Flexible Work Options

Finding work when you're the partner of a pilot can be incredibly challenging. Here are a whole heap of suggestions for ways to earn some extra income around an aviation roster. Whether you're looking for a little bit more income...or a lot.

As the partner of a pilot, you would know how hard it is to find a job that can complement an aviation roster. It’s hard enough trying to match days off before you have children. Add kids to the mix and the juggle is almost impossible. For this reason, a lot of partners of pilots look for flexible work options that still allow them to earn an income and spend time with their partners.

There are a number of different flexible work options you can consider and just as many factors that will affect their suitability.

Factors to Consider When Looking For Flexible Work

As a pilot's partner we need to evaluate all the usual factors that people take into consideration when looking for a job, such as, how much would you like to earn? What do you enjoy? As well as some less common considerations like, do you have access to your partners roster in advance? Are you living in a country where you are allowed to work?

Here are a list of some of the questions you may need to ask yourself before deciding what job, career or hobby might best suit your personal circumstances.

Things to consider:

  • Do you need to earn additional income? If so, how much?
  • Do you not need additional income but like the idea of working outside the home?
  • Would you like to work from home?
  • How many hours a week can you commit to a job?
  • Would you consider working for yourself or would you prefer to work for someone else?
  • Do you want to be paid a wage or would you be happy working for commission?
  • Does your partner have a set roster (e.g. airline) or is it completely unpredictable (e.g. corporate on call)?
  • If you're considering a different career, do you need to complete further study?
  • Do you have children? Are they at school yet? Would you consider using childcare services?
  • Do you have a permit to work in the country you are currently living in?

Let's break some of these questions down. How much do you need to earn? Your partner might not be earning enough right now to cover the daily bills or your family might have decided you would like extra income to allow you to enjoy the finer things in life. Whatever your reason for extra income, first you must decide how much extra money you will want to earn. This will likely impact the kind of work you do and also the hours you choose to work.

Once you have calculated how much you need to be earning, work out how many hours per week you can commit to a job (Taking into consideration children's school hours, partner's roster, personal time etc.). Once you have your available hours, then you can figure out what your hourly rate needs to be to meet your financial requirements.

If your required hourly rate is not going to be possible with your current skill set then you will need to start thinking outside the box. Do you need to complete further study? Is this something that is possible, either financially or time wise?

If you can't find time right now to study and increase your skill set and possibly your hourly wage, then you're going to need to start looking for roles that don't rely on you trading time for money. This may mean a commission based role, starting your own business or exploring network marketing or direct selling businesses.

Flexible Work Options With Your Current Employer

Your first choice is probably to start with your current employer. If you are a parent of a school aged child in Australia and have been with your current employer for 12 months, you are entitled to request flexible working arrangements. There are also other eligibilities which you can read more about on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

You might also have a really nice employer who’s happy to consider flexible work options for you even if you’re not legally entitled to them. This could include changing your start/finish times, being able to negotiate variable weekly hours depending on your partner’s roster, working from home or job sharing.

If you work in a profession that has shift work available, you can consider taking mostly late/weekend shifts. These shifts usually pay more which means you can earn more money for less time investment. Also, given a pilot’s schedule, it’s not like weekends are the only days they’re likely to have off either.

If staying in your current position isn’t an option, you might want to look at what else you could do with your current skill set. Teachers can tutor, health professionals can join a locum or agency register, journalists and photographers can freelance. There are lots of different ways you can get creative.

And to help you navigate the world of flexible work choices, we’re going to explore some of the different considerations and options here for you.

Sales and Commission Based Roles

Most of these roles are going to require you to sell something in one form or another. I know a lot of people say "I don't like to sell" but if you choose the right company for the right reasons, that will make it easier for you.

If you are selling a product that you use and love, then just as you would recommend a good movie, restaurant or other product or service to your friends, you can use your passion and enjoyment for the product to help you promote it to others.

