For many years, working remotely was more of a theory than a reality. While the technology certainly existed for many millions of people to work online, only a relatively small percentage actually did. In fact, according to a survey completed by FlexJobs back in February 2020, only about 3.4% of workers were home based.
But then the coronavirus pandemic hit. While millions were furloughed from their jobs completely, millions more were shifted to remote work. According to a Gallup poll taken in early April, the percentage of workers reporting their employer is offering either flextime or remote work increased to 57% as of March 30, 2020. A full 62% of American workers report working from home during the pandemic, which is double the percentage since the middle of March.
It’s a welcome change. The nature of work and even of entire careers has been undergoing a dramatic transformation since the beginning of the 21st century. In addition to advances in technology that are making remote work increasingly possible, many occupations are rapidly becoming non-traditional.
For example, occupations that were once formal jobs are now being done by contractors, freelancers, and gig workers. And while some are something of a hybrid between a traditional job and self-employment, others lean decidedly in favor of straight up self-employment.
In response to that transition, we’ve prepared this guide to the best online jobs to make real money.
Remote work is a welcome change. The nature of work and even of entire careers has been undergoing a dramatic transformation since the beginning of the 21st century.
The Best Online Jobs
We’ve focused on jobs that are increasingly moving online, and on occupations commonly available for freelancers and gig workers that can easily be converted into full-time incomes due to major shifts in technology, the economy and consumer lifestyle and spending patterns.
In our list of the best online jobs, we’ve included technical occupations, web-based occupations, administrative occupations, education related occupations, and professional and specialized occupations. These are the fields where online jobs are becoming increasingly prevalent. Many other occupations are moving toward online, though at a slower pace.
To take advantage of these opportunities, you’ll need to be prepared to work in all types of occupational classifications, whether it’s set up as a remotely based traditional job, part-time work, contract assignments, freelance, gig work, or full-on self-employment. Pay levels presented for more formal occupations are drawn from either the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook or from Payscale.com, or presented as general range estimates for less formal ones.
To make your review easier, we’ve grouped the opportunities within general broad categories.
- Technical Occupations
- Web-Based Occupations
- Administrative Occupations
- Education-Related Occupations
- Professional and Specialized Occupations
Job description: A web designer designs a website or blog layout in a way that is both attractive and functional to visitors. That includes creating sites that are visually appealing, easy to navigate, and seamlessly provide all the functions the site owner requires to accommodate customers and visitors. Unlike a web developer, a web designer is primarily concerned with the front end of the website – which is what the visitor sees upon arrival.
Capacities: Can be a traditional job, but more frequently freelance or self-employment.
Pay level: $73,760 per year (BLS)
Where to get started: A college degree in a related major helps but specific skills, like user experience training, CSS, and HTML are more critical. Salaried positions may be available on job boards, and are frequently available on a remote basis. You can generally find freelance work on LinkedIn, or specialized sites like DesignCrowd and 99designs. You can also direct market through social media and email marketing, networking or direct contact with potential clients. A dedicated website displaying your skills and contact information is a must.
Job description: Providing technical assistance to system and program end-users. That includes either consumers or business users. They generally work for a company and provide assistance to their customers and clients in both using and troubleshooting problems with their products and services.
Capacities: Traditional job, often remotely based.
Pay level: $54,760 per year (BLS)
Where to get started: Computer and Internet familiarity, IT support is commonly an entry into the IT field. Jobs are typically posted on the job boards, and remote work assignments are common.
Job description: SEO is an abbreviation for search engine optimization, but if you work in that capacity you already know this. The basic job is to optimize websites for ranking by Google. That is, using various techniques that will improve the visibility of a website for targeted Google searches.
Capacities: Traditional jobs, often remotely based, as well as freelance and self-employment if you specialize.
Pay level: $60,270 per year (PayScale)
Where to get started: An IT background helps, but a strong familiarity with the Internet and how to create and upgrade websites is more important. Traditional jobs are available on the job boards. Freelance opportunities are often listed on platforms such as Problogger, DesignCrowd and Upwork, but you can also market your services through social media and networking.
Job description: Graphic designers are techno-artists who create graphic images for websites, business marketing campaigns, and even print publications. It’s a fairly common skill, since there are graphic design applications available. But there’s always work for specialists who can design advanced images.
Capacities: Traditional jobs, many remotely based, as well as freelance, gig work, and self-employment.
Pay level: $52,110 per year (BLS), but can be much higher on a freelance basis.
