Having the ability to work from home in a fulfilling career is one of the most important career goals for many people. In particular, people who aspire to travel, parents with young children, and people who take their side businesses seriously crave the flexibility of work-from-home positions.
Unfortunately, fraudsters are quick to prey on people who are desperate to get out of the office. And plenty of legitimate work-from-home opportunities end up paying just above minimum wage. If you want to earn decent money while working from home, these are a few legitimate opportunities to consider. Some offer better wages than others, but all are legitimate.
Set Your Expectations
When it comes to working from home, a lot of legitimate companies have realized that great workers will do great work at low prices. You’re generally competing against a global workforce, so making a great wage can be difficult.
The people who are earning truckloads of money while working from home aren’t in “clock-in, clock-out” positions. These folks are generally building businesses that happen to be independent of location. This article will not focus on these jobs. This article is going to focus on the types of work-from-home jobs rather than location-independent entrepreneurship.
The following are a few of the legitimate jobs that will allow you to work from home.
Online tutoring is one area where many English speakers (particularly college graduates) may be able to earn decent wages with flexible hours. Among an informal poll of friends, I learned that several had tutored online using one of the major sites. Rates tended to be around $10 per hour which isn’t great, but it did offer stellar flexibility.
The biggest tutoring websites right now are VIPKid (tutoring in English for Chinese students), Chegg (tutoring for elementary students through college students), and Tutor.com (tutoring for all ages and test prep). All three sites require you to pass subject tests to qualify to tutor.
The issue with these tutoring sites is that the sites don’t guarantee bookings for you. You may go through all the work of applying, only to find that you rarely have the opportunity to work.
Customer Support (Call Center)
Companies large and small are starting to outsource their customer support to virtual call centers. For ease of scheduling and to mitigate language barriers, many large companies prefer to hire U.S.-based customer service representatives.
The pay and flexibility of these jobs depends a lot on who hired you, and how they expect you to work. Sarah L. of Raleigh, North Carolina does customer service work for a small business that does drop-shipping through Amazon. Most of the time, her job entails replying to customer emails for a few hours each morning. She rarely has to work more than a few hours in a day.
Other customer support representatives work in more of a shift-based manner, and may have to be on call during certain hours of the night.
Starting rates for customer support representatives will be at least minimum wage, but can go much higher. The average rate is currently $15.81 per hour. The rate you earn depends a lot on how much responsibility you bear, the consistency required of you, and more.
Tax preparation is one job with a long history of allowing people to work from home. Tax preparers must get some level of certification, usually an enrolled agent certification which allows you to prepare taxes for other people.
Several major companies such as H&R Block and Intuit (TurboTax) hire enrolled agents to work as customer support or as tax professionals during tax season. On average, tax preparers earn $18.62 per hour, but wages may vary based on experience and where you work.
People who do bookkeeping as a business may be able to expand their business to cover tax prep by getting the EA certification.
With easy access to Skype, email, and massive computing power, many people can convert their current career into a freelance career. Whether you choose to design websites, create marketing materials, write articles, or create spreadsheets for businesses, you can find a way to do it from the comfort of your home.
Upwork, Fiverr, and CollegeRecruiter all offer opportunities for skilled people to find great jobs. If freelancing on one of these sites sounds like a good opportunity, be sure to check out tips on how to use Fiverr to grow your business and how to book freelance gigs online.
Your Current Job (Telecommuting)
One of the most profitable methods for finding work-from-home opportunities is to convert your current job into a telecommuting position. Staff writer, Hannah, spent three years working remotely as a data scientist before converting to freelance work. Many large companies and some smaller companies are happy to offer flexible working arrangements to people who have proven their ability to produce high-quality work.
Telecommuting often offers employees a best-of-both-worlds opportunity. They can go into the office for brainstorming sessions and important meetings, but have the opportunity for distraction-free work from home.
Where You Can Find the Best Work-From-Home Positions
The most ubiquitous work-from-home positions (tutoring, customer service, and tax prep) are not particularly lucrative work-from-home options. Of course, $15/hour is an okay wage (especially for a flexible position), but it’s not going to help you get ahead too quickly.
If you want a great work-from-home position, the best way to get it is to cut out the middle man as much as possible. When tutoring from home, you may be able to earn $30/hour or more depending on your market.
Most of the time, people can earn even more teaching music lessons from home. Consultants, who do much of their work from their laptops, may earn several hundred dollars an hour when they work for themselves.
Don’t merely look online for legitimate work-from-home opportunities. Pitch your services to local small businesses or to your friends. Once you develop a reputation as a great service provider, you’ll have more than enough business to keep you going.
Tips for Successfully Working from Home
Finding a legitimate work-from-home job is only half the battle. Successfully working from home takes a lot of commitment, and some trial and error. These are few tips to consider when working from home:
- Have a dedicated work space. This will help you know that it’s not time to play, it’s time to work.
- Consider using the app Self Control to block websites that might distract you from your work.
- Try to have young kids fully occupied while you’re working. Ideally, your spouse can care for them while you work, or you can work while they sleep. You may need to hire a babysitter so you can complete your work.
- Be sure to track your work-related expenses (including internet), so you can deduct them at tax time.
- Don’t expect to complete housework and career work at the same time.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.