If you’re independent and a self-starter, the idea of working from home might seem appealing. When you work from home, you can save money on common work-related expenses, such as the cost of commuting and pricey takeout. You can also set up your home office the way you want it and play your preferred background music without bothering co-workers.
The job you choose will contribute to your comfort, too, as some occupations are ideal for remote work. If you’re looking to change careers, or you need a profession that offers flexibility, take a look at a few of the best jobs you can do at home.
1. Virtual Assistant
If you’re an organized person who enjoys creating schedules and putting things in order, a career as a virtual assistant, or VA, might be one of the best remote jobs for you. As a VA, you would perform administrative tasks for your clients. Although you would share many of the same responsibilities as administrative or executive assistants, you could perform your tasks from the comfort of your own home. You may also have the freedom to set your own schedule and hours.
A VA is often classified as an independent contractor, meaning you would be responsible for both portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes, also known as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax.
Training and Education Required
You don’t need a college degree to become a VA but having one might work in your favor. Often, the specific training you need depends on the type of clients you want to work with. For example, if you’re interested in becoming a VA for people in the entertainment industry, it helps to be familiar with the terms and lingo used in that industry, as well as the expectations and demands put on executives. If you’re interested in providing administrative support to an attorney, it helps to know basic legal terms and requirements.
The company or clients you work for might assist you by providing some training and instruction. You also are likely to receive on-the-job training for VA positions that involve the use of specialized software programs.
Although you don’t need a degree in administration to work as a VA, it’s often a good idea to familiarize yourself with the tools of the trade and the typical duties and responsibilities of a VA. It can be worthwhile to learn to type if you don’t know how already. If you do type, focusing on improving your speed can be useful. You might also consider familiarizing yourself with commonly used software programs, such as word processors, spreadsheet software, and scheduling software.
Responsibilities of a Virtual Assistant
The responsibilities of a VA vary from role to role, but they generally take care of administrative tasks. Some common tasks include:
- Answering the phone and taking messages
- Reading emails for clients and replying to them as needed
- Scheduling appointments and meetings for clients
- Transcribing memos and other documents
- Editing and proofreading documents
- Ordering supplies and equipment for clients
- Making work-related travel arrangements for clients
Some clients use a VA as more of a personal assistant than a strictly administrative assistant. If that’s the case, your client might expect you to handle some personal matters for them, such as setting up medical or dental appointments for their children or performing personal online shopping tasks.
How much you can earn as a VA depends on multiple factors, including the industry you specialize in and the number of hours you work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t track the median salary of VAs, but it does have data on the median annual salary of administrative assistants, and VAs fall under this umbrella.
The median annual salary for administrative assistants was $39,850 in 2019. People working as executive assistants earned a median salary of $60,890 per year, while those in the medical profession had median annual earnings of $36,580.
If you work part-time hours, you can expect to earn less than the median salary for a full-time VA. If you build up a big client base, or you specialize in a niche field where VAs are in high demand, your earnings may be above average.
Is Being a VA Right for You?
Being a VA isn’t the best choice for everyone. However, if you enjoy administrative work, or you’ve worked as an administrative assistant in the past and are now looking for a job that’s flexible, exploring a career as a VA might be a good option for you.
If you have a good ear and typing skills, a career as a work-from-home transcriptionist might be right for you. A variety of industries employ them. Legal transcriptionists type up documents that provide verbatim descriptions of court proceedings. Medical transcriptionists type up reports based on the verbal recordings of physicians. Transcriptionists in other industries produce written reports from oral or videotaped proceedings.
Although transcriptionists can work in a variety of industries, the two most common are legal and medical. Both fields have their own set of requirements and expectations. While some transcriptionist roles require you to be present in a courtroom or at a physician’s office, remote positions are also available.
Training and Education Required
The education and training required to become a transcriptionist vary based on the industry. If you’re interested in transcribing court documents, you might need to earn an associate degree in court reporting or a post-secondary certificate in court reporting. Many community colleges offer degree or certificate programs for people interested in becoming court reporters.
