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Many job hunters may automatically assume that any job posting with the phrase “work-from-home” is a scam, but each year more and more legitimate telecommuting positions pop up–the trick is just to know how to spot them.
Between 2007 to 2010, there was a 400% increase in the number of telecommuting jobs posted to FlexJobs, a job search website that aggregates work-from-home positions as well as positions with flexible hours. According to Sara Sutton Fell, the website’s founder, much of this was due to companies looking for ways to cut costs during the recession. As a result, many industries that traditionally had fewer telecommuting opportunities began to take advantage of new technology to make it work.
“When we first started the site a little over five years ago, it was mostly call center work, writing jobs, computer positions and IT,” Fell says. “Whereas now, medical and health account for the biggest proportion of jobs, followed by education.” Even though the economy has begun to improve, Fell expects that cost-saving pressures along with environmental concerns will continue to increase the number of telecommuting opportunities.
For job hunters, it’s important to keep in mind that these positions tend to be ultra-competitive and generally pay less (as much as 5%-15% less, Fell estimates). And then, of course, you have to beware of the scams. In particular, Fell suggests watching out for job postings that ask for money or sensitive information like your Social Security Number, not to mention postings that are written in all capital letters or include lots of exclamation points and dollar signs. If it doesn’t look like a professional posting, then there’s a good chance it’s not.
Once you filter out the obvious scam posts, you can find plenty of telecommuting options that you might never have thought existed. Here are seven of the more unusual telecommuting jobs currently listed on FlexJobs.
1. Physical Therapist
It might sound surprising that a physical therapist could work from home – unless of course that home is the patient’s. But that’s exactly what Christiana Care, an East Coast health care provider, is advertising on FlexJobs. This position allows the health care professional to create and assess training routines for the patient from their home computer in addition to making the occasional visit to the patient.
Indeed, the same company is advertising other positions on the site for physical therapists and even registered nurses. Humana Inc. and United Health Group – both Fortune 500 companies – have telecommuting postings for nursing positions as well.
Along the same lines, there are also multiple job opportunities for work-from-home pharmacists at nationwide companies like Humana and LifePoint Hospitals. Obviously, these positions aren’t focused on interacting with customers so much as developing strategies and working on research for pharmaceutical treatments. Humana is looking for an oncology pharmacist to study clinical treatments while LifePoint is looking for a remote order pharmacist who can analyze patients' health profiles to make recommendations about their treatment.
3. Social Worker
Social work isn’t exactly your typical office job to begin with, as workers often have to go out and consult with families and individuals in need. That said, some companies don’t require social workers to come into the office at all. OptumHealth, a part of the UnitedHealth Group, has a position for a full-time social worker who consults with patients and their families to help find the proper medical care, insurance options and community programs. While it is listed as a telecommuting job, this position does require you to live in the Seattle area, presumably so that you can meet with families and medical personnel in person if need be.
4. Executive Assistant
Not all executive assistants have to work in an office. FlexJobs has several postings for full- and part-time assistants who can telecommute.
For example, the Research and Innovative Technology Division, a branch of the Department of Transportation, is looking for an executive assistant who coordinates surveys, prepares travel advisories and coordinates with high-level officials by phone and email. The position itself is based in Washington, D.C., but telecommuting is an option. Oh, and did we mention the salary starts at more than $60,000 a year?
5. Team Manager
You don’t necessarily need to be in the office to manage a team anymore. General Electric currently has a posting for a consumer service manager who is responsible for managing a team of appliance repair technicians working in Maryland and Washington, D.C. While the company is looking for someone who lives near that area, much of the job is expected to be handled out of a home office.
6. Food Safety Inspector
Science Certification Systems, an independent group that certifies company claims about everything from food safety to sustainability, is looking for a food safety auditor to vet food safety claims. This is a contract telecommuting position, though it does require traveling around the country to carry out inspections.
7. High School Adviser
So much for visiting the guidance counselor’s office. K12.com, an online education program, has an opening for a high school adviser who is responsible for reaching out to students by phone and email and planning online orientation sessions, among other tasks. It’s a part-time job and one that can be done almost entirely from home.