The Ultimate Guide to Telecommuting Jobs
Working from home used to be almost impossible. If you worked for any company with multiple employees, it was very difficult to get your work done without face-to-face contact. Even today, most jobs still take place at a physical office.
Unlike in the past, however, working at an office is no longer necessary for many types of jobs. You can now use the internet and the many communication methods it allows to work at home part-time or even full-time. The key is no longer overcoming the technological barriers; it’s finding a company that will let you work from home.
If you’ve ever considered telecommuting and wanted the flexibility that comes from being able to work from the comfort of your home, then this guide is for you. We’re going to take a look at what telecommuting is, show you some of the telecommuting jobs available, and give you some resources for finding the telecommuting jobs you’ve been dreaming of.
What Is Telecommuting?
Telecommuting isn’t exactly new, but it’s never been more popular than now. The term telecommuting means that instead of physically commuting to an office, you can commute virtually using a combination of phone calls, video chat, text messaging, email, and project management software.
The precise details will vary among different telecommute jobs, but the general premise is that you can use technology to avoid having to go into the office. This could mean working from home one or two days a week, or it could mean a job at a company that is entirely remote, with employees spread out across the United States or even the world.
Telecommuting tends to work better for certain types of jobs than others. Jobs that occur mostly on the computer to begin with, such as software development, are good candidates for telecommuting. The same is true of fields such as project management, in which communication can occur effectively through digital communication technologies.
Even in fields such as medicine, some services are beginning to transition online, with improved internet speeds and video calling allowing doctors to examine and diagnose patients from home.
On the other hand, some types of jobs don’t work well with telecommuting. Any kind of job that involves making physical products tends to fall into this category, so you won’t see factory workers telecommuting (at least for the moment). This also applies to jobs that require lots of face time with customers or clients, such as restaurant service or hospitality.
Curious about the job categories where telecommuting works well? Keep reading to find out.
10 Types of Telecommuting Jobs to Consider
If you know you’re interested in work-from-home jobs, then the next step is to consider which type of job would work best for you. To help you get a sense of the jobs available, here are 10 types of telecommuting jobs you should consider:
1. Customer Support
Up first, we have the vast field of customer support. If you enjoy talking to people and helping them solve their problems, then working as a home customer service representative could be a great telecommuting opportunity.
What exactly you’ll do and how you’ll telecommute will vary based on the company you work for. You could be part of a virtual call center, in which you field support inquiries from customers during a set schedule. Or, you might perform customer support through other methods such as email, chat programs, or even video calls.
As far as the knowledge you’ll need, it’ll depend on the job. If you’re performing IT support, for instance, then most companies will want you to have a background in information technology. More generic fields, however, will often require no specific experience — the company can provide the necessary training and resources for you to provide quality support.
This next type of job won’t be for just anyone, but if you have some sort of healthcare credentials and experience, telemedicine could be worth looking into. Some telemedicine jobs involve examining patients over video calls to make a diagnosis. Others will be less hands-on, such as coaching patients on their nutrition and fitness.
Given that the work you’ll be doing will have a direct effect on people’s health, these aren’t the easiest jobs to qualify for. You’ll need to submit proof of your relevant credentials, go through a variety of interviews, and then finally receive training in how to effectively perform telemedicine.
It can be a stressful job, but many medical professionals would rather work from the comfort of their homes than at a hospital or doctor’s office. If that sounds like you, then you should take a look at working in telemedicine.
3. Data Entry
Of all the job types on this list, data entry might be the most accessible. No matter your skills or qualifications, there’s likely a type of data entry that you can do. Data entry is a broad field, encompassing work as simple as entering numbers into a spreadsheet and as complex as performing medical coding for a hospital. It also includes jobs that involve audio transcription, in which you take recorded calls, testimonials, or any other sort of audio and turn it into a properly formatted Word document.
