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Slide Show | July 2014

10 Great Work-at-Home Jobs

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Work-at-home jobs promise big benefits: extra income, flexible hours and the enviable dress code of slippers and sweatpants. The trick, of course, is finding legitimate, well-paid positions because work-at-home scams abound.

To assemble our list of top work-at-home jobs, we combed U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data for occupations with good hourly wages and promising growth prospects. We then identified actual companies that hire home-based workers in these fields, and scrutinized their benefits and schedules.

To weed out scammers, we checked out companies with the Better Business Bureau. Every work-at-home company we mention is highly rated by the BBB (or, if it's not in the BBB's database, we've vetted it through other sources). While we can’t guarantee that you’ll get hired for one of these work-at-home jobs, at least you can have confidence that none of these employment opportunities is too good to be true.


10 Great Work-at-Home Jobs

Web Search Evaluator

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Pay: $13-$15/hour (Glassdoor.com data)

Preferred Education Level: Bachelor's degree

Essential Skill: Going gaga for Google

When you type a search term into Google or Bing, an algorithm determines what the best results will be. But that algorithm doesn't operate alone: Many large search engines rely on home-based evaluators to test the accuracy of online search results, examining different search terms and the Web sites they turn up. You’ll need a computer and fast Internet connection. The job involves a lot of analytical thinking, so applicants must pass a test before companies such as Appen, Leapforce and Lionbridge will hire them as independent contractors. These firms post openings on their sites, and FlexJobs.com also lists work-at-home positions for Web search evaluators. Evaluators generally choose their own hours.

Web Search Evaluator

Customer Service Representative

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Pay: $9/hour (average at Alpine Access, plus benefits)

Preferred Education Level: High school

Essential Skill: The gift of gab

When you dial a company's help line, the call typically goes to a mega call center in the U.S. or abroad. But increasingly, customer service calls also route to home-based agents, who answer questions, complete forms and log complaints through their computers. Hours are flexible and few firms require specific education or experience. Training (usually paid) is provided, and you will be expected to have phone and Internet service that meet minimum standards. Also expect to undergo a credit of background check. SYKES Home Powered by Alpine Access, Convergys and West Corporation rank among the major employers. All three are highly rated by the Better Business Bureau, usually hire agents as employees rather than contractors, and offer benefits such as paid vacation and medical insurance to full-time workers.

Customer Service Representative

Tech Support Agent

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Pay: $17-$29/hour (BLS data)

Preferred Education Level: Associate or bachelor’s degree

Essential Skill: Fluency in geek-speak

Computer nerds and A-V types can make solid salaries in tech support, where demand is high and hours flexible. Working out of home offices, such techs generally serve as the first point of contact for customers troubleshooting everything from laptops to televisions to MySQL servers. Some work directly for major brands and retailers, such as Apple and Best Buy. Apple’s at-home workers are hired as employees, not contractors, and receive perks such as iMacs for business use and about $600 a year in reimbursement for Internet service. But job seekers should also consider third-party support providers, including PlumChoice, which handles tech support for a number of Fortune 500 companies.

Tech Support Agent

Virtual Assistant

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Pay: $10-$12/hour (at Zirtual)

Preferred Education Level: High school

Essential Skill: Ability to juggle calls and clients

A virtual assistant does everything a traditional assistant might do, from scheduling appointments and maintaining records to preparing memos and reports. Most VAs are contractors, not employees, and they operate out of their homes as independent businesses with multiple clients. Newcomers can market themselves to potential clients through local business groups, Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and the International Virtual Assistants Association jobs board. Zirtual, a Las Vegas-based company that provides virtual assistants for busy professionals nationwide, hires full-time and part-time assistants who must be able to work specific hours each weekday. Full-time Zirtual assistants qualify for benefits.

