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Updated on Tuesday, June 2, 2020
In recent months, clocking in from the comfort of your couch has become the new norm, as the coronavirus pandemic has transformed the landscape of the U.S. workforce by forcing millions of employees to adopt remote work. However, some occupations fare much better for remote work than others when it comes to salary potential and long-term demand.
A new study from MagnifyMoney identifies the best and worst jobs for remote work or telecommuting. For the purposes of this study, we looked at a multitude of metrics to determine a profession’s suitability for working from home, including how many people doing each job already work from home, earning potential and future growth in employment for each job.
- We found that the job of sales representative is No. 1 in best careers for working remotely. Roughly 13% of sales representatives work from home, and growth in demand for this job is expected to be very strong. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts job growth of 7.2% over the ten years from 2018 to 2028 — that’s about 76,000 new jobs.
- The No. 2 job for best telecommuting careers in our study is management analyst. This job has the fifth-highest work from home rate among the jobs we examined, and the BLS predicts strong growth in this field over the 2018-2028 period. However, be warned that recent data has shown earnings for management analysts are not rising at a high rate, suggesting there may be a ceiling – albeit a high one – on potential earnings.
- Computer and information systems manager is ranked at No. 3 for best careers for remote work. Roughly 10% of workers in this occupation work from home. In addition to its high rate of remote work, this occupation is attractive because of the high pay: the average computer and information systems manager makes over $140,000 per year.
- While they didn’t manage to crack the top 50 in our analysis, writers and authors are the jobs with the highest work from home rate. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that about 2 in 5 writers and authors work from home.
- Travel agents had the second-highest work from home rate. Roughly 30% of travel agents work from home.
- About 29% of farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers work from home, making them the occupation group with the third-highest work from home rate.
- Understandably, the bottom of the rankings largely consists of occupations where it is unrealistic to work from home, including many manufacturing and industrial jobs.
Top 5 jobs for working from home
Topping our ranking of the best jobs to work from home is sales representatives. Sales reps were boosted by the metric that measured job growth and opportunities: We found that there is an expected job growth of 7.2% for sales representatives from 2018 to 2028. Currently, sales reps already boast a healthy work from home rate, with 13% of them working remotely. The one metric that sales representatives had a low ranking in was wages. In 2018, the median annual earnings was $54,550, ranking in the No. 63 spot for that metric.
In the second place spot for our ranking of the best jobs for working from home is management analysts, thanks to lots of potential employment opportunities and a remote-friendly work structure. This occupation had a strong showing for the metrics measuring the current work from rate, with 24% working from home — resulting in fifth place for that metric in our analysis — as well as the metric measuring the total employment change, with just over 118,000 jobs expected to be added by 2028.
Computer and information systems managers
Computer and information systems managers are ranked third in best jobs for working from home, according to our study. The overall ranking for this profession was boosted by wages — in 2018, computer and information systems managers had median annual earnings of $142,530, with a 2.40% growth in wages from 2017 to 2018, resulting in the second place spot for that metric in our analysis. Meanwhile, 10% of computer and information systems managers work from home, and there is a predicted job growth of 11% in the 2018-2028 period.
Market research analysts and marketing specialists
The fourth-best job for working from home according to our study goes to market research analysts and marketing specialists. With a healthy work from home rate of 14%, this occupation had strong rankings for the metrics measuring job growth: With a predicted addition of nearly 140,000 jobs by 2028, that’s growth rate of 20% over the decade, that’s a lot of opportunities.
Rounding out the top five for our ranking of the best jobs to work from home is financial manager. While financial managers currently have a somewhat low work from home rate of 4%, this occupation was boosted by strong rankings in other metrics. We found that financial managers had high annual median earnings in 2018 of nearly $128,000, a 2.30% growth from 2017. There’s also robust growth expected for the financial manager field, with an estimated 105,000 jobs added between 2018 to 2028, making for a rate growth rate of 16% over the period.
Worst jobs for working from home
A common theme among the best jobs for remote work is that many rely on technology that is easily accessible at home, namely computers and phones. Understandably, the opposite appears to be true for the jobs at the bottom of our study’s ranking, many of which rely on machinery or infrastructure that is not realistically accessible from one’s home. Many of these jobs are also estimated to decline in the 2018 to 2028 period, indicating limited and shrinking opportunity for work in these fields.
The worst job to work from home, according to our study, is forging machine setters, operators and tenders for metal and plastic. The name of the occupation itself indicates that this is likely not a job that can be performed at home, which explains its low work from home rate of 1%. Meanwhile, this occupation also had an expected loss of over 3,000 jobs by 2028, or a nearly 20% reduction over the period, underscoring the shrinking opportunity in this field.
Other occupations that fell to the bottom of our study’s ranking of the best jobs to work from home include rolling machine setters, operators and tenders of metal and plastic, pressers of textiles, garments and other related materials, tool and die makers and forest and conservation workers.
Jobs with the highest work from home rate
Our overall ranking took many metrics, such as wages and job growth, into consideration when determining the best jobs for working from home. However, one major consideration factor is how common remote work is in particular fields. While some jobs cultivate remote-friendly work cultures, others — like the manufacturing jobs mentioned above — are not able to realistically accommodate remote work.
If being able to work from home is your top priority, you might want to consider a job as a writer or author. This was the occupation with the highest work from home rate of our study, at a whopping 38%. Other jobs that boasted high work from home rates included travel agents (29%), farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers (29%), door-to-door sales workers, news and street vendors and related workers (24%), management analysts (24%) and photographers (24%).
For this study, MagnifyMoney looked at data for 579 occupations from the 2018 U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, comparing them on the following metrics:
- Estimated employment change for 2018-2028. This shows the total new jobs for each occupation. A higher number indicates more potential employment.
- Percent change in estimated employment change for 2018-2028. This shows how fast an occupation is growing or declining. Faster growth means greater long-term opportunity.
- Percent of workers who work from home. A higher number indicates the job is more suitable for remote work.
- Occupational openings for 2018-2028. This is the number of job openings projected between 2018-2028. A higher number indicates more opportunity.
- 2018 median earnings. This is the median annual earnings for each occupation.
- Percent change in earnings for 2017-2018. This is the percent change in earnings for each occupation from 2017 to 2018.
In order to create our final rankings, we first ranked each occupation in each metric. We then found each occupation’s average ranking across the metrics, giving a double weighting to self-employment rate. Using this average ranking, we assigned a score to each occupation. The occupations with the highest scores ranked first, while the occupation with the lowest score ranked last.