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5 Real Work-From-Home Jobs

You can work as a virtual assistant or call center worker from home.
Aug. 14, 2013
Making Money, Personal Finance
5 Real Work-from-Home Jobs for Everyone
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No matter your schedule or area of expertise, it’s possible to find a work-from-home job to suit your lifestyle.

We’ll walk through some of the available jobs and point out a few ways to protect yourself.

» MORE: NerdWallet identifies simple ways to save money

Virtual assistant

  • Pay: $5 to $20 an hour.
  • Time commitment: Varies based on employer.
  • Flexibility: Varies based on employer.

A virtual assistant can serve in a variety of capacities, from sending thank-you cards on a busy executive’s behalf, to website maintenance, to bookkeeping, to market research and more. It’s a competitive marketplace, so be sure to sell your individual expertise:

  • Data presentation: Take a mass of raw data and put it into a PowerPoint that outsiders can understand.
  • Social skills: Write holiday or thank-you cards, or follow-up emails after a meeting.
  • Scheduling: Arrange meetings and book flights.
  • Copy editing: Proofread emails or web pages for grammar and tone.

Need help starting your budget?

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English as a Second Language tutor

  • Pay: $20 to $40 an hour.
  • Time commitment: Varies.
  • Flexibility: Fixed schedule.

International students gunning for an American education, business professionals looking to get an edge, travelers — all are looking for a fluent English speaker to help them improve their language skills. Although knowledge of another language is helpful, it’s not always required, particularly if you’re helping in a specific capacity like reading over a college application.

» More: How to make money at home and online

Tutoring websites serve as directories to make you easier to find, but these sites can charge either a commission on your earnings or a flat membership fee. Your best bet might be to contact an interested party directly by searching for jobs on Elance, Craigslist or Monster, thus avoiding the fee.

Web search evaluator

  • Pay: $13 to $15 an hour.
  • Time commitment: Varies by company.
  • Flexibility: Set your own schedule.

Believe it or not, the data-crunching machines that are Google and Bing often rely on good ol’ human intuition to validate their algorithms’ search rankings. A web search evaluator performs a search, then tells the company whether the result was what he or she expected.

These positions may require a qualification exam.

Legal transcriptionist

  • Pay: around $20 per audio hour.
  • Time commitment: Varies — can be project-based.
  • Flexibility: Set your own schedule.

A legal transcriptionist is provided with an audio file and is then asked to write down what he or she hears. Unlike with medical documents, legal transcribing work usually doesn’t need a specialized certification. However, excellent English skills are required. You can usually find one-off transcription projects, but occasionally you’ll be able to find a longer-term offer.

Virtual call center worker

  • Pay: $9 to $12 an hour, depending.
  • Time commitment: Varies greatly depending on employer.
  • Flexibility: Fixed schedule.

If you’re a people person who enjoys solving problems and talking on the phone, you might enjoy being a call center worker. You’ll have a fixed schedule, but the time commitment can vary.

If you’re a people person who enjoys solving problems and talking on the phone, you might enjoy being a call center worker.

This is a great job if you can block off a solid chunk of time to being 100% committed to your work; it’s not so great if you need to be looking after your kids or cooking dinner while you’re on the clock. If your workday is frequently interrupted, project-based jobs like transcription might be better suited to you.

You can search Indeed.com, Monster and the like for “virtual call center” and see what comes up in your area. A word of warning: Call center jobs often have very strict technological requirements. Check what’s required before you spend time applying.

What to watch out for

Not every work-from-home job is the real deal. Protect yourself from work-from-home scams by following these steps for every job you consider:

  • Look up the company on the Better Business Bureau.
  • If you need to purchase equipment, make sure the money isn’t going to the company you’ll be working for. They should have no financial incentive in you signing up, but then not being able to work.

Read the company’s terms and conditions. Figure out:

  • When, how and how much you’ll get paid.
  • How the company came up with its pay estimates. Is it commission-based or hourly? Are they looking at the average worker or the “senior” workers whose ranks you might never join?
  • Under what circumstances the company can refuse to pay you or cancel your contract.
  • How the company itself makes money.
  • What you’ll have to pay the company, if anything (membership fees are a red flag).

Finally, do a Google search for “[company name] work from home scam.” You might turn up a lot of false positives — people complaining without real justification — but it’s a good idea to see what other people are saying.