Over Employed, The New Normal For Nerds – Browsing through Reddit one day, looking for WFH ideas, I stumbled across an interesting sub-reddit: r/overemployed. It’s an interesting place for people to chat about their multiple jobs. More often than not, these over employed persons are over-employed without their respective employers’ knowledge. They often share advice on how to overcome different obstacles particular to their predicament and not get caught by employers. It often makes for good reading and is almost always interesting and informative.
Now, it is very often prevalent for individuals in the creative and technical industries, such as journalists, programmers, artists and the like to have a side hustle or engage in freelance work. As an instance, an editor with a day job may also produce paid-per-piece articles for non-competing publications. Of course, this usually happens with the explicit or implicit consent of their primary employer. The reasons for doing so vary, with some seeking extra income and others finding the work enjoyable.
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Over Employed, The New Normal For Nerds
But the mindset of r/overemployed is a bit different, more covert. The individuals who shared their experiences on the sub-reddit remain anonymous and appear to be putting in considerable effort to simultaneously work for two, three or more companies. They maintain meticulous schedules, juggle overlapping Zoom calls and project deadlines, among other things. Although it’s not necessarily illegal to work for multiple companies, these arrangements may violate employment contracts, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.
There’s no denying that many employers are facing the consequences of their actions, with employees at all levels dealing with a lack of job security and inadequate compensation, in addition to the pandemic that has disrupted both their work and personal lives. However, it was troubling to read about some workers in the article discussing ways to exploit the system, such as by falsely claiming they need accommodations from their employers, using their unlimited PTO for a month off under the guise of “COVID-19 burnout,” or pretending to receive a call from their child’s school to skip out on double-booked meetings.
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Now, if you are indeed so inclined, there ARE a few ‘OE’ friendly jobs. When it comes to finding jobs that are conducive to achieving an optimal work-life balance, the most favorable options are those that offer remote work with high total compensation per hour worked, which is referred to as a ‘OE’ friendliness ratio. An ideal job in this regard would be asynchronous, i.e., not constrained by a rigid 9-5 schedule, and should pay at least $120K. If the job is also in high demand, it would be even more beneficial.
Interestingly, there is a category of ‘OE’ friendly super jobs that are particularly advantageous, allowing one to work on four or more simultaneously. These super jobs are primarily found in the technology industry, and for good reason. By securing such jobs, one can attain financial independence within three years or less.
Job #1: Data Engineer, Data Administrator, and Data Analyst
If you enjoy working with SQL (structured query language) to clean and organize raw data stored in databases, or exploring data lakes and warehouses with tools like Snowflake, then a career in data may be just right for you. With tech being awash in yottabytes of data (a unit of measurement that’s almost unfathomably large), there’s a pressing need for skilled professionals who can manage, store, retrieve, and analyze all of this information. Fortunately, the good news is that the data industry is flush with well-paying jobs that are also remote-friendly.
LinkedIn data reveals that the average annual salary for a senior data engineer in the United States is $131,000, based on 742 responses, with a salary range between $100,000 and $197,000. While this may not seem exceptional, to some, for an individual job, data-related positions are actually much more lucrative than they appear. These jobs offer tremendous scalability, with some professionals managing six or more data jobs simultaneously. After all, a database is a database, and the potential to earn over $1M by working with data all day is truly staggering.
Job #2: Software QA and Testing Automation
Imagine a job that pays you to automate not only mundane tasks, but also your own job. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Well, say hello to software QA testing automation jobs, another highly scalable ‘OE’ friendly super job that can be worked across four to 10-plus positions simultaneously. The work is rhythmic and involves minor nuances. Once you have set up the automation (aka a time arbitrage machine), you can sit back and relax while the software takes care of the rest.
Per LinkedIn, a senior software quality assurance engineer in the US earns about $108,000 per year, on average. And furthermore, with a range of $80,000 to $150,000 based on 103 responses. Now, while the average salary is lower than data jobs, QA automation jobs as a whole are even more scalable, at least relatively speaking, given its self-automating nature. We’ve seen community members self-reported working 15-plus jobs in parallel. Fifteen!!!
Job #3: System Administrator and Technical Support
Similar to data and QA automation jobs, this third OE friendly job is repeatable and also scalable. After all, being a system admin or application owner of a third-party application across multiple companies just means you’ve to log in “X” number of times. You ask, who are these people?
