How Much? Some Top-Paying Location Independent Careers

A long time ago, I began my online career as a freelance writer (aka: in my case, “I’ll write anything for money!”).

My first jobs came from awful content mills. Later, I got my own clients – some of whom paid a pittance. Others were more generous. Eventually, I learned to ask for what I was worth.

money counting
And then I was loaded… LOADED, I tell you! (Not really.)

During this time, every project and assignment had one thing in common: I could do my work from anywhere. Admittedly, my take-home pay wasn’t huge. It didn’t matter. In those days, I was happy to cover my rent and my bar tab. Oh, and food. I also had to pay for food.

Everything I did was via email or Skype (Slack didn’t exist in those days – well, not to me anyway). Communication, corrections, outreach and client acquisition were all handled over the Internet. Okay, so you can bet that I also placed my Internet bill as equally high in importance!

welcome to the internet
My first day on the job was weird, but that’s the Internet!

Fast forward several years later and I see countless blogs and news articles talking about the benefits of working remotely. There are studies proving its effectiveness and even big companies like Stripe have openly talked about implementing a remote work policy.

There’s also a lot of press around digital nomads, those devil-may-care go-getters who live wherever they want and maintain a career. Well, okay, digital nomadism takes a lot of planning so “devil-may-care” probably isn’t the right description for these individuals.

But what’s the state of location independence these days? If you want to live and work anywhere, do you have to resign yourself to freelancing and financial insecurity? It simply begs the question…

Can you really have a location independent career that commands a high salary?

Way back when, many employers used “remote” as a reason to pay their employees less. It is still a phenomenon that sadly occurs today when talking about remote work and salary.

With more and more highly skilled and specialized work from home jobs appearing, this should no longer be the case. Anyone with a unique set of skills and years of experience can command a better pay packet and still work from wherever they please.

After doing a bit of research, I uncovered quite a few pretty surprising, high-paid (and often senior) roles that don’t require you to be in the office.

NOTE: While these high-paying, location independent careers can be found, it may take a bit of work to convince bosses to allow for any degree of remote work. But keep in mind that it is possible. In addition, your level of seniority may give you an advantage.

 

Let’s Dive in: Location Independent Careers That Pay a Bomb

Recruiter

Wait… That’s not a tech job. Nope, but not every remote job has to be in tech (despite what telecommute boards will have you believe). Even so, this job may seem like an odd choice to slap the label “telecommute” onto, but let’s hold up for a minute…

Have you ever been approached by a recruiter? If so, where did they approach you? It probably wasn’t on your way to work, or when you were at home feeding the cats/children. Most recruiters contact candidates via phone, email or (more commonly these days), social media (LinkedIn being the favorite).

So, you can bet your ass most recruiters spend a lot of their time behind a desk. They can recruit from literally anywhere… Making this a very viable remote job. Of course, it also depends on the specifics. Some recruiters work within specific areas. Others are more international in their scope (I was approached by a recruiter from Malaysia).

How much do recruiters earn? According to Workable, the average salary is US$ 45,360 per year. That’s average – it can go up to $70,000. Depending on your success level, it can be even more.

Project Manager

Project Managers work in a wealth of different industries. Yes many are in tech, but this is a job that quite literally pays people to make sure shit gets done. So, when it comes to being remote-friendly, it may not immediately seem that most suited. After all, shouldn’t a Project Manager be checking up on their colleagues, ensuring that targets and deadlines are met?

Well, think about it. How many Project Managers do you know who actually go out into the field to check if things are being done? I’m sure it happens in some industries, but for many others… It’s just not necessary. Even if the project isn’t specifically technical, Project Management is simply a title for those who run projects and coordinate workflows. They are in charge of workflows, task management, prioritization, cost proposals and ensuring execution. They should also be highly organized.

The bottom line is that most of a Project Manager’s job is based on organization and communication. There is also a lot of PM software house there which was created specifically for this role – which lends itself very well to remote work.

How much do Project Managers earn? According to FlexJobs, US$65,000-US$105,000 a year. I wouldn’t sniff at that.

Senior Business Analyst

Now we’re diving into more technical jobs. Probably one of the more droll-sounding yet highly-paid careers out there. I’m willing to bet a lot of people in this profession often have the right (or the need) to work remotely. Basically, a Senior Business Analyst makes sure that processes run smoothly: they test for bugs in software, troubleshoot technical issues and ensure that things are maintained to a specific standard.

So, as you can see, it involves a high level of technical knowledge. At the same time, you don’t need to be a full-on developer. Technical skills aside, a healthy dose of business acumen is also necessary.

Well, what about the money? FlexJobs states that the average salary for a Senior Business Analyst is $57,000 – $90,000.

UX (User Experience) Researcher

One of the “newer” tech jobs. UX Design and Research are EXPLODING at the moment. What’s handy about this profession is that it requires a lot of skills that are transferrable from other professions (such as aspects of digital and performance marketing). Specifically, UX Research analyse websites and sales processes before recommending solutions to increase customer satisfaction and increase revenue. Actually, it even goes beyond revenue – UX isn’t just for websites, it’s for just about every piece of technology handled by humans.

This job can be “fully digital”, but plenty of researchers also get together in person. Since that’s not always possible, it’s also a very viable “remote” career.

What’s the compensation? Payscale.com says EUR 46,000 per year (if you’re American, convert it yourself – I’m too lazy).

Teleradiologist

A what?