Where to get started: You can be a graphic designer if you have above average graphic design skills. You can apply for traditional jobs on the job boards, but also find freelance opportunities on sites such as Upwork, Guru and Freelancer. But it’s also possible to market your skills on social media, through networking, or directly with potential clients. Having a dedicated website showcasing your work is a major plus.
Job description: A video editor doesn’t create videos, but rather enhances them to create a better final product. That can include inserting graphics, text, links, music, sound effects, and other special features to give a video more appeal to viewers. A video editor may also rearrange the sequence of the video, as well as smooth out any glitches in the final product.
Capacities: There are a limited number of traditional jobs that can be remotely based, but work is more frequently done on a freelance, gig or self-employed basis.
Pay level: $48,255 per year (PayScale), but varies by assignment for freelance.
Where to get started: You’ll need to be fluent with popular video editing software, like Adobe PremierPro. Traditional jobs are available on the job boards, but if you’re looking for freelance or gig work, sites like Freelancer, Upwork and People Per Hour are definite possibilities. But if you want to make it a full-time business, try reaching out to owners of YouTube channels that have a large number of subscribers and regular video productions.
Job description: Blogging is a true entrepreneurial endeavor, in which you’ll create a website and provide free content to visitors. As web traffic grows, you’ll monetize your blog through advertising, product reviews, and even selling your own products, like e-books or online courses.
Pay level: Informal occupation with scant hard statistics. Successful bloggers can earn anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $100,000 or more per month.
Where to get started: Start with my guide, How To Start A Blog From Scratch And Make It Work. It’ll provide you with a detailed strategy for building a blog from the ground up. You can get an inexpensive web hosting plan through Bluehost. It’s mostly a learn-and-earn process where you’ll need to start your own site, learn from others and from online courses, then experiment until you find a formula that works for you.
Job description: Writing articles, product reviews, guides, and other content for websites and blogs. It helps if you have a specialization, like finance, travel, computers, insurance, real estate or other fields. You can start by specializing in one field, then gradually branch out to others.
Capacities: Freelance and self-employment.
Pay level: Generally pays on a per article basis, which can range from $50 for simple articles as a beginner, to $500 or more for more technical articles once you’re more experienced. A successful freelance writer can easily make a six-figure income.
Where to get started: A college degree certainly helps, especially one with a journalism major. You can take the Earn More Writing course from Holly Johnson to fast-forward your entry into the field. You can generally find freelance assignments on Problogger, but you’ll likely earn more by marketing your services directly to bloggers and website owners.
Job description: Where a freelance writer creates content for websites and blogs, the content editor reviews, enhances, and manages that content. That could include working with multiple writers, coming up with content topics, assigning those topics, then downloading the finished work onto the website.
Capacities: Sometimes available through traditional jobs done remotely, but more frequently through freelancing and self-employment.
Pay level: $46,896 per year (PayScale)
Where to get started: It helps to have in-house editing experience, but you may also be able to transfer into the field from freelance writing. You may be able to find assignments on Problogger and Craigslist, but once you have some direct experience, it’s often more profitable to market your services directly to website owners and on the social media.
Job description: Nearly every document written for publication either in the print media or online needs to be proofread. This is not the same as editing content since you won’t be rewriting or rearranging the original text. You’ll mainly be making corrections for spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure.
Capacities: Some traditional jobs are available, often with remote basing, but freelance and gig work is much more common.
Pay level: $17.82 per hour (PayScale), but up to $40 per hour for freelance.
Where to get started: You’ll need to have a strong orientation toward detail and proper writing. A degree in English, literature, or journalism can be a major advantage. Traditional jobs are available on the job boards, but freelance work can be found through sites like Problogger, Upwork, Mechanical Turk and TaskRabbit.
Facebook Ads Manager
Job description: Advertising on social media is becoming increasingly important for businesses of all sizes, and especially on Facebook. Most business owners don’t have time to manage a Facebook ad campaign and need someone with specific knowledge of how it works.
Capacities: Freelance and self-employment.
Pay level: Varies by number and size of clients but can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per month.
Where to get started: You’ll need familiarity with the Facebook ads process, a keen marketing sense, and a high comfort level with Facebook itself. You can look for gigs on Indeed.com and Craigslist, but the best course is to market your services directly to potential clients. You can do that through Facebook and other social media, but it will help to have a dedicated website to showcase your services.
