Photographee.eu/Getty Images If you’re looking for a job that allows you to work from home at least part time, you should feel pretty good about your chances of landing such a gig. Telecommuting has boomed over the past 10-plus years, and the number of fields with work-from-home opportunities is expanding.
A 2017 study by Global Workplace Analytics for FlexJobs.com, a job-search site for freelancers, telecommuters and part-timers, found that the number of employees who telecommute at least half of the time shot up from 1.8 million to 3.9 million between 2005 and 2017, an increase of 115 percent and that number is continuing to grow.
Working from home benefits both workers and employers. For every employee who works from home at least half of the time, employers can save over $11,000 per year, the Global Workplace Analytics study found. And half-time telecommuters gained back 11 days a year by working from home.
The study cites numerous other benefits of telecommuting, such as less stress, increased productivity, less exposure to office colds and flus, and the positive environmental impact of fewer commuters.
Finding legitimate work-at-home jobs can be tough, though. For every real work-at-home job, there are dozens of scams.
Bankrate has put together a list of 20 real work-at-home jobs. We also share ways to spot the difference between a real work-from-home job and a scam.
Our wage and job-growth information come from the latest edition of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. The BLS lists “median” wages for jobs 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 2016 to 2026.
20 best work-from-home jobs
Call center representative
Tech support specialist
Social media manager
Child care provider
Short-term rental host
Licensed insurance representative
Bookkeeping, accounting and audit clerks
Marriage and family therapist
1. Virtual assistant
This is a job with a lot of potential because the title covers many things. Virtual assistants provide administrative, technical or creative services for health care, legal, government and finance businesses, among others. You can own a virtual assistant business or work from home for a company that makes you available to clients.
“You can fit your offerings to what you know how to do,” says Stephanie Foster, a former medical transcriptionist who now runs HomeWithTheKids.com, a resource for telecommuters.
Because they work in many different fields, wages for virtual assistants have a broad range — approximately $25,000 to $75,000 annually, says Christine Durst, who founded the International Virtual Assistants Association and runs RatRaceRebellion.com, a job site that caters to the work-from-home and virtual workforce.
Durst says the highest-paid virtual assistants work full time and offer executive support or higher-pay services such as web design, while the lowest-paid gigs are for online services that pay by the hour when work is available.
Median annual wage: N/A
2. Medical transcriptionist
Being a medical transcriptionist can be a demanding job, and nearly every company seeks applicants with experience and/or training from certain schools.
The work involves listening to and typing up dictation from doctors. It sounds easy, but mumbled words and doctors who eat, drink, chew gum or talk to other people while dictating their notes can turn a straightforward task into a challenge.
Median annual wage: $35,250
People with fluency in more than one language can find job opportunities in the public and private sector. Interpreters work in a spoken language or sign language; translators work with written or audio documents.
“Companies can access home-based translators with hard-to-find language skills without being held back by geographic location,” says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs.com.
The BLS projected 18 percent growth in this field.
Median annual wage: $47,190
4. Web developer/designer
Web developers and designers create websites for personal or commercial use and are responsible for how sites look and function. Web designers can put their skills to use in publishing, advertising, management consulting and other fields.
The BLS projects the field to grow 15 percent, driven by a boom in mobile devices and e-commerce.
Median annual wage: $67,990
5. Customer service representative
When you call to order something from a catalog or infomercial, the person on the other end of the line could be sitting in a home office. Hiring independent contractors to take calls from home “is a huge and growing industry,” says Durst.
The “home-shore movement” is a response to complaints about companies looking offshore for workers, she adds. Many customer service reps work for retail stores, banks and credit agencies. The BLS projects a 5 percent growth in this field.
Median annual wage: $32,890
6. Tech support specialist
Corporations, nonprofits, call centers and many other businesses hire technical 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 it as one of her top three “best-bet work-at-home jobs.”
The BLS projects 11 percent growth in this field.
Median annual wage (computer network support): $62,340
(Computer user support): $50,210
7. Travel agent
The internet has changed the travel business dramatically. No longer do people call up a travel agent to buy their plane tickets and book hotels. “Nobody does that anymore,” says Tom Ogg, a travel industry veteran and founder of HomeBasedTravelAgent.com.
“The common belief is that the internet is killing travel agents,” Ogg says. “The truth is they’re making more money now than ever before; they just look different.”
Ogg says travel agents who specialize in niche travel, such as specific destinations for wealthy clients, have the potential to earn $100,000 a year working from home. The BLS wage information is based on the old business model, Ogg says.
“A solid business concept and plan focused on profitability will take you a long way to achieving your monetary goals,” he says.
Median annual wage: $36,990
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,” says Durst. “Also in the teaching sector, we’re seeing a huge demand for people to teach children in Asia, primarily in China, to speak English.”
Durst says your income “depends on how many hours you’re applying to it and the type of classes you’re teaching.”
The BLS projects 7 to 8 percent growth in the field for K-12 teachers and 15 percent growth for postsecondary teachers.
Median annual wage (kindergarten, elementary school): $56,900High school: $59,170College, university: $76,900
Yes, the print publishing industry is in decline, but there are work-from-home jobs for writers, editors and proofreaders, particularly for the internet. The BLS projects 8 percent growth in this field.