You may have heard of these boring job titles, just to name a few:
- CRM (Salesforce, Hubspot, ZenDesk, etc.) administrator or business system analyst
- ERP (e.g. SAP, Oracle, NetSuite, etc.) admin, architect, or system owner
- HCM (e.g. WorkDay) administrator
- Jira / Atlassian admin
- Information security admin
Salaries will be more variable across each system given its adoption and labor market dynamics. LinkedIn notes a senior application architect in the United States earns $131,000 per year on average with a range of $94,800 to $175,000 based on 41 responses.
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Also, a senior system administrator in the United States earns $94,000 per year on average with a range of $68,000 to $130,000 based on 633 responses. Not too shabby when you can stack four plus of these easy-peasy super jobs!
The best way to get into this super job is to get admin certified by the respective companies who created these applications. Rest is just networking, mass-applying, and stacking jobs once you’re comfortable with the flow of ‘OE’.
Job #4: Cloud Engineers and DevOps
Have you ever heard of CI/CD platforms such as Terraform, Kubernetes/containerization, and AWS Cloud-Formation? Exactly. If you’re a tech-nerd then YES, of course. Other than that, no one knows, not really.
Familiarity with cloud environments, configurations, security, network, and a touch of development experience is the new unicorn skills set.
Cloud engineering and DevOps is a super job with a mix of stackability (similar to super job #1, #2, and #3) but with higher total compensation (TC), depending on titles and seniority.
For instance, on LinkedIn, a cloud architect in the United States earns $155,000 per year on average with a range of $100,000 to $224,000 based on 520 responses.
Meanwhile, a devops engineer in the United States earns $78,0000 per year on average with a range of $56,000 to $125,000 based on 1,058 responses.
Throw in some seniority in front of those titles, such as Director, Senior Principal, Staff, or Senior, and you’ll start seeing the TCs climb. Additionally, as you may have noticed, architect > engineer > specialist in terms of the TC ladder.
Job #5: Software Engineers, Product Managers, UX Designers
This is our final catch-all super job which makes up the core software development pod. Broadly speaking, there are more spots for software engineers (also known as SWEs) than product manager (PM) and user experience designer (UX) on a tech pod. The ratio is about five to ten SWE jobs for each PM/UX job.
All that is to say, software engineering jobs are in demand and there is a lack of good, experienced software engineers. After all, getting a CS degree is no walk in the park, nor is delivering production-level code.
The only downside to SWEs is the constant need to learn to say relevant and context switching across different tech stacks. So it pays to stack jobs on the same tech stack as well as enjoy nerding out on code. The same applies to a smaller extent to PMs and UX designers. The side benefit of working four of these jobs is you get to cross-learn a lot, which just makes you a better SWE, PM, or UX. According to LinkedIn’s salary insights:
How much do software engineers, product managers, and UX designers get paid per LinkedIn:
A senior software engineer in the United States earns $138,000 per year on average with a range of $95,000 to $259,000 based on 11,697 responses.
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That being said, software engineering is a very broad field, with the riches in the niches. You could be a Java-based backend engineer and always be in demand – do a search on LinkedIn and you’ll see what I mean. Alternatively, you could specialize in Shopify or Salesforce (platform-specific) development and get more limited opportunities. Therefore, choose your craft wisely. Same applies for a product manager or UX designer on domain knowledge.
While tech jobs tend to be the most OE-friendly, it’s worth noting that there are non-tech jobs that are just as lucrative. These jobs may not be as glamorous or customer-facing, but they offer the potential for multiple six-figure salaries.
If you’re considering a career change to tech, be sure to explore non-tech OE-friendly jobs on LinkedIn’s salary insights or Levels.fyi before making a decision. One example of a non-tech job that can be stackable is internal audits and accounting. However, fully remote positions in this field can be hard to come by as many employers still prefer the traditional office setup.
Overall, the best OE-friendly jobs are those that are not customer-facing, and may not receive as much recognition, but offer high compensation when measured by TC/HPW.
I am the Nerd of Fortune. I have been hustling from home (part-time) for about 10 years & working exclusively from home for several years – and loving it! I am a firm believer in making ‘working from home’ a success for everyone…