The top 10 remote jobs for 2020
While jobs that can be done remotely were once a growing but small part of the economy, working from home is currently the reality for a large swathe of the population.
Remote working or ‘telecommuting’ has evolved rapidly with the rise of the internet. While this was once a poor second-best to being in the office alongside other colleagues, working from home has become more and more popular as a way to avoid the commute, hold part-time jobs around other commitments such as childcare, or combine work with other interests such as travel.
While not every business is suited to this approach, jobs that allow you to work remotely have steadily taken a larger share of the market, especially as online productivity and collaboration tools improve.
If there was any doubt that remote work was going to be a significant part of our collective future, the coronavirus pandemic has forced the world to accept this reality. Working from home is now mandatory for as many people as can possibly manage it. Those already in the best remote jobs have had to adapt the least, and have been able to continue working with little disruption.
It’s fair to assume that once the restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 are lifted, many people will decide to continue with their new lifestyle, seeking out the best remote careers and job opportunities as a permanent way of life.
Meanwhile, jobs you can do remotely are in even more demand than they were before, as citizens confined to their houses and released from their previous jobs search for new and supplementary opportunities for income.
Some of these jobs lie in conventional companies, but many exist in the gig economy – short-term opportunities for freelance work, paid on a per-task or per-hour basis. Online jobs platforms enable workers to find employment from anywhere in the world. And, while the pay can be rather low due to the global competition for these jobs, in other cases they can provide lucrative opportunities unavailable to you in your home town or country.
Finding the best jobs for working remotely
It will come as no surprise that many of the best remote jobs require a technical background. But if you’re not a developer or web designer, don’t worry. There are plenty of other opportunities available.
If you have specialist legal, accounting or even people skills and qualifications, there’s a good chance you’ll find niche remote jobs. Different jobs platforms will often focus on certain sectors or skill-sets, so explore what’s out there as well as the larger, more general freelancer sites.
With that in mind, here are 10 of the best jobs for working remotely.
1. Software developer/engineer
If you have coding skills, you’re likely to be able to find work online. If you also have some of the broader skills in system architecture and can work with a team of developers to achieve a broader, more complex goal, so much the better.
There is a huge range of jobs for those with the right developer skills, and the pay can be highly competitive. Building software is one of the best remote careers you can pursue, since you’ll generally only need a laptop and can work from anywhere. While a university degree in computer science or another relevant qualification can help, it’s not always necessary – many developers are self-taught, and there are plenty of excellent online courses to help get you up to scratch in your chosen languages and frameworks (of which there are many).
As well as designing and developing software, you may also find roles in troubleshooting programmes and apps. Again, while you may need to be familiar with various tools, you won’t need more than a computer and internet connection for this.
2. Web developer
A special case of software development, web development offers a wide range of opportunities due to the sheer breadth and nature of the sites required by companies, individuals and other organisations. A website is a major strand of any presence on the web, and they can take almost any form – from simple, one-page informational sites to complex portals and applications with extensive functionality.
3. Graphic designer
If you have a flair for the artistic, there are plenty of jobs that can be done remotely. Once again, the different software you might use is diverse. You might primarily work offline and scan your images when you’re done, or work in one or more design suites and solely use digital media. This will depend on your skills and clients.
Like many other of the best remote work jobs, graphic design can be hugely varied. You could be doing anything from creating simple sketches and illustrations to building animations with specialist 3D-rendering packages. You’ll find there’s lots of demand for logos and branding, as well as explainer videos and corporate imagery – so if you have an eye for marketing as well as design, you can access better-paid and more interesting and in-depth opportunities. And, while it doesn’t hurt to master several different media and technologies, it’s also good to carve out a niche for yourself and build a portfolio around that.
4. Web designer
The role of web designer combines abilities from several different fields. You’ll need graphic design skills, competence with different programming languages, an appreciation for user experience (UX) and understanding of how user interfaces (UI) work best, and more. This is therefore one of the best remote jobs if you’ve built up a collection of skills and love the variety of using them all.
A related role lies in UI and UX design, where you’ll use a combination of skills to design customer journeys and user experiences – ensuring that website and app users have the smoothest and most intuitive interactions with the software you’ll be helping to make accessible and fun. This goes far beyond graphic design or coding alone, and touches on many other disciplines, including psychology. UX/UI design can be the difference between success and failure for an app or website, however good the underlying technology or business case – so if you know what you’re doing, it can be a great remote career.
5. Digital marketer
It doesn’t matter how good a product or website is if no one sees it, which is where digital marketing comes in. A lot of this is fairly straightforward – at least in principle – and involves online advertising in various forms, including pay-per-click ads and SEO, or search engine optimisation. SEO is a diverse field that is constantly evolving due to the way Google and other search sites update their algorithms. Ultimately you’ll be designing more complex and balanced campaigns across social media, direct email, paid ads, SEO and other approaches.
As far as jobs you can do remotely go, this is a good option if you’re bright and motivated but don’t have a highly technical background. Although you’ll need some specialist skills and familiarity with certain software, digital marketing won’t generally require any coding or software development experience. If you want to rise to the top of the pile, though, you might want to go beyond the standard approaches and start building your own analytics and testing tools to maximise returns – and your own income.
6. Social media manager (SMM)
While SMM might have started out as a small part of companies’ online marketing efforts, it has grown into an industry in its own right. Again, you probably won’t need any specialist coding skills – unless you really want to kick things up a notch and create a bunch of custom and automated tools of your own – but you will need to be acquainted with various different social media platforms, from Facebook and Instagram to Twitter and LinkedIn.
