Not Into Tech or IT? You Can Still Have a Remote Job (Part 1)

In bygone days, the most common remote jobs were in tech and IT.

By and large, that often meant you had to be a developer in order to work remotely.

The reason? I’m willing to bet it’s because programming is damn hard to do. Many business owners lack the expertise. Unable to find suitable talent to fill certain positions, they had literally no choice but to hire experts from a distance. And good for those experts, too: they had a powerful skill that they could leverage.

As a result, remote working culture has become an incredibly powerful force within the tech and IT community. You can see this in the open source community: the majority of projects are carried out and executed remotely. Contributors come from all over the world. The likes of GitHub and various project management philosophies (such as Kanban) contribute to creating smoother, more efficient workflows.

For many of us who prefer to work remotely (i.e., not put up with petty office politics and other pointless bullshit) – things are a little harder. For the most part, jobseekers will stumble across plenty of job boards which unfortunately simply direct to the same few non-tech remote job postings. That is, unless you’re looking for a job specifically in tech.

fish in microwave
Let us not forget the most unforgivable of office sins…

Of course, I’m mainly talking from my experience. Other jobseekers I’ve spoken to have told me the same. There seem to be countless software engineering and web development roles that are willing to hire from everywhere. To an extent, there are many design jobs available as well. Often, they require the designers to have a good knowledge of Markup (HTML, CSS) and other frontend languages, like JavaScript.

If you’ve got experience in this field and love it – then great! Use that to your advantage. Having a set of highly in-demand skills will help you land a job you can do from anywhere. So, that’s one type of person sorted.

However, many of us still ask…

…is it possible to have a non-tech job that is also a remote role?

The simple answer is: of course.

However, there’s a big BUT:

Regardless of what job you’re going for, you still need relatively good computer literacy. Hell, every single office-based job requires it. Thankfully though, you don’t have to be a tech wizard.

Sure, any job that can be done remotely requires a certain level of computer literacy. This still doesn’t mean you should have to jam tonnes of PHP and JavaScript into your brain just to be able to work from your kitchen table. Hell, even if you can program it doesn’t necessarily mean you may want to do it for a career.

That’s why I decided to whip up a list of some of the most common non-tech remote jobs out there. I’ve included a broad list of expected tasks and even salaries. Bear in mind, though: salaries are present in US dollars, because that appears to be the most common currency roles provide their information in.

PLEASE NOTE: Although finding a remote job these days is still a challenge (less so if you’re in the United States), it is getting easier. Statistics show that remote work is on the rise.

 

Non-Tech Remote Jobs: Administrative

You’ll be surprised to learn that a lot of administrative roles these days don’t necessarily require a “hands on” approach (at least in the physical sense). Administration is keeping things organized. These days, it often means keeping files in order and making sure that an organization ticks along smoothly.

Which is why the following jobs can easily be worked from anywhere…

Project Managers

“Project manager” is quite literally someone who manages projects. It’s pretty self-descriptive. However, many tend to sit in offices by themselves and communicate with others at a distance. You may be required to go to meetings or at least attend one via Skype. However, it is quite possible to land a project management role without having to spend too much time in the office.

Pay: Most project managers’ salaries are calculated on a yearly basis. You can expect USD$60,000/year.

Schedule Setup: It depends on the project, but for the most part you can expect 9-to-5. However, it also depends on the company you’re working for.

Accounting

I don’t know much about accounting as a career. But I do know that the majority of roles can be performed pretty much anywhere. Traditionally, many companies want their accountants onsite. However, they often tend to sit in a room by themselves. Sometimes they travel to meet clients. In theory, it can be pretty easy to find an accounting job. You could even be self-employed with several clients, and only occasionally travelling for face-to-face meetings.

Pay: On average, accountants tend to earn around USD$45,000. As with project managers, it depends on the company and the country you or the company is based in.

Schedule Setup: As an accountant who mostly works alone, it is entirely possible to have a very flexible schedule. Many tend to follow a 9-to-5 routine.

Managerial Roles

Managerial roles vary, but plenty of office-based roles can and are worked remotely. Since many companies have distributed, worldwide teams – higher-ups can often demand flexible schedules and location independence. Travel for meetings and events may be necessary.

Regarding pay and schedule setup – it depends heavily on the specific company and the role.

Virtual Assistant

Many offices have closed, many have downsized. But in spite of this, administrative assistants are still necessary. The only difference is that files are now stored on a cloud.

Virtual assistants provide administrative services and support. They may also have other duties. Typically though, a VA will…

  • Maintain calendars, set up meetings.
  • Carry out (virtual) administrative tasks.
  • Make travel arrangements.
  • Handle correspondence.
  • Handle accounting and billing.
  • Send emails.
  • Deal with customers/clients.

