? Whether you paint, draw, sculpt, or engage in any other artistic activity, you could begin selling your work on the side to earn some extra cash. In today's online world, artists can easily connect with and sell to customers around the world. Websites like Etsy and ArtFire enable you to set up an online shop in order to sell your beautiful creations. You could also look at setting up a booth at a local farmers' market or at other fairs and festivals. This could be a great way to share your passion and supplement your income with cash.
What to Watch Out For
Most cash-only jobs are perfectly legal as long as everything is done above board. But, of course, some people choose to participate in the underground economy in order to avoid paying income taxes or to earn money through illegal activities such as drug dealing. In those cases, performing jobs for cash is clearly asking for trouble.
For example, the penalties for committing tax fraud or tax evasion are up to five years in prison and/or hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. So doing under-the-table jobs is risky, even if the actual work you're performing is legal. Most types of income are considered taxable and must be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). That includes any cash you earn, regardless of whether it's your main income or just a little extra cash on the side. (If you have questions about how to report your cash earnings, contact the IRS directly or get advice from a professional accountant or income tax specialist.)
In addition to tax issues, other potential pitfalls of cash jobs include:
- Lack of benefits—This is mostly true for jobs that pay under the table. However, many cash-paying employers who do things above board still avoid offering benefits like health insurance or paid vacation. And if your employer is secretly keeping you off the books, you may not be able to claim unemployment benefits if you get laid off or workers' compensation benefits if you get injured while on the job.
- Untrustworthy people—Anytime you have a job that only pays cash, it's wise to stay at least a little skeptical of the people who've hired you. After all, without telling you, your employer may avoid paying the required payroll taxes. Later on, when you're trying to get another job, that same employer may deny knowing you in order to avoid potentially getting caught cheating. Some people may even report you (or threaten to report you) as an under-the-table worker if they are unhappy with you or your work for some reason. Simply put, people who offer cash jobs can sometimes be shady. Keep your guard up.
- Spending impulses and risk of theft—Good cash management requires discipline and security. But when you get paid in cash, it can be extra tempting to spend all or most of your money right away. That's why some cash-paid workers have trouble keeping up with rent, paying other essential expenses, or saving money. And having a lot of cash on hand puts you at risk of having it get stolen. So it's wise to put your money in the bank whenever possible.
Jobs that pay cash can certainly have real advantages. You just need to have a plan for handling the potential risks. But if you'd rather have greater peace of mind, then don't overlook the rewards that can come from pursuing a career in which you're more likely to get paid by check than by cash. Today, most employers also provide the option of direct deposit, which means that your pay automatically goes straight into your bank account. (Many people consider direct deposit even more convenient than cash.)
Plus, with a short amount of vocational education, you can start building a future with more stability, higher pay, better employer benefits, and greater job satisfaction.
Find Training to Expand Your Options
Do you have the right skills for the cash jobs you want most? Many career colleges and trade schools offer flexible programs that are well-suited for people who are eager to get started in cash-paying occupations. Discover nearby training options right now by entering your zip code into the school finder below!
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on July 18, 2019.
2 PayScale, website last visited on June 27, 2018.