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Do you truly never feel awake until the sun has gone down? Well, there are millions of people just like you—so-called “night owls” who are most active late at night.

The thing is, the majority of jobs (roughly 85%) have standard schedules, which means they start at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. That doesn’t exactly mesh well with a night owl’s internal clock.

Fortunately, if you do operate best once the sun goes down, you have better options than barely keeping your eyes open during a day shift.

Today, I’m going to talk about some of the best job opportunities for people who prefer overnight shifts. These high-paying careers for night owls deliver far better wages than the national average while letting you do the job when you’re the most awake and alert.

Late Night Doesn’t Always Equal Low Pay

night owl jobs cityscape

It might not be the most prominent employment stigma, but it exists: Some people believe that night owls simply can’t make as much as early birds.

This largely comes from a disparity in how familiar people are with jobs that are available during regular working hours and those that largely operate at night.

But contrary to popular belief, night owls can do pretty well for themselves. All of the jobs on this list, for instance, boast a mean annual wage of over $90,000, based on 2023 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s well above the $65,470 mean annual wage across all occupations.

Today, we’ll look at some of these professions, listed in reverse order of mean annual wage.

10. First-Line Supervisors of Firefighting and Prevention Workers

night owl jobs firefighters
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $90,740
  • 2023 employment: 84,120

First-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers have a higher ranking than other firefighters. Within the field, they usually aren’t referred to as “supervisors,” but instead have titles such as “lieutenant” or “fire chief.” These workers are responsible for supervising and coordinating the activities of firefighters. They also provide emergency medical services when necessary.

Just like their subordinates, these professionals are on duty for long hours and typically have 24-hour shifts. Occasionally, a fire department will use 12-hour shift rotations instead.

Firefighter ranks, in order, are usually as follows:

  • Probationary firefighter
  • Firefighter
  • Driver engineer
  • Lieutenant
  • Captain
  • Battalion chief
  • Assistant chief
  • Fire chief

The necessary steps to becoming a firefighter can vary by state. Usually, the minimum formal education requirement is a high school diploma or GED, though some earn a degree in fire science. This is labor-intensive work, so a physical ability test is necessary. These roles also usually require a background check and a written exam.

Also, to rise through the ranks as a firefighter, a person usually must serve a set amount of time at each level of the department. Additionally, they will need to take written exams and participate in interviews. 

Once you reach a supervisory level, the BLS estimates your mean annual wage to be $90,740.

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9. Gambling Managers

high paying jobs gambling manager
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $98,270
  • 2023 employment: 4,590

Gambling managers plan and oversee all of the gambling operations in a casino, and they sometimes also help to establish house rules. This worker ensures both a high level of customer service and compliance with all applicable regulations.

As gambling is more popularly a nighttime activity than a daytime one, many casino managers work night shifts so they’re around when the casino is busiest. Energetic night owls can really thrive in this role; according to the BLS, the mean annual wage for this job is north of $98,000.

Typically, a high school diploma is a sufficient level of education, though people with a degree in casino management have a leg up on the competition. But relevant experience is typically more important than formal education. Often, casino managers start as shift managers or pit bosses. To advance to the managerial role, you need a state-specific license. Would-be managers also need to pass a criminal background test, take a drug test, and pay a licensing fee.

Related: 7 Best Banks for Real Estate Investors + Landlords

8. Ship Engineers

night owl jobs ship engineer seaman
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $100,550
  • 2023 employment: 8,860

Many workers aboard a ship operate and maintain engines, deck machinery, boilers, and other types of equipment. Ship engineers monitor and coordinate the activities of these crew members. They also operate the ship’s engine (per the captain’s orders), test the performance of electrical and mechanical systems, and sometimes order necessary parts when they are ashore.

These professionals’ shifts frequently include nights, weekends, and public holidays. On the flip side, though, after long stretches at sea, these workers can often enjoy several weeks of shore leave.

While ship engineers are paid well (a mean annual wage of $100,550, per BLS data), it takes effort to break into the field. You need to get a license from the U.S. Coast Guard and often need to have attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy or another state marine academy. It’s also useful to have years of experience for this position as well as relevant technical skills.

Related: Federal Tax Brackets and Rates

7. News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists

night owl jobs reporter microphone
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $101,430
  • 2023 employment: 45,020

News analysts, reporters, and journalists work for communications media, including newspapers, magazines, social media outlets, radio, or television. These workers gather information and use it to write stories, commentary, or reviews.

As the saying goes, “The news never sleeps.” Newsworthy happenings, such as natural disasters, can occur at any day and time, so these workers’s schedules vary and can change when something momentous happens. Some news workers only work nights and weekends when necessary, whereas others regularly work late hours to lead news programs or offer commentary.

In return for a possibly unpredictable schedule, these workers earn a mean annual wage of more than $101,000, according to BLS data. 

Often, news analysts, reporters, and journalists need a bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, or another related field. Some specialize in a specific type of journalism, such a broadcast or print. Additionally, employers prefer applicants who have journalism experience, whether that be from an internship or working on a school paper.

Related: 26 Best Online Jobs for Teens [Earn Money at Home, Age 13+]

6. Information Security Analysts

information security analyst occupation computer
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $124,740
  • 2023 employment: 175,350

To protect an organization’s computer systems, information security analysts assess systems for security risks, then suggest and implement strategies to fix any vulnerabilities found. These workers make sure sufficient controls and safeguards are in place. They also may take action in the event of a virus, security breach, or other incident. (Note: The BLS excludes computer network architects from this employment category.)

The majority of information security analysts have full-time positions and sometimes have to be on call outside of normal business hours to promptly attend to any emergencies. However, while less common, some positions specifically work overnight shifts. 