Similar programs exist for people interested in working as medical transcriptionists. You can earn a certificate in medical transcription from a community college, or in some instances, earn an associate degree. Both types of programs introduce you to medical or legal terminology, review the basics of English grammar and phonetics, and cover legal issues you may encounter.
After completing a certification or degree program, you’ll also likely need to pass an exam to earn licensure or certification as a transcriptionist in your chosen specialty. Depending on your profession, you might need to complete continuing education courses every few years to maintain your certification or license.
In addition to the training required for certification, your employer might provide on-the-job training to help you become acclimated to their own rules and expectations.
Responsibilities of a Transcriptionist
Work-from-home transcriptionists typically transcribe recorded messages into written reports. For example, a medical transcriptionist listens to a physician’s recording that describes a patient’s recent visit. The transcriptionist will type up what the physician says on the recording, converting it into a note for the patient’s file or into a letter that gets sent to other members of the patient’s medical team.
In some cases, a transcriptionist might not type directly from dictations. Instead, they might review a document created by a speech recognition software program to confirm that it’s accurate.
Although many court reporters need to be on-site to do their jobs, there are some work-from-home positions available for these positions as well. A work-from-home court reporter might create a written report from recorded proceedings. In some cases, court reporters work outside the legal profession. They can transcribe or add captioning to broadcast programs from the comfort of their home.
How much you can earn as a work-from-home transcriptionist depends on your industry and whether you’re a full-time, part-time, or freelance employee. Court reporters typically earn an annual salary that’s higher than the median annual salary for all occupations. In 2019, the median annual salary for court reporters was $60,130, while the median salary for all occupations was $39,810.
If you decide to freelance as a work-from-home court reporter, your earnings might be less than what a full-time court reporter earns, as there are few opportunities to work from home. You could augment your freelance salary by charging hourly for your services, then charging by the page for the finished transcript.
Medical transcriptionists earn less than court reporters. In 2019, the median annual salary for medical transcriptionists was $33,380. How much you earn as a work-from-home medical transcriptionist can depend on whether you get paid by the hour or by the amount you transcribe. If you work quickly and get paid by the page, you can earn more than someone who gets paid hourly.
Is Being a Transcriptionist Right for You?
Transcriptionists need to focus, think quickly, and type accurately. The job can be stressful and requires a considerable amount of attention to detail, especially if you’re transcribing live proceedings. If you can pay attention to one thing for a long time, and you enjoy typing, you’re likely to find a career as a transcriptionist fulfilling.
3. Computer Support Specialist
If you like helping people and understand technology, a career as a computer support specialist might be a good fit for you. Computer support specialists troubleshoot problems for customers or help to diagnose issues people might be having with their software or hardware. Although some support specialist roles require a person to be on-site, in an office, or engaging in face-to-face interactions with customers, others are remote, allowing you to work from home.
Training and Education Required
The education and training required to become a computer support specialist will vary based on the role. An employer might prefer to hire a person with a four-year degree, but it’s possible for a company to hire someone with an associate degree or a post-secondary certificate. Although having knowledge and understanding of how computers and software programs work is often expected of support specialists, you usually don’t need to have a degree in technology or computer science to succeed in the role.
It’s very likely that you’ll need to earn certification in a particular software program, depending on the type of role you’re interested in. For example, you might need to become a certified office software specialist or certified by a vendor of database software.
What’s most important is that you interact well with others. You’ll need to listen to the problems people are having and work with them to come up with an effective solution. Some people can be quite upset or frustrated when they call for computer support, so it’s essential that you know how to respond in a way that calms them and provides the assistance they need.
Responsibilities of a Computer Support Specialist
As a computer support specialist, you’ll likely answer phone calls and respond to emails from customers who are having issues with a software or hardware problem. If you work from home as a computer support specialist, you’ll provide advice to your customers from a distance, either by responding to written messages or by walking a person through a problem step-by-step over the phone.
