The 20 best (and real) work-from-home jobs

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Long before the Covid-19 pandemic forced businesses to vacate their offices, working from home was on the rise. Nearly a year since the first coronavirus lockdowns, telecommuting is here to stay for millions of workers.

A fourth-quarter 2020 survey by Upwork, a job marketplace for remote workers and freelancers, estimates that nearly 57 percent of Americans are  working from home at least some of the time, with 42 percent of that group working remotely full time.

Upwork estimates that by 2025, 36.2 million American workers will be fully remote, which is nearly double the pre-pandemic rates.

Working from home has benefits for both workers and employers. Studies by Global Workplace Analytics, a San Diego research and consulting firm, have shown that telecommuting saves employers and workers time and money, reduces stress, increases productivity, lowers exposure to office colds and flus, and helps the environment by reducing the number of commuters.

Among the fastest-growing career categories for remote jobs are: computers and IT, medical and health, project management, sales, accounting and finance, customer service and marketing, according to FlexJobs, a marketplace for remote work.

“The coronavirus pandemic has permanently reshaped the workplace and how, when and where people work,” Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, said in a statement. “Business models have been forever disrupted with the realization that remote work is smart, strategic and sustainable for companies to embrace, improving not only the bottom line but also providing benefits to the overall workforce.”

Bankrate has put together a list of 20 legitimate work-at-home jobs. Unless noted, wage and job-growth data comes from the 2019 edition of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. The BLS lists median wages rather than average wages. The median wage is in the middle of the data set, with half of the jobs paying less and half paying more. BLS job-growth projections are for 2019 to 2029.

20 best work-from-home jobs

      1. Web developer
      2. Computer support specialist
      3. Virtual assistant
      4. Interpreter/translator
      5. Marriage and family therapist
      6. Paralegal/legal assistant
      7. Teacher/tutor
      8. Loan officer
      9. Social media specialist
      10. Licensed insurance representative
      11. Writer/editor
      12. Medical transcriptionist
      13. Data entry specialist
      14. Graphic designer
      15. Customer service representative
      16. Software developer
      17. Website tester
      18. Registered nurse
      19. Meeting, convention and event planner
      20. Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerk

1. Web developer

Web developers create and design websites for personal or commercial use. They can put their skills to use in publishing, advertising, management consulting, computer systems design and other fields.

Employment growth through 2029 is projected at 8 percent, which is much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations of 4 percent, according to the BLS.

Median annual wage: $73,760

2. Computer support specialist

Corporations, nonprofits, call centers and many other businesses hire computer support specialists to work remotely.

The BLS projects 8 percent growth in this field through 2029 as organizations upgrade computer equipment and software.

Median annual wage: (computer network support specialist): $63,460

Median annual wage (computer user support specialist): $52,270

3. Virtual assistant

Virtual assistants provide administrative, technical and/or creative services for a wide range of industries such as health care, legal, government and finance. You can own a virtual assistant business or work for a company that makes you available to clients.

Because virtual assistants work in many different fields, the pay range is broad.

Median annual wage: Varies widely

4. Interpreter/translator

If you have a native-level proficiency in English and at least one other language, you can find work-from-home gigs with schools, hospitals, courts, corporations and other public and private sector entities. Interpreters work in a spoken language or sign language; translators work with written or audio documents.

The BLS projects 20 percent growth in this field through 2029, which is much faster than average.

Median annual wage: $51,830

5. Marriage and family therapist

Marriage and family therapists usually work full time and many have private practices. Online video conferencing apps such as Zoom and Skype make it possible for patients to “visit” their therapists without leaving home.

The BLS growth outlook for this profession through 2029 is 22 percent.

Median annual wage: $49,610

6. Paralegal/legal assistant

Paralegals and legal assistants do a variety of tasks to support lawyers, such as legal research and preparing documents. Though most work for law firms, these jobs can be found at government agencies and corporate legal departments

There is 10 percent projected job growth in this field through 2029.

Median annual wage: $51,740

7. Teacher/tutor

Advanced technology and high-speed internet connections have created opportunities for teachers and students to work together from afar.  The Covid-19 pandemic prompted many schools and universities to switch temporarily to virtual classrooms.

The BLS projects the demand for kindergarten, middle school and high school teachers to grow about 4 percent through 2029, on par with the average growth rate for all occupations. Demand for teachers at the college and university level is expected to grow 9 percent through 2029.

Median annual wage:
Kindergarten and elementary school: $59,420
High school: $61,660
Middle school: $59,660
College/university: $79,540

8. Loan officer

Loan officers evaluate and authorize loan applications. Most loan officers work for commercial banks and credit unions, mortgage companies and other financial institutions.

The demand for loan officers is expected to increase as the economy improves. The growth rate for this profession is 3 percent through 2029.

Median annual wage: $63,270

9. Social media specialist

It’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to have a presence on social media. If you have a knack for using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you could work from home by helping businesses promote their brand and their products through social-media marketing.