The qualifications you’ll need to do data entry will vary based on the work. If you just have to enter numbers, then you may need almost no qualifications whatsoever aside from proving that you’re organized and can do accurate work. Fields such as medical coding, on the other hand, will require an understanding of anatomy, medicine, and the medical coding system. Ultimately, you’ll need to check the job posting to ensure that you possess the necessary qualifications.
4. Project Management
Project management is a more specialized skill than many of the others on this list, but if you do have experience with it, it can work quite well as a telecommuting job. The jobs available in this area are as varied as the types of industries and companies that exist. Almost every company of a significant size needs some kind of project manager, and many of these companies are happy to hire someone to do this remotely.
This is not the kind of job that you can get without relevant experience. If you’ve never done project management before, don’t expect to hear back (unless the role is explicitly entry-level). Even if you have been a project manager in a physical office, performing the work remotely can be an adjustment. You have to be even more diligent in your communication with all the project participants, and you should expect to spend a good amount of time talking on the phone and participating in group video calls.
5. Software Development
Software development has long been a field that’s popular for telecommuting. Since so much of it consists of sitting at a computer and working alone, it’s easy to do it remotely. Even when a software developer works in an office, much of their work happens purely online anyway. It’s the sort of job where working remotely almost makes more sense than being in a physical office.
Recognizing how well software development can occur remotely, lots of companies are now willing to hire remote developers (especially considering how much money it can save them on office space and resources). To get these jobs, the most important thing is to have a relevant portfolio, as well as possibly passing some tests of your development skills. This is also a field where you can teach yourself most of the necessary information, so it presents an exciting opportunity for motivated self-learners.
6. Writing and Editing
Are you good with words? Do typos and grammar errors give you the chills? Then you should consider looking into the many types of word-oriented remote jobs that are out there. We’ve put these jobs into the same category, but the skills you’ll need will definitely vary.
Writing jobs include all types of freelance writing, from penning blog posts like this one to authoring vacuum cleaner manuals. It helps to know the topic you’re writing about, but it’s even more important to be able to do research. Some of these jobs require you to have a degree in a field like English or communications, but others simply require relevant writing samples and experience.
Editing jobs can also take many forms. You could be editing a book for a publishing company, or you might be editing a single article. There are also different types of editing, ranging from higher-level considerations such as structure to proofreading individual sentences for grammar and spelling errors.
Regardless of the work itself, all these types of jobs are quite easy to do remotely. As long as you’re comfortable using software such as Google Docs and some basic project management tools, the remote writing and editing will be just as easy (if not easier) than doing the same work in an office.
7. Teaching and Tutoring
Do you have knowledge and want to share it with others? Do you enjoy helping people master new subjects? Then remote teaching or tutoring might be perfect for you. With modern video calling software, it’s very easy to conduct almost any kind of lessons remotely. This could be anything from teaching someone your native language to tutoring a child in math.
Teaching and tutoring jobs will often overlap, but they tend to have some differences. With teaching jobs, you’re helping someone learn a subject from scratch (or at least progress to a higher level). Tutoring, on the other hand, is usually more focused. You might tutor a student who’s struggling with a particular subject or simply use the tutoring time to give them additional practice with whatever it is they’re learning in school.
These jobs usually require at least a bachelor’s degree, and some will even require a master’s degree or P.h.D. Experience in the specific field is also desirable, particularly in an educational setting.
8. Virtual Assistant
If you like helping people and are very organized, then you might consider working as a virtual assistant (VA). People often associate virtual assistants with foreign countries, but there are actually quite a few VA services that focus on hiring native English speakers based in the United States. This is appealing for many people both because it reduces communication issues and avoids problems with time differences that often arise when the VA is based overseas.
As a virtual assistant, you’ll perform a variety of tasks. You might book plane tickets, schedule meetings, or even answer emails. Generally, you’ll do whatever work your client doesn’t have time to attend to themselves.
