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.

counting money
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!

old lady 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.

Finding Remote Jobs on Indeed.com (It’s Surprisingly Easy)

Did you know there are probably more remote jobs on Indeed.com (and its variations) than even all remote job boards combined?

Like many job seekers across the world, the platform has always been my go-to for finding new jobs. That wasn’t the case when I decided I specifically wanted a work at home position. In fact, I threw it on the backburner and forgot about it. I focused only on platforms like Remotive, RemoteOK and Working Nomads.

That was a mistake.

While I got an interview here and there, I quickly realized that I was at a disadvantage. First, I’m not based in the United States: unfortunately, the majority of roles on work at home sites prefer those based in either the US or Canada. Secondly, with so much competition your chances of actually getting an interview are slim.

That’s when I decided to pull out more stops. I tried Stepstone, Monster and Indeed… The latter turned out to be a useful resource. As one of the world’s most well-known job portals, this platform gets 250 million unique visitors per month. On average, 9.8 jobs are added to the site per second. Even if you’re not a fan of online job sites, it is still a good tool to have in your arsenal.

Of course, you have to know how to use it correctly.

There are just as many, if not more, remote job openings on Indeed.com than other platforms.

Before we go further, keep the following in mind: the keyword “Remote” is frequently used to advertise work from home jobs on “traditional” job search engines… but not always. In fact, thousands of companies on Indeed that offer telecommute positions don’t actively advertise it. That’s where getting an interview is key – once you speak to a hiring manager, you can start asking about their remote policies.

Before we get there, let’s focus on the task at hand. You want to find a bunch of remote jobs on Indeed.com that you can apply to. Depending on where you’re looking, it can be simple or a little more complicated…

The First Method: Search remote jobs on Indeed.com through filtering

This is probably the most straightforward and pain-free way of filtering out non-remote positions on platform. You just have to type keywords related to your role under the “What” section of the search engine. Then, under “Where”, simply type “Remote” (or “Work at Home”…).

That’s it.

remote job indeed com canada search
Tip: Try this a bunch of times, using different keyword variations for both “What” and “Where”.

There’s a catch, though: As far as I can tell, this method only works in on the UK, USA, Australian and Canadian versions of the site. I’ve tried it out on the German, Dutch and Irish versions – but none of these sites offer “Remote” as an alternative to location. When testing it out with the Irish platform, I got the following:

remote job indeed com ireland search

It sucks if you’re not physically located in the Greater Anglophone Area.

Don’t give up, though. If you live somewhere awkward like I do (Germany), try searching for work at home (or “home based”) positions in the UK, USA and Australia. A company that advertises a telecommute position in one country may still be open to candidates from abroad. In my experience, remote positions in the US tend to be the most “restrictive”. However, if you’re located in Europe, UK companies hiring remotely may be open to candidates working from the rest of the EU. It can’t hurt to send an application anyway. Well, maybe a letter bomb… but that’s unlikely.

Still no luck? Don’t give up hope…

Perhaps you don’t live in any of the aforementioned countries. Maybe you’ve sent out a couple of applications anyway, only to be rejected simply based on your location. While other country versions of Indeed.com don’t seem to have a dedicated “Remote” filter, you can still find them. You’ve just gotta get a little creative.

A quick note: “Remote” does not always mean “work anywhere”. As I have pointed out before, there may be location restrictions. Which is understandable to a degree. A company may, for legal reasons, want a remote worker who is at least legally eligible to work in the country they are based in. Or perhaps they may simply want that person to at least be an hour’s flight away to occasionally attend meetings in the flesh.

 

This method simply involves typing your job role and “Remote” (or related keywords) into the “What” section.

remote job indeed com canada search 2

Under “Where”, simply type the country you’re searching in. Or the city, if you want to explore options in your locality. Even as a remote worker, you may prefer to commute some of the time so it’s still useful to be able to filter out geographical location.

Don’t forget to try this using all variations of remote or their equivalents in your own language. For example, I usually perform separate searches in German and English as they both bring up lots of results. In German I might use the variations “Home Office”, “Heimarbeit” and “Telearbeit”. In English, variations can include “Remote”, “Remote Work”, “Home-Based” etc…

Last but not least… Just ask

If you see a job that doesn’t explicitly state whether remote work is allowed (they may wax lyrical about their “lovely office”, which always puts me off…), send an application anyway, should the role seem like a perfect fit otherwise. In this stage of the process, you’re not trying to get a job. You’re trying to start a conversation. You want to find out more about the role and whether it will interest you. “Remote” is, for all intents and purposes, just a detail (but one that many employers seem to be rather precious about…) it’s no different to asking about perks, vacation time and salary.

