5 College Degrees That May Just Lead to a Work-at-Home Career

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Advances in technology have changed the way workers in certain positions carry out their job functions. An architect, for instance, may not necessarily use a pencil and paper to draw up blueprints the way that person did 30 years ago. These days, most architects are required to know CAAD programs in addition to the traditional knowledge base an architect already has of buildings, dimensions, and so on. Technology has completely changed the way most of us perform our jobs.

In addition to changing the way we do things on a day-to-day basis, technology has also changed the work environment. With so many options available, college students not only have to ask themselves what they want to do for a career, but also how and where they want to do it.

According to U.S. Census data, the percentage of workers who telecommuted at least one day per week increased from 7 percent in 1997 to almost 10 percent in 2010. Also, a surprising eight out of 10 workers (79 percent) say they would prefer to work from home at least part of the time, according to Global Workforce Analytics.

The typical telecommuter is college-educated, earning close to $60,000 per year. So which education path will lead you to a successful career working from home?

Because your degree doesn’t necessarily dictate which career you’re going to end up in, anyone with any college degree could end up with a successful work-from-home position. However, if we examine data on the industries in which telecommuting is most common and on the requirements of high-paying telecommuting positions, we can get an idea of which degrees are more likely to lead a student toward a telecommuting position.

According to FlexJobs, the 20 most common work-from-home job titles, as of earlier this year, are:

  1. Writer
  2. Consultant
  3. Customer service representative
  4. Sales representative
  5. Engineer
  6. Account executive/manager
  7. Software developer
  8. Case manager
  9. Medical coder
  10. Adjunct faculty
  11. Systems analyst
  12. Program/project manager
  13. UI/UX designer
  14. Travel counselor
  15. Insurance adjuster
  16. Graphic designer
  17. Bilingual interpreter
  18. SEO/marketing assistant
  19. Director of business development
  20. Marketing manager

The job search engine also broke down the most common work-from-home jobs into these five categories:

  1. Healthcare
  2. Education
  3. Sales
  4. Information technology
  5. Administrative

Using this information, coupled with U.S. Census data on the most common industries for telecommuters, we created this list of college degrees that may just help you obtain a high-paying, work-from-home career.

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1. Business, management, or leadership

For those who have the desire to run their own business from home, business and management degrees provide the core fundamentals. Global Workforce Analytics estimates that 2.8 million self-employed individuals consider their home to be their primary place of employment.

Many of the higher-paying work-from-home positions are director or manager positions. These positions often require education or experience in management.

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2. Education

The International Association for K-12 Online Learning reports that as of 2013, the majority of states have full-time, online schools. Over the past decade, more and more students have taken advantage of online learning options, and it has made its way from colleges to the K-12 environment, as well. “There were an estimated 1,816,400 enrollments in distance-education courses in K-12 school districts in 2009-2010, almost all of which were online courses. 74% of these enrollments were in high schools,” reports the learning association.

With so many students taking courses online, telecommuting teaching and tutoring jobs pop up on job search engines regularly. Most of these positions require that you have a teaching education and certification.

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3. Accounting or finance

Accounting is known for being compatible with the work-from-home environment. According to U.S. Census data, around one-fourth of home-based workers are in financial, business, and management occupations.

An accountant does not necessarily need to work with a paper ledger anymore. Computer programs like QuickBooks and Excel have taken the place of such ledgers, and accountants must know both accounting methods and how to operate these computer programs. Although this requires may require additional skills, it also provides increased flexibility.

Source: Thinkstock

4. Information technology

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a Web developer’s 2012 median pay at just under $63,000 and as a software developer, median pay is closer to $94,000. From Java programmers to Web designers, so many work-from-home positions are in the information technology field.

Education in this field opens up the opportunity for a wide variety of potential work-at-home career paths. The degree is often only the beginning, though, as these positions often require at least a few years of experience in addition to the education requirements.

Source: Thinkstock

5. Marketing or sales

Sales positions are also among the most common types of telecommuting jobs you’ll see on search engines. As an advertising or insurance sales agent, median pay is just less than $50,000. These types of positions may require that you use your home as a base and then meet with clients in other locations. Depending on the nature of the position, you may have to travel to your client’s homes or offices, or you may be able to conduct the majority of your business over the phone and over email.
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