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How to Find Legitimate Work from Home Jobs

Submitted by Joseph Pineiro on Fri, 02/05/2021 - 16:52
work from home

It's a clickbait cliché: "Make $1500 a Day from Home (No Experience Needed)!!"

There are a lot of get-rich-quick scams that bill themselves as work-from-home careers. And if you sign up, someone will get rich...it's just not going to be you.

However, there are a lot of real options when it comes to legit online jobs (or even entire at-home careers), including a wide range of skill sets in demand. Some work-from-home jobs are full-time, some are part-time, and some allow you to be your own boss as a freelancer.

If you're reading this, you're actively looking to transition to a stay-at-home job. You're probably wondering what your career options are, how to get into that type of work, and how to protect yourself from being drawn in by a Nigerian prince wannabe.

We've got you covered. Below, you'll find a list of legitimate work-from-home jobs, most of which can become sustainable at-home careers. Bonus: you can break into many of them with at-home training.

But first, let's review what you need to know about stay-at-home work in general.

What Should You Know Before Working from Home?

The joys of working from home get hyped often enough, and no wonder. Stay-at-home jobs can offer a better work-life balance, a flexible schedule, and a life without commutes, business wardrobes, or cafeteria lunches. You also have more time with family, which is why people tout work-from-home jobs for moms.

Even legit online jobs have their downsides, however. Here are a few false assumptions and challenges to consider:

  • Not all work-from-home positions have flexible schedules. Some require set hours.
  • Some remote jobs do have location restrictions due to factors like state employment laws, tax laws, and health insurance requirements.
  • You'll need reliable, high-speed internet and other office basics (which vary a little by career). Some full-time jobs might provide a company laptop, but you should plan to have a reliable machine of your own, in case they don't.
  • Even though you'll be at home, you may still need to figure out childcare for little ones so you can concentrate.
  • Working from home can be isolating. You'll need social outlets outside of work, and some extroverts may find it difficult to be productive.
  • A freelance business can take time to build. In addition to whatever skill you're selling, you'll also need to learn business and marketing techniques. Plus, looking for new clients can be a lot like a perpetual job search, especially at the beginning.

How Do You Find Legit Work-from-Home Jobs?

First, we strongly recommend that you start from a career mindset, rather than hunting around randomly for any WFH job that "sounds good."

What do we mean? First, research legit online careers that allow for remote work, choose one that fits your skills and interests, earn any necessary qualifications you're missing, and go from there.

It's safer, and it's also more likely to be successful. You'll avoid a lot of scams just by using this method, and you're aiming for jobs that you're likely to find satisfying. You'll also be competing as a qualified candidate (not just one of the hoard), and you'll know what kind of pay you can expect, so you don't work for pennies.

Once you get to the actual job search process, here are a few tips and tricks that are particular to finding remote work:

  • Add terms like "work from home," "work at home," "telecommute," and (if appropriate) "freelance" to your search job sites.
  • Some job sites let you filter for the proportion of remote work – check for that option.
  • If you want to do all your work from home, use "100% remote" in your search if the site doesn't have the right filter.
  • Narrow by part-time or full-time if you have a preference.
  • Make sure you include your location to filter out jobs that won't hire where you live.
  • Use general job sites but also look for remote-specific job sites with a solid reputation. FlexJobs is a good one. You have to pay for access, but they vet the listings for you and give you research on employers.
  • Research the company before you apply. Glassdoor has breakdowns of real salaries, benefits, and reviews from actual employees. You can "unlock" this information just by rating an old job.
  • Think through and prepare for interview questions specific to WFH issues. Employers will often ask if you've worked from home before, whether you'll have a quiet space to work, how you'll deal with the isolation, and similar questions.

Due to the pandemic, many companies are temporarily allowing remote work that were wary of the arrangement before. If you get hired by a company whose remote work might be temporary, concentrate on proving yourself to be competent, reliable, and trustworthy. It could just result in work-from-home privileges after life returns to normal.

How Do You Know If a Work-from-Home Job is Legitimate?

There are two basic rules to avoiding work-from-home scams:

  1. Trust your gut. If it feels off or too good to be true, walk away.
  2. If you don't have to compete for a job, it's almost certainly a scam.

In other words, if an email just falls into your inbox offering you an opportunity where you'll make fast, easy money and you don't even have to apply? Run.

Specific red flags include jobs that:

  • Promise lots of money with little to no qualifications needed
  • Promise you'll work very little but get rich within a few years (or less)
  • Ask for personal financial information early in the hiring process, including your social security number, bank account, credit card, date of birth, and/or address
  • Require up-front expenses or "investments"
  • Don't require an application and interview process
  • Pay based on the recruitment of other "contractors" or workers
  • Have a contact email that's not a company address (like a Gmail account)
  • Involve companies that have a poor web presence (legitimate companies can be found through multiple avenues, like a professionally designed website, social media channels, business networking sites, news articles, and more)

Aside from outright hucksters that steal your identity and/or money, there are two categories of seemingly legitimate work that you should be wary of.