Pay: Virtual assistants can earn around USD$15.00 per hour. USD$2,400 a month. Or, USD$28,800 a year.

Schedule Setup: This is highly dependent on your boss.

You may be given completely flexible hours, and simply have to perform administrative tasks by a set deadline. Or you may have to follow a strict 9-to-5 schedule. Some employers require their assistants to be available to talk for at least a few hours a day. Therefore, this job can depend on time zone.

Non-Tech Remote Jobs: Creative

“Creative” is a very broad description but it does help describe the following roles. Remote and flexible setups often suit the more “creative” roles. Coming up with new ideas doesn’t always happen in the strict time slot between 9 and 5. While it works for some people, this isn’t always the case for others. Many of these roles are also outsourced, so finding freelance positions is a lot easier.

Video Editor

This job title is pretty self-explanatory. You’re given raw, recorded material and it’s your job to edit it into something suitable according to specific guidelines. It can be anything – camera footage, sound effects, graphics, special effects. While there is a higher demand for video editing professionals in the world of online media, this job goes far beyond that.

Pay: Video editors can earn US$44,357 on average per year.

Schedule Setup: Once again, this is highly dependent on who you work for. Like a lot of creative jobs, video editing can be done freelance affording you more flexibility.

UX Designer

This is arguably also a tech job (I mean for God’s sake, you are designing websites so why wouldn’t it be?) but it’s also a highly creative position. In addition, there’s little to no coding involved (having a basic understanding of HTML and CSS will help, but for the most part you’ll have a developer for that!). UX Design is an up-and-coming field with demand rising across the world. Simply put, it involves designing websites, software and other pieces of technology in accordance with the needs of users. You’re designing machines for humans.

Pay: UX designers can earn US$83,000 on average per year.

Schedule Setup: Once again, this is highly dependent on who you work for. Many professionals in the field will also freelance.

4 Things to Keep in Mind During Your Job Search

Hey, do you know what’s not fun?

Job searches.

I’m sure there’s a small percentage of people out there who enjoy it. I mean, perusing job ads for new challenges and exciting opportunities is fun. The real reason most people hate looking for a new position is because they are forced too. Depending on the circumstances, many take jobs that they know they will absolutely detest. Just to pay the bills.

For those of us with substantial savings and/or lucky enough to live in a country with decent social security (thanks, Germany!), the day-in, day-out process of applying and getting rejected gets tedious. Really tedious. It’s discouraging. Of course, the same can be said for those who need to find a job now or starve. Except, of course, with added existential terror.

I’m currently at my wit’s end. Last month, I applied to over a 100 companies.

Over 100 companies.

Let that sink in. Now, let me tell you how many positive responses (i.e., interviews) I got.

Just under ten.

I got plenty of rejections. A significant number of firms didn’t even bother to do that. Automated emails aside, that’s not only discouraging. It’s plain rude.

man with flowers
Flowers don’t work either… Not that some companies even deserve them.
“I’m clearly doing something wrong,” I thought. “Maybe my cover letters sounded too braggy. Maybe they weren’t bragging enough! Perhaps I should’ve included my entire job history – not just that relevant to digital marketing. Perhaps employers scoffed at the fact I don’t have a Bachelor’s degree – or maybe (in the case of German companies) my German was just too “foreign”.”

Maybe, I’m just not good enough.

The above musings are nonsense. I did everything right. If you’re applying for jobs in a professional manner, you’re doing everything right as well!

We’re taking all the right steps yet we get very little in return. It just doesn’t seem very fruitful.

lots of fruit
Neither does fruit…

The thing is, this is totally normal in a job search. Things may seem bleak while you’re in the thick of it, throwing CVs left, right and center. Despite that, you’ve got to remember that it also seems worse because you want a job. I’ve found that interviews come in waves: I’ll hear nothing for a week or two and then suddenly I’ll have an interview every single day.

All the while, just keep the job search running. And remember…

…you’re doing fine!

That’s why I threw the following points together. For anyone who needs a bit of encouragement and perspective, read on!

Job Search Tips: Rejections are normal, if not standard

Go into your job search fully expecting to be rejected. Companies received hundreds of applications daily. I’ve been on the other side, watching the poor HR person weep sorry tears at the amount they had to sift through. Okay, they weren’t full-on weeping, but the sheer volume of responses meant that most applications were not even properly read. And someone ended up traumatized.

UPDATE: No, forget the “poor” HR person. Their department put out an ad, they have a responsibility to get back to you. So what if it’s loads of applications? Get over it and do your damn job. Companies that ghost you or ignore candidates are disrespectful and unprofessional.

So remember: rejections are normal. They don’t mean you suck.

