11 short-term contract jobs for the over 50s

Looking for that perfect balance between work and play? Short-term contract jobs can be a convenient option if you’re looking for a role with greater flexibility, autonomy and variety.

To help get you thinking about how a short-term contract job could work for you, we’ve come up with 11 popular ideas.

1. Supply Teacher

Supply teachers fill temporary teaching positions that open up when a permanent in-house teacher at a school or college is off-sick, has a personal emergency, or is away on holiday. They are often called in at short notice to cover a lesson and will usually be given “cover work” to complete with students whilst their regular teacher is away.

As a supply teacher, you’ll have the same role and responsibilities as a permanent in-house teacher, but you’ll be able to choose how much or how little work you decide to take on, work in different schools and have less involvement with some of the more onerous tasks like paperwork, meetings and planning.

You’ll still need to achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to work as a supply teacher. Our career change guide on How to become a Teacher, will give you plenty of information and advice on how to get started.

2. Exam Invigilator

If you’re looking for a part-time job where you may only be offered work during certain months of the year, then it’s worth looking into the role of the Exam Invigilator. They work for schools, colleges and universities; supervising students whilst they sit their exams. Typical tasks include making sure that students have all the equipment that they need, distributing and collecting exam papers, and making sure that students are following the rules set out by the exam board.

Exam Invigilators will usually work for up to three hours at a time (the length of an exam) during exam or mock exam seasons, which tend to be January, March and June. This makes it ideal for someone looking to top up their income, but will not usually be suitable for someone who is looking for a role that they can solely rely on for their finances. The role doesn’t require too much physical effort – you may be walking up and down and sitting for periods of time. But you will be required to stay focussed and alert throughout the entire exam to make sure that the exam runs smoothly. I will also help if you can stay patient and calm, so you can reassure anxious or panicked students where necessary.

You don’t often need any previous skills or experience to become an Exam Invigilator as you’ll be given full training on the job. It’s worth contacting your local schools, colleges and/or universities to find out whether they have any positions available. You can also keep an eye on online job boards, as many institutions will advertise online.

3. NHS Bank/Fixed-term Staff

Bank staff play a crucial role in the NHS because they are there to step in when permanent staff members are unable to be at work, or when an area of the hospital is especially busy. They may be temporary, but they have the potential to change and save lives every day that they are at work. Bank staff may work a one-off shift in a hospital or clinic or they may be called in to work for a longer fixed period e.g. a week or a month.

There are bank staff in a range of areas including nursing and midwifery, admin and clerical and healthcare science (e.g. audiology, phlebotomy and optometry). If you are already a trained healthcare professional then you may be able to join the bank straight away and start signing up for shifts.

If you are new to the healthcare sector, then you will often be asked to complete six months of relevant work experience before you can join the bank. The might include working on a voluntary basis in a healthcare setting, or training/working as an employee first.

To find out more about the NHS bank and how to apply, you can visit the NHS Professionals website, here.

4. Delivery Driver

The demand for delivery drivers is growing as more people are enjoying the convenience of online shopping. There isn’t much that you can’t buy online these days (food, flowers, clothes and the list goes on), but it all has to be delivered and it’s commonplace for companies who deliver to take on short-term staff at busier times or when they need urgent cover for permanent staff.

With delivery services becoming more time sensitive and offering options such as next day and even same day delivery, most companies cannot afford to have a staffing shortfall, even for a short time, which makes delivery driving a popular option for people seeking a short or fixed term contract. You usually don’t need any experience to apply – you just need to be a safe and confident driver with a full UK driving licence (and sometimes your own car, although this will depend on the company you choose to work for).

If you enjoy being behind the wheel and like the idea of being a friendly face in your community, then a delivery role could be the right fit for you. Ready to buckle up?

5. Project Manager

If you’re looking to make a career change to a role that would allow you to work short-term contracts on a project-by-project basis, then Project Management may be just what you’ve been looking for. Project Managers work in a vast and varied field where each project can present a new adventure and a new set of circumstances to challenge you, so boredom is unlikely.

In a nutshell, Project Managers are leaders who oversee the running of a project from start to finish – making sure that they are delivered on time, to a high standard and within budget. There are no specific qualifications needed to be a project manager, but it can help if you have a project management or business management degree (some employers will be willing to take on candidates who are working towards these, providing that they have the skills and knowledge needed to run the project). However, a degree or diploma in any field can be useful when applying for project management roles, depending on what type of project area you’re applying to. For example, if you’re applying to manage a software development project, then a degree in computer science or software engineering may give you an advantage.

The first thing to do if you’re thinking about going into project management is to identify your strengths, as this can help you decide what sort of project to apply for.

6. Consultant

For the experienced professional who has spent years developing expert knowledge and experience in a specific field, consulting can be a fantastic way to put it into use, when you decide that you’re ready for a career change. A Consultant will usually work with a company for short periods of time to help them develop a specific area of their business, such as a marketing or financial strategy. They may work for one company for a fixed period of time or on a freelance basis for several regular clients.

Plenty of employers hire Consultants for short-term contracts directly. Or, if you want to work on a freelance basis, you could try signing up to sites like Guru and Upwork, where you can list your services and build up a client base. You could also try creating your own professional website on sites like Wix or WordPress to promote your services. This is a great place to include client testimonials once you have a few happy clients.