When it comes to qualifications, the most important thing is to be very organized. You’ll be juggling lots of different tasks, and it’s essential that you’re able to keep them perfectly organized. You also need to be a skilled communicator, and having writing skills is also a plus. You generally don’t need a degree for these roles, though having one in a field such as communications can help you stand out among other applicants.
Despite the massive advances in machine translation services over the past decade, much of translation still requires skilled human workers. If you are fluent in multiple languages and have experience translating materials from one to the other, then a remote translation job could be a good fit.
Note that being fluent in two languages won’t necessarily qualify you for a translation job. Translation is a particular skill, and most companies that hire translators will want you to have formal training in translation. This is certainly something you can learn on your own, though getting a degree or other formal certification is ideal.
10. Digital Media
This last category of jobs is quite broad. It includes everything from designing logos to editing videos to retouching photos. Almost all types of digital media work can occur remotely due to today’s file-sharing technology. If you have the relevant skills, then this can be a fruitful field for telecommuting.
Even better, you can usually teach yourself most of the necessary skills online. The internet is full of free courses on graphic design, video editing, and pretty much any other digital media skill. As long as you can demonstrate that you can do the work, you can get hired (usually without a degree).
4 Places to Find Telecommuting Jobs
Now that you understand the different types of telecommuting jobs available, let’s look at some places where you can find these jobs.
The place you should look for remote work will depend on the job you’re seeking. Certain job search sites tend to be better for some fields than others. Bearing that in mind, here are some of our favorite resources for remote job seekers:
If you know you want a remote job, you might as well go to a site that focuses on them. FlexJobs has remote job listings in dozens of categories at a variety of companies. They pride themselves on reviewing all the job postings to ensure that they’re legitimate. This way, you don’t have to worry about inaccurate job titles or fraudulent postings.
Check out FlexJobs here.
2. We Work Remotely
This is another resource that focuses exclusively on jobs that don’t require you to be in a specific physical location. The site has a clean, modern interface and lets you filter jobs by the date they were posted and the skills needed. The focus is on jobs in design, marketing, and programming, and customer support, though you’ll also find other miscellaneous jobs listed.
Check out We Work Remotely here.
3. Working Nomads
Do you like the idea of traveling the world and working from anywhere? This is the dream of many who seek to find telecommuting jobs, and Working Nomads aims to help people who are looking for jobs with immense location flexibility. They have jobs in 15 different categories, and you can even filter jobs by specific technology knowledge they require (which is especially useful for software jobs).
Check out Working Nomads here.
4. Stay Where You Are
In addition to the above options, it’s also worth asking your current company if they’d consider letting you work remotely. If you can still perform your work effectively, then many companies will be open to the idea. Even if they just let you telecommute a couple days per week, it can be an opportunity to see if you like telecommuting (and prepare you for future jobs that are fully remote).
Telecommuting Jobs FAQ
To conclude this guide, here are answers to some common questions about telecommuting:
1. Do all telecommuting jobs require a degree?
Not at all. There are certain fields (such as translation and tutoring) where you’ll need a degree, but for many remote jobs, the only thing that matters is your ability to do the work in question.
2. How much do telecommuting jobs pay?
The pay for telecommuting jobs varies as much as in traditional office jobs. Highly technical jobs such as software development tend to pay the most, but even less technical fields can still pay a solid wage. Data entry and other low-skill jobs tend to pay the least, but they can still be a useful way to earn money in your spare time.
3. Do all telecommuting jobs let me work anywhere?
Not necessarily. While many telecommuting jobs allow you to be anywhere in the world, others require you to be located (or at least from) a specific country. For instance, many American companies will prefer to hire American workers simply because it makes their payroll and taxes less complicated.
Be sure to pay close attention to the location requirements in the job posting if location flexibility is the main reason you’re interested in telecommuting.
Get Out There and Find Your First Telecommuting Job
We hope this guide has helped you understand how telecommuting works, as well as given you the resources you need to start finding your first telecommuting job. If you’re willing to learn new skills or switch industries, there’s almost certainly a telecommuting job out there for you.