Job Search Tips: Auto-responses suck, but they’re better than nothing

Even if it takes months, a company should eventually follow-up on your application. Even if it’s to reject you. Auto-responses don’t replace that, however receiving a confirmation is a sign that at least you know it landed in their pile. While they certainly suck, they’re better than getting nothing at all.

Which is what a lot of companies do, to a surprising degree. If that’s the case, revaluate why you’d even want to work with that company.

It could take a few months

Keyword here is “could”. If you’re picky about the position you want and have the time to search, this may not be so much of an issue. You will hear of people who get job offers and interviews before things before they’ve even started to properly look. These people are lucky. Remember that: they are lucky and in the minority. Factors that contribute to this are usually their connections, how desperate/entranced by a particular candidate a company is and, again, pure luck.

A normal job search usually takes a month or two, sometimes longer. With the rejections you receive and the time you spend on applications, it may seem as if you’re being personally singled out. Believe me, you are not.

Hiring processes are horrifically outdated

Sadly, this is working against quite a lot of people – not just you. You could have the best profile in the world, an amazing skill set and be a real money-machine like I was for my last company. Yet, if your cover letter/CV combination isn’t laid out just how the HR person likes it, it may be looking at the bin. Most people hate writing cover letters and I am one of them. It feels fake and ingenuine.

Maybe this particular method is useful for some professions. However, for my particular field (digital marketing/copywriting) it is a woeful way of picking candidates. Any digital marketer worth their salt these days will have a website/blog and some kind of online presence. The same, I assume, goes for software engineers, graphic designers and a whole host of other jobs that can be done online. Our portfolios are there to see – a small introductory email should ideally suffice.

Working Remotely: An Employee’s Perspective

You could say I was a working remotely long before I knew what that really meant. I wasn’t fully remote, though: when I started freelancing, I taught English as a second language – mainly in big, boring German companies. Becoming a copywriter happened by accident. I discovered that I could write for money with many of the “content mills” that were trawling the Internet back in the day. I quickly learned to get out of that habit.

When I got hired to work at a company in Cologne, Germany, I was over the moon. It was what some of my friends called a “real job”. There was an office, a telephone, my own desk… It was new, varied, interesting and of course, came with a stable salary. Probably the most delicious temptation after spending years carefully tracking how much money is coming in every month.

cologne cathedral working remotely
Plus, Cologne is an amazing city.

That was all well and good. Until I started to dread getting up in the morning. Full trams were never the problem though. It dawned on me that for the rest of my time at that company, I would (probably) be sitting in the same chair, in the same room… Eight hours a day, five days a week.

I nearly went crazy although I managed to hold out for two years.

Arrangements for Working Remotely: Are they possible?

If you want to start working remotely, the general advice is this: instead of quitting your job and going after any freelance gig you can find, you should speak to your boss first. Remote working arrangements are available at a surprising number of companies these days: from Canonical to Dell to various start-ups such as Hotjar and Buffer (the latter of which operate entirely remotely).

It also depends on your company culture. Do you have team members based in offices in other countries? How much of your work involves meeting people? All must be taken into consideration. For those of us who SEOs, online marketers and programmers, pretty much all of the work can be done with a laptop and an Internet connection.

There are naturally countless arguments against it: employees may slack off, are less visible etc. However, this post isn’t about that. It’s about remote working from the perspective of an employee who started it.

Remote Working as an Employee: The benefits

The benefits were obvious to me. Since I spent most of my time in front of a computer anyway, it made sense to work where I was most comfortable and could concentrate. That usually means a bean bag or my sofa (not a fan of chairs in general). Once I started working remotely, things generally got easier. I did sometimes work longer, though I noticed just how much more effective I was. My boss remarked on it as well.

During my office days, I used to dread getting up in the morning, getting ready and going out somewhere. While I like a bit of fresh air and social interaction, it’s usually the last thing I want to do at 8 AM. When working in the office, I was usually one of the later ones (my company isn’t too strict on hours, being an online marketing firm). When working at home… Suddenly, I was up and working at 7. I had plenty of time to do shopping, washing, household chores and still get my work done.

I even noticed another benefit: I had more social energy. I’m not someone who likes spending all my time around people. I like to choose with whom I can do it. My work involves very little social interaction to begin with and, although my colleagues are nice people, we don’t get much of a chance to really spend quality time. It made sense to concentrate during the day on my work, and then get out in the evening.

Yep, I still really like working remotely

In conclusion, I would say that at least on a personal level working remotely is my absolute preferred method of getting things done. Spending time getting bits and pieces done in cafes also helps, though it’s not mandatory. Of course, some people cannot concentrate without being in an office environment. I have full sympathy. I’m not one of those people who advocate the abolition of offices completely, however offering employees a much more flexible system of work could make a huge difference on their general happiness and well-being – as well as that of the company.