Even those without writing experience can join the blogosphere. Not only can blogging be fun, you can earn money writing for someone else’s site, getting paid to post on your own blog or through revenue-sharing arrangements.
Median annual wage: $61,820
10. Franchise owner
Owning a business can be the ticket to working from home. For an initial investment, franchises may offer a ready-made business with brand awareness, a system and a territory, says Leslie Truex, founder of WorkAtHomeSuccess.com.
There are franchise opportunities in a broad range of fields such as mailing and shipping, photography, cosmetics, travel, marketing, employment and staffing and more. Starting a franchise can be very expensive. For example, opening a McDonald’s restaurant could cost you up to $2.2 million.
You can find franchises for small, home-based and mobile businesses, however, for $10,000 or less. Truex’s advice: Consider businesses that target the over-50 crowd or the self-employed, involve health and wellness, relate to the “green” movement, or involve electronic or online devices (i.e., accessories, applications).
Median annual wage: N/A
11. 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 and Instagram, you could make a living helping businesses reach out, engage and promote their product through social media marketing. Social media managers or specialists also can earn money through training and consulting.
Depending on the size of the business and the amount of work required, you could charge each client between $200 and $10,000 per month, says Upwork, a website for freelancers. The average salary ranges from $34,432 to $56,571, according to PayScale.com.
The BLS data lumps social media specialists with other types of public relations specialists.
Median annual wage: $56,770
12. Child care provider
If you have small children, providing child care in your home can have dual benefits: You keep your own kids busy with friends and activities while earning money providing care for other people’s children.
Websites like Care.com and Sittercity help connect child care providers with parents who need a sitter. How much you earn will depend on how many kids you care for each day and the extent of care you provide. The BLS projects 7 percent growth in this field.
Keep in mind that your state may require licensing if you want to do this on an official basis.
Median annual wage: $22,290
13. Graphic designer
If you have experience designing logos and T-shirts or using computer software to create brochures and advertisements, you could make good money working from home.
Websites like Fiverr and 99designs 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 field is expected to grow 4 percent, says the BLS.
Median annual wage: $48,700 per year
14. Short-term rental host
If you have an extra bedroom in your home or apartment, consider renting it out through sites such as Airbnb, VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) or HomeAway.
You decide how often you want to rent out your space and how much to charge. The only caveat is that you need to stay competitive with similar short-term rentals in your area. Do your research to attract renters and make a decent return from each stay.
The BLS does not have wage data for this slice of the “gig economy.” Only 1 percent of Americans have earned money through home-sharing sites, according to Pew Research Center.
Median annual wage: N/A
15. 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 test, with each test expected to take no more than 20 minutes. 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,” says Durst. “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 job is suited to someone looking to make extra money.
Median annual wage: N/A
16. Licensed insurance representative
Durst says she has seen a “huge demand” in the past year for licensed insurance reps. The BLS projects “faster than average” growth in this field, at 10 percent over 10 years.
Durst says insurance companies are increasingly outsourcing their incoming phone calls to contact centers. The contact centers then have to hire or contract with licensed insurance reps “because state laws mandate that only licensed agents can ‘sell’ policies,” says Durst. So, if you see an ad on TV for XYZ Life Insurance Co. 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.
Median annual wage: $49,710
17. Bookkeeping, accounting, auditing clerks
Although the BLS projects technological changes and automation to reduce demand for bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks, employment in this field is expected to change little by 2026.
Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerk jobs are suited to workers who want to stay home or work part time. Occasional visits to clients and overtime hours during certain seasons are to be expected.
Median annual wage: $39,240
18. Marriage and family therapist
Marriage and family therapists usually work full time and many have private practices. Online video conferencing apps such as Skype and FaceTime make it possible for therapists and their patients to talk without either of them having to go anywhere.
The BLS growth outlook for this profession is “much faster than average,” with 23 percent growth projected over 10 years.
Lisa Marie Bobby, founder and clinical director of GrowingSelf.com, a Denver-based marriage and family therapy and life-coach practice, says she’s been meeting patients online since 2010. It’s simply easier and a more efficient use of everyone’s time.
“It’s a 45-minute meeting versus a three-hour event that you have to find time for,” she says, noting that online therapy sessions are more conducive to regular attendance and reduce patient no-shows.
Median annual wage: $48,790
19. Registered nurse
The growth in “telehealth,” accessing health care services 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,” says Durst.
The BLS projects 15 percent growth in this field over 10 years.
Median annual wage: $70,000
20. Event planner
Whether it’s a convention, a fundraiser or a birthday party that needs to be put together, 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 some related field such as tourism management will have the best opportunities. The BLS projects an 11 percent growth in this field over 10 years.
Median annual wage: $48,290
Avoid work-from-home job scams
When considering a work-from-home job, put up the scam-detection radar. “First and foremost, trust your gut,” advises Durst. “Almost every scam victim I’ve spoken with says, ‘I sort of felt like something wasn’t right.’”
Scammers will try to steal your identity and/or money by getting personal information that any new hire would be expected to provide an employer, such as a Social Security number and bank account routing number.
Durst suggests watching for these positive indicators of “real” work-from-home employment:
The hirer is an established company.
The ad includes the company name and does not have applicants reply to a blind email address.
Human resources personnel are available for questions.
There is mention of information commonly associated with “real” employment (benefits, vacations, policies, etc.).
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.
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