Night shift: 4 jobs that pay better after-hours

Working the graveyard shift can be grueling, particularly if you’re used to a traditional schedule. Workplaces are typically deserted at night — with the exception of employees who work out of necessity or to earn the extra pay that usually comes with late-night labor.

Although employers aren’t legally required to offer extra compensation, many do to entice workers to exchange their pillows for working overnight. The padded paycheck can be worth it, at least for those who are wired to adjust to graveyard shift jobs.

Here are four professions that typically pay a premium to employees willing to work the night shift. If you happen to be in one of these fields, consider working graveyard — it might be more challenging for your schedule, but the paycheck could be worth it.

Food server

Servers who work the dinner rush might not make significantly higher wages than those who work during daylight hours, but bigger evening tips can add up fast. Respondents reported shelling out $11.14 on average for every midday meal they ate out, according to a November 2015 Visa survey, and the average dinner meal cost $36.30 per person, according to a January 2016 Zagat survey. In that same poll, respondents reported tipping an average of 18.9 percent.

>> Looking for a job? Here are the top 25 US cities to get hired

Forklift operator

Forklift operators typically spend days transporting goods around construction sites, mines, ports, or warehouse and factory floors. Overtime and overnight shifts for forklift operators are common because many manufacturers ship goods around the clock.

Forklift operators willing to work night jobs could pad their paychecks significantly. The lowest-paid 10 percent of these workers made less than $22,980 a year as of May 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average salary for forklift operators who work overnight jobs is $25,458.37 — and $24,680.71 for those who work a traditional schedule.


Caregivers help clients take care of themselves and assist with everyday tasks. They might work as home health aides or in institutional settings like nursing homes, where evening jobs and weekend jobs are common. Part-time employment as a caregiver is also a possibility, but keep in mind that part-time jobs with benefits are hard to find.

>> Hurricane Irma: How to recover lost wages after the storm

Pay for personal care aides varies significantly. The lowest-compensated 10 percent of caregivers earned $17,310 annually and the highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $29,760 as of May 2016, according to the BLS. Night work could boost an entry-level caregiver’s salary: The graveyard shift annual earning average is $19,444.18.


Machinists might work in machine shops, tool rooms or factories setting up and operating computer- and mechanically controlled machine tools to produce instruments, tools and precision metal parts. Many machinists work full-time jobs during regular business hours, but overtime, weekend and evening work is also common.

Signing up for the late shift could be a good way to land an apprenticeship or job in this potentially lucrative profession. The lowest-paid 10 percent of machinists earned less than $25,900 and the highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $62,590 a year as of May 2016, according to the BLS. Compare that with the typical salary — $36,188.69 — an employer pays a machinist to work the night shift.

About the Author