Virtual Assistant

Tutor

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Pay: $800-$1,600/month (at Tutor.com)

Preferred Education Level: Bachelor's degree

Essential Skill: Knowledge is power

A college degree, a computer and a bit of patience are all it takes to break into online tutoring, a field that can be both personally and financially rewarding. Sites such as Tutor.com match teachers and students in "online classrooms," where they use live chats to teach lessons and help with homework. And while Tutor.com only requires BAs from its applicants, other online opportunities exist for people with advanced degrees. GetEducated.com, for example, lists remote job postings at community colleges, libraries and online universities. Most of these teachers are hired and paid as part-time employees; Tutor.com and similar sites hire on a freelance basis only. But that doesn't mean teachers can't make a comfortable wage. On top of hourly earnings, Tutor.com pays bonuses for "exceptional work."

Tutor

Medical Transcriptionist

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Pay: $14-$20/hour (BLS data)

Preferred Education Level: Associate's degree or one-year certification program

Essential Skill: Willingness to follow doctors' orders

Home-based transcription predates the Internet, making it, in some ways, the quintessential work-at-home job. Medical transcriptionists type doctors' dictated notes and use them to prepare memos and reports. A good transcriptionist is more than a typist. Increasingly, medical firms want their employees to have associate's degrees or vocational certificates, as well as an advanced understanding of medical terminology. Companies such as Amphion Medical Solutions requires a minimum of two years' experience but promise flexible hours and a full range of benefits. Precyse, a large medical firm, also hires home-based transcriptionists.

Medical Transcriptionist

Proofreader

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Pay: $12-$21/hour (BLS data)

Preferred Education Level: Bachelor's degree

Essential Skill: Two eyes for detail

It can be hard to hack it as a freelance writer or full-time blogger, and both fields are already crowded. But if you have some writing or editing experience under your belt, you may find steady work as a proofreader, especially for academic or foreign firms. Cactus Communications, an Indian editing and translation company with offices in Philadelphia, hires proofreaders to check academic papers and medical documents written by non-native speakers. Cactus says its freelance specialist editors including copy editors can earn between $1,200 and $4,000 per month. U.S.-based FirstEditing employs proofreaders to work on manuscripts, theses and business documents. While neither company requires a specific academic background, advanced degrees and editing experience help.

Proofreader

Concierge

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Pay: $11-$17/hour (BLS data)

Preferred Education Level: High school

Essential Skill: No reservations about making reservations

Concierges used to be the highly primped men and women who gave restaurant suggestions at the counters of hotels. Thanks to the Internet, however, they can now work anywhere, providing travel assistance, making reservations and answering questions by phone, e-mail, text message or chat. VIPdesk.com, the foremost employer in this field, hires home-based concierges for a variety of companies including Skullcandy, the maker of headphones and related music gear. Employees can earn full benefits, including insurance and paid vacation, and can set their own full- or part-time schedules. Other companies, such as Virtual Concierge, act as go-betweens for home-based concierges and clients such as UBS, the financial-services firm.

Concierge

Translator

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Pay: $15-$28/hour (BLS data)

Preferred Education Level: Bachelor's degree

Essential Skill: A way with words

If you speak at least two languages and have an Internet connection, you're well on your way to becoming a home-based translator. A number of firms hire multilingual people to freelance translations of business documents, consumer Web sites, computer software and academic papers. Preference often goes to applicants who speak in-demand languages, such as Chinese or Japanese, and have backgrounds that would help in translating technical material. Mega-translation firm SDL hires freelancers for brands such as HP and LG. Cactus Communications employs freelance translators with advanced degrees to work on academic manuscripts.

Translator

Web Developer

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Pay: $21 - $41/hour (BLS data)

Preferred Education Level: Associate's degree

Essential Skill: Cuckoo for computer code

The growing popularity of e-commerce and mobile devices is fueling demand for people who can design and maintain Web sites. While many companies have full-time web developers on staff, plenty of businesses and even individuals hire freelance developers for both one-off projects and ongoing support. In fact, about 25% of web developers are self-employed, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Web developers can find thousands of projects listed on freelance job site oDesk.com. And FlexJobs.com lists telecommuting jobs with companies.

Web Developer

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