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All Contents © 2020The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Cameron Huddleston, Former Online Editor
Caitlin Dewey, Online Associate Editor
| Originally Published July 2015
Working from home promises big benefits: extra income, flexible hours and a dress code of slippers and sweatpants. The trick, of course, is finding legitimate, well-paid positions because work-at-home scams abound.
To assemble our list of top work-at-home jobs, we combed through employment data to identify occupations with good hourly wages and promising growth prospects. We then researched actual companies that hire home-based workers as well as career Web sites that strive to post legit work-at-home job openings.
To weed out scammers, we checked out companies with the Better Business Bureau and other professional associations. While we can’t guarantee that you’ll get hired for one of these work-from-home jobs, at least you can have confidence that none of these employment opportunities is too good to be true.
Average pay estimates are based on compensation data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Glassdoor.com, PayScale.com, other career and compensation Web sites, and individual employers. Actual pay will vary depending on many factors including education, experience, location, responsibilities, job performance and employer.
Average Pay: $14/hour
Education: High school
Essential Skill: Going gaga for Google
Web search evaluators test the accuracy of online search results, examining different search terms and the Web sites they turn up. You’ll need a computer and fast Internet connection. The job involves a lot of analytical thinking, so applicants must pass a test before companies such as Appen and Leapforce will hire them as independent contractors. (Appen also hires social media evaluators.) Web search evaluators generally choose their own hours. Look for openings on the Appen and Leapforce Web sites, and browse a career site such as FlexJobs.com for other work-at-home evaluator positions.
Check out more of the Best Jobs You Can Get Without a College Degree.
Average Pay: $17/hour
Education: Associate's degree or one-year certification program
Essential Skill: Following doctors' orders
Home-based transcription predates the Internet, making it, in some ways, the quintessential work-at-home job. Medical transcriptionists type doctors' dictated notes and use them to prepare memos and reports. A good transcriptionist is more than a typist. Increasingly, medical firms want their employees to have associate's degrees or vocational certificates, as well as an advanced understanding of medical terminology. Amphion Medical Solutions requires experience but promises flexible hours and a full range of benefits. Precyse, a large health information management firm, also hires experienced home-based transcriptionists.
Average Pay: $10/hour
Education: High school (college degree for some employers)
Essential Skill: The gift of gab
When you dial a company's help line, the call typically goes to a large call center in the U.S. or abroad. But increasingly, customer service calls also route to home-based agents, who answer questions, help customers place orders and maintain accounts through their computers. Hours are flexible and few firms require specific education or experience. Training (usually paid) is provided, and you will be expected to have phone and Internet service that meet minimum standards. Also expect to undergo a credit or background check. SYKES Home Powered by Alpine Access, Convergys and West Corporation rank among the prominent employers. All three are highly rated by the Better Business Bureau, usually hire reps as employees rather than contractors, and offer benefits such as paid vacation and medical insurance to full-time workers.
Thinking of going back to school? Review the 10 Worst College Majors for Your Career before you do.
Average Pay: $24/hour
Education: Associate or bachelor's degree
Essential Skill: A knack for tech
Computer geeks can make solid salaries as computer support specialists, where demand is high and hours flexible. Working out of home offices, many computer support specialists are hired on a contract basis by tech support firms to provide assistance to a range of businesses. Duties typically include testing, evaluating and troubleshooting computer network problems and providing assistance to computer users. Find work-at-home job listings on sites such as CareerBuilder.com, FlexJobs.com and Upwork.com. Major corporations from Apple to Xerox also hire workers to provide tech support from home.
Average Pay: $15/hour
Essential Skill: Ability to juggle calls and clients
A virtual assistant does everything a traditional assistant might do: scheduling appointments, managing digital files, helping prepare presentations and making travel plans. That means administrative experience is necessary. Most VAs are contractors , not employees, and they operate out of their homes as independent businesses with multiple clients. Newcomers can market themselves to potential clients through local business groups, social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, or join the International Virtual Assistants Association to take advantage of its job board. You also can find listings for virtual assistant jobs on career sites such as FlexJobs.com and Indeed.com.