7. Admin roles

Pretty much every sector will have a need for someone to do temporary administration for them at some point. This is usually because a staff member goes on maternity or long-term sick leave, or a company is simply trying to cope at a busy time of year.

The good news about choosing to work in admin, is that you will have plenty of choice when it comes to choosing which industry you want to work in. It’s a good idea to choose an industry that you have a genuine interest in, because you’ll get the chance to keep up to date with the latest industry news and network with like-minded individuals. You’ll also be the first to know if any other short-term contracts come up elsewhere in the company, and it could also lead to an exciting more permanent career change later on.

Most employers who hire people for short-term/fixed-term contracts will prefer applicants to have some relevant experience, so that they can get stuck in straight away and help to keep things running smoothly – although this isn’t always the case. If you’d like to brush up on your admin skills before you apply for a role, then you could consider volunteering in an office support role first.

8. Event Planner

If you’d like to help others plan events that they will remember forever, then you could consider taking steps towards a new career as an Event Planner. They plan all sorts of events; from personal events such as weddings, baby showers and birthdays, through to corporate events and exhibitions. This often means taking care of every single detail from booking the venue to sending invites to guests, through to choosing what colour tablecloths to have at a wedding reception. Most Event Planners work on a self-employed basis and may have previously found pleasure in event planning in their personal lives – usually for friends and family.

As an Event Planner, you will be able to plan as few or as many events as you can manage at one time. Each event can be seen as a short-term project that you will work on for a fixed period of time – and each event will come with a deadline, after which you know you will be able to move onto something else.

There are no formal qualifications needed to get started but you will need to establish your credibility if you want to be able to land clients. The best way to do this is to create a website where you can showcase any events that you’ve planned for friends, family or local community groups. You may also find it helpful to get in touch with local Event Planners to ask if you can spend some time shadowing them – or to join the Association of Event Organisers which will connect you with like-minded individuals through networking events. And qualifications aren’t essential, it can still be useful to take an Event Management course online if you want to boost your credibility and skillset, and find out more about how to set up your own business.


9. Retail roles

When it comes to short-term contracts in retail, Christmas is undoubtedly the most popular time of year for these to crop up. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t still plenty of fixed term contracts offered year-round. Shops will still take on staff under short/fixed-term contracts to cover for absent staff or when they need extra hands on deck during the release of a new product or during an end of season sale.

Many of our members have told us that the thing they enjoy most about working in retail is the opportunity to meet new people and build community links. So if you’re a sociable character, with a passion for great customer service, then why not have a look at which roles might be available near you?

10. Software Engineer

Interested in working in a thriving industry, with an unemployment rate of 1.9 percent? Then it could be a great time to retrain as a Software Engineer! Each time you visit a web page or use an app on your smartphone, you’re actually interacting with the work of a Software Engineer. Their strong foundation in computer science allows them to build, develop, maintain and test computer software for clients.

People can retrain as Software Engineering at any age and there is no set route to doing so.  Some people teach themselves the basics or take an intensive course over a few weeks and then work on a freelance basis taking on short projects. One of the benefits of working as a Software Engineer is that it can offer a remote and flexible way of working. It’s not uncommon for businesses to employ engineers on short/fixed-term contracts to help them develop a particular aspect of their software.

To find out more about how to become a Software Engineer, you can read our full guide.

11. Hospitality roles

The hospitality industry tends to operate seven days a week and is there to support people at some of the most momentous occasions in their lives including birthdays, weddings and funerals. So, it’s unsurprising that bars and restaurants especially may need extra hands during busier times or when permanent staff are unavailable. For example, many bars and restaurants in university towns will take on staff on short-term contracts during graduation seasons (which is typically July and November), over Christmas or during the summer months when people are making the most of the lighting evenings and going out more.

Hospitality roles are ideal for individuals who enjoy meeting new people, feel strongly about providing high quality customer service, and are happy to be on their feet for long periods of time. If this sounds like you, then why not see what roles might be available nearby? It’s worth asking in your local bars, restaurants and hotels whether they have any short-term roles, as well as keeping an eye on online job boards.

And remember...

Hopefully the roles in this list will offer you a helpful place to start when thinking about whether short or fixed-term contract roles are the right fit for you. However, it’s important to remember that this list is not exhaustive and that there are plenty of other roles that have the potential to be undertaken on a short or fixed-term basis. So, if you have a particular role in mind that isn’t typically considered temporary, it’s still worth searching for short-term opportunities in this field.

Nearly all businesses will have people that need to take long-term sick leave or maternity cover at some point, which is where you may be able to step in.

A role may be short-term but this doesn’t mean it will fall short in delivering huge benefits – such as flexibility, a healthy work-life balance and the chance to regularly change up your working environment, which can stop you getting bored. It’s also worth considering that temporary work can be an effective way to ease yourself back into permanent work. Some people feel more comfortable taking on something with a short-term commitment to test the waters in a new role type or industry, or to remove some of the “performance pressure” that can be attached to a longer-term more permanent position.

Have you recently taken on a short or fixed-term contract role? We’d love to hear from you! Join the conversation over on the Rest Less community forum – or leave a comment below.

Links with an * by them are affiliate links which help Rest Less stay free to use as they can result in a payment or benefit to us. You can read more on how we make money here.


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