Basically, a radiologist who works remotely. Traditionally, the majority of health care jobs could only be done in a specific location. Doctors, nurses, medical specialists etc… Teleradiology is that little bit different. Their input is needed on X-rays which are normally sent to them, making it a very viable remote career.

Of course, this particular role is quite rare at the moment.

What’s the compensation? US$100,000 – $400,000 per year, apparently (thanks, FlexJobs).

DevOps Engineer

Probably the least surprising job when it comes to telecommute-friendliness. It’s an IT job. As a highly skilled profession, they work closely with software developers and other tech staff to oversee code releases. This is a role where you have to break the barriers between development, testing and operations. Basically, you hold the digital presence of a company together.

And of course, since it’s all on a computer there’s really very little need to work in an actual office.

How much $$? According to FlexJobs, the average salary is US$80,000-US$100,000.

What Can Digital Nomad Communities Do for Me?

For the introverts among us, the following is unfortunately true: people need people.

Human beings are social animals. Even those of us who prefer limited social contact need it sometimes. That’s why online communities have always been popular and will always remain popular.

That’s also why online communities based on specific niches and interests do well (if that niche is big enough).

For the working globetrotters among us, online digital nomad communities serve to fulfill that need. These platforms let you chat with other nomads, exchange ideas and can even be used to network (important even if you have a permanent remote job – even more so if you’re a freelancer). On top of that, they’re a handy place to make new friends.

bloody hands
Don’t let the above picture alarm you – meeting strangers off the Internet is less risky these days (though a hint of caution is ALWAYS advised).

Believe me, as a digital nomad you’ll need to learn how to make friends. Not everyone can just wander into a bar and start chatting to people. Starting friendships online offers a way of easing you into the process (not very different from online dating – just with fewer dick pics… we hope).

With all of that said, probably one of the biggest advantages of digital nomad communities is…

…the ability to contact other nomads already living in your new destination.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of this particular type of community and see how exactly they can benefit you as a nomad. Maybe you already had an idea – but now its time to execute it.

Networking: Speak to other nomads in your industry

With the rise of remote work, it’s easier than ever to network without having to go to boring business meetups. Social media allows for a fluid exchange between people in the same industry – and that’s truly a blessing. Especially as a freelancing nomad, you should always be on the lookout for new gigs and opportunities. This means cultivating relationships.

The likes of social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook can help you network with professionals in your industry who may or may not be nomadic. However, digital nomad communities will get you in touch with those who are not only in your industry, but who also know the nomadic life. Your unique experiences may very well help you land a new gig, part-time job or full-time remote position.

Get the lowdown on your new home, before you travel there

Are you currently living in Strasbourg, France but looking to move further east – like Berlin, or even Kiev? Sure, there are a lot of ways you can find out about your new prospective home before your plane even touches down. Plenty of travel sites and blogs are available – you can look at cost-of-living stats and even connect with expat and international groups in the major cities of that region (which I would highly recommend).

Online digital nomad communities can offer you that – and more. If there are a few nomads living (or who have lived) in your next chosen destination, you can strike up a conversation and ask them what it was like. They can give you insight specifically unique to nomads (such as how easy it is to find affordable, low-cost accommodation) and how much coworking spaces cost.

Make friends before you arrive

Okay, I wouldn’t call complete strangers “friends” just yet – but digital nomad communities can give you the opportunity to connect with people in real life. If there are any nomads living in your destination city, simply hit them up and see if they’d like to go for a drink, show you around etc. It can be a good way of combating the loneliness that often creeps up when you arrive in a new place for the first time.

And of course, meeting a new person can cause a chain reaction and get you introduced to others.

So then, what are some good digital nomad communities?

You can find a good list of them digital nomad communities here. However, the following are what I’d consider my “favorites”.

Nomad List

You could say that Nomad List is more than just an online community for digital nomads. It’s also a tool – a database of 2000+ cities from all over the world. In addition, it offers to connect users with 100,000+ digital nomads who live in these cities. Additionally, Nomad List offers a remote job board. There’s a basic, Slack-style chat room that you can openly see and sign up to. Topics are segregated by a hashtag (#) under names like “#Toronto”, “#Crypto”, “#United-States” and “#Startups” (there’s obviously FAR more than that).

To actually participate and chat, you have to create an account and login. Luckily, you also get access to their other features. This can be great for scoping out new places to live.

Global Digital Nomad Network

There are also quite a few not-so-great digital nomad communities out there… Often what makes them bad is simply the fact that there aren’t many active members. That’s what’s great about the Global Digital Nomad Network (from WebWorkTravel). What’s more, they’re on Facebook. Yes, Facebook is still relevant in a lot of cases!

Flylancer

The focus with Flylancer is on meeting people “offline”. So of course, you can create an account, login and chat to people. Not everyone on Flylancer is a digital nomad: but many of them are freelancers and remote workers. What does this mean for globetrotters? It’s means that there are some excellent options when it comes to networking.

Meetup.com

Meetup.com has been going for quite a while. Unlike other communities on this short list, it’s not specifically geared towards digital nomads. However, you’ll find interest groups of almost every type here. Looking for friends? See if there are any social activities happening in the city you’re currently living in.

And… if there’s a demand for something, you can create your own group as well!

Conclusion

If you just want to meet new people, its important to pull out all the stops. Networking and gathering new contacts for job and business opportunities may require you to join a different type of community whereas expat groups may be good for just meeting friends. Whatever the case may be, you need to understand your own needs before choosing a community.