Social Media Manager
Job description: Managing the social media profile of a business. That can include marketing campaigns, providing general information about the company or its products and services, providing regular postings, and even responding to questions, comments and complaints from customers.
Capacities: Traditional job, but more frequently freelance or self-employed.
Pay level: Payscale.com reports $50,816 per year but varies by client size and specific needs.
Where to get started: Requires fluency in the social media, especially with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Online courses may be available through YouTube and other sources. Traditional jobs can be found on the job boards, but freelance opportunities can be found on Craigslist, or through your own social media outlets. Having a dedicated website displaying your skills is highly recommended.
Job description: Virtual assistants perform just about any service a business might need. That can include customer support, administrative assistance, social media posting, website management, billing, and much more.
Capacities: Gig work, freelance and self-employment.
Pay level: Varies widely by the service being provided. General administrative services may earn between $15 and $20 per hour, while specialized technical skills can fetch more than $50 per hour.
Where to get started: You can apply any skills you have as a virtual assistant. You can either get assignments through a virtual assistant website, like Upwork or People Per Hour, or market your services directly to potential clients. This can be done through social media or email marketing, or even direct contact with small businesses.
Job description: Entering information into business or company databases. It involves keying information from multiple source media into a designated database. Data can also come from handwritten sources or audio recordings. There’s generally little customer contact.
Capacity: Traditional job, freelance, or gig work.
Pay level: $34,820 per year (BLS)
Where to get started: You’re generally eligible if you have a high school diploma, good English reading and writing skills, and excellent typing skills. Traditional jobs are typically listed on job boards, like Indeed.com, while freelance opportunities may be available on Craigslist, Upwork or Freelancer.
Customer Service Rep
Job description: As the name implies, your job will be to provide assistance to customers of your employer. Since the work is based almost entirely online and by phone, jobs are increasingly done remotely. Customer service reps are needed in just about every industry, so employment opportunities are highly diversified.
Capacities: Traditional job, increasingly performed remotely.
Pay level: $34,710 per year (BLS)
Where to get started: A friendly phone voice may be all that’s required for general customer service work. But higher education, technical training and on-site experience may be required for more complex fields, like healthcare and finance. Jobs are frequently posted on the job boards, but there are websites like Transcom and WorkingSolutions that specialize in the field.
Job description: Selling products or services in virtually any industry there is. Many large companies have in-house sales departments, but individual agents are frequently remotely based. The position may involve either handling company generated leads, or even generating leads and making sales yourself.
Capacities: Traditional jobs, which are often handled remotely.
Pay level: $63,050 per year (BLS), but varies considerably based on employer or the product or service being sold.
Where to get started: You’ll mostly need an outgoing personality and a pleasant telephone voice. Jobs are available with thousands of companies across the country, and even foreign-based companies looking to sell into the US market. They can be found on the job boards, on LinkedIn, and FlexJobs.
Job description: Transcribes medical reports from recordings by physicians and other healthcare professionals. Reports will cover office visits, emergency room visits, diagnostic imaging results, operations, chart reviews, and final summaries. Work may be performed for physician’s offices, medical and surgical hospitals, other health practitioners, employment services, and even business support services.
Capacities: Traditional job or freelance/self-employed.
Pay level: $33,380 per year (BLS)
Where to get started: You’ll need to complete a medical transcriptionist program at a vocational school, community college, or distance learning program. It’s usually a one-year certificate program, though associate’s degrees may be offered. You can find jobs or assignments on Indeed.com or ZipRecruiters.
Job description: As one of the fastest growing and most innovative companies in America, Amazon home bases much of its workforce. Remote positions are available for solutions architects, fulfillment and operations management, sales, advertising and account management, software development, human resources, technical and non-tech project management, business and merchant development, leadership development and training, and operations, IT and support engineering.
Capacities: Traditional jobs, remotely base.
Pay level: Customer service positions pay between $10 and $13 an hour, but technical and managerial positions pay much more.
Where to get started: You can search the job boards, but the best way to find online jobs is by applying directly with Amazon. There, you’ll find plenty of opportunities, since Amazon home bases much of their workforce. At the time of this writing, Amazon has more than 1,100 remote full-time positions.
Job description: Providing one-on-one support to students at all levels, from first grade up through college. You can tutor in any subject where you have above-average knowledge, but the most work and the best pay will come from the more technical subjects, like math and science.
Capacities: Mostly freelance and self-employment.
Pay level: $17.81 per hour (PayScale) but can be up to $50 an hour for freelance on more technical subjects, like math and science.