Your specific responsibilities as a computer support specialist depend on the customer’s problems. If a person is new to a software program, they might need assistance setting up their account or logging in for the first time. If a person is having difficulty using the program, they might need you to walk them through troubleshooting steps. In some cases, a customer might describe their issue to you, and you might diagnose it and tell them what they need to do to fix it.
The complexity of the programs will vary based on the company you work for. If you’re providing support for an Internet service provider, you might get lots of calls from customers who need help resetting their router or who have forgotten their password. If you work for a software company, you might get calls from customers who are experiencing far more complicated problems.
Computer support specialists who provide assistance to users earned a median salary of $52,270 in 2019. Those who provide support for network functions earned a slightly higher median salary of $63,460.
As a work-from-home computer support specialist, you might have flexibility when it comes to your schedule and the number of hours you work, which can affect your earnings. Many companies need to have a support team available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You might work weekends or in the evening if you’re remote. Depending on your needs, a non-standard schedule might be perfect for you.
Is Being a Computer Support Specialist Right for You?
If you enjoy working with technology, feel comfortable navigating your way around software programs, and like working with people, a work-from-home computer support specialist role might be ideal for you. The field is relatively fast-growing, with the number of available positions estimated to increase by 8% over the next 10 years.
4. Software Engineer
Demand for software engineers or software developers is expected to increase considerably over the next 10 years. The BLS estimates the number of opportunities for software engineers will grow by 22% by 2029, much faster than the rate for all other occupations. If you’re creative, enjoy problem-solving, and like technology, a career as a software engineer might be right for you.
Training and Education Required
Usually, software engineers need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, although not all of them do. If you have a natural knack for technology and information science, you might be able to advance in the field without a relevant degree. Along with earning a degree, many software engineers complete an internship that provides them with on-the-job training.
The education of a software engineer is ongoing, as technology is constantly evolving and advancing. You can expect to learn new computer languages and code throughout your career.
Responsibilities of a Software Engineer
A software engineer will research, develop, and support software programs for various purposes. The role of a software engineer might involve thinking of different problems that people face and brainstorming solutions to those problems. They’ll then design software that addresses the issue.
In some cases, software engineers work for a specific company and develop software programs based on the needs or desires of the company. An engineer who works for a financial services company might be responsible for developing a budgeting program or online banking software, for instance.
Software engineers usually don’t create the code for the program themselves. Instead, they usually tell programmers what the software needs to do and allow the programmers to develop the code to execute that program. After a prototype software is developed, an engineer might need to go back to the drawing board and tweak the design of the software to make it more user-friendly.
The demand for software engineers is expected to grow significantly over the next decade in large part because of the projected increase in the number of devices that use software. Personal computers are no longer the only devices that run software programs. Smartphones, televisions, and even some household appliances require software to operate effectively.
Certain industries, such as healthcare and insurance, also anticipate an increase in demand for software programs, further contributing to the need for software developers.
As of 2019, software engineers earned a median salary of $107,510. Many work in an office setting, although it’s possible to work remotely – especially if you have access to communication tools such as a chat program that lets you stay in touch with colleagues on a project. The role is often full time and usually requires additional hours beyond 40 per week. You could freelance as a software engineer or start your own business, allowing you to set your own hours and decide where to work.
Is Being a Software Engineer Right for You?
Being a software engineer allows you to use both the right and left sides of your brain, as it blends the creative with the analytical. If you enjoy solving problems and working with technology, it can be a great fit.
Compared to other remote positions and online jobs, becoming a software engineer does require more commitment up front. If you’re thinking of changing careers and have little-to-no experience with computers, you might need to start from scratch in a degree program.
Grow Your Career by Working From Home
Working from home can help you start or relaunch your career while allowing you to enjoy a better work-life balance. Once you start earning an income, it helps to know what to do with your earnings so that you can make your money work for you. PSECU can help. For more tips on how to make the most of your career and your money, visit our WalletWorks page.