Working from home and having a decent paying job are no longer mutually exclusive. From Fortune 500 companies to vibrant startups, some of today's best jobs have little or no location requirements. Happily, this means that at home jobs are not limited to low paying, commission-only, or strictly entry-level positions.
Earn Good Money Working From Home
Trustworthy job sites featuring carefully vetted, legitimate remote opportunities have hundreds, even thousands, of active job listings. Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and Founder of FlexJobs, runs a job search website focused on mid- to executive-level roles associated with a professional career path for people who want to telecommute some, or all, of the time.
Sutton Fell researched the job landscape for flexible career opportunities working from home while awaiting the birth of her first child. Frustrated by the lack of viable options, her background in entrepreneurship and employment search provided impetus to solve the problem by creating a legitimate alternative. FlexJobs, a company with its own remote team, was created in 2006 with LoveToKnow's founder, Howard Love, as advisor and chairman of the board.
Emphasizing that most telecommuting jobs pay as well, or nearly as well, as their commuting counterparts, Sutton Fell says of her own site, "What we represent in the remote world is no different from what is happening in the traditional, on-site job world."
Some flexible jobs are 100 percent remote. However, the majority of work from home jobs do require some travel to a company location or personal visits to clients, suppliers, or contractors. Roles for full-time, part-time, temporary, seasonal, freelance, alternative schedule, telecommuting, and remote opportunities are just as varied, possibly even more so, than office-based jobs.
Indeed, positions in the best paying careers, some attracting six figure salaries for qualified individuals, exist as remote opportunities. Placements include senior level manager, director, department head, vice president, general manager, and other C-level roles that do not require a traditional office-based situation.
An Earnings Comparison
Most times where there is a difference in remuneration for telecommuting, it is only 10 to 15 percent. It's worth noting, says Sutton Fell, that a good chunk is covered in cost savings of an average $6,000 a year by eliminating expenses associated with commuting to work. Among the items that eat into earnings for on-site employees are:
- Public transportation
- Car ownership, including costs associated with maintenance, gas, wear and tear
- Business attire
- Child care (if applicable)
At the same time, a qualifying home office represents tax deductions.
You should also consider your work-life balance when you're looking at compensation. Coupled with a commute of an hour or more, the time and stress saved by working remotely can be quite valuable when viewed beyond dollars and cents.
Remote Jobs and Benefits
Accepting a remote or telecommuting job doesn't necessarily mean sacrificing the benefits you may currently enjoy, since remote situations generally mirror a company's on-site roles and HR policies. As with traditional jobs:
- Freelance jobs typically don't come with benefits.
- Part-time roles may or may not include benefits.
- Full-time remote roles tend to offer the same range of benefits as their office-based counterparts.
For companies, the option of opening their search to home-based employees provides wider scope in finding the qualified candidates they seek. Therefore, these companies will most likely produce a remuneration package to match their on-site employees. They occasionally add to the package, such as providing a stipend for technology, mobile, and home Wi-Fi.
Popular Fields for Flexible Jobs
Currently, the most active fields for career-oriented telecommuting and remote positions are medical and healthcare-related, from patient care to biopharmaceutical project manager. Company names such as UnitedHealth Group, Anthem, Humana, and hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic regularly appear on lists of top companies and institutions recruiting for off-site positions.
At FlexJobs, Sutton Fell indicates the education category has "gone gangbusters" in the last 10-15 years with diverse opportunities such as online bilingual tutoring, professional examination grading, and teaching adult art classes via webcam. Other popular fields include:
- Sales and marketing roles
- Research and analysis
- Finance, accounting and bookkeeping
- Customer service
- Software, web, and IT development
As an example, an experienced, full-time telecommute project manager hired to supervise MS dotNet web application development could earn up to $110,000 annually.
Government work on FlexJobs is listed from employers which include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Department of Commerce. Government contract roles offer good pay and training for positions such as program analyst, statistician, grants writer, or census field worker. Higher level government jobs, some of which require a related master's degree, typically offer salary plus full medical benefits. For example, a full-time epidemiologist role has a telecommuting option to conduct statewide surveillance, plan, and respond to public health emergencies involving communicable diseases at a salary up to $7,209 per month.