 

Working Remotely? Don’t Let Your Employer Skimp on Salary

Remote work and telecommuting offer huge benefits to everyone. In fact, there are more perks for employers than there are for employees.

Firstly, overheads (heat, lighting, subsidized food/coffee/drinks) are significantly reduced. Greater flexibility means happier, more motivated and ultimately more productive employees. This has the knock-on effect of reducing employee turnover (yet another reduced cost for the company).

As an employee who works remotely, you may however feel like the company is doing you a favor by letting you work from home. Many of us have heard the phrase “be grateful you have a job” ad nauseum. Even if the job sucks a little. While a full-time remote work arrangement is fantastic (especially for digital nomads) – there is a slightly negative side-effect.

Quite a few telecommuters may think…

Well, they’re already giving me a lot of freedom… Maybe I shouldn’t be too pushy about asking for a raise/more money.

After all, you can also save a lot of cash. Location independence means fewer transport costs, a home outside of an expensive city center. It’s a pretty neat deal. Hell, you can even move to that cheap, creepy cabin in the woods if your little heart desires.

cabin working remotely
…just make sure you have Internet!

Some employers may (knowingly or even unknowingly) capitalize on this attitude and use “remote” as an excuse to pay less. A lot of us don’t feel compelled to complain about this unfair treatment, mainly because working from home is such a huge benefit.

Well, that’s nonsense. Costs or no costs, you deserve to be paid what you’re worth.

You’re still doing the same job. Producing the same (or sometimes better, according to the data) results. Maybe you’re a web developer working on code, a social media manager improving engagement, brand awareness and ultimately profit. Maybe you’re a wizard VA who just gets shit done – in time.

The only real difference is that your in-office counterparts are… Well, sitting in a different building.

That’s not a good reason to feel like you shouldn’t ask for more. Oftentimes, the salary we draw is also equated to time spent in the office. For office workers, perceived productivity begins the moment they sit at their desks. Or when they turn on the computer.

For remote workers, it’s trickier: that’s why so many of us overwork. There’s still the misconception that if you’re not in the office, you’re not really working (or, you’re slacking off completely).

Salary negotiations when you work from home

The good news here is that asking for a raise isn’t a telecommute-specific problem. Even in-office workers may not see their boss/supervisor every day (depending on how big the company is). It’s still something you have to “prep” yourself for. When working remotely, you need to contact them directly.

So, what should you do if you want a raise? Before asking, keep the following in mind:

  • Avoid text. Don’t ask for a raise directly via emails or Slack messages. Important issues like this shouldn’t be conveyed over text. Simply write a message and request a phone call/video chat (or in-person meeting, if it’s possible to comfortably travel to the office).
  • Make a list of your accomplishments. You need to show concrete proof of why you should get more money. If your job directly affects profit (you’re a media buyer who makes $1,000 a extra a week since, for example), show them the number. If your job doesn’t directly impact profits, point out your strengths and how they’re ultimately helping the company and workflow. You don’t have to actually read this list out during the conversation but make sure you keep the points in your head and work them into the conversation.
  • Practice pitching. Sit in front of the mirror, imagine the situation and run through it a few times. You can never truly predict how a conversation will go, but practicing can help to ease your nerves on the day.

It’s very easy to have a slight inferiority complex when it comes to work (especially for women). Remote workers in particular may feel they don’t deserve as much, despite often doing a lot more. However, times are changing and for many professions it is no longer viewed as a perk or a privilege – but a right.

Are Remote Work and Travel Really a Good Mix?

The year’s drawing to a close and this has been playing on my mind. Especially since I’ve done a lot of it this year. Remote work and travel seem to go hand in hand… but sometimes I just wonder how well these two things really mix.

I’ve worked from home (read: “remotely”) for a long time. I’ve also traveled and worked, sometimes simultaneously. This year, I’ve really been abusing those privileges. Planned and unplanned stints to Spain, the Black Forest, the windy city of Hamburg… And constantly going back and forth to Ireland (thanks, Ryanair, I guess…).

The true beauty? Only a fraction of those journeys involved actually using my vacation days.

Amidst this traveling though, I wondered…

With all the extra stress and planning involved, are travel and remote work really a good match?

Is it better to sit at home and focus? With only the occasional stint to the coffee shop? In some cases, I’d say yes (at least for me). Then again, it often depends…

Successful remote work and travel

The fact that digital nomads exist tells us that successful remote work and travel probably does happen. Of course, a lot of that is self-reporting, so it should be taken with a pinch of salt. A nomad’s lifestyle often involves hopping from city to city, country to country. Very frequently, too. But is this actually feasible for the majority of people? Or would most of us pass out from the stress?

