Don’t want to sacrifice a great paycheck for the ability to work from home? With these six careers, you don’t have to.
By Andrea Duchon
Growing up, you often think of professional success in terms of your workplace – corner office with a view, anyone? But as you get older, your idea of the most desirable place to work might shift into something a bit more fluid and a little less 9-to-5.
Danielle Mund, a certified career and entrepreneur coach, explains that telecommuting is on the rise, despite recent debates about its merits in business. But which careers can easily be done outside the office?
“The easiest careers to telecommute in are those that aren’t as much about communal decision-making as they are about creation,” says Mund.
“These careers tend to have the need to be free from distractions, like colleagues popping into your cubicle unannounced, for example,” says Mund. But that’s not all. Changes in technology have obviously made it much easier to work remotely. “The Internet and the cell phone have made it infinitely more accessible to work outside of a traditional setting,” says Mund.
Healthy paycheck. Comfortable digs. Never changing out of your pajamas – what more could you ask for? Curious which jobs might lead you home? Keep reading to learn about six high-paying careers where you may be able to literally phone it in.
Career#1: Graphic Designer
Love the possibility of making the world a prettier place but don’t want to sit in a cubicle day in and day out to do it? A career as a graphic designer could give you the opportunity to work from anywhere, rake in some decent cash, and follow your creative dreams.
Graphic designers are generally regarded as some of the most creative people on a team. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, they’re the ones responsible for creating visual concepts, selecting colors, images, and layouts, and advising clients on strategies to reach their audience.
Why It’s Ideal for Telecommuting: You may think graphic designers must work in a collaborative environment, chained to the communal table with their colleagues, but Mund says that’s not the case.
“Graphic designers are asked to solve creative problems, which perhaps counter-intuitively, is often something best done alone,” notes Mund. “We now know that creative work – things that require innovation or art – is best done in solitude.”
Additionally, open-plan offices, which are used by most creative agencies, have actually been found to decrease productivity, she adds. “Thus, telecommuting may be even more conducive for this type of work than working in an office.”
Salary Potential: What’s more, toiling away in creative solitude could earn you a healthy salary. Top paid graphic designers in the 90th percentile make $77,490 annually, according to the Department of Labor. On the low end of the scale (10th percentile), designers make $26,250, while the median annual wage registers at $44,150.
Education Requirements: You’ll be required to have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field if you want to pursue a position as a graphic designer, according to the Department. If you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in another field, you should pursue “technical training in graphic design” and be prepared with a solid professional portfolio demonstrating your creativity and originality.
Career #2: Computer Programmer
Think you might have what it takes to be a programmer but aren’t sure you’re cut out for office life? Computer programming may provide the opportunity to ditch the cubicle and work from home – and the pay isn’t bad, either.
Computer programmers create, test, and fix bugs in software programs by working with computer code, says the U.S. Department of Labor. These programs range from simple mobile applications for cell phones to more complicated computer operating systems.
Why It’s Ideal for Telecommuting: The two reasons this career is great for telecommuters stem from the fact that it requires a computer and it involves creativity, says Mund.
“Because you can work from anywhere with only an outlet and an Internet connection, it’s not difficult to choose the place where you’re most productive instead of focusing on punching the clock,” she says.
The second reason, Mund adds, is that despite the technical nature of the work, it is actually quite creative. “Generally speaking, programmers solve the types of problems that must be solved by one person, not a team. When a programmer can work away from distractions like coworkers, he or she can get work done more effectively.”
Salary Potential: And if you work effectively, salary for this career could be in your favor, too. The Department of Labor lists median annual wage for computer programmers as $74,280. The top 90th percentile of employees earns $117,890, while the bottom 10th percentile earns $42,850.
Education Requirements: According to the Department, most computer programmers have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. However, some employers may hire you if you’ve only earned an associate’s degree. Certification is an additional way to demonstrate your skills and give you a competitive edge, says the Department.
Career #3: Accountant
Turns out accountants aren’t only working during tax time. In fact, almost all organizations employ accountants to ensure that financial documents and records are in order 24/7. But don’t they have to be working alongside the rest of the office to rake in their hefty salaries? Contrary to popular belief, maybe not.
Why It’s Ideal for Telecommuting: An accountant doesn’t need a group of people around to carry out his or her best work – instead they’re able to get by with only financial records and a spreadsheet, says Mund. “And that, of course, can be done from anywhere – the office, the home, or elsewhere.”
