In recent years, a growing number of companies have begun the move toward a distributed workforce composed of part-timers, contract workers and telecommuters. At the same time, many workers have ditched the 9-to-5 and now make up a growing demographic called the freelance economy.
It’s a bold new world, and it carries with it some serious challenges, including unstable income and uncertain access to health care. For those who are up to the task, however, the benefits are clear: At-home workers are happier, healthier and more productive than their cubicle-shackled counterparts. That’s probably why most estimates predict that by 2020, one-fifth of the American workforce will be composed of freelance workers – and some estimates are twice as aggressive.
All of which is well and good if you’re a successful freelancer already. However, if you’re caught in the cycle of unemployment and underemployment, trapped outside your field with a mountain of debt, news of some faraway freelancers’ utopia can feel a little dispiriting. Does it really exist, or is it just some talking point dreamed up by writers on the Internet? If it does exist, how the heck do you get there? What do all these so-called freelancers actually do – and what kind of demon sacrifice does a guy need to make to land a gig that doesn’t require pants?
The answer might be simpler than you think. In this article, we’ll check out 10 of the best work-at-home careers, what you need to land them and how much they pay.
10. Web Developer – Average Yearly Salary: $62,500
Web developers are the invisible architects of the Internet, and create the kind of sites you interact with every day. Their work entails carefully crafting every step of a user’s experience from the moment they enter a website, to ensure that information is easy to find and navigate.
What you’ll need: The great thing about working as a freelancer in a field like Web design is you don’t need a degree to get a foot in the door. What you do need are concrete skills like programming and a good portfolio of finished sites to show off to prospective clients.
A simple Google search will yield you a metric ton of free resources to start learning coding and design today. The best path is probably the one most take to start: Buy a WordPress domain, and start tinkering. You’ll also want to stock up on mood-altering substances, for dealing with those unexpected 2 a.m. server crashes.
9. Virtual Assistant – Average Yearly Salary: $40,022
Virtual assistants are like secretaries from the future – a really dull, dystopian future where everyone is extremely well-organized. While the paper-based clerical skills of yesteryear have largely fallen out of demand, they’ve been replaced by things like managing emails, writing tweets and organizing spreadsheets. When coupled with the rise of telecommuting, you get the virtual assistant.
What you’ll need: a clerical background will help here, but you’ll also need solid business acumen, as a virtual assistant is essentially a digital secretary who works as an independent contractor.
8. Graphic Designer – Average Yearly Salary: $44,150
From notebooks to phones to the packaging on food, just about every object you own has, at some point, passed beneath the bloodshot eye of a graphic designer. Graphic designers are highly skilled and specially trained to make sure that all the visual elements of a box, website or flier sync up to communicate as effectively as possible. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about one-quarter are freelancers.
What you’ll need: Most designers have a bachelor’s degree, but equally important is a strong portfolio of student and professional work that showcases your skills. It also helps if you’re slightly obsessive and have a hate-on for bad kerning.