I’ll be honest here. If anything, I’m more of a part-time digital nomad. I don’t think I’d enjoy the hustle, at least not long-term. When it comes to work, I’m very focused, very proactive and communicative with my team: but add the extra stress of constantly organizing flights and sorting out accommodation, I think I’d go spare.

That’s just me though. I guess I’m more of an opportunistic digital nomad rather than a “part time” one. I use my remote work privileges to travel when the mood strikes.

How to (effectively) travel and work remotely

Okay, so remote work and travel can be done by some people – especially those who thrive on constant activity. But if you’re a remote worker who still wants to at least occasionally travel, it’s good to keep a few things in mind.

  • When it comes to a job -any job- remember: it’s still a damn job! You cannot shirk responsibility because, oh no, you’re now on a plane and there’s no wifi.
  • If you are “working on the go”, prepare for it. This is easier for freelancers than full-time remote workers, of course. If you’re traveling that day, let your teammates/clients know you won’t be available at certain times. Don’t just randomly disappear in the middle of the day.
  • Be equipped! If you’re traveling on trains and buses, make sure you have enough battery power. And enough mobile data!
  • Be mindful of timezones and adjust your worktimes/arrangements accordingly.
  • As always, communicate if you have any problems and let people know.

A lot of this is just common sense. Which unfortunately isn’t all that common.

Remote Digital Marketing Jobs and How to Land Them

Remote digital marketing jobs are common, right?

You’d think so. At the very least, online marketing positions give you the option to work remotely. It’s all about selling things online, after all.

When I started looking for my next full-time remote gig, I figured it was easy. The competition for any work at home job is fierce… but I’m a digital marketer. I have large skillset and experience to match. I thought I’d have my pick. To an extent, this was true. Yet most of the positions I applied for were office-based and location-specific.

Plenty of the positions I applied for had a “work from home” option. Usually one or two days a week. Compared to my current job, that just didn’t cut it. It’s a big leap going from a mostly remote setup to suddenly sitting at the same desk nearly every day. A MASSIVE leap.

Look at any standard job ad in the realm of SEO, social media or paid advertising. There are some exciting roles out there. Until you read…

Benefits: A beautiful office located in the heart of Berlin. Free coffee, tea, soft drinks, fruit snacks, games…

All well and good. If you’re comfortable in an office setup. For digital nomads or those who prefer remote working… it’s somewhat disheartening.

There’s an easier way to find remote digital marketing jobs

Don’t rule out remote-first jobs just because the competition is high. Chances are slim, but you never know. More importantly, remember: working in an office is the default. Most modern companies maintain outdated working methods because that’s what they know. Working remotely is slowly being accepted in many sectors. However, remote workers outside of the tech industry have organized “mobile” setups themselves… By asking for it.

Really? It’s really that simple?

Yes. Your prospective employer may say no… But really, that’s the worst they can say. Asking for a remote work environment is no different to asking about other perks or a bigger salary. Additionally, remote digital marketing jobs are best found in startups rather than big companies. Though if some corporate giant wants you, don’t be afraid to ask.

Successfully securing a remote setup

First things first: know what you want. Know exactly what type of remote setup you’re looking for. Do you want to be entirely remote? Are you happy to travel to their office at least a few times a year? Or… Do you mind going in on a weekly basis, one or two days? Perhaps you simply prefer having the option to work from home.

As with any position, read what they say about the job. Apply for it, sell yourself. Maybe slightly emphasis your remote working skills… But don’t overdo it. In addition:

  • As with any other job, emphasize your skills and how they can be applied to the position. Your employer doesn’t care about your desire to work from home. They care only about how you can contribute to the company.
  • Do not mention remote working straight off the bat. Only talk about it after you’ve discussed the role, your experience and your skills.
  • When you do discuss a remote setup, ask about their “work environment”. If you’ve held a remote position before, don’t be afraid to say it. Explain that it’s the style you’re used to.
  • Should your employer seem open to the idea, proceed.

This advice goes not just for online marketing, but any position that can theoretically be done from home. The main takeaway here is that you have to ask for some things. Remote digital marketing jobs are more plentiful than you think. You just need to be tactful!

I Didn’t Appreciate the Benefits of Working Remotely… Until I Lost Them

At one point in my early career, I got bored of working remotely. I’d never worked in an office, so I was willing to try it out. I’m glad I did – but I will say I’m also glad I took up remote working again. After working two years in a standard office job, I started to sorely miss the benefits of working from home.

