Software engineers provide valuable services in our tech-driven world while earning a decent income. According to Glassdoor research, the average annual salary for software engineers in the United States is $108,249.
One way to generate extra income, whether to pay down student loans faster or work toward another financial goal, is starting a side hustle. There are a few lucrative side hustles that can utilize your existing engineering skillset or soft skills to help you get started quickly.
7 Side hustles for software engineers
Although there are various ways to make extra money outside of your day job, not all of them are worth the time commitment or startup funds required. Below are seven software engineer side hustle ideas you can do in your free time to earn extra side income.
1. Freelance work
Perhaps the best way for software engineers to make extra money is to offer the same kind of services that they do at their full-time job. When you think of freelancing, you might think of writing articles or other content creation, but “freelancing” applies to any work you do as an independent contractor.
You can create your own side business by providing software engineering services for other companies, organizations and individuals. As a freelance software engineer, you’re in charge of setting your rates, whether you choose to charge by the hour or per project.
You can also choose the type of work you take on as a freelancer, and determine your own freelance work schedule. This allows you to fit other side hustles into your schedule whenever it’s convenient for you.
To get started, create a simple website or use LinkedIn as a home base for your freelance portfolio. Sites like Fiverr and Upwork allow you to market your freelance work, and find paid gigs.
2. Create an online course
Another way to utilize existing skills is by creating and selling an online course about your line of work. People are turning to online learning as an alternative to traditional educational paths. One option is to create an online course on software engineering for beginners or tutorials about specific technical aspects of the career.
The initial costs of creating and hosting an online course vary. You’ll need access to a camera to create videos, at a minimum. You can use online course marketplaces, like Teachable, Thinkific, and Podia to create and host your course. Udemy is another popular online site for course hosting.
Don’t forget that you’ll also need to market your course after it’s created. There’s a cost to create an online course and the payoff isn’t immediate, but it could end up being a lucrative venture.
3. Start a blog
Another side hustle that requires some upfront sweat equity is blogging. You won’t make money right away, but there are several ways to earn income through blogging.
Your blog could be related to software engineering or focus on your other interests. Bloggers rely on monetization to earn income through their websites. Ways to make money through a blog include:
- Advertising (Google Adsense or other ad networks)
- Affiliate marketing
- Sponsored content
- Brand partnerships
- Selling products online (Amazon, Shopify, Gumroad)
- Consulting, coaching or mentoring
The amount of money you can make with a blog depends on several factors including your niche, the type of content produced, marketing and time invested. Many bloggers create social media accounts or a YouTube channel to further expand their reach.
Creating a blog isn’t a quick solution for generating more income, but it’s a good side hustle if you enjoy writing or producing other types of content. Eventually, a blog can produce passive income that will make all of the work worthwhile.
4. Design websites
Depending on your expertise, you could also make money creating websites for businesses and entrepreneurs. Having a website is nonnegotiable for businesses today, but not all small business owners know how.
With a decent understanding of back-end and front-end coding, you can create customized websites to help your clients attract more customers, and sell their products and services.
Web design doesn’t have to be done from scratch either. There are tons of premade WordPress themes or templates that web designers use as a base when creating a new website.
5. Become a QA tester
The tech industry relies heavily on quality assurance (QA) testers to find software bugs and flaws and solve technical issues with products. QA testers are utilized throughout the product design and development stages to improve and test the effectiveness of a product before it’s released to the public.
Along with technical expertise, a QA tester must be a good communicator and have attention to detail. According to Indeed, the average wage for a QA tester is $27.75 per hour.
6. Develop mobile apps
Mobile app development is a high-paying side hustle for software engineers to consider. According to Indeed, the average mobile developer earns $42.46 per hour.
Mobile developers create the mobile apps we know, love, and use every day. The sky’s the limit with mobile app development. From gaming to e-commerce and beyond, there are new mobile apps being developed all the time. Strong skills in writing code are required to secure side hustles as a mobile app developer.
7. Moonlight as a technical support specialist
The backbone of many companies is the support they provide to their customer base. That could be through standard customer service practices or through technical support. Software engineers have the expertise and experience to work as technical support specialists on the side.
Technical support specialist isn’t a glamorous side hustle and doesn’t earn as much money as other side hustles listed above. According to Indeed, technical support specialists average just $17.23 per hour. However, the learning curve is probably lower than many other side gigs. It’s also a job you perform for a fixed time frame without it encroaching on your schedule.
Start making more money as a software engineer
A side hustle could be right for you if you want to earn more money outside of your full-time job. Embarking on a side hustle takes time and effort, so consider how much of a commitment you’re willing to put forward before jumping in. It might be simpler to pick up extra work with your current employer or advocate for a raise, instead of a new startup venture.
If you’re willing to explore other gigs related to your engineering profession, a side hustle can help you reach your student loan debt repayment goals or other financial milestones.