Average Pay: $18/hour
Education: Bachelor’s degree
Essential Skill: Dedication to deadlines
Media, corporate and nonprofit Web sites turn to freelancer writers for content. Some pay by the word, some by the hour and some by the project. And don’t limit your thinking to traditional newswriting. Web sites hire writers to craft all manner of online content, from quizzes and infographics to video scripts and top 10 lists. Writing experience and subject specialization can give you a leg up on the competition for freelance gigs, and you’ll need to be organized and work well under deadlines. Click the “Careers” link on your favorite Web site to see if there’s a posting for freelance writers, or reach out by email to a site’s editor or content manager. You can often find email addresses by clicking a site’s “About” or “Contact Us” links. Also visit FreelanceWriting.com, which provides a long list of freelance writing opportunities culled from several top Web sites. For $21 a month, you can join the Freelance Marketplace at Mediabistro.com to post your qualifications for review by media managers seeking writers.
Education: Bachelor's degree
Essential Skill: A noggin’s worth of knowledge
Expertise in a particular subject, a computer and a bit of patience are what it takes to break into online tutoring, a field that can be both personally and financially rewarding. InstaEDU.com and Tutor.com are two Web sites that connect virtual tutors with students in need of online lessons. Web-based tutors typically are hired on a freelance basis. Another site, GetEducated.com, lists remote job postings at community colleges, libraries and online universities. Most of these teachers are hired and paid as part-time employees. Online tutors can also list their credentials and availability on GetEducated.com.
Essential Skill: An eye for detail
If you have a degree in English, journalism or a related field, or some writing or editing experience under your belt, you may find steady work as a proofreader, especially for academic and technical assignments. Cactus Communications, for one, hires proofreaders and editors – most with advanced degrees – to check academic papers and medical documents written by non-native speakers. Cactus says its freelance specialist editors can earn between $1,200 and $3,000 per month. FirstEditing.com employs experienced proofreaders and editors to work on manuscripts, theses and business documents. Specialized sites such as Mediabistro.com and JournalismJobs.com post openings, or join a trade group such as the American Copy Editors Society or the Editorial Freelancers Association to gain access to their job listings.
Average Pay: $24/hour
Preferred Education: Bachelor's degree
Essential Skill: A way with words
If you speak at least two languages and have an Internet connection, you're well on your way to becoming a home-based translator. A number of firms hire multilingual people to freelance translations of business documents, consumer Web sites, computer software and academic papers. Preference often goes to applicants who speak in-demand languages, such as Chinese or Japanese, and have backgrounds that would help in translating technical material. SDL, a global translation firm, hires translators with two years of freelance or one year of in-house translation experience. Cactus Communications employs freelance translators with advanced degrees to work on academic manuscripts written in several languages. According to an American Translators Association spokesperson, top experienced translators who can handle complex projects can earn six-figure pay annually.
Average Pay: $33/hour
Preferred Education: Associate's degree
Essential Skill: Cuckoo for computer code
The growing popularity of e-commerce and mobile devices is fueling demand for people who can design and maintain Web sites. While many companies have full-time web developers on staff, plenty of businesses and even individuals hire freelance developers for both one-off projects and ongoing support. About 25% of web developers are self-employed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can find thousands of Web development projects listed on freelance job site Upwork.com, and FlexJobs.com lists telecommuting jobs with companies.
Several high-tech occupations rank among our 10 Best Jobs of the Future.
Not all work-from-home job opportunities are legitimate. Here are tips on identifying and avoiding common work-at-home scams from consumer groups including the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission and National Consumers league.
Be very suspicious of any work-from-home job offers that…
. . . ask for application fees, upfront payments for training or supplies, or your credit card information. There’s a good chance no actual work will materialize and you will be hit with fraudulent charges. Some legitimate work-at-home employers may require applicants to pay for a background check, depending on the industry, and some direct-sales companies may require products to be purchased upfront (with clear policies on product returns; more on direct sales below).
. . . require you to deposit checks and wire part of the money back to the employer. The check will bounce and the bank will hold you accountable for the missing funds.
. . . involve recruiting other workers without actually providing a product or service. If all you are doing is getting paid to recruit other people, who in turn recruit other people, you are involved in a pyramid scheme. If you‘re interested in legitimate ways to earn cash selling products directly to the public, see 5 Great Ways to Make Money in Direct Sales.
. . . promise exceptionally high pay, even if you don’t have experience. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.