Side Hustle Series: I’m a Worm Counter

counting worms(Post by Shawna B., as part of our Side Hustle Series)

My name is Shawna, and I’m the kind of girl who isn’t afraid to get a little dirty.  Which is no surprise why my side hustle includes dirt and worms.

Due to a recent lay off, I took the route everyone does when they are looking for a job – I told everyone I knew I was looking for something to do on the side. Just to bring in a little extra cash flow. Shortly after that, I got a call for a very interesting one :) Now, every weekend during the summer, you can find me in the local bait supplier counting night crawlers.

Before you get all grossed out, though, you need to know it’s really not that bad. They actually give you gloves! Worm counting not only helps my savings account grow, but it gives me spending money to use for the upcoming hunting season too.

How my first day went…

I initially went into the shop expecting to count inventory, you know – something easy. Well, they had a different counting job for me. I was handed a pair of gloves, a flat of crawlers and they pointed me to a table. After I got over the squirm factor, it was great! Just turn up the radio and start the counting!

What is involved in worm counting?

It’s simple, actually. There are many worm counting techniques. Here’s the method I prefer:

  • First, lay out 60 worm containers.
  • Next, fill them with dirt and ground up corn (night crawlers need to eat too!).
  • A dozen worms are then counted out and placed into the containers.
  • That’s when you lid ’em and place them into a large cooler.

That process is repeated about 200 times. On a good day, over 12,000 worms will be boxed up and shipped out to various bait shops in the area, and then sold to fishermen. Sounds like easy work, huh? Well, that’s because it is!

What kind of money do worm counters make?

The best part is the pay. For every dozen night crawlers, I get .08 cents in my pocket.   I average about 6 hours each week, and fill about 2,000 containers. Think about it, that’s 26 dollars an hour! Plus, I have an opportunity to work more if I really wanted to.

They also have different worms too that need to be placed into bags or containers. The amount you are paid depends on the type of worm you are counting.

Other benefits of worm counting:

  • Job security. As long as there are fishermen, there will always be a need for worm counters.
  • Short hours. You don’t have to work all day and you can still enjoy your weekend!
  • No boss breathing down your neck, asking if you typed up that report yet…
  • You’re paid in cold hard CASH!

I realize this side hustle isn’t for everyone, but it’s my dirty side hustle and I like it!

Guest post by hustla’ Shawna B – an unemployed, novice blogger/hunter. When not playing with night crawlers, you can find her tromping through the woods, improving her archery skills, obsessing over her online bank account and blogging all about it at Doe Loves Buck.

Do you have a side hustle you’d like to share?  Hit me up.

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  1. Mom's Plans September 1, 2011 at 7:24 AM

    I had no idea there was a job like this! Sounds like a good way to make some extra money. Thanks for a fun post.

  2. cashflowmantra September 1, 2011 at 8:13 AM

    Me neither. I would never have thought there was a need for worm counters but I suppose there would be. Just never really thought about it. Sounds interesting for sure.

  3. Heather September 1, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    This is actually really cool. $26/hour isn’t anything to laugh at either!

  4. Hank September 1, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    It is so amazing how many diverse jobs are out there.

  5. Yana September 1, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    I think that is very cool! Way to make some money :)

  6. retirebyforty September 1, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    Yuk!!! $26 bucks cold hard cash is very nice though. no tax?

  7. Ms. S September 1, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    Super cool! I’d do it. I had to work with mice in graduate school, worms are nothing. Interesting read. Thanks

  8. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager September 1, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    Love the idea! Not sure if it’s in my future though…

  9. Chris C September 1, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Awesome side hustle! Sign me up!!

    Seriously, where the heck do you find this job? I looked on the web breifly but couldn’t find any jobs listed… LOL

  10. Stephanie September 1, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    If I didn’t already have two side hustles keeping me plenty busy, I’d totally do this! I was always the kid chasing after the creepy-crawlies in the yard, I loved playing with worms and snakes and such. And I have pet rats. Basically, I have a soft spot for misunderstood creatures. ;-)

  11. Kody @ Financial Money Tips September 1, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    who would have thought of a part time job like this? These are the kind of articles i look for! Although i won’t be doing this anytime soon, it is a perfect part time job that won’t keep you too busy. I think i found a new blog to read :)

  12. Angella September 1, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    This makes me want to call up some bait shops lol. Great side hustle for sure. I use to deal with silkworms for reptile shows and ship them around the US for chameleon owners, among other reptiles. It was decent money, then I had a kid and lost time lol.

