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Gen Zers Are Seeking Jobs Outside Of The Traditional 9–5, And Here’s Some Paths They’ve Chosen

Recently, Insider reported 4 million fewer teenagers enrolled in college in 2022 than they did in 2012. When asked about their reasoning, Gen Z’ers largely told BuzzFeed they couldn’t justify the hefty price of college compared to stagnant wages, and many said they’ve found alternative career paths that don’t require a college degree.

"Gen Zers Who Aren't Going To College Are Sharing What They're Doing Instead, And It's Eye-Opening""Gen Zers Who Aren't Going To College Are Sharing What They're Doing Instead, And It's Eye-Opening"

And this got me thinking about all the paths Gen Z’ers have chosen to create for themselves outside of a traditional job. So, I asked teens and early 20-somethings in the BuzzFeed Community who refuse to get a 9–5 job to share what they’re doing instead. Here’s what they said:

1.“I’m a musical director. I get to teach musical theater to a whole bunch of talented performers, both kids and adults.”

“I have my fingers in a lot of musical pies, and I’m out of the house for a few hours each day, here and there. It works really well because I don’t think I would do well with a 9–5 , and it also means our little pup isn’t left alone too long.”


2.“I recently graduated in May, and I am moving to a new city (in the same state I went to college in), and I’ll be working as an EMT! My job is 7 pm–7 am 3x a week, and I’m really excited.”

“I’m very much a night owl, and this is the perfect schedule for me. No day is ever the same, which keeps things interesting. I could never stand a monotonous 9–5 office job…personally, that sounds horrible .”

—Renata Pratt

3.“Me and my friend are going to join a circus! We both do silks and trapeze, and I’m so excited because I will get to do my favorite thing with my favorite person.”

—Eleanor (Taylor’s Version)

4.“I work at a market research call center, so I just sit at a computer and do surveys for different companies. I get to make my own schedule each week as long as I schedule a minimum of 16 hours a week and a minimum of 4 hours for each day.”

“I need the money, so I choose to work 30–40 hours a week, but I’m off by 3 pm every day and don’t work weekends, so I literally have SO much time for myself or to hang out with friends , especially since I chose to do my uni classes online.”


5.“Crocheting. It started as a way to keep my hands busy and make cute things for myself and my loved ones, and now I am occasionally selling objects online for extra income and new yarn.”

“It makes me happy to see others happy by stuffed unicorns with glittery eyes or squishy turtles.”


6.“I work on ships, carrying different types of bulk cargo (ex. salt, iron ore, stone, coal, etc.) to different ports on the Great Lakes. Six weeks on, six weeks off. Best decision of my life.”


7.“I’m a Gen Z’er, and I’m going to be a pilot, but that’s because my grandpa and my uncle were both pilots, and I was inspired by them.”

“I honestly don’t have a problem with working a traditional job, though. Other thing I’d want to do is race for a living. Takes a lot of money, so hopefully, I’d make enough from flying to pay for it.”


8.“I am returning to school for dental hygiene. Dental hygienists earn a fair amount of money and often work part time or work full time for a bit then take some time off. This seemed a perfect career fit for someone who likes working with their hands and needs the flexibility.”

“An added bonus is that it only requires an associate’s degree, so once you have your prerequisites out of the way, you only are in school for five semesters. Once I graduate, I plan on working as a dental hygienist for three days a week , and as an artist in the studio for three days a week. I’ll have that one extra day just to relax. I feel super privileged and grateful that pursuing this career path is even an option.”


9.“My daughter, 25, is a hairstylist and dance instructor. She makes more in one day than I make in two days, and I went to college for two master’s degrees.”


10.“I’m working as a store manager for a coffee shop. I make around $45k/year and have PTO, health insurance, and other nice incentives. Most of my hours are spent just being a barista, with only five hours a week dedicated to doing my admin work like scheduling and inventory.”

“I have to get up early (work starts at 5:40 am), but I’m usually off by 1 or 2 and get the bulk of my afternoon to myself, plus my evening, and I skip all the rush hour traffic. It’s actually quite nice!”


11.“OnlyFans. It’s unimaginably lucrative.”


12.“I’m becoming a firefighter. I’ve been in the 9–5, and it’s nowhere near what I want to do.”

“Spending 24 hours busting my butt and then having 48 hours off is the way to go. The money is surprisingly good, too, and once you get hired into a department, the job security is amazing.”


13.“I am 19 now, and instead of going to college and doing the traditional 9–5 job, I bought out a local computer business in Wisconsin.”

“Now I do computer repair and sales, and then also sell the top postpaid brands and most prepaid phone brands as well, and then also sell internet and home security. I might learn some cyber security and other cloud things to better expand the computer side or my store.”


Now I want to hear from you. If you’re a Gen Z’er who is choosing not to work a traditional 9–5 job, what is your alternative plan? Let us know in the comments. Or, if you’d like to remain anonymous, you can use this Google form. Your response may be included in an upcoming BuzzFeed Community post.