Average base salary, according to online job marketplace Indeed: $37,558

10. Insurance sales agents

Many people find it easy to shop online for insurance, but they often need to talk to a licensed insurance rep to help them choose the right policy.

Insurance companies are increasingly outsourcing their incoming phone calls to contact centers, which then hire or contract with licensed insurance reps. If you see an ad on TV for a life insurance company and call the number on your screen, there’s a good chance you’re talking to someone who is working from home.

Job growth in this field is projected to be 5 percent through 2029.

Median annual wage: $50,940

11. Writer/editor

If you have a computer, internet access and the right credentials and/or experience, there are work-from-home opportunities for people with writing, editing, proofreading and fact-checking skills.

Bloggers, journalists, technical writers and editors who know how to plan and present content and meet deadlines face a competitive market. Demand for writers and editors is expected to drop slightly through 2029, but these jobs are very compatible with working from home.

Median annual wage (writer): $63,200

Median annual wage (editor): $61,370

12. Medical transcriptionist

A medical transcriptionist listens to voice recordings from doctors and other healthcare workers and transcribes them into written reports. A transcriptionist can work for a hospital, doctor’s office, a third-party service or be self-employed.

The expansion of healthcare services is expected to drive demand for this job, but a slight decline is projected due to technological advances and outsourcing.

Median annual wage: $33,380

13. Data entry specialist

A data entry specialist, sometimes called a data entry operator or clerk, inputs information from handwritten or physical records into a computer system.

These records can be bills, reports, medical records, canceled checks or other data.

Average base salary, according to Indeed: $2,244 per month

14. Graphic designer

If you have experience designing logos and T-shirts or using computer software to create brochures, advertisements and book covers, you could make good money working from home.

Websites like Fiverr.com and 99designs.com can help you meet potential clients who need your services. How much you earn will depend on the scope of the project and your experience. Demand for this job is expected to decline slightly through 2029, but it is very suited to remote work.

Median annual wage: $52,110 per year

15. Customer service representative

When you call to order something from a catalog or infomercial, the person on the other end of the line might be sitting in a home office. Hiring independent contractors to handle complaints, process orders and answer questions is a big industry.

A slight decline in demand is projected for this job, but it’s found in a wide array of industries, such as retail and financial companies, utilities and other types of businesses.

Median annual wage: $34,710

16. Software developer

Software developers create the applications or systems that run on a computer or another device. They apply the principles of engineering, analytics and computer science to develop and test all kinds of software and applications. Many software developers are employed by firms that deal in computer systems design and related services, manufacturing, or for software publishers.

The BLS projects 22 percent job growth for this field through 2029.

Median annual wage: $107,510

17. Website tester

Sites like UserTesting.com and Userlytics.com pay people to test different websites and mobile apps, then share their feedback. Companies use website testers to get unbiased feedback.

Opportunities for this work, sometimes called “remote usability testing,” may be limited. Testers may be paid $10 to conduct a 20-minute test, for example. This is more of a side gig.

Median annual wage: N/A

18. Registered nurse

The growth in telehealth, which is health care services delivered remotely through computers, mobile devices and by telephone, has opened up opportunities for registered nurses to work from home.

More insurance companies have added patient support lines, telephone triage and other telephone and computer options to meet patients’ needs without having to visit a doctor’s office, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The BLS projects 7 percent growth in this field through 2029.

Median annual wage: $73,300

19. Meeting, convention and event planner

Whether it’s a convention, a fundraiser or a birthday party that needs to be organized, event planners have ample opportunity to do a lot of the work from home via phone and computer.

The job may require you to visit potential meeting sites. Candidates with experience in the hospitality business and a college degree in hospitality or related field such as tourism management will have the best opportunities. The BLS projects 8 percent growth in this field through 2029.

Median annual wage: $50,600

20. Bookkeeping, accounting, auditing clerk

Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks produce financial records and ensure their accuracy. These jobs are suited to working from home, with occasional visits to clients and some overtime hours to be expected.

Employment in this field is expected to decline by 2029 as technological changes and automation reduce demand.

Median annual wage: $41,230

Avoid work-from-home scams

For every real work-at-home job, there are dozens of frauds. Scammers try to steal your identity and/or money by getting personal information that a new hire would be expected to give an employer, such as a Social Security number or bank account number.

When considering a work-from-home job, put up your scam-detection radar. “First and foremost, trust your gut,” advises Christine Durst, who runs Rat Race Rebellion, an online job site that caters to the work-at-home and virtual workforce. “Almost every scam victim I’ve spoken with says, ‘I sort of felt like something wasn’t right.’”

In addition, keep in mind that legit jobs don’t ask you to send them money and or cash/deposit checks.

Durst says to look for these signs that you are dealing with a legitimate employer:

      • The hirer is an established company.
      • The job ad includes the company name and does not ask applicants to reply to a blind email address.
      • Human resources personnel are available for questions.
      • There is mention of company benefits and vacation policies — information commonly associated with “real” employment.
      • There is an application and interview process, not simply an emailed offer.
      • The employer can detail the job duties and expectations.
      • References/work samples are requested.