The first is multi-level marketing (MLM) companies, also sometimes called direct sales. These often bill themselves as work-from-home and often sound like a fun, flexible way to earn cash. When you check out the company, they seem legitimate. Some even go out of their way to seem "different" from notoriously unprofitable MLMs, and they always insist they're not pyramid schemes. However, roughly 99% of people lose money, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The biggest red flag is that you never have to compete for these jobs – in fact, they pressure you into signing up. Be aware that these (legal-but-barely) scams use the guise of all sorts of products, and lately, even services.

The other place where you need to be careful not to be scammed is freelance "gig" sites. These sites often have legit online work available! However, you'll also find lots of "clients" who want to pay $5 or $10 for multiple hours of work. It's technically not a scam, but they would be taking advantage of you.

10 Legit At-Home Careers That Are In Demand

To jump-start your remote career research, here are a few potentially high-paying stay-at-home jobs. Most don't require a degree, and you can get started with less than a year of study or training.

Work from Home as a Medical or Legal Transcriptionist

If you're a fast and accurate typist with good grammar, you can make a living turning dictated or recorded audio into text. 

Transcription jobs exist for a range of topics, but the medical and legal fields need specialists familiar with their lingo.

It's not enough for these transcriptionists to simply recognize jargon and terminology. They need to understand it well enough to accurately reflect what they're hearing. They also need to be capable of identifying inconsistencies, errors, or missing information.

Here's how it works: medical and legal professionals dictate audio notes or record various proceedings, then send their recordings out for transcription. In most cases, they contract with  specialized support services like ubiQus, which hires both legal and medical transcriptionists.

Most transcriptionists work full-time for a specialized third party. Others work directly for law firms, medical practices, hospitals, or laboratories. A very small percentage are self-employed.

No matter the setup, many transcription jobs can be done remotely and on a flexible schedule.

If you have a background in medical or legal terminology, you might be able to simply jump right in. If you need to build knowledge of the jargon instead, you can find reputable online training to become a Certified Medical Transcriptionist or Legal Transcriptionist before you hit the job market.

Work from Home as a Graphic Designer

In the age of the internet, there will always be a demand for talented graphic designers. Sure, amateurs can spit out some graphics with online tools (some of which are even for free).  But for effective design, there's no substitute for a professional eye and a creative mind.

It's not for the faint of heart. Say goodbye to artistic integrity and hello to interpreting vague and contradictory client requests.

Many graphic designers work part- or full-time for one specific employer, and some of those jobs allow remote work. Potential employers include advertising or PR firms, but businesses of all sizes also hire graphic designers directly.

The best way to guarantee you'll be working from home is by freelancing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 21% of all graphic designers were self-employed in 2019.

Most graphic design these days is digital, so you need to learn the right tools in addition to design principles. You don't need a degree. You can get a jump start on technical skills, learn business essentials, and start your design portfolio with an online certificate program, to get a jump on the WFH lifestyle.

Work from Home as a Medical Coding Specialist

Medical coding is a fast-growing career. The BLS projects 8% growth by 2029, which is twice the average for most jobs.

Accuracy is extremely important, so being detail-oriented is a must.

Medical coding specialists categorize patient information for billing and insurance claims. Medical facilities and insurance companies constantly need medical services, diagnoses, and supplies translated into billing codes.

Sound like something you can do from home? Plenty of large insurance providers and medical coding support companies agree. Medical coders can work full-time or part-time, and medical coding jobs from home are becoming more and more common.

Keep in mind, due to the seriousness of working with medical records, you may need to earn some experience in an office before you get paid for that sweet pajama life. 

For the same reasons, employers typically want to hire certified candidates. Two of the most respected certifications are the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) programs. CBCS is more suitable if you want a combined billing and coding role – we broke down the difference between billing and coding here.

You can typically earn these certifications in 3-6 months online from home, then get straight to work.

Work from Home as a Copyeditor or Proofreader

Are you the friend everyone comes to with their school or work writing? If you're good at cleaning up people's grammar, clarifying their language, making it more readable, and keeping the formatting consistent, you already have the right instincts to copyedit.

Many remote copyeditors get started in a field where they already have some knowledge. For example, if you majored in psychology, look for copyediting jobs on those topics. That way you already have the jargon and context necessary to understand the material, which makes it easier to change the language while retaining meaning.

You should invest in professional training, though. You need to learn the technical aspects of copyediting like how to mark up a manuscript to industry standards.

Work from Home as a Social Media Specialist

Social media marketing is big business, and companies often hire social media specialists to guide their marketing efforts and manage their social media presence.

For big companies, this may be a full-time position. However, plenty of smaller businesses hire freelance social media consultants to get the job done. This can be an excellent opportunity to work from home, especially if you're already social media savvy.

