High-skill side hustles in the wake of recent tech layoffs

High-skill side hustles in the wake of recent tech layoffs


With the recent swath of tech layoffs — including another 10,000 at Mega announced on March 14 — and the continued demand of employees for remote work, you might be wondering if parlaying your skills into a side hustle is a viable option. Well, not only is it a viable option, there’s more demand than ever for these types of jobs that take advantage of tech skills. The bonus is that all you really need to get started is a strong internet connection and the ability to sell yourself. 

Many of these high-paying side hustles could see you earning upwards of six figures or more, depending on how much time you want to put into them —t hat’s another upside, as many of them are flexible enough to do on your own schedule. Work as much or as little as you like, or moonlight in the hours around your 9-5. You’ll be in good company, too. A 2022 survey by LendingTree(Opens in a new tab) found that around 44% of Americans have taken up a side hustle, an increase from the 12% of Americans who had one in 2020. 

As companies continue to lean on freelancers to reduce costs, there’s plenty of opportunity for high-skilled tech workers to launch or expand their side hustle — with some jobs paying upwards of $100 per hour or more.

If you’ve got skills, go ahead and create an online portfolio where you can share your work with potential clients. List your services on freelance job boards or reach out to prospects directly with your services. Getting the word out about your services is key to ensuring you have a steady stream of clients. 

Here are 8 ideas for high-skill side hustles. 

QA testing

Difficulty: Medium

Annual salary range: $104,000+

QA — or quality assurance — testers are responsible for running tests on websites, applications, and even software programs to ensure there are no bugs or other issues with the code. While the idea of checking code might seem intimidating, you don’t need a lot of experience with coding in order to be successful and make bank. You really just need to know how to run the automated tests that inspect the code for problems, though you’re bound to pick up some coding experience along the way. 

Tech support

Difficulty: Easy

Annual salary range: $75,000

If you’re familiar with technology, consider putting those skills to work for yourself or for a company on a part-time basis as a technical support specialist. While there are certification programs (like Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate)(Opens in a new tab) that allow you to learn more about tech support and be able to demonstrate your knowledge to potential clients, they’re certainly not a prerequisite. Most important is your ability to take technical concepts and be able to explain them in an easy-to-understand manner.  

Web development

Difficulty: Hard

Annual salary range: $156,000+

In order to be successful at making web development your side hustle, you’ll need experience with a variety of software and coding languages, including WordPress, CSS, PHP, MySQL, and HTML. Staying up to date with the latest tech and programming standards is what makes this a high-skill side hustle. There are free tutorials on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript available on sites like Codecademy(Opens in a new tab) and w3schools(Opens in a new tab) that can help you get started, even with little experience. 

Web design

Difficulty: Hard

Annual salary range: $156,000+

Web development is the actual building of websites themselves, but web design focuses on what the website will look like. This covers everything from the overall look and feel of the site, to the actual layout for web, mobile, and tablet viewing. You’ll likely need skills in programs such as Photoshop and Webflow. Be prepared to make recommendations to clients — and to push back on those ideas that don’t make sense. If you can combine web development skills with web design skills, you can offer a full-service freelance option to potential clients. 

Mobile app development

Difficulty: Medium

Annual salary range: $105,000+

In order to be successful as a mobile app developer, you’ll need skills in iOS and Android app development, as well as user interface (UI) design. You might create apps for small businesses, or help out with work on other apps already in development. If you’re feeling really inspired, you might even develop your own app to fill a need in the market. Just keep in mind that there’s a lot that goes into monetizing an app, and if marketing isn’t really your thing you may be better off simply doing mobile app development for other businesses. 

Game development

Difficulty: Hard

Annual salary range: $200,000+

Game development requires a lot of time, creativity, and patience, but can be a great side hustle for someone with the right knowledge and experience. You’ll also flex your skills in IT, problem-solving, time management, communication, and staying up to date with the latest industry trends and technologies. If you’re doing this as a side hustle, be prepared to work overtime, weekends, and holidays to fulfill project milestones or deadlines. 


Difficulty: Easy

Annual salary range: $140,000+

Not everyone can write well, but for those who have the skills it can be a pretty lucrative side hustle. While you can charge by the hour, many copywriters work on project rates. This means that the more skilled (and faster) you get at the work, the more you bring in per hour. Copywriters that are most in demand are those who also have knowledge of basic tech skills like HTML, WordPress, and SEO fundamentals in addition to their writing chops.

SEO strategy

Difficulty: Easy

Annual salary range: $135,000+

Speaking of SEO (aka search engine optimization) this is another high-skill side hustle anyone reeling from the recent tech layoff of marketing teams can go after. While there’s certainly skill and strategy that goes into SEO work, it’s not super challenging for most people to pick up. It’s also a skill you can develop while learning other digital marketing skills on this list — such as website design or copywriting — making you an even more attractive hire for those in need of skilled workers. 

As you can see, there are a variety of different high-skill side hustles that are perfect for those recovering from recent tech layoffs, looking for a more flexible work schedule, or just wanting to pursue their passions while making use of their skills. For more practical advice and inspiration for turning a hobby into a business, check out the rest of our Self Made series. 


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