Typically, information security analysts have a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology or a related field, though this isn’t always a hard rule. They should always have relevant work experience, however; and some employers want prospective analysts to have a professional certification. 

This job is very well compensated, at just under $125,000 annually, according to BLS data.

Related: How Are Social Security Benefits Taxed?

5. Industrial Production Managers

night owl jobs industrial plant manager
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $125,900
  • 2023 employment: 222,890

Industrial production managers, also referred to as plant managers, plan and oversee the operations of manufacturing and related plants. A few of their tasks typically include ensuring production stays within budget and on schedule, hiring and training workers, helping resolve problems, and streamlining the production process.

Some of these employees work day shifts, while others work night shifts. Some roles also require managers to work some weekends. And no matter what shift you work, you might need to be on call to handle any emergencies that arise. 

In exchange for a possibly unpredictable schedule, the mean annual wage for this job is $125,900, based on BLS data.

Usually, employers want industrial managers to have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in business or engineering, and several years of relevant work experience. But, sometimes, if a person has enough production experience, the bachelor’s degree requirement can be waived. Some employees start as production workers before becoming production managers.

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4. Nurse Practitioners

nurse practitioner occupation
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $128,490
  • 2023 employment: 280,140

Nurse practitioners may work as part of a healthcare team or independently. They can help diagnose and treat illnesses. Some workers may order or perform diagnostic tests and prescribe medication. 

Nurse practitioners must be registered nurses with specialized graduate education.

Expect long shifts as a nurse practitioner—they often work 12-hour shifts. Hospitals never sleep, so some people in this profession work day shifts, while others work night shifts. Some roles might have rotating day and night shifts. 

Fortunately, the long shifts are rewarded with high pay. The BLS’s estimates for mean annual wage sit above $128,000.

You need a lot of education to work as a nurse practitioner. A person must be a registered nurse, earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing, complete a nursing-focused graduate master’s or doctoral nursing program, and pass a national nurse practitioner board certification exam. 

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3. Air Traffic Controllers

night owl jobs air traffic controller
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $136,790
  • 2023 employment: 22,310

Airports hire air traffic controllers to coordinate the movement of aircraft and ensure they maintain safe distances. These roles involve issuing takeoff and landing instructions to pilots, telling them about any runway closures or weather issues, and alerting airport response staff to any aircraft emergencies.

At major airports, control towers may need to be operated around the clock, meaning some air traffic controllers work evening or night shifts. Weekends and holidays may be required, too. 

That said, for safety reasons, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates air traffic controllers’ hours. These workers cannot work more than 10 hours straight per shift, and they receive required breaks, too. Additionally, these employees must get at least nine hours of rest between shifts.

This work has a high level of responsibility and a commensurate high pay, with the mean annual wage sitting just below $137,000.

There are a few different ways to become an air traffic controller. Usually, people need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree through an FAA-approved Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative. Alternatively, a person may have several years of progressively responsible work experience, or a satisfactory combination of experience and education.

You must be a U.S. citizen to work in these roles. You also need to pass a background check, medical evaluation, FAA pre-employment tests, and a training course at the FAA Academy. This all needs to be done before the FAA’s age cutoff, which is currently 30 years old. New air traffic controllers usually have on-the-job training that lasts over a year. Every year, these employees must pass a physical exam. They must also pass a job performance exam twice a year and undergo regular drug screenings.

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2. Commercial Pilots

night owl jobs commercial pilot

  • 2023 mean annual wage: $138,010
  • 2023 employment: 52,750

You’re likely already familiar with commercial pilots, who fly airplanes, helicopters and other aircraft. Besides navigating aircraft, these workers inspect the aircraft before flights, submit flight plans to air traffic control, and monitor engines and fuel consumption. (Note: This BLS employment category excludes electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians.)

Most flying happens during the day, and some pilots are home almost every night—but there are plenty of red-eye flights requiring pilots to work late at night and early in the morning. The more seniority a pilot has, the more control they typically have over their schedules. If you’re specifically gunning for night flying, your best bet is to work as a cargo pilot, which will record far more night flights than your average pilot.

According to BLS data, commercial pilots enjoy a mean annual wage of just more than $138,000.

Commercial pilots need to complete flight training. Some employers also prefer or even require a degree. Additionally, they should have specific certifications and ratings from the FAA. Once hired, training typically involves several weeks of ground school and flight training. 

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1. Petroleum Engineers

night owl jobs petroleum engineer offshore oil platform
  • 2023 mean annual wage: $148,590
  • 2023 employment: 20,390

Petroleum engineers design equipment to extract gas and ensure all equipment is installed and operated properly. They also assess the production of wells through surveys, testing, and analysis. 

Some petroleum engineers work in offices onshore and work mainly during standard business hours. However, others work offshore and have longer shifts (usually 12 hours), including nights. And some on-site engineers work in rotations. For instance, they might be on duty for 80 hours, then off duty for 80 hours. 

This is the highest-paid profession on the list with a mean annual wage of nearly $149,000, per BLS data.

Petroleum engineers usually need a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering or a related field, such as mechanical or chemical engineering. When possible, cooperative-education programs that provide practical experience and academic credit are recommended. Some higher education facilities offer five-year engineering programs that result in both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. As some employers prefer workers with a master’s degree, those programs may be a wise route.


Hannah Kowalczyk-Harper has been a professional writer since 2016 and has worked with WealthUp (formerly Young & the Invested) since 2019.

Prior to becoming a full-time writer, she was still immersed in words through previous roles as a library specialist and teacher. Her background in education helps her take complex topics and turn them into easy-to-understand text.

Hannah holds a degree in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. When she isn’t writing, Hannah is usually found playing with her niece and nephew, traveling, or brewing more coffee.