[Now here’s a side hustle you don’t hear of every day – being a lice picker 😉 But it’s apparently a thing, and one our guest hustler stops by the site today to share more about! Take it away Jessica, aka The Patient Picker! Haha… No one ever said this stuff had to be glamorous.]
One of the tasks on my financial independence checklist is to establish multiple income streams. Thankfully, earlier this year, an unexpected (and disgusting) opportunity arose to help me add some cash to my wallet.
I was doing my daughter’s hair one morning and saw something move under her bangs. I held my breath and thought, Oh no, they’ve found us! Sure enough, the lice that we had successfully evaded all school year had made a home on my daughter’s pretty little blonde head.
I’d never encountered lice before, and was honestly in shock. How did this happen to us? How do we deal with this? Is my head itchy? Should I burn the sheets?
After I composed myself and started researching removal techniques, I began tackling the problem. One by one I picked each louse and nit out of my daughter’s hair. That first day I worked on her head for six hours and found 45+ adult lice and probably 80+ nits (eggs).
The nightmare continued for two weeks. Every day after school I would sit my daughter in front of the iPad for a couple of hours and would proceed to check her entire head for any sign of life. Finally, after two weeks we were lice-free and my daughter and I were exhausted.
While picking one day, I thought, How could you possibly do this if you were working full time and/or had a bunch of other kids or responsibilities to take care of? I have one other child and found my free time had disappeared because of the lice issue. Apparently, I am not the only one who has had this thought, because I discovered this uncomfortable task was actually a real profession!
“Lice technicians”, as some like to be labelled, are people who professionally pick lice for a living. You can work for yourself, join a team, or even start a franchise.
Wages range, but according to this CBC article, at the Greater Vancouver Lice Clinic, you can have your lice problem solved for $60 an hour! My jaw dropped when I read that number; that is a very respectable hourly wage. Lice Squad, a lice removal franchise in Canada, is growing and has a number of franchises across the country. According to this article, Lice Squad founder Dawn Mucci charges $75 per hour to solve your lice issues. I don’t know about you, but I think those numbers are impressive!
It’s no wonder the profession is growing: modern parents are overwhelmed and time-crunched, and lice are becoming resistant to the typical drugstore insecticide crème rinse of yesteryear. The only way to truly get rid of the lice is to comb and pick them out, which is obviously a huge time drain (as I experienced firsthand). And what if you, the parent, get lice, too? It’s impossible to thoroughly check your own head!
I founded The Patient Picker Lice Removal Service earlier this year and charge $30/hr per child and $25/hr per adult for treatments.
The extra $5 per hour for children is compensation for dealing with a potentially squirmy, irritable child. For my hourly rate, I consider a child to be 13 years old or younger. I have been able to treat both adults and children; I’ll be honest, adults are so much easier to deal with! But I know kids are obviously more prone to infestation and are more likely to be my future client base.
Currently, I only offer my time; physically taking the time to stand there and pick out the lice and nits. I am not selling or applying any product and I don’t plan to. In this day in age, with almost every parent wanting chemical-free, organic everything; having them source their own treatment options could potentially save me research, money, and time. Perhaps when I have had some more experience and have seen different treatments at work, I could make recommendations. At this time, I am not really interested in having a product inventory or backing one product over another.
My idea sparked in June and I have only been operating for a couple of months. So far I have made less than $500, but come’on that’s $500 I didn’t have before! Truth be told, I wasn’t actively looking, and it was summer. With most kids out of school there is less of a chance of infestation. (However, maybe next year, I will advertise to the summer camp crowd?!)
Until recently, my services were word of mouth. I now have some marketing in place: a website and Facebook page, and I am listed at a number of daycares and my daughter’s school. Right now my only qualifications are my experience and the fact that I will actually do the dirty job, but I would love to get some formal training and make things more official.
You don’t really need much to get started: lots of sturdy hair clips, a lice comb, a regular comb, metal tweezers, a headlamp or a swing arm lamp. You need to be extremely detail-orientated and have the resolve to not be embarrassed by the fact you are actually picking lice to make money.
This is strictly a means of providing us with some extra income; I don’t necessarily want it to be my full-time job. But as a stay-at-home mom, it’s a great way to bring in some extra cash. My most recent client required two treatments and I pocketed $200. That’s a nice chunk of change!
Then there are the moments when I dream of growing my successful lice business: hiring other stay-at-home mom friends to help them pad their own wallets, throwing lice removal parties with wine (yes, that’s a real thing!), volunteering to help the less fortunate families in my community, and the big dream… drum roll, please…
A mobile hair salon, but strictly for picking lice!
Sadly, that’s just a dream for now. Ha! My husband, family, friends, and strangers all laugh out loud when I tell them about my lice picking business. But then I tell them if I worked only 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, I could make a healthy $46,000 a year! That’s not something to laugh about at all. That’s some serious cash and you work for yourself.
It’s a dirty job and hard on your eyes, neck, and shoulders, but the possibilities with this field are endless. Lice don’t discriminate, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. There is no shortage of work, and it’s a great profession to keep in your back pocket for when times are lean!
Jessica is the founder of The Patient Picker Lice Removal Service, and a long-time student of financial independence. She is based out of the Cowichan Valley, BC (Canada), and can be found at PatientPickerLiceRemoval.com
This hustle too gross for you? Check out our full list of over 70 hustles here, or click through to the last few we’ve featured:
- Hustle #74: Tutoring People on Standardized Tests ($100-$160/hr)
- Hustle #73: Selling Crickets Online! ($1,200/mo)
- Hustle #72: Finding Hidden Money as a Forensic Accountant ($300/hr)
- Hustle #71: Picking Up Trash in Parking Lots ($30-$50/hr)
[For more $$$ nuggets, head over to Budgets Are Sexy!]