It's easier than ever to work from home. With the rise of email, company intranets, video conference calling and other technology, many workers are finding that working from home makes a lot of sense. Of course, not every job is a mobile job, and some companies aren't interested in having their employees work from home.
"Workers whose job duties are clearly defined with quantifiable metrics associated to them are particularly well-suited to working from home," says Sara Madiuk of Firecracker PR. "These include knowledge workers of any sort or programmers." Other good candidates are people in sales or business development whose performance is measured by results.
If you're interested in working from home, keep in mind that it's usually a perk offered to only those employees who've already shown they're productive and trustworthy.
"In order for me to feel comfortable that an employee can be trusted to work effectively from home, I have to feel the employee has shown he will execute in the office," says Penny Miller of Venture HRO. "Some examples of how employees can do that are: Meet expenses. Keep me updated on problems that may affect the outcome. Solve routine problems on your own. Follow through. If I worry about whether you will complete your projects in the office with me sitting there, you can bet I am not going to trust you to complete work at home."
If you've got the track record and the desire to work from home, here are six of the top-paying work-from-home jobs.
Median annual telecommuter salary: $96,000
An actuary mathematically analyzes data to quantify financial risk and liability related to different outcomes. Skills required include asset and liability management and a knack for analysis. This data-driven occupation lends itself well to working at home.
Business intelligence analyst
Median annual telecommuter salary: $79,200
If you have a knack for making business decisions, recognizing business trends and analyzing the competition, consider being a business intelligence analyst. Skills include collecting and presenting data to decisionmakers and strategic analysis of business trends. You'll be expected to make recommendations to top-level decisionmakers about the direction a company should take regarding its performance and position in the industry.
As another data-analysis profession, this also lends itself well to working at home. However, there will definitely be times when a business intelligence analyst needs to be in the office to meet with company officers and managers or to make presentations.
Median annual telecommuter salary: $75,500
People who design, research and test software often need a lot of time to work on their projects without dealing with the end users. If you have the equipment at home, being a software developer can be an excellent work-at-home job. Software developers can go for long stretches of time without having to meet with end users, a situation that makes their jobs ideally suited for work-from-home status. The position does take a lot of education and training, but if you're a mid- to top-level software developer at your company, talk to your manager about working at home.
Median annual telecommuter salary: $74,500
A compensation analyst looks at market data and internal information to provide guidance on compensation plans for employees in a way that works for the company's budget. This can include starting salaries, merit increases, total compensation and other compensation issues. Some analysts will also advise on other human resources issues such as job descriptions.
Market research manager
Median annual telecommuter salary: $71,900
If you enjoy market research — pricing, customers, competition and so on — consider being a market research manager. Market research managers work with companies to find the value of a product or service and then do research to find out what customers will be willing to pay for it. This also may require some face-to-face time to meet with company officers or research the product or service, but much of the data analysis could be done outside the office.
Public relations manager
Median annual telecommuter salary: $63,200
Many people do PR management work from their homes, as much of the work is done over the phone or online. PR managers reach out to the media and directly to consumers to manage the public image of the companies they work for through issuing news releases, dealing with the media and sometimes helping plan events.
"We have hired a couple employees for our social media and PR team who, at some point or another, have moved abroad but wanted to keep working for the company," says Dana Case, director of operations at MyCorporation.com. "Since their main duties included turning in written work by their deadlines, and because they're good employees, working from home has worked out fine. The best working-from-home situation is when an employee's main job involves turning in quality work by certain deadlines. Anything written can be done from home (or another country), and as long as they turn in their work on time, I know they're doing their job."
Source: All salary data provided by online salary database PayScale.com. Salaries listed are median, annual salaries based on annual salary or hourly wage and include bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions and other forms of cash earnings as applicable. All salaries are for employees with five to eight years of experience who indicated that they have the option to telecommute or work from home.