Across age groups and job categories, demand is growing for good-paying work that can be done right from home. Nervous about falling 401ks, boomers hope to continue earning income without the hours or stress of office life. Gen Xers, often caring for elderly parents or young children, are thirsty for flexibility. And younger cohorts are attracted to “free agency” more than ever.
“There’s less willingness today to be a cube-dweller or lifetime commuter,” says Michael Haaren, co-director of RatRaceRebellion.com and co-author of Work at Home Now. “Being able to work from home makes life easier and appeals to the latent entrepreneur.
While there may be a tradeoff to working at home—a salary haircut and less advancement potential—a surprising amount and variation of well-paying professional jobs have a two-second commute. From the health, tech and creative industries, good at-home jobs are springing up everywhere.
According to Haaren, the work-from-home sector reflects what’s going on in the brick-and-mortar economy. Today, that means an explosion of new and diverse health-care jobs. Top-paid among them are home-based physicians and radiologists, now being hired by companies like Imaging On Call and Permedion to review and evaluate patient cases. Haaren suspects they earn near the $1,975 median weekly income of physicians, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), making it a six-figure job.
What’s more, the burgeoning field of “telehealth” provides quality wages and sometimes full benefits or bonuses. Companies like MedQuist are beginning to hire more at-home support staff, like medical transcriptionists. Haaren estimates they earn between $30,000 and $50,000 a year and says they are eligible for a signing bonus. Similarly, registered nurses working at home earn near the $1,055-per-week industry median to do telephone triage, advising patients about health concerns over the phone.
IT was one of the first fields to latch onto the anywhere mentality, Haaren says, likely due to its young workforce and penchant for abstraction. In 2008, completely virtual IT company MySQL was acquired for $1 billion by what’s now Oracle. Its at-home staff means reduced building costs and a bigger talent pool. Plus, it’s a boon for the employees. The BLS reports that computer software engineers earn a median of $1,549 each week and $85,000 a year. Computer scientists, programmers and systems administers all earn about $1,200 per week.
Other lucrative at-home knowledge jobs include public relations specialists, graphic designers, writers and authors, and postsecondary teachers. According to the book Make Money Teaching Online by Danielle Babb and Jim Mirabella, if online adjunct professors work hard enough, they can earn six-figure salaries.
Haaren warns that some older fields, like law and high finance, haven’t caught up to the flexibility demands of the new workforce but show signs of cracking. For example, JPMorgan Chase sometimes recruits regional home-based mortgage executives. While these positions are limited, financial managers earn a median of $1,227 per week. On the lower end of the spectrum, earning a median of $1,061 each week, home-based tax preparers are being hired by companies like Intuit.
Studies show that at-home workers are willing to earn up to 30% less and experience heightened productivity, says Haaren. When added to the savings on real estate costs, “It’s a good deal for both.”