Where to get started: It helps to have a college degree, but it’s not absolutely necessary as long as you have solid command of a particular subject. You can offer your services over social media, but it may be best to market yourself directly to schools and colleges. For example, printing up flyers and making them available to school guidance offices will enable you to offer yourself as a resource to struggling students.
English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher
Job description: You’ll either be teaching English to foreign-born residents in the US or helping them to improve their command of the language. Work is often done with the children of immigrants to help them perform better in school. Though the work has traditionally been done on a face-to-face basis, it’s increasingly available online.
Capacities: Traditional jobs may be available through schools, but they’re unlikely to offer online options. But online may be available if you work on a freelance basis.
Pay level: $44,982 per year (PayScale) but will vary for freelance work.
Where to get started: You’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree in English or in education, or a related field. Many states also require an ESL certification. Traditional jobs are likely to be available on local school websites, and sometimes posted on the major job boards. But if you prefer to do gig work, you can sign up with sites like Magic Ears. The website indicates a range of between $15 and $26 per hour. A very specialized type of ESL is teaching English to children in China, available through VIPKid. It pays $15 to $22 per hour. Both services allow you to work online. You may also be able to pick up freelance work by marketing your services to local schools, or even through the social media.
Professional and Specialized Occupations
Job description: Remotely based nurses are employed in various healthcare related fields to provide answers to medical questions for customers. A remotely based nurse may work for a hospital, a large medical facility, a medical consulting firm, and very commonly in the insurance industry. For example, one of the largest employers of online nurses is United healthcare.
Capacities: Traditional jobs, often remotely based.
Pay level: $73,300 per year (BLS)
Where to get started: You’ll need to be a registered nurse with at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and several years of hands-on experience. Positions are available on the major job boards, and often through healthcare recruiting firms, like RN Network or Emerald Health Services. But one of the best ways to find online nursing positions is to apply directly with employers, like insurance companies. Examples include United healthcare, Anthem, Humana and the various state Blue Cross/Blue Shield franchises.
Job description: The work varies and can include preparation of financial statements and tax returns, auditing, account reconciliations, and completion of government and regulatory reports.
Capacities: Primarily traditional jobs, but remote working is becoming increasingly common.
Pay level: $71,550 per year (BLS).
Where to get started: You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree in accounting to enter the field. Jobs are plentiful, but you’ll likely need to start out with an in-office job until you gain experience. Once you have a few years under your belt, and the confidence to work alone, you can request a remote position from your current employer or seek one directly on the job boards.
Job description: Typically work in small businesses or for accountants. Work involves lower-level accounting functions, including Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, payroll, sales tax reporting, and preparation of reports.
Capacities: Traditional jobs but increasingly based remotely, as well as freelance and self-employment.
Pay level: $41,230 per year (BLS).
Where to get started: You’ll typically need a high school diploma, and experience working on-site as a bookkeeper. But once you have that experience, you can either request working remotely with your current employer or search the job boards for remote bookkeeper positions. Familiarity with popular financial software, like QuickBooks, is essential.
Job description: This occupation is very similar to freelance writing, and often operates in the same way (freelance). The main difference is that your writing is highly specialized. For example, rather than writing on general topics, you’ll concentrate on technical content like information technology, healthcare, law, or even writing complex how-to guides.
Capacities: Can be a traditional job remotely based but is more frequently freelance or self-employment.
Pay level: $60,103 per year (PayScale) but varies by assignment for freelance work.
Where to get started: You’ll generally need at least a bachelor’s degree in your field of expertise, as well as several years of relevant experience. Traditional jobs, both on-site and remote, are available on the job boards. But if you’re working freelance or you’re self-employed, you can market your services directly to potential clients. This may require marketing on social media, email contact or networking. You may also be able to find assignments on Upwork, FlexJobs and Fiverr.
Job description: You can be a business consultant in just about any field where you have extensive experience and knowledge. Basically, you’re selling your expertise to new or struggling businesses to help them become more successful, or even to improve a specific area of their business. As a business consultant, you’ll have a considerable amount of control over exactly what aspects of a business or industry you’ll be involved with.
Capacities: Sometimes as a traditional job, but more frequently as a freelancer or through self-employment.
Pay level: Varies by occupation, experience and expertise
Where to get started: Requirements depend on the field where you will be a consultant. For example, they’ll be different between engineering, marketing, human resources, healthcare and IT. Since you’ll likely be self-employed, you’ll need to market your services directly to potential clients. That’s often done through networking, word-of-mouth, or direct contact by phone, email, or the social media. A professionally designed website highlighting your expertise is a must.
