Just a few decades ago, the vast majority of work-at-home job opportunities were far from profitable. And before the dawn of the Internet, it was much harder to sort through the scams and the real opportunities.
Some of the “gotcha” job offers from the past include check-cashing schemes, mystery shopping, medical billing “jobs” that require you to purchase expensive computer software, and craft-making jobs that ask you to pony up the cash for materials before you get started. And let’s not forget about the famous envelope-stuffing scam that was nothing more than a pyramid scheme designed to siphon money from as many people as possible.
As the old adage goes: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” But is it?
In 2017, the questionable work-at-home jobs are still out there. But improvements in technology and the birth of social media have ushered in a new wave of such jobs that are actually legitimate. Check out these real work-at-home jobs for 2017 and beyond:
With so many businesses operating mostly, or even completely, online, it’s no wonder that many hire virtual assistants to help keep them organized and complete administrative tasks. According to the International Virtual Assistants Association, these workers are “independent contractors who (from a remote location, usually their home or office) support multiple clients in a variety of industries by providing administrative, creative, and technical services.”
Although virtual assistant jobs vary drastically, tasks can include composing and responding to emails, creating and distributing business-related documents, responding to media and business inquiries, writing and creating content, and more. Check out virtual assistant jobs at sites such as Upwork.com and Zirtual.com.
Although many medical transcriptionists work for hospitals or physician’s offices, most are able to work at home, and at a time or place of their choosing. Since their tasks involve transcribing recorded medical dictation, a computer, desk, and earpiece are generally the only requirements after completing a postsecondary medical transcriptionist program.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical transcriptionists earned a national median wage of $35,490 in 2013, or $16.63 an hour. Although many medical transcriptionists are self-employed, many find jobs through their local hospital, physician, or community college or vocational school.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most translators do their work at home, and often under tight deadlines. Although some need a bachelor’s degree, the most important requirement for translators is, of course, fluency in at least two languages.
As the BLS notes, around 20% of translators were self-employed in 2013. The majority were spread among these industries: professional, scientific, and technical services (30%); state, local, and private educational services (25%); health care and social assistance (13%); and government (7%).
The national median wage for this career was $42,420 in 2013, although the top 10% of workers earned an average of $77,140. Look for job postings for translators on sites like Upwork.com.
It’s fairly easy to build your own website if you take advantage of the many free learning opportunities online. However, much of the population isn’t equipped to build their own site, or doesn’t have the time, which is why so many people make a living building websites and blogs for others. According to the BLS, around 25% of Web developers were self-employed in 2012, with the vast majority able to work at home, or anywhere with a laptop and speedy Internet connection.
Even better, the national median wage for Web developers was $63,160 in 2013, with the top 10% earning an average of $110,350. And you typically don’t need an advanced degree to begin working in this field. All you need is some postsecondary education, applicable experience, and a portfolio of successful sites you’ve built and managed. There are even intensive coding boot camps designed to teach programming skills in just a few short months.
Although the demand is expected to decrease over the next decade, the opportunities are still there for travel agents who can harness the Internet to earn clients and help them plan their adventures. According to the BLS, job prospects may be best for travel agents who offer expertise in certain regions of the world, have experience planning tours or adventures, or who focus on group travel.
About 12% of travel agents were self-employed in 2012, but the vast majority of the rest of them worked in the travel arrangement and reservation services industry. Travel agents earned a national median wage of $34,530 in 2013.
More than ever, writers are needed to formulate news articles, create content, and come up with the creative ideas that fill the pages of nearly every site on the Internet. And although many bigger sites have in-house writers, a growing number of sites outsource their content and hire freelance writers and content creators. Writing experience is very helpful, but what you really need to get started are drive, ambition, and the ability to find a unique angle on events that happen every day.
Sites like Upwork.com list online freelancing positions, as does Freelancer.com and Media Bistro. To get hired, you’ll likely need to have a portfolio of solid work, or at least some writing samples you can include with your resume.
Almost every big business has gotten on the social media bandwagon as a means to reach their customers directly, and without paying heavily for television, print, or radio ads. But not every big business has someone to manage their social media accounts, which is why more individuals have begun marketing themselves as social media managers and helping businesses grow their online following and expand their reach.