Remote Job Opportunities Are Expanding
Sutton Fell can point to job listings that were unimaginable in the remote work marketplace not so many years ago. Job descriptions for a remote neurosurgeon, executive choral director, and a Snapchat video editor are among the eye-catching ones on this site's 33,000-plus opportunities arranged in 55 job categories.
When creating your job search plan, consider using various descriptive keywords to find telecommute opportunities. "I do encourage people to type in keywords that reflect their passion, hobbies, and things they like to do outside of work, especially if they're looking to change careers. When they see what pops up, they might be surprised," suggests Sutton Fell.
If you want to stretch your horizons, you might enjoy browsing the list of 100 of the Most Surprising Flexible Jobs. You'll find interesting opportunities such as a full-time telecommuting job for an experienced marathon race director, a position for an earthquake specialist, or a job as a chief audit executive with the possibility of earning up to $135,000.
Opportunities with the most active remote employers include household names like Amazon, American Express, IBM, and Dell.
Is Working From Home Right for You?
The words "work from home" sometimes appeal to people who aren't actually set up for it, so it's important to know whether this situation is right for you. If you do have telecommuting experience or a home office, be sure to let a potential employer know that you have the appropriate tech support and a quiet, designated place to work.
Three other things are important for making money from home.
- Look at your home situation to determine whether you can dedicate a quiet space during the hours you'll need.
- Keep your options open since the right opportunity may involve some office or client travel combined with an at-home office.
- Decide how many days or hours you can commit to working away from an office and, if suitable, be open to working more than one job at a time. It's common for freelancers to maintain multiple gigs to maximize earnings.
Tips for Finding a Good Remote Job
Have you recently moved? Are you semi-retired or ex-military? Maybe you've been out of the job market for a while, or perhaps you don't have a college degree, but you do have transferable skills such as bilingual expertise or solid, real-life experience in a niche area. Whatever the reasons are for your job search, you can make real money with a work from home job. Just follow these five key suggestions which FlexJobs and other experts claim can maximize your chances of success.
1. Look Beyond Your Resume
Tell your story. When your resume reflects a hiatus from working life, be open and truthful about the reasons. Whether you traveled the world, went back to school, raised children full-time, or dedicated time to a charity, explain your decision. Provide compelling insights into the relevant skills you acquired during this period.
For example, acting as a caregiver for someone who was ill means acquiring deep administrative responsibilities as well as organizational and communication skills which should be highlighted for a potential employer. In your resume or cover letter, indicate you are seeking a telecommuting opportunity.
2. Update Your Online Profile
Create a website and use LinkedIn. A job seeker's online presence is essentially free real estate on the internet, so take advantage of it. Sutton Fell says LinkedIn is "the go-to for almost all HR people and hiring managers. It is an excellent way to present yourself professionally and show you're current."
3. Keep Skills Current
Refresh your skills. To ensure you are qualified for the best opportunities, take advantage of tutorials and online courses. Attend adult education or do a few months of volunteer work to be more current. Highlight these newly acquired skills on your resume to fill in any gaps.
4. Be Aware of Job Scams
If you see jobs ads with poor grammar and punctuation, be cautious. Other warning signs of a possible job scam include:
- Interviews are requested only by instant messaging.
- There's no job title and description.
- There's an odd URL.
- No phone number is included in the posting.
- There's little or no additional information.
- The amount of money offered is too high to be realistic.
When you see one or more of these red flags, either don't engage or do a background check before engaging, and never provide financial or banking details or your social security number.
5. Take Advantage of Resources
Do your research. Identify reliable resources that offer deeper tips and advice regarding your resume, cover letter, phone interviews, follow up, and other issues as they relate specifically to searching and securing a well paid telecommuting role.
Support Yourself Working From Home
If you're ready to say goodbye to the 9-to-5 world and leave tedious commuting behind, a flexible position could be the career option which provides you with a decent income plus a more desirable balance between work and life. There are full-time and part-time professional roles out there which don't require a daily schlep to the office, and they're available in greater numbers and pay better than ever before.