I seriously appreciate the benefits of working remotely now. It’s not something I’ll take lightly again… However, my two-year experience in an office was invaluable. It taught me a lot about different working styles, dealing with different people and how I can improve my general productivity.

After all, I thought the experience of working in a brick-and-mortar company was invaluable. Back then, I thought my CV was lacking because I had only been “freelancing” for a couple of years (years later, a job coach specifically told me not to play down my experience as a freelancer).

“Besides,” I thought, “I’ll obviously get paid more, get better benefits and be taken more seriously…” All for showing up at a specific time, sitting at a specific desk and keeping up appearances.

So I gave up freelancing and went straight into my first 9-to-5 job. And you know what? It wasn’t so bad: stable money, health benefits, even subsidized transport. It was great!

The first thing to go… Enthusiasm

I never liked school. Don’t get me wrong: I really enjoy learning. In digital marketing, you have to keep updating your knowledge. But I didn’t actually enjoy going to school and being in the same place every, single, day. My new office was the same: I sat at the same desk for two solid years.

This type of routine works well for a lot of people. It gives them a sense of structure. Unfortunately, it made me feel trapped. All of my days blended into one. I lost track of time: life became a series of getting up, coffee, sitting, typing, lunch and going home…

The work was interesting, to a point. But that paled in comparison. I began to dream of days when I’d use my remote working benefits to sit in a new café down the street… Or take my laptop and work from a hotel room in Portugal.

“Forget it,” I told myself, “you’ve a proper job now. And more money than you’ve ever had. This is what “grown up” work is like. Deal with it.”

I realized how independent working remotely had made me

Remote work had turned me into a self-starter. As a freelancer, I had to be organized and make sure I knew where my work was coming from. I had to hit people up and do a bit of marketing. There was no one on my back to get me to do things. I had to be my own boss.

Working in that office had turned me into something else. I became content to wait for tasks. If there wasn’t much to do, we’d sit around and chat. I lost my proactivity… And only waited for directions from my manager.

Basically… I turned into an office drone.

Two years after started, I asked to switch to a remote working set up (Germans like to call it “home office”). It worked out well… Then I found a new job and thankfully, I can be as remote as I like.

I will never take remote working for granted again!

Are All Remote Jobs Flexible?

With remote jobs, flexible work options are a given, right?

Not necessarily.

The main difference between a telecommute position and one based in a office is really quite simple. Work at home jobs are just that – jobs where you work in your own home. All other aspects of the job are the same: you may still have to go to meetings, be available at certain times or even bend to someone else’s schedule.

Essentially…

’Remote’ does not always equal ‘flexible’.

It’s food for thought when you’re looking for new challenges. Admittedly, working remotely often does mean that you’re on a flexible schedule. Especially if your colleagues are scattered throughout different time zones. Often, you’ll have to adhere to only a vague or loose routine in order to facilitate efficient communication.

That’s why it’s important to look at the fine print before you decide to continue with that application.

Remote Jobs: Flexible or not? What I noticed when searching

Whether remote jobs are flexible or not depends on several factors. These are often the same factors that determine whether any other office-based position offer flexibility:

  • The nature of the job: If your job is tending to the needs of customers, you may be required to work in shifts. Call-centers spring to mind.
  • What your colleagues need: Your work could theoretically be deadline-based, but if your colleagues want you on call at certain hours, you may be required to work specific times.
  • Meetings: If you’re needed in a bunch of important meetings throughout the day, it could leave you with very little wiggle-room.
  • If the company is more traditional/corporate then it’s likely you’ll only receive a certain level of flexibility.

Not everyone who wants a work from home position necessarily needs to be on a flexible schedule. For many people, scheduled breaks and lunch hours are usually enough.

Types of jobs which may not be flexible

The Western world at least is moving towards a more flexible work mindset – which is a good thing! However as stated before, the nature of your job may only allow for a certain amount of flexibility. The following remote jobs may not offer as flexible a schedule as you might think.

Human Resources

You may need to be in regular meetings or on-call throughout the day to answer certain questions. This is especially true if you have a lot of different meetings throughout the day. If anything, remote HR jobs aren’t very different from the in-office variety: you just have the luxury of sitting at your kitchen table.

Customer Service

It probably doesn’t matter if you’re mostly answering emails. But if you’re on the phone to customers or chatting with them online, you’ll probably have to work in shifts.

Virtual Assistants

A lot of VAs actually work in accordance with a rather strict schedule. That’s because people need to know when their VA is available in order to speak with them, give them tasks etc.

While these are three of the most common types of job with limited flexibility, there are many more. At the end of the day, a job isn’t just about your skills or the specific tasks you’re needed for. You’re there to help a company get things done and grow: sometimes, that means less flexibility.