Even if you're choosing to start your own business, if you want to make money from it, you're going to have to sell something. There are ways to set up systems and automate them so you aren't having to sell face to face but unless you're prepared to get past the feeling of "I can't sell", then again, you're not going to earn the kind of income you need and you will probably need to consider one of the other options listed below. 

Direct Sales and Network Marketing Businesses

There are hundreds, if not thousands of direct selling and network marketing businesses available that you can choose from. Pilots' partners often choose these as a form of creating extra income and there are a number of reasons why.

These companies allow you the opportunity to set your own schedule. A lot, if not all of the work, can be done from home and you have the ability to earn gifts, trips and a generous income.

There are a few different factors to consider before you decide to go ahead with joining one of these companies. Firstly, do you like and use their products? Sure you can always sell something you don't love and use yourself but it will make the job much more enjoyable and rewarding if you get to work with products or services you are passionate about.

Next, find out if there are expectations for you to attend certain events or meetings. Some companies have regular sales meetings and will expect you to attend in person. Others will often stream their meetings and/or have options to log into online trainings. Sure it's your own business and you shouldn't have to attend a meeting if you can't make it, but if you want to be successful you will need to plug into the support and training offered to you - just as you would with any new job.

As the partner of a pilot who may move cities, if not states and even countries on a regular basis, you should investigate if you can keep your local customers and consultants if you move away. Some companies have quite strict policies about only being able to work, recruit and sell in a set geographical region. Others will allow you to grow your business in whatever country their products are currently available. If you have built a large network of friends and family all over the world then this may work in your favour to allow you to quickly expand your business.

There are plenty of other factors to take into consideration such as compensation plan, company history and company culture.

For more information about help to choose a direct sales or network marketing business which is a great fit for you, have a read of this article on the Top Ten Tips to Consider When Choosing a Direct Selling Company by Sandy McDonald republished on the Direct Selling Australia page.

Keep in mind that once you join, you are usually connected to that person you started with until one of you chooses to leave the company - so choose carefully. If you have a good friend who's a consultant who has wanted you to join her team for ages, don't sign up with some random person at a party and then excitedly call your friend to tell her. If you would like to find a fellow partner of a pilot to join their team, you can view our list of consultants and companies here.

You may not realise it now, but that might mean you miss out on future opportunities to work and travel with your friend if you're connected to different teams or uplines. Likewise, if you don't particularly like the way an individual does business but you love the company and their ethos, then take some time to find a consultant who you think is a good fit for you and the way you like to work before signing on the dotted line.

Yes, this may mean that you delay signing up for a little longer while you do your research, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Online Surveys, Market Research and Mystery Shopping

Not everyone is looking to work to make lots of money though. It may be that you're looking for something to keep you occupied when your pilot is away for long stints or maybe you just want to earn a few extra dollars to treat yourself to some things you may not otherwise be able to afford.

Yes, there really are companies that will pay you to complete surveys online, attend market research sessions or go mystery shopping.

The benefit of these type of jobs is you usually have total control over your schedule. You can choose if and when you want to work and how often and what type of assignments you're happy to accept. Some companies however look for a certain demographic and that may limit how many surveys you are eligible to complete. If you want to complete a large number of assignments, then consider registering with a number of different companies. While these roles will all pay you for your opinion, the way you go about providing that opinion varies.

Mystery shoppers visit or call a company to anonymously evaluate the service provided by the staff and provide comprehensive, written feedback about their visit to the mystery shopping company. This information is then passed on to the company who commissioned the survey. There should be no cost to join a company as a mystery shopper and while some assignments might require you to make a purchase, there are plenty that require no outlay.

While you have some flexibility about when you complete assignments, you will usually need to complete them during a set range of days and/or hours assigned by the company. You may need to complete these assignments on your own. As a pilot's partner, this can work in your favour as there are often times that your pilot may be home during the week to look after the kids while you pop out to the shops. You can complete an assignment and the weekly shopping - child free!

Often you can choose assignments based on your location. This means even if you're travelling a lot, you can simply log into your account and select your current location to access local jobs.

