career

10 best (and real) work-at-home jobs

Translator

Those with fluency in more than one language translate audio files or documents, not just word for word, but often with cultural differences in mind. "Companies can access home-based translators with hard-to-find language skills without being held back by geographic location," says Fell.

Foster's site lists 14 companies that seek home-based translators. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook 2012-13, which groups translators and interpreters, notes a projected employment increase of 42 percent over the 2010-to-2020 decade, much faster than the average for all occupations.

The national median hourly wage for translators and interpreters was $20.82, with a median annual wage of $43,300 as of 2010, according to estimates by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some industries pay significantly higher, with the highest paying jobs generally in the professional, scientific and technical services areas, in which the annual median wage was $51,650.

Web developer/designer

Information technology is the sector, Durst says, where most of the home-based hiring is being done. Terri Orlowski, a virtual assistant and web developer based in Pittsburgh, offers services such as custom website design, template modification and redesigns, code updates, hosting and usability reviews. She previously held administrative positions in a variety of industries and makes a higher per-hour rate now. Out of more than 100,000 new monthly work-from-home job postings on oDesk.com, web developers are in high demand, says CEO Gary Swart. A list of companies that post at-home tech jobs is available at RatRaceRebellion.com.

Call center representative

When you phone to order something from a catalog or infomercial, a big office with rows of cubicles may come to mind. But the person on the other end of the line is likely to be sitting in a home office. "It's a huge and growing industry," Durst says of companies that hire independent contractors to take calls from home. She says the "home-shore movement" started in response to complaints about the many companies that looked offshore for workers. While some websites such as AlpineAccess.com actually hire representatives, most use subcontractors. Just be aware that the pay may be by the minute rather than by the hour, so you may not be paid for time you spend waiting by the phone. A list of companies that hire call center reps can be found at HomeWithTheKids.com.

Tech support specialist

Call centers also hire technical support specialists to work remotely. Kate Lister, co-author of "Undress for Success: The Naked Truth About Making Money at Home," names it as one of her top three "best-bet work-at-home jobs." And according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, jobs for computer support specialists (on-site and remote combined) were expected to increase by 18 percent from 2010 to 2020 -- much faster than the average for all occupations -- with 110,000 new jobs.

Travel agent

Scams abound in the travel industry -- particularly organizations that charge for information on how to break into the field. But operating a home-based travel agency can be an excellent business, says Tom Ogg, founder of HomeBasedTravelAgent.com. "Real home-based travel agents have experienced robust growth over the last decade, and there are probably 40,000-plus of them and growing." A growing (although small) number of people earn $100,000 or more a year, he says. "A solid business concept and plan focused on profitability will take you a long way to achieving your monetary goals." There's also the joy of helping others enjoy their leisure time.

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