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

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Work-from-home jobs were on the rise well before the coronavirus forced businesses to vacate their work spaces. Now, the demand for remote work is greater than ever.

Julia Pollak, labor economist for online employment marketplace ZipRecruiter, says the firm’s work-from-home job postings have risen sixfold, from under 2 percent to more than 12 percent of the listings. She expects this trend to continue.

“Employers are much happier with the work-from-home experience than they expected,” Pollak says. “This could stick. Employers seem to be embracing this new reality, now that they’ve had experience with it. It worked better than they thought and they’re under tremendous pressure to cut costs.

FlexJobs, a marketplace for remote jobs, has seen a 50 percent rise in site traffic from one year ago.

“We are likely at a tipping point where some level of remote and flexible work will become a long-term and important component of a healthy organization, both in emergency preparedness and regular operations,” says Brie Reynolds, career development manager and coach at FlexJobs.

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.

Avoid work-from-home scams

However, 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.’”

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.

Bankrate has put together a list of 20 legitimate work-at-home jobs. Wage and job-growth data comes from the 2018 edition of the 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 2018 to 2028.

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. Franchise owner
  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 over 10 years is projected at 13 percent, which is much faster than average.

Median annual wage: $73,760

2. Computer support specialist

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

Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics and co-author of “Undress for Success: The Naked Truth About Making Money at Home,” names computer support specialist as one of her top work-at-home jobs.

The BLS projects 10 percent growth in this field through 2028 as organizations upgrade their 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. The highest-paid virtual assistants work full time and offer executive support or higher-pay services such as web design, says Rat Race’s Durst.

Median annual wage: N/A

4. Interpreter/translator

If you have a native-level proficiency in English and at least one other language, you can find work-from-home job opportunities 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 19 percent growth in this field, 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 therapists and their patients to talk without either of them having to commute.

The BLS growth outlook for this profession is “much faster than average,” with 22 percent growth projected over 10 years.

Lisa Marie Bobby, founder and clinical director of GrowingSelf.com, a Denver-based marriage, family therapy and life-coach practice, has been meeting patients online since 2010. She says it’s easier and is a more efficient use of time.

“It’s a 45-minute meeting versus a three-hour event that you have to find time for,” she says, adding that online therapy sessions are more conducive to regular attendance and reduce patient no-shows.

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 12 percent projected job growth in this field.

Median annual wage: $51,740

7. Teacher/tutor

Advanced technology and high-speed internet connections have created more opportunities for teachers and students to work together from afar.

“With more states allowing children to attend public school online, there’s been growing demand for K-12 teachers,” Durst says. “We’re seeing a huge demand for people to teach children in Asia, primarily in China, to speak English.”

Your income “depends on how many hours you’re applying to it and the type of classes you’re teaching,” Durst says.

The BLS projects the demand for teachers to grow, especially at the college and university level.

Median annual wage (kindergarten): $56,850

Median annual wage (elementary school): $59,670

Median annual wage (high school): $61,660

Median annual wage (college/university): $79,540

8. Franchise owner

Owning a business can be a good path to working from home. For an initial investment, franchises offer an established business with brand awareness, a business model, a territory and maybe even access to capital. There are franchise opportunities in mailing and shipping, cosmetics, travel, marketing, employment and staffing, retail and many more industries.

Franchises can cost a lot of money, but there are opportunities for less than $50,000, says Jania Bailey, CEO of FranNet, a franchise marketplace. “You might be able to get financing from the (Small Business Administration) or the lenders the brand works with. It’s a little more affordable than people think. If it takes $100,000, you might need $20,000.”

Above all, Bailey says, don’t limit yourself. Franchise opportunities are not limited to small cottage industries.

Median annual wage: N/A

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. This job is in the top 20 for postings at ZipRecruiter.

Median annual wage, according to ZipRecruiter: $50,088

10. Insurance sales agents

Many people find it easy to shop for insurance online, 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 have to hire or contract with licensed insurance reps “because state laws mandate that only licensed agents can ‘sell’ policies,” says Rat Race Rebellion’s Durst. So, 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.

“As you can imagine, it can be quite difficult for the contact centers to find people with the proper credentials, so the job ads are all over the place,” Durst says.

The BLS projects 10 percent growth in this field.

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 skills, 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.

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. This job is in ZipRecruiter’s top 20 job postings.

Median wage, according to ZipRecruiter: $16 per hour

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. The BLS projects 3 percent growth in the field.

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.

Customer service reps work for retail stores, banks, utility companies, credit agencies and many 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 21 percent job growth for this field. It’s one of the top job listings on ZipRecruiter.

Median annual wage, according to ZipRecruiter: $86,523

17. Website tester

Sites like UserTesting.com and Userlytics.com pay people to test different websites and mobile apps, then share their feedback. UserTesting.com pays testers $10 per 20-minute test. Testers then share their feedback in a video.

“Companies want to make sure that the user experience is a good one, and the boardroom is not always the best place to get unbiased feedback,” Durst says. “So, they use services like this to get insights from people who come from the demographic pools that are in their target markets.”

Opportunities for this work, sometimes called “remote usability testing,” may be limited. 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 and mobile devices, has given registered nurses opportunities to work from home.

“With more insurance companies adding ‘new parent support lines’ and ‘telephonic triage’ and other phone options that help meet their customers’ needs without having to visit a doctor’s office, there’s been a big increase in demand for registered nurses,” Durst says.

The BLS projects 12 percent growth in this field.

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 7 percent growth in this field.

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 somewhat by 2028 as technological changes and automation reduce demand.

Median annual wage: $41,230

Featured image by Photographee.eu of Getty Images. 

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