Best Jobs for Telecommuting

Top occupations and work activities that can be done from home

Work at Home photo copyright Tim Hall / Getty Images
Work from home. Photo © Tim Hall / Getty Images

A great many jobs can be done from home, thanks to more job tasks being able to be done online. In fact, a WorldatWork Telework Trendlines study reports that 38% of U.S. employees who are not currently telecommuting hold jobs that they believe could be done remotely (this is in addition to the millions of US adults who telecommute only occasionally, like once per month). You might be surprised by the kinds of jobs that are best suited for telecommuting or remote work: They vary greatly, from engineering to writing to brokering stocks.

~ Updated November 3, 2015

Job Activities That Can Not Be Done From Home

First, let's talk about the jobs that can't be done remotely--jobs that require your in-person presence at the office or another specific location. Each company evaluates which positions are eligible for telework on a case-by-case basis (according according to the employee's tasks, position, and work history), but there are really only a few types of job activities that can absolutely not be done remotely. These are the activities the Office of Personnel Management lists in their Telework Guide as eliminating the telework eligibility for employees in the Federal government:

  • Face-to-face personal contact (e.g., counseling, medical assessment, some sales)
  • Hands-on operation of equipment, vehicles, or other on-site assets
  • Direct handling of secure materials that can't be handled remotely
  • Activities dependent on a physical presence (e.g., security guard, forest ranger)

    After eliminating those remote work disqualifiers, you can see that a great many office-based jobs could be suitable for working from home, but some might be easier to do at home than others.

    Basic Job Types for Working from Home

    Here's a rule of thumb for deciding if a job is suitable for telecommuting: If your job involves a lot of solo work, can be done as a home-based business, and/or is mostly computer-based, it's probably ideal for telecommuting.

    Examples of Occupations That Are Ideal for Telecommuting:

    • Accountant, bookkeeper
    • Administrative assistant
    • Auditor, financial analyst
    • Computer programmer, software engineer
    • Data entry clerk
    • Database administrator
    • Engineer
    • Graphic designer, illustrator, desktop publisher
    • Insurance agent
    • Marketing planner, media buyer
    • Medical transcriptionist, medical reviewer
    • Paralegal
    • Public relations professional, speechwriter
    • Researcher, market research analyst
    • Sales rep, customer service rep, travel agent
    • Stockbroker
    • Telemarketer, telephone order taker
    • Translator
    • Webmaster, website designer
    • Writer, reporter, editor

    Companies and Best-Paying Remote Work Jobs

    If you want to get started telecommuting--enjoying the benefits of working from home while also being a full-time employee rather than working for yourself--here are some resources to consult:

    • The Best Companies for Telecommuting: Companies that have established telecommuting programs and allow employees to work from home at least part time.
    • High-Salary Work-from-Home Jobs: Flexible job listing site FlexJobs compiled this list of work-from-home jobs with the highest salaries, most of them in the six figures. 
      1. Clinical Regulatory Affairs Director ($150,000 salary): help pharmaceutical companies meet legal needs for clinical trials 
      2. Supervisory Attorney ($117,000 to $152,000): work-from-home lawyers
      3. Senior Medical Writer ($110,000 to $115,000): reviewing, writing, and editing medical documents
      4. Environmental Engineers (up to $110,000): though they need to be in the field often, when not conducting reseach they could be working from a home office
      5. Director of Quality Improvement ($100,000 to $175,000): oversee operations and programming for an organization's quality improvement programs
      6. Senior Software Engineer ($100,000 to $160,000): design and develop software programs
      7. Director of Business Development ($100,000 to $150,000): at-home sales directors
      8. Research Biologist ($93,000 to $157,000): they probably spend a lot of time in the field as well, although some research biologist have their own labs
      9. Audit Manager ($90,000 to $110,000): perform financial and operational audits for clients, including companies
      10. Major Gifts Officer (up to $90,000): secure large-sum donations from current and prospective donors
    • Industries with the Highest Telecommuting-Friendly Job Demand: FlexJobs also evaluated which telecommuting-friendly jobs are most in demand by employers. As summarized on DailyWorth, these are jobs in the healthcare industry (e.g., medical transcriptionist), sales (e.g., insurance sales agent or regional sales manager), computer and information technology (e.g., software developer), customer service (including computer user support), education and training (online teachers and tutors), administrative jobs (e.g., insurance claims processing clerks), marketing (e.g., market research analyst), business development (e.g., business analyst), web and software development (e.g., web developer), and research (e.g., background investigator).

      As you can see, jobs that are ideal for telecommuting run the gamut of industry fields.

      Keep in mind that being successful at working from home or telecommuting isn't just about having the right job. It's also about having the right skills, not necessarily job related, such as being self-motivated and being able to manage your time. Find out if telecommuting is right for you.

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