However, it's not all kitten gifs and internet memes when you go pro. You'll need to educate yourself in the world of digital marketing first. Learn how to engage and convert a target audience, create content they'll want to share, create strategies to further a business goal, and discover how to effectively manage a client's reputation.

This doesn't require a marketing degree. You can learn the requisite skills by studying for the Online Marketing Certified Professional (OMCP) exam. You can find training that helps you prepare for it from home!

Having this well-respected certification on your resume will also catch the attention of potential clients and employers.

Work from Home as a Customer Service Representative

Call centers were rapidly becoming extinct, even before the pandemic. As phone calls give way to email and chat, companies are discovering that reps can work from home just as effectively as an office.

Potential employers include corporate giants like Apple, but lots of online businesses need chat or phone support.  Sometimes they hire directly, and sometimes they hire out through customer service providers like LiveOps and Working Solutions.

It's a growing industry with no particular educational requirements – experience is king. Never worked call-in or online support? If you have any customer service experience at all, like food service or retail, you can talk about the skills you earned in those positions and how they'll transfer to your new position.

Work from Home as an Account Manager

Account management is basically customer service's more sophisticated, higher-paying sibling. In fact, a lot of account managers used to be CSRs.

The main difference is that account managers work with a number of specific clients, instead of anyone who calls. Like a customer service rep, the job involves solving problems and making clients happy, but account managers build long-term relationships and serve a customer's needs on a deeper level.

If you're a people person and a great problem solver, this might be a good job for you. You'll spend time working with other departments to service your accounts, and you'll need to become familiar with the company's products and services. However, companies in many different industries have account managers, so you can look at companies that suit your areas of expertise.

Account managers typically work in an office and may travel to visit clients, but more and more major companies are opening this up for remote work and a range of other flexible options.

Work from Home as a Virtual Bookkeeper

You need a degree to be an accountant, but daily bookkeeping tasks require no formal education, just a good head for numbers and attention to detail.

"Virtual bookkeeping" (working from home) is in growing demand, so opportunities have become a lot more common in recent years.

Potential employers include third-party bookkeeping or accounting services like Supporting Strategies or AccountingDepartment.com.

You can also start your own freelance business. Many small businesses now use freelance bookkeepers.

If you're starting from scratch or your experience is outdated, you can learn what you need to know and improve your hiring prospects by getting QuickBooks certification online at home.

Work from Home as a Programmer

Most programming jobs aren't remote – in a 2019 Overstack survey, only 12% of respondents reported being full-time remote, whereas 43% said they work remotely once a month or less.

That doesn't mean you can't find remote programming jobs – you absolutely can. It's easier if you already have programming experience on your resume. In the Overstack survey, those who were full-time remote had 60% more years of coding experience than those who never do.

Many job listings call for a relevant bachelor's degree, but industry experts say that if you can demonstrate skills and competence with programming languages, you can get away without it.

If you want to take this path, you can take online courses or attend programming boot camps, build a portfolio of projects that demonstrate your skill, and develop your social media presence and professional network. One popular avenue for this is contributing to open-source projects and showcasing them on Github.

It can be easier to get hired by a smaller company. However, in a post-pandemic world, many more tech firms are considering building fully remote teams.

Work from Home as a Data Entry Clerk

Data entry isn't glamorous, but it is necessary, and you can find stay-at-home jobs. According to the BLS, the average hourly wage was over $16/hour in 2019.

It's not entirely about entering information into databases and spreadsheets, but that's obviously key. You'll also need to review records for accuracy and completeness. Some positions will require audio transcription as well.

Data entry jobs can be needed for many different industries, including medical and healthcare, accounting and finance, government and politics, retail, and more.

You need fast, accurate keyboard skills, as well as a basic knowledge of word processing, spreadsheet, and database software. Most employers provide on-the-job training for their specific systems.

While you can find data entry work on "gig" sites, you can earn better pay with third party support services or by working directly for a company.

Earn Remote Job Credentials From Home!

We've mentioned the possibility of preparing for some of these careers with remote learning – if you're already looking for at-home careers, this can be a great way to earn the necessary credentials.

However, there are just as many scam schools online as scam jobs, so you need to vet any program before you fork over money.

Some tried-and-true ways to make sure an online school is legit including looking for:

  • A long, successful track record
  • Affiliation with a major university
  • Acceptance by other major institutions
  • Satisfied former students discussing their experience online

You'll want to research the school just like you'll research prospective employers.

Meditec has been in the business of providing vocational distance learning for over 40 years, about 20 of them online. We work in partnership with Texas A&M Kingsville, and if you're a military spouse, our programs are eligible for full funding through the DOD's MyCAA scholarship.

Our programs prepare you to earn valuable professional certifications. In most of our programs, the cost of the certification exam is included in your program, as well as a new laptop so you don't have to worry about equipment.

And did we mention that we have a 93% student satisfaction rate?

Reach out to us and learn more today!

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