Although very little data are available for this work-at-home job since it is relatively new, thousands of listings for social media managers can be found on sites like CareerBuilder.com, SimplyHired.com, and Upwork.com. If you have a demonstrated command of social media and a sizable following, you might even be able to get started by reaching out to companies directly and asking if they need help.
A wide range of businesses need workers to enter various data into their systems, whether that data are used to track inventory or shipments, create business plans, or measure performance or output. And since a computer and typing skills are the most important requirements for this job, many data entry workers are able to work at home, and on a schedule that fits their lives.
According to the BLS, data entry workers earned a national median wage of $28,470 in 2013, although the top 10% earned more like $42,120. Since many data entry jobs are at-home jobs, you can always find dozens of data entry job postings on sites like Upwork.com, Freelancer.com, and SimplyHired.com, as well as dozens of others.
Many businesses need workers who can answer the phone at all hours, assist customers, and process orders or deal with returns. But since more businesses are operating online, a growing number of these jobs are going to customer service workers who work at home.
Being an at-home call-center rep requires a computer and may require specific software or equipment. A great phone voice helps as well, as does any experience in customer service, data entry, retail sales, or management. Dozens of sites list job openings for call-center representatives, including Upwork.com, Freelancer.com, and SimplyHired.com. However, you may also find listings offered by local businesses in your local newspaper.
Becoming a blogger is unlike any other work-at-home job in that you have to show up and build it yourself. Even worse, the vast majority of blogs make zero dollars for years as they grow and become established. In that sense, blogging isn’t much of a job at all.
However, there is a lot of potential for writers who are able to build an audience, grow their site, and find a way to monetize it and start earning an income. Some of the ways bloggers make money include affiliate advertising, sponsored posts, Google Adsense, and product sales.
Even better, owning a blog can be an inexpensive way to start your own business, with domains costing an average of $12 per year and Web hosting costing as little as $7.99 per month.
Finding Real Work-From-Home Jobs
Besides those listed above, other websites that offer job postings include Monster.com, Indeed.com, Guru.com, iFreelance.com, and Freelanced.com. When searching a traditional job site such as Monster or Indeed, use keywords like “telecommute” or “work-from-home” and enter “anywhere” or “remote” in the location field.
When you start looking for work-at-home jobs, it’s crucial that you create a complete resume. And if you’ve done any online work, it might help to provide links to that work. References help, too, especially if you can list anyone who has overseen work you have done in any of these fields.
Is This Work-From-Home Job a Scam?
Even though there are many legitimate work-at-home opportunities, the scams of years ago still exist. But it’s up to you to find them and steer clear, and it’s not always easy to tell the real deal from a scam.
According to the National Consumers League and Fraud.org, there are some steps to take and signs to watch out for when you’re starting your search for a work-at-home job:
- Research, research, research: It’s important to know exactly whom you’re working for. When you find a job posting you’re interested in, take special care to research the company that’s hiring. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau and conduct a Web search for any complaints or less-than-stellar reviews.
- Ask for references: Any company that’s hiring workers to work at home might have other people working for them as well. Ask how many and find out if you’re able to contact any of them. If they are unwilling to provide references or contact information, it might not be a good sign.
- Think long and hard before shelling out any money: Some work-at-home jobs will require you to purchase materials or equipment to get started, and while that doesn’t mean they’re not legitimate, it should be a red flag. If you are asked to pay for equipment, make sure you understand what you’re buying, and from whom. Also ask about the return policy for your equipment if your new gig doesn’t work out.
Many online job platforms such as Upwork.com also have their own system for recognizing and removing job scams. According to the site, many of them involve “employers” who try to pay workers outside the site’s payment system, and engage in some sort of check or money order fraud. For more tips on avoiding job scams on freelancing sites, read about it here.
Working at home is a dream of many, and thanks to technology, that dream is coming true for more people than ever. But if you want to work at home, you’ll need to research the possibilities and develop the skills required for many of these jobs.
So what are you waiting for? With the right skills, you could be working at home in 2017.
Holly Johnson is an award-winning personal finance writer who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting, and travel. She blogs at ClubThrifty.com and teaches others how to write online at EarnMoreWriting.com.