Real Estate Agent
Job description: Representing property sellers and buyers in real estate transactions. That may involve listing and marketing a seller’s property, and/or representing buyers in the purchase of listed homes. Most real estate agents today are home based, even though they’re affiliated with local or national real estate agencies. Most of the work can now be done online by email, phone, and increasingly, using virtual home tours. These are becoming especially popular since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the occupation continues to rely heavily on face-to-face contact with buyers, sellers, and related parties, like closing attorneys and appraisers.
Capacities: Independent agent working through a real estate brokerage. You’re basically self-employed while being affiliated with the agency. Compensation is by commission only.
Pay level: $62,060 per year (BLS) but varies widely by geographic location and agent skill level.
Where to get started: You’ll need to get a real estate license in your state of residence. Requirements will vary from one state to another, but most require you to successfully pass a standard real estate exam. You’ll then join a real estate agency, which will provide initial and ongoing training, as well as equip you with the tools you’ll need to do your job.
Tips for Remote Work
It can be difficult to generalize about online jobs since there are so many and each is unique. But here are general tips to help you transition into online work, particularly if you’ve never done it before.
Watch out for scams!
Though there are plenty of legitimate online jobs available, there are a fair number of scams. But scams typically have certain characteristics that make them pretty easy to spot:
- The job description is vague.
- You may be requested to pay an upfront fee.
- You may be asked to provide bank account information, or even your Social Security number, very early in the process.
- A common scam involves acting in some capacity as a transfer agent for money.
- The promises high earnings, like $10,000 per month.
Those are just some of the signs to watch out for. But if you fall for a scam, it might cost you money, or even result in the theft of your identity. Don’t apply for any online income generating situation that can’t be verified by reliable third-party sources.
Have a dedicated workspace in your home
Though it may be possible to work out of a corner in your bedroom or even your kitchen table, you’ll be more productive if you have a dedicated workspace. If there are other people in your household, it should be a separate office with a door so you can maintain a quiet environment.
Equally important with a dedicated workspace is the ability to avoid outside distractions. That’s also why having a door so important.
If you have family members at home, make sure it’s understood that you’re not to be disturbed while you’re working. The concept of mixing work and family life with an online occupation is not only overrated, but it could also threaten your job.
Have the right equipment
Some employers will provide you with the equipment necessary to do your job, including a computer and peripheral equipment. But if it’s a less formal situation, like freelance, gif work or self-employment, you’ll need your own good quality computer equipment.
It should go without saying that you’ll need good, reliable high-speed Internet. You may also need multiple computer monitors, and a headset and microphone if the work will involve significant customer contact. Some employers may also require you to have a dedicated phone line.
In addition to having the right equipment, make sure your workspace is set up in a way that’s conducive to ease of use and high productivity.
You’ll generally need hands-on experience to make real money
While it’s certainly possible to get an online job with no experience, such jobs usually pay at the low end of the pay scale. But you’re more likely to earn a living wager if you bring significant experience to the job or occupation.
For that reason, it may be best to spend some time on the inside learning the job before going remote. One quality that’s absolutely required for online work is the ability to work independently. You won’t have a boss or coworkers around, so you’ll need to thoroughly understand the job that needs to be done, and the resources you’ll need to access to help you work efficiently.
Take your online job very seriously
Employers have a certain amount of understandable reluctance with remote work arrangements. The concern is always that a home-based worker may be less productive than their on-site counterparts.
Make sure that doesn’t happen. If you want your online venture to be a success, work intentionally to be more productive at home than you would be if you were at the office. Your employer will be paying close attention to your productivity, so it’s mission-critical to be ready to wow them.
One other important point: respond promptly to calls and emails from your employer. Frequent delays or unreturned contacts may generate suspicion about your remote activities.
Some online jobs are hybrid
An employer may agree to an arrangement where you work remotely three days per week and spend two days in the office. Even if that’s not your ideal work situation, go with it anyway.
There may be aspects of the job that do need to be performed on-site. But your employer may also be testing the waters. They may be using the split schedule to determine maximum productivity. Be proactive, and the arrangement may eventually shift to full-time remote.
Just a few months ago online jobs were more of a novelty than a reality. But with the dramatic advancement of communication technology and computer software, in combination with the home-basing requirements of the coronavirus pandemic, online jobs are increasingly becoming the new normal.