By Holly Reisem Hanna
When I started my work-at-home search, I didn't have a career that I loved, so I was willing to do anything, just as long as I was able to make money and be at home with my daughter.
Do you feel the same way?
By answering these simple career questions, you can narrow down which work from home career path is right for you.
1. How much money do you need to make each month?
If you need to make $50,000 annually, becoming a home-based call agent that makes $8.00 an hour is not going to cut it. Depending on your answer you may want to want to check out our WAH Job Postings. Many of these companies offer part-time hours with flexible schedules.
If you need a full-time salary with benefits, I suggest taking a look at FlexJobs, which is an online job board site that posts flexible and telecommuting job openings. In fact, they hand-screen all jobs before posting, so that you can rest assured that the position that you're applying for is 100 percent legit.
2. Are you already in a job that you love?
Do you already have a job that you love? You may want to write up a work-at-home or flex time proposal and present it to your boss if you're currently employed. Many companies are letting employees work from home at least some of the time. Remember to include the benefits to the company in your proposal.
3. Do you need medical benefits?
If you need health benefits and you don't want to pay out of pocket for them, you will need to search for a company that hires home-based employees, and that offers benefits. Being self-employed has many wonderful characteristics, but most part-time, remote positions are for independent contractors, which means no benefits and you'll need to pay quarterly self-employment taxes.
4. Are you willing to go back to school or take a class?
If your work-at-home plan includes changing careers — you may need to take an online course or go back to school for additional training. Luckily, most training, whether professional courses or college courses can be done online at your own pace.
5. Do you have money to invest in a business?
If you're starting at ground zero — with no money in your savings account, it's going to be really tough to start your own business. Even smaller business-in-a-box and direct sales opportunities cost a few hundred dollars to get started. It also generally takes a few months to get rolling and for income to start coming in. But, if you're set on being your own boss and you're willing to moonlight or borrow some money from a family member or friend you may be able to make it work. Just make sure you consider these aspects before you quit the security of your day job.
6. What are your interests and personality type?
Even though I started my work from home search willing to do anything, had I gotten a phone job doing customer service work, I would have been miserable. Before you jump into ANY work from home job, consider the things you'd like to do, what you're good at, and where your skill sets lie. Most people spend at least eight hours a day at work — wouldn't you actually like to enjoy what you're doing?! If you're having trouble determining your interests and passions, take a look at our finding your niche section. It has articles, resources, and a free career interest test to help you figure out what career path may be right for you. Not sure what sorts of work-at-home careers are available? This list has 99 work-at-home ideas that can get your creative juices flowing!
7. What hours are you able to work?
When I started looking for work-at-home jobs, I only had two-three hours each day to work (when my daughter was napping). Be sure to figure out when you can work and how many hours. Many work-at-home jobs require at least four-hour shifts and a dedicated office space free of interruptions. If you need complete flexibility, consider starting your own business where you can call the shots or freelance work where you can work on a project at any time.
8. What equipment do you need for the job?
Most work-at-home jobs are going to require that you have a fairly new laptop or computer and a high-speed internet connection. But besides those two things, you may also need items like a dedicated phone line, a headset, Windows operating system and more. Be sure to read through each job's equipment requirements to make sure you have the proper equipment ready. You'll also want to consider the cost of certain items (like a dedicated phone line) and whether the hourly rate is sufficient for the recurring equipment/service costs. For more information on equipment needs — check out this post.
9. Do you have the right personality for working from home?
When I used to work in a cubicle, I dreamed of working from home. I imagined lunch dates with friends, sitting out by the pool with my laptop, and leisurely doing the laundry while I answered emails. This is not how working from home is, at all. Working from home requires a great amount of focus and motivation. If you're not able to block out distractions and get stuff done on your own — it's going to be really tough to make it work. Before you make the leap into working from home consider your personality type and if it is well suited to this sort of arrangement.
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