  13. Melissa September 1, 2011 at 9:58 PM

    This is BRILLIANT! Also, you make more per hour than I ever have in my life. I should switch careers!

  14. WR September 1, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    Good for you!

    In this economy, a job is a job. You are providing real value for the fishermen (and women)

    I would imagine that this is rather recession proof as well. If I got a pink slip I think I would go fishing for a bit and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air.

  15. Barb Friedberg September 2, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    I love “side hustle” stories, and yours is awesome. What a great job and for $26 bucks an hour!!!

  16. J. Money September 3, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    Glad you enjoyed the hustle as much as I did, guys! Thanks again Shawna for sharing it with us today! Really really interesting to see how different some of these jobs are :)

    @Ms. S – I love mice! Couldn’t work with them all day, but they are pretty cool to play with ;) (Unless you’re talking about dead mice? like for science stuff? bleh!)
    @Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – Yeah, I’d do it for a few days but def. not long term :)
    @Chris C – Maybe you have to know someone? Or just walk into mom & pop stores that sell them and offer up your services? :)
    @Stephanie – Haha, that’s awesome.
    @Kody @ Financial Money Tips – Glad you enjoyed the post!
    @Angella – Yeah! Go for it!!
    @WR – Oh yeah! That’s so true. It’s like smoking or drinking,haha… they’re always in style! And even more so when you get laid off ;)

  17. Shawna B September 3, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    It is a fun little job, kind of dirty but nice to have a little extra cash flow in the summer months. I am really glad you all enjoyed it!

    Ms.S : Mice are my weakness, I can’t handle them, they give me the creeps ick!
    Chris C: I found this job by word of mouth. My dad helps collect leeches from the ponds (another dirty side hustle for another day) for same bait shop. Maybe you could call bait farms and inquire about worm counting??
    Melissa : Don’t quit your day job quite yet! It’s a seasonal position. Lucky for me I’ve been JUST been hired into a school which allows me to still count worms next June!
    WR: For me the money was a great to help cushion my savings account, and while I don’t particularly love fishing, worm counting did help me buy a new hunting coat . Wahoo!!

  18. J. Money September 3, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    Nice!! Good to know about it being seasonal too – hadn’t thought of that. Thanks again for sharing & responding! :)

  19. Jen @ Master the Art of Saving September 3, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    $26 an hour, WOW! I would love to do this if I could not be all creeped out by the worms. It’s a really cool way to make money.

  20. Natalie @ Mango September 6, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    Hm. That’s… Hm. I’d never have thought of being a worm counter, but you know what? There is a job for everything. Someone needs to scrub the floors, someone needs to cook meals, and someone needs to count worms. Naturally. Friday at Mango Money we did a post on some different side hustles we thought our readers might like. You guys are welcome to check them out! (Sadly, we didn’t include worm counter on our list. If only we’d read this sooner!) Thanks for the great post!

  21. J. Money September 7, 2011 at 2:27 AM

    Oh yeah, LOTS of different jobs out there that need to be filled. This world requires all of ’em to operate!

  22. J. Money September 12, 2011 at 2:05 PM


  23. L. Raquel Peterson April 23, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    I never considered counting worms. However, it seems like something I could do if I focused hard enough.

  24. J. Money April 24, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    I’d totally do it at least once :) Would be a fun thing to say you’ve tried! And you get some extra bucks from it

  25. Mr. SFZ May 7, 2014 at 8:55 PM

    Hey J, been reading through some of your older posts, really enjoy the side hustle series. I actually did this job counting night crawlers when I was around 7 years old, it was my first job, working for a local bait shop. The process was the same as the one Shawna did. I think I got around 5 cents a container which to me at the time was pretty good money. The bait shop was owned by the same family that owned the daycare that I went to so for a few hours each afternoon I would head over, count out worms, and then head back to the sandbox to my friends with a few crisp dollar bills feeling like a baller. ;)

    1. J. Money May 9, 2014 at 5:01 PM

      Hahahah… love that! And that you went back to check out older articles here too – thanks so much for stopping by and sharing :) Totally made my day.