Show as: Mobile

8 common 'top-up' careers

"Top-up" careers: when one job isn't enough

Top up your career with these side hustles

Finding the right balance between a successful career and the ability to pursue your personal interests is not the easiest thing to do. For many professionals, stability and financial security take precedence over working with the thing(s) they are most passionate about, which can make working life a little tedious.

Often professionals find it difficult to cope with these mundane routines and opt for a "top-up" career as an outlet for their creativity and resuming their passions. Whether it's a case of finding a medium via which to exercise their hobbies directly or accommodating for the extra expenses of pursuing a personal interest, many professionals thus choose to supplement their primary careers with secondary roles in other sectors.

So what are some of the most successful combinations we have seen?

Lecturers or professors working as market analysts

Full-time academic professionals can make use of their theoretical knowledge to lend expertise to corporations and organisations on a freelance basis. The relationship is mutually beneficial: companies benefit from an understanding of the theoretical models that can help them to better analyse their market position, while professors are given the opportunity to 'test' theories in real-life scenarios. This is a great way for those who are passionate about their field of study to develop new insights and ideas for their teaching, as well as their research activities. Often, they may even complete research on behalf of an organisation, with the ultimate goal of drawing conclusions that can help them become more competitive.

Academic professionals sometimes complement thier knowledge with short courses on different business concepts to put into use in the corporate arena.

Researchers or engineers as freelance web developers

Engineers and scientific researchers often have quite advanced computing and IT skills that they can use to produce websites for startups and small organisations. Their proficiency in areas including maths, linear thinking and problem solving make them well-suited to picking up the principles of programming and using these to 'moonlight' as web developers.

The benefit for them is that they can develop skills that will help them add value to their work, learning to build user-facing sites as well as custom-made applications to perform routine calculations or tasks. But since working in research can often be characterised by a chronic lack of funds, web development is also a good way for them to make some extra bucks doing something that comes quite naturally to them. The benefit for smaller companies is that those who take this freelance approach to web development can usually get the job done at much more affordable prices than fancy web agencies, making them a more convenient  choice.

Dentists working as clinical researchers

Dentists working in hospitals or private clinics often combine this profession with work as clinical research associates. Since dental products need to be tested before being launched on the market, many pharmaceutical and biotech companies look for dentists who can conduct and evaluate oral health research on their behalf.

For dentists, this is a good way of putting their expertise to use in a research environment and to stay on top of the latest trends and products available to their clients.

Teachers working as data entry operators

Primary or high school teachers often work as data entry operators during their free time, primarily as a way of supplementing their income. Teaching requires specific didactic and communication skills, but many teachers are also tasked with a range of administrative duties including recording attendance, filing data and maintaining records related to students and their performance. This makes roles in data entry a good way of using existing skills in a different setting, picking up projects during weekends or in their spare time.

Advertisers working as writers

Creative professionals like designers, marketers and advertisers find immense opportunities to exercise their talent and what can be better than using free time to write? Many marketing and advertising positions incorporate writing as an everyday feature of the role, which means that many professionals working in this sector already have experience in writing copy for marketing purposes.

Working as freelance writers or creative content moderators for firms is thus a natural step for many marketing and advertising professionals with a passion for the written word.

Actors working as singers

When it comes to the glamour industry, this is probably one of the most common career combinations. There are numerous examples of celebrities working as singers and actors simultaneously. From Bruce Willis to Russel Crowe, John Travolta and Gwyneth Paltrow, it appears that it's actually harder to find an actor who hasn't tried to produce a CD than one who has.

This has rarely resulted in a permanent transition from acting to singing, but they do all get points for trying.

Bankers working as theatre artists

A career in banking can be financially rewarding but also very demanding at times. High stress levels are chronic and bankers can find it difficult to unwind at the end of the day and think about something else.

The answer? It can seem bizarre but it's not unheard of for professional bankers to use theatre as an outlet for their artistic passions. Theatre enables them to relax, get a bit of creativity in their lives and do something completely detached from their day-to-day lives. To step into another world, if you will.

This allows them to gain some enjoyment from doing something creative, while simultaneously helping them reduce stress and become more effective in their primary careers.

Neuroscientists working as actors

Perhaps all of the actors trying their hand at singing have left room for others to have a go at acting?

This is probably one of the weirdest career combinations, and hardly the most common, but it can definitely happen. Some neuroscientists (and scientists in other fields) have broken the stereotype of intellectual people not exercising creativity and shown that even the most brainy can have part-time careers related to the arts. One concrete example is Mayim Balik who portrays the role of Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory - she is an established neuroscientist who combines her technical expertise with top-notch acting skills.

Looking for professional training?

Tell us what kind of professional training you're searching for and we'll look through our over 17,000 course listings and personally get in touch with several UK training providers. They'll send you more information about the course including price, upcoming dates, and answers to any questions you might have.

This field is used for controlling automatic form submits. Please leave it blank:

This is a cost-free and obligation-free service.

Last updated: 18 Mar 2016

You might also be interested in:

Last updated: 18/06/2018

How to Identify & Overcome Complexity: 6 Solutions That Work

Over-complexity is the silent killer for many companies, and it’s a proven fact. The largest 200 companies in the Global Fortune 500 listing lose approximately 10.2% of shareholder value every year due to complexity. Read NSF's top tips for cutting through complexity!

Read more
Last updated: 30/03/2016

Are you ready for new challenges?

Itching to do something new? Rest assured that you are not alone: according to recent research, up to 75% of UK employees applied for a new job in 2014.

It can be a daunting prospect, but as long as you are prepared for the leap, there is no reason why you shouldn't succeed.

Read more
U.K. L&D Report: 2019 - Benchmark Your Workplace Learning Strategy

Are you curious about the L&D strategies of some of the U.K.'s top companies?

Find out what they're up to in's second annual U.K. L&D Report!


Learn more

LOOKING FOR TRAINING? offers a free consultancy service to help compare training for you and your team

Request a free quote


Is your company looking to take on an apprentice?

Learn more


Download your free copy of the ultimate guide to apprenticeships for companies

  Download for free