The U.S. Department of Labor backs up Mund’s claim: While many accountants work in offices, some work from home or travel to their clients’ places of business instead.
But don’t think that telecommuting translates to fewer hours. One in five accountants worked more than 40 hours a week in 2010, according to the Department of Labor.
Salary Potential: Accountants earning in the bottom 10th percentile report a respectable $39,930, says the Department of Labor. The top 90th percent, however, could see $111,510, while the median annual salary is $63,550.
Education Requirements: If you want to pursue a career in accounting, the Department says you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Looking for a competitive edge? Many accountants get licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to enhance job prospects.
Career #4: Writer
Look around. Chances are that when your eyes focus on something near you, you’ll see text. And where there is text, there’s a writer behind it. Whether you’re reading an advertisement, a magazine, or the lyrics of a song, a writer is responsible for creating it, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
But did you know that some writers are able to work from the couch or their neighborhood coffee shops and still make a decent paycheck?
Why It’s Ideal for Telecommuting: Just like many other careers on this list, the meat of this profession is best done alone. “Input from others during the writing process can stifle the flow of thoughts from brain to fingertip to screen, cause undue fear or pressure for perfection, and so on. Writing on one’s own terms can yield better results than working in a normal office environment,” explains Mund.
The other key factor that makes this a great career for doing just about anywhere with computer access is that many writers don’t have what we would traditionally think of as a boss. As the Department of Labor points out, in 2010 about 68 percent of writers were self-employed. Some industries in which writers might find work include religious, grant-making, or civic work; newspaper, periodicals, or books; and advertising or public relations, notes the Department.
Salary Potential: If you find yourself in the top 90th percentile as a writer, the Department of Labor says you could make $117,860. The bottom 10 percent earns $27,770, while the median salary is $55,940.
Education Requirements: Much like the career itself, the path to writing isn’t written in stone. Still, if you’re interested in going down that path, the Department has this to say: “A college degree is generally required for a salaried position as a writer. Many employers like to hire people who have a degree in English, journalism, or communications.”
Career #5: Public Relations Specialist
If you love public speaking and don’t mind long hours, a career as a public relations specialist could be right up your alley. But despite how “public” this career seems, you might be surprised to learn that you could carry out some of these duties remotely.
Public relations specialists write press releases and help clients communicate effectively to the public, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Why It’s Ideal for Telecommuting: Because press conferences take place outside of the office, it’s clear why these professionals wouldn’t need to be there all the time, says Mund. But there are other reasons this career is great for telecommuting, too.
Public relations specialists are communicating constantly – but that doesn’t mean they need to actually be putting in face time to do that, she says. “This is the kind of job twentieth-century technologies, like phones and the Internet, were made for: immediate, scalable communication and information.”
And the need for that immediate communication doesn’t always happen in the office. According to the Department of Labor, people in this profession are often attending meetings, giving speeches, and traveling – which means putting in office time may be less common than other careers.
Salary Potential: Of course, that doesn’t mean this career path rewards you any less. The median annual wage of a public relations specialist is $54,170, says the Department. The top 90th percentile earning wage is $101,030, and the bottom 10th percentile is $30,760.
Education Requirements: Typically, says the Department, to pursue a career as a PR specialist, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in fields employers prefer, such as journalism, public relations, English, communications, or business.
Career #6: Software Developer
Ever wonder how and why your computer works when you turn it on and open up a program? The answer is software developers. These creative types develop the applications that run on your computer or other devices, and constantly work to make sure that they function correctly, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But how are they able to work from their couch and still make a great salary?
Why It’s Ideal for Telecommuting: Developers, like programmers, work exclusively from computers, so they’re already set up to telecommute. Mund says that this career also requires a type of creation, so it’s best done when you can get into the “flow.”
She defines flow as a state of concentration and complete focus on the activity in front of you. And as anyone who’s worked in an office before can tell you, “flow” isn’t as easily achieved in a traditional setting where you’re likely to be distracted.
Salary Potential: If you earn median salary as an applications software developer, you could expect to see $90,060, according to the Department of Labor. The top 90th percentile makes $138,880, while the bottom 10th percentile makes $55,190.
Education Requirements: If you want to pursue a career as a software developer, you’ll probably need to have a bachelor’s degree, notes the Department. Most computer programmers have one in computer science, software engineering, or a related degree. These professionals also have strong computer programming skills, says the Department.