Does working from home work for you? If you were one of the many U.S. workers forced by the coronavirus pandemic to work from home in the last year or so, you may have been able to find out.
Home-based remote work has enjoyed a big boost from the pandemic. Research by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) shows that, by May 2020, more than a third of employed workers were clocking in remotely. For comparison, around 6% of employed Americans primarily worked from home before the pandemic.
If you have become accustomed to clocking in wearing your bedroom slippers and don’t want to return to the office, you may find this list of independent careers helpful. They offer freedom, independence and good pay.
1. Computer programmer
Working from home is an option for computer programmers, who earn a median income of $89,190, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Median” means that salary is the middle of the pay range, with half of salaries higher and half lower.
Browsing job listings for programmers at FlexJobs will show you some of the skills and programming languages currently in demand. Some programmers are self-taught, but a bachelor’s or associate degree may be a more reliable path into the field.
Learn to find job listings for programmers and other skills with “This Job Board Specializes in Remote Work and Flexible Gigs.”
2. Pet walking and grooming
The pet services industry has been growing by leaps and bounds, to meet a growing demand from pet owners. You may be able to earn a share of that spending while working from your home by offering popular services like pet-sitting, grooming and dog walking.
Animal care and service workers, including groomers, earn a skimpy median wage of $26,370 per year, on average, the BLS says. But you may be able to earn more with your own business.
Rover, an online network that links pet owners with pet sitters, shows rates for doggie day care, dog walking and dog boarding in your area. Quick math shows that, if you charged $30 per day to provide weekday day care for each of five dogs, you’d bring in $750 per week, or about $39,000 a year.
If you’re looking to provide this kind of service, you can go into it on your own or sign up through a site like Rover.
Expertise in any of a number of areas can prepare you for working from home as a consultant. You’ll need a strong background in a field that’s in demand, such as:
- Financial services
- Internet technology
You’ll also benefit from having self-confidence and communications skills, since your work will involve interaction with other professionals in your client companies. Pay can be great, depending on your field of expertise.
Considering working for yourself? Check out “11 Keys to a Successful Freelance Career.”
4. Web developer
These digital pioneers have been working online from home since the dawn of the internet.
They make better-than-decent money: Median pay for a web developer was $77,200 in 2020, according to the BLS. In addition, this field is projected to grow faster than average.
You’ll probably need an associate degree, although some enterprising and savvy net-entrepreneurs are self-taught.
5. Grant writer
If you love doing research and feel comfortable writing on deadline, you may find that grant-writing is a perfect job.
In addition to researching subject areas, grant writers craft proposals for organizations or individuals who are applying for funding.
The BLS does not collect data on this profession. However, jobs website Indeed says grant writers were earning an average base salary of about $52,674 in September 2021.
6. E-commerce business
Thinking of starting your own online business? When it comes to earnings, the sky’s the limit.
But big dreams are only a small part of success. Getting started requires the same kind of research and preparation as the launch of any business.
If you’re a whiz-bang typist, there’s work to be done in the field of transcribing, which involves listening to audio and typing up the material you hear. The median pay for medical transcriptionists, for example, was $35,270 per year in 2020, the BLS reports.
Courts and attorneys also employ transcriptionists, although court reporting requires specialized training. The median pay, $61,660 a year, reflects the extra training.
8. Freelance writer
Writing and editing content — online articles and commercial and educational materials — can be lucrative for a select group of professionals.
The median annual wage for writers and authors, many of whom are freelancers, was $67,120 in 2020, says the BLS, with the most successful freelancers able to make six figures and beyond.
9. Technical writer
Technical writing is a type of writing that requires specialized skills. Many technical writers are freelancers, and they typically earn more than most freelance writers. The median annual pay is $74,650, according to the BLS.
Many technical writers specialize in engineering, science or technology. They write materials such as white papers, documentation and user guides.
You’re likely to need training to find work, even if you are an experienced writer. Community colleges, universities and other accredited schools offer technical writing degree or certificate courses. Also, the Society for Technical Communication offers online certificate courses.
10. Real estate agent
The field of real estate sales offers motivated agents the chance to make a six-figure income in a hot market. But that’s a long-term prospect. A more realistic goal for newbies may be the median annual income, $51,220.
Agents earn a percentage of a property’s sale price — a commission. They often are self-employed, with freedom to choose where they work, including from home. Typically, agents find it useful to affiliate with a real estate company, and they may keep an office there too.
Realtor.com has a step-by-step explanation of how to get into the business.
11. IT support
If you like helping people and have a way with computers, internet technology support could be a satisfying career for you. The work commanded a median income of $55,510 a year, in 2020 according to the BLS.
Computer support workers, as they’re sometimes called, may work independently or for a company like Apple or Dell. From your home, you offer phone support to help computer users solve their technical problems.
12. YouTube instructor
If you’re an expert at something, it’s possible these days to take your talents and skills to the worldwide stage. Sign up for a YouTube account and get started creating videos that feature you showing your expertise and teaching others how you do it.
YouTubers, as these workers are known, offer instructional videos on cake decorating, aerobics, yoga, martial arts, home repairs, dog training, home decorating, hair styling and much more.
Your earnings are based on your ability to attract viewers and advertising revenue. Influencer MarketingHub breaks down the math: “On average the YouTube channel can receive $18 per 1,000 ad views. This equates to $3-$5 per 1,000 video views.”
There’s a lot of hype about the money to be made by blogging. Here’s the reality: Whether your topic is food, video games or bird watching, the ability to write will get you only part of the way to success. You’ll also need to understand and embrace the business side of your blog.
“Blogging is hard work and, like most writing-related fields, is supersaturated. One article by ProBlogger suggests that travel blogs alone number more than 1.2 million,” says an article on The Street.
Your first goal: Build an audience. Once you have that, you have what you need for sponsorships and other revenue-generating relationships. That’s the basis for a blogger’s success.