Finding companies who provide this service can be a bit of a minefield though because for all the legitimate ones, there are also a number who will completely bombard you with email spam and very low paying assignments for large time investments. We have done our best to narrow down some of the top mistery shopping, online survey and market research companies. 

You can view a list of companies who offer this service on our Online Surveys and Market Research company page.

Working from Home - Online Freelance and Marketplaces

We have already discussed the possibility of liaising with your current employer to restructure your position, however that may not always be possible. If you need to look at other working from home positions, there are a huge range of choices out there to consider.

Online freelance and marketplace companies such as Fiverr allow you to offer your services for a price. These services can be anything from graphic design, editing and translating or something as fun as mailing a glitter bomb to someone! If you're wondering what sells, google "I will sing happy birthday as Tin foil man in just a thong for $5" and you will realise your only limit is your imagination (and what people are willing to pay for).

Obviously some tasks will pay more than others and some will be more time consuming. While a lot of the jobs start at USD$5 you will notice that for more premium offers of the same service the charges go up.

While Fiverr primarily offers online gigs, if technology is not your thing, there are other sites where people can seek someone to complete a task or you can offer your services to them for a pre arranged fee. Again, your only limit is your imagination. One of my favourites is: A “beer Sherpa” needed for Christmas break up to cart an esky around a 9-hole golf course with a push cart in Spotswood and deliver beers as needed. Trust the Aussies to hire a beer sherpa!

As appealing as that offer may sound, some of the more practical services you may like to offer could include ironing, childcare, house cleaning,

Again, these types of platforms give you significant control over your own schedule as you can choose how many jobs to accept and when you choose to complete the work. As long as you are meeting the expectations of the person hiring you so you can receive a good rating and ongoing opportunities.

You can find a list of both popular and lesser known companies who offer freelancing and online marketplace opportunities here.

This list also includes opportunities to complete tasks in person, so don't fret if your online skills are not up to speed!


Tutors can teach a wide range of subjects using a number of different formats. Obviously this can be a fantastic option for teachers who are unable to commit to working school hours. It can become quite tricky to juggle your own school age children around working regular school hours. By working as a tutor, you can still us your passion for teaching and helping others, but in a more flexible setting.

Some tutors work for tutoring companies, however you may prefer to offer your services on a casual basis to just a few students where you have more control over your hours.

Whilst tutoring can be a great solution for teachers, this could also be an option for you if you're living in another country, as you may be able to teach people your native language.

You will need to know if you're allowed to work where you're currently living. If you are, take some time to find out what the rules and regulations are if you want to teach there.

You can find a list of teaching and tutoring opportunities here.

Starting Your Own Business

If you're looking for the ultimate in flexible work then you could start your own business. You can choose when and how you work and when you take leave. Keep in mind that starting your own business can mean long hours, significant financial investment and low return for a while however the benefits can be incredible if you get it right.

Simply because of the nature of our partner's jobs, there are a number of partners of pilots who have started their own businesses. These are incredibly varied in nature and to further support these incredible women and men, we have listed a number of businesses run by partners of pilots on our website.

Volunteer Work

As mentioned previously, you may not need to work for an income. You might just be looking for something to help you fill your hours, give back and maybe gain new skills. Volunteer work can be a perfect fit if this is the case. Organisations are always looking for volunteers and you could commit to a regular schedule or something more flexible, depending on the company.

Other Options

These suggestions are just some of the roles you can consider when looking for flexible or part time income. There are companies which are dedicated to sourcing and locating flexible work options for people. You can subscribe to these companies and receive information and updates about opportunities as they become available. You can view a range of these companies here.

Things To Remember

Don't forget that if you're earning an income - even on a causal basis - you will still need to record your earnings for tax purposes. You may wish to consult with an accountant to discuss your specific situation. Sky Families recommends that you talk to someone about the financial aspect of your business and tax requirements sooner rather than later. While paying tax means you're earning more money and that's a good thing, it's always better to be well prepared than to come to the end of the financial year and realise you owe a significant amount of taxes.

Flexible Work Options


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