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The best jobs with good work-life balance for business owners

The best jobs with good work-life balance for business owners

By Kim Mercado
Apr 8, 2022
9 min read

If you’ve ever fantasized about telling your boss what you really think of them, becoming self-employed may seem like a dream come true. You won’t have to answer to anyone, you can set your own schedule, and you get to make all the decisions.

But, you might also find yourself working harder than ever before. After all, small business owners aren’t typically known for having a lot of spare time — it’s one of the biggest challenges they face.

It doesn’t have to be that way — if you start the right kind of business.

Some types of businesses offer more flexibility than others. If you choose wisely, you can create a career that provides the work-life balance many people crave while still being your own boss. 

Here are 10 jobs with good work-life balance to consider.

Fitness instructor

If you have a passion for health and wellness and a desire to help people live their best “#FitLife,” becoming a fitness instructor may be a good fit. You’ll have an opportunity to earn a decent living — fitness instructors make an average of $19.48/hr. — and you can set your own hours.

You might not even need to leave your house these days. Pandemic-fueled in-person gym closures led to an explosion in the online fitness industry that shows no signs of slowing, as many people have grown accustomed to the convenience of exercising at home.

The digital fitness industry is expected to grow by 33.10% per year between now and 2028. And demand for fitness trainers and instructors overall is expected to grow by 39% by 2030 — much faster than average, making it one of the best jobs with a good work-life balance. 

Massage therapist

If you like helping people get relief from pain, recover from injuries or just relax, you might consider becoming a massage therapist. Massage therapists provide dozens of different treatments, ranging from deep tissue massages to reflexology. 

Unlike some types of work that tend to follow you home, massage therapists can't take their work home. So, after you see your last client of the day, you can literally leave your job’s stress on the table.

Licensing requirements for massage therapists vary by state, but you typically need to complete at least some college coursework. Your state may require an associate's degree, but you don't typically need a bachelor's degree.

The median salary of a massage therapist is almost $21/hr. Demand for therapists is expected to grow by 32% by 2030, which is much higher than average.

Nail tech

Also known as manicurists or pedicurists, nail technicians cut, shape, file and paint fingernails and toenails. As a nail tech, you get to decide when you will — and won’t — see clients. If you want to keep your schedule clear on Fridays, to volunteer at your child’s school, you can. 

You’ll probably need to pass a state-approved program to get a nail tech license — almost all states require them. Once you have your license, the median salary for a nail tech is $13.40/hr. Job prospects are expected to grow by 33% by 2030

Cleaning service

Starting a cleaning business is a great way to make your own schedule. You get to choose how many (or few) clients you take on at one time and what days you work and what times you’re available, making it a good job for work-life balance.

Plus, residential cleaning services have low start-up costs. Whether you provide general housekeeping services or specialty services like window or carpet cleaning, all you need are some basic cleaning supplies, a few pieces of equipment and a car, van, truck or SUV to get to and from clients.

If you prefer freeing up your daytime, commercial cleaning may be for you as the work is often done on evenings and weekends when other workers aren’t around. Nearly all commercial cleaning involves contracts so you’ll also have the benefit of schedule stability vs. the fluid nature of residential cleaning.


Many time-starved homeowners would love to hand off their home repair projects to someone else. If you have the skills to do general maintenance and repairs inside and out, working as a handyman can allow you to earn a decent living while still having time to pursue the hobbies you love.

Generally, most states do not issue specific handyman licenses. But you need to be aware that a handyperson may be considered a contractor when a project exceeds a specific cost or is part of a larger job. 

In this case, the state may require a handyperson to have a contractor license to perform the work. It’s best to check your state’s licensing requirements where you plan to do business. Otherwise, general maintenance and repair workers earn a median salary of almost $20/hr.


A tutoring business may be a good fit if you want to help kids learn, but don’t want to grade papers and craft lesson plans in the evenings and or on the weekends. You can help kids struggling in school or who want to get ahead in a specific subject on a schedule that’s convenient for you.

With many parents and students still feeling the effects of pandemic-induced learning loss, tutors are in high demand. But you'll need in-depth knowledge of the subject(s) you want to tutor. Still, if you want a job with good work-life balance that helps educate the future, this could be the right fit for you.


Before starting a consulting business, you'll probably need to get some experience working for someone else first. 

If you’ve already got a few years of work experience under your belt and expertise in a particular area (think human resources, marketing, IT, management, cybersecurity, etc.), you can use that experience to strike out on your own. 

Working as a consultant typically provides more flexibility than working in a corporate environment. You get to choose what clients you work with, which projects you tackle and how much (or little) you want to work. Plus, you can increase or decrease your workload to fit your schedule. 

The amount of money you’ll earn depends on the consulting you do. For example, the median salary for a management analyst is close to $90,000/year, while information security analysts earn a median salary of almost $104,000.


If working outdoors is more your style, you can earn a living keeping your clients’ outdoor spaces healthy and looking nice while getting your fill of fresh air and sunshine. Landscapers/groundskeepers plant trees and flowers, trim shrubs, lay mulch, mow the grass and more.

You don’t usually need to fulfill any educational requirements to become a landscaper or groundskeeper. However, if you work with pesticides, your state will typically require that you obtain the appropriate landscaping licenses.

The median salary for a groundskeeper is $15.49/hr.

Civil engineer

Civil engineers design, build and supervise the construction of infrastructures, such as bridges, roads and tunnels. 

If you’ve got the educational background — you need at least a bachelor’s degree to work in this field — you can earn a good living (the median annual salary is $88,570) while working reasonable hours.

But before you start designing and building, you typically need to obtain a license in the state where you work. 


Are you fluent in more than one language? If so, you could put your skills to work as an interpreter and translator. Not only will you get to set your own schedule if you start a translation business, but your services will be in high demand. 

While you generally don’t need a college degree or certifications to become a translator or interpreter, this lends credibility to your business. The median salary for this type of job is $25.16/hr

Job growth for interpreters and translators is expected to be much higher than average at 24% over the next eight years. By becoming an interpreter or translator, you can have a job with good work-life balance that helps share knowledge and ideas with more people.

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The best jobs with good work-life balance for business owners


About the author
Kim Mercado is a content editor at NEXT's blog, where she writes and edits posts for small business owners. She is an experienced marketing professional and loves helping entrepreneurs solve their business challenges. You can find Kim trying new recipes and cheering the 49ers.
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