You’ll also need to create (or commission) appropriate content for these, such as blog posts, tweets and short updates, images and film clips, and more. And you’ll probably want to know about the various tools that each platform offers – and that third parties provide – to make your life easier by cross-posting, scheduling updates, and gaining insights from analytics.
SMM is a natural choice for jobs that can be done remotely, especially if you’re already active online and are adept at growing your digital following and building online communities.
7. Content creator/communications
Many jobs will require you to write text of various kinds in the course of your wider work, but there are special roles for those who are skilled at communication. Content writing and communication can take a huge range of forms, from short blog posts and updates to longer articles, web copy, film scripts, white papers and more. There are also opportunities for editors and proofreaders. The technical requirements are low, making this one of the best remote careers, and you may need nothing more than a laptop and a Google document to make collaboration easy.
However, you’ll need to be an articulate native speaker who can work fast and accurately, and just because you learned to write at school doesn’t mean you can structure an argument or document and put an idea into words proficiently. Depending on where you end up – working in a particular company or sector, or taking a broader approach – you’ll most likely be able to turn your mind to just about any topic, though naturally it can help to have a couple of specialisms.
8. Customer support
A classic example of an industry that has embraced remote work, customer service comes in many forms. You might be answering the phone as part of a remote call centre, working from home. It could involve answering customer emails or queries sent in via a web form. More and more, customer support overlaps with social media roles, since so many people use Twitter and Facebook to submit their questions and complaints.
Depending on the nature of the position and company, you may not even need to know much about the product or service – though, equally, in other roles you’ll need to go into some detail to help your customers. It probably goes without saying that you’ll have good people skills, especially if you’re chatting in real-time via app or phone. This may be a worthwhile job you can do remotely if you have retail or communications experience, but again, this isn’t mandatory much of the time. What’s more important is that you’re polite, helpful and efficient.
If you have teaching qualifications or experience, then running one-to-one or group classes online can be a great way of supplementing your income or establishing the best remote career for your circumstances. You’ll need a quiet place to ‘meet’ with students, a webcam and a reliable internet connection (as will they).
The range of subjects you can teach is limited only by your own education, but there is particular demand for English teachers from foreign students, especially in China. You will need to be flexible and manage time zones carefully here, since your school or office hours will be very different.
Alternatively, there are opportunities for tutoring in different subjects, either helping school kids stay on top of their homework, giving them a boost in maths or science, or preparing them for major tests or exams. Look around for agencies that specialise in remote tutoring, but you might also find success by building your personal brand and relying on word-of-mouth referrals if you know what you’re doing.
If you love languages and are fluent in more than one, there are lots of opportunities to work in translation. This offers one of the best jobs for working remotely because it opens a whole new wealth of experiences, people and opportunities for you.
Translation work can simply involve preparing corporate documents, blogs and articles, but you may also find it overlaps with social media strategies and customer support roles, and that you are able to interact directly with customers and users online. This can provide the chance to learn new skills and access new jobs, increasing your value and pay too.
Jobs that allow you to work remotely were already gaining in popularity before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Now, with much of the world in enforced lockdown, more and more people are either doing their existing jobs from home or seeking remote opportunities. As we move through this phase and back to life as normal, it’s fair to expect the trend in remote work to continue, and if anything to accelerate due to the impact of the coronavirus.
The best remote careers offer flexible work patterns and competitive rates of pay – similar to the best opportunities in conventional, office-based roles. In fact, you may find you can earn more from remote jobs, because they allow you to access work from around the world, rather than solely in your immediate geographical area.
Much of the work will be the same as in a traditional job, but because you won’t be physically attending an office with your colleagues, you’ll need to learn to use remote working tools such as Zoom for meetings and Google’s G Suite for collaborating on documents of various kinds. And, of course, you’ll need a good internet connection and a quiet place to work, whether that’s at home or in a rented office or other suitable space.
You will also need to decide whether to opt for a permanent job with one company, whether to pursue a portfolio of different part-time and freelance jobs, or whether to rely entirely on the gig economy, picking up work on an ad hoc basis. Because this kind of work is far from reliable, it makes sense to do this only if you have highly desirable skills and can be assured of getting paid above the odds. That way, if you don’t have a constant stream of work, you can still pay the bills.
Finally, make sure you do your due diligence and can trust your employer (and/or jobs platform) to pay you, fairly and on time. A little research can be valuable in these circumstances. Once you’ve built up a solid reputation and portfolio, it’s easier to gain lower-risk, higher-paying jobs – as well as the kind of long-term work relationships that offer both flexibility and stability of employment.
👩💻 What are the best-paying technical remote jobs?
Software development and software engineering jobs are often carried out remotely. There are also lots of well-paid opportunities for web developers and web designers, including in UI/UX design.
👩🏫 What are the best-paying non-technical remote jobs?
Digital marketing jobs are often carried out remotely. Social media managers also frequently work from home. In both these cases, you will not need technical skills, though you will need to be familiar with the various analytical and scheduling tools available. Teaching/tutoring and translation work can also pay well.
🐒 What remote jobs don’t require any qualifications or experience?
Customer support roles are often available for remote workers, and usually do not require extensive experience or qualifications. If you are fluent in other languages, you may pick up translation work remotely, even if you don’t necessarily have relevant educational qualifications.
🛠 What are the most useful remote working tools?
You’ll need a quiet space, a computer and a reliable internet connection. Google’s G Suite is useful for collaborating on documents, and videoconferencing software like Zoom is also commonly used. Beyond this you may use various collaboration or scheduling tools (Slack, Discord, Asana, etc).