Unfortunately, then you always wake up at a desk stacked with never ending paperwork, shackled inside some cubicle. The drool from your mid-afternoon doze-off has short circuited yet another keyboard, which will have to come out of your paycheck (the third one this month) and your boss starts whining because you forgot to put a cover sheet on your TPS report and he needs you to come in to work on Saturday. And someone stole your red stapler again.
That’s a more likely scenario for all of the 9 to 5’ers out there, but here’s the good news – the dream is possible. It’s out there, ready for you. You can travel or live anywhere in the world and take your job with you, still making money in the U.S. (or your home country) virtually. It’s not easy, and it may take a lot of research, planning, and hard work, but it IS possible to live your life by a beach, or on top of a mountain, in a foreign country and still make a living.
In fact, people have been doing it for years, but many chose to work from home instead of living by the beach, superwoman stay-at-home moms who earn extra money AND take care of the kids. You’ll also hear it called working “virtually,” “telecommuting,” or just working online, and a U.S. Census report shows that the number of people who work virtually or from home has soared by 41% in the past decade.
Every year there are an estimated 6 million U.S. citizens living abroad. Some of them chose to live in foreign countries and become full-time expatriates, while others go abroad to study, backpack around for a summer, volunteer, or do business. For the youth in other countries, England, Canada, Australia, and most of Europe, taking a year or two to go backpack around the world is so common it’s almost a rite of passage.
Many of them try to find jobs in their host countries, but I’m seeing more and travelers and expats working virtually from their laptop and making enough money to keep their dream alive, especially in some countries where living expenses may be much lower. This trend is in its infancy, thanks to a business focus on Globalization and the explosion of useful technology in the last five years. The concept was celebrated in Tim Ferriss’s wildly popular book “The 4-Hour Work Week.”
Whether you are a stay at home mom looking to work, a college student who wants to backpack around Europe and still make some money, or a 9-5 burnout who gives it all up and lives abroad (like me) the dream is alive and well.
First we start off with a specific list of jobs you can do from anywhere. In the second part of this article I'll go over WHERE to go to find these jobs, and HOW to get them.
Here is a list of jobs you could do virtually:
Selling blogs/articles on the Internet for magazines and newspapers, sites, or businesses.
2. Copy editor.
You can write and edit content for advertisements, sales brochures, manuals and guides, etc.
3. Virtual call center/Customer service rep.
As long as you have a phone and a headset (or a computer) you can take calls anywhere in the world.
4. Web developer.
This is one of the most common live-and-work-abroad jobs, and it does take a technical knowledge of HTML, Wordpress, or other web build code.
You can start your own blog and attract enough visitors to start selling advertising or products.
6. Survey taker.
They actually pay people to take surveys! Search engines also hire people to review their sites.
Virtual medical care is a rapidly growing field.
Radiologists mostly review x-rays, so this is easy to do virtually with the right technology.
9. Video producer and editor.
Produce videos for corporations, non-profits, or entertainers.
10. Technical writer.
Technical writers design manuals and instructions that are very specific and task-oriented (boring.)
11. On-line post-secondary teachers.
There is a growing trend of online universities, colleges, and also high schools.
The world always needs people with good language skills to translate their messages. If you can speak two languages fluently, you will be in great demand!
13. Virtual tax preparer.
You can prepare those pesky income tax returns over your laptop.
14. Phone sex operator.
Do you really need me to explain this one? “Brown chicken, brown cow!”
15. Data entry.
Menial and unfulfilling, but who cares if you can do it by the beach?
16. Excel and Power Point specialist.
If you know the technical intricacies of Excel companies will pay you to set up complex spread sheets and data systems, or prepare PP presentations for sales people, speakers, and organizations.
17. Medical transcriptionist.
Transcribe notes from doctors and surgeons.
18. Medical billing.
One of the work-from-home stalwarts, you can organize medical billing records for doctors offices.
19. Counselor or Therapist.
Sit on your own leather couch and talk to someone about your problems via Skype, for $20 an hour, not $150 an hour.
20. Outside sales.
Many sales jobs can be done via Internet, phone, fax, Skype, etc. and are based solely on commission.
21. Virtual assistant.
A lot of busy business people don’t want to hire a full time assistant in-house, so they outsource daily tasks to a virtual assistant.
22. Sell travel art and photography.
Though it’s a competitive field, many people sell their travel photography and artwork online.
Attract people to certain destinations with websites, social media, etc. and help them arrange hotel stays, condo rentals, fishing trips, etc. The proprietors will usually pay you a 20% finders fee.
24. Affiliate marketing.
You can promote other peoples’ goods or services on your website or blog, and if users click through and purchase something, you get a commission.
25. EBay broker.
You can maintain an eBay story from anywhere in the world. Either hire people to package and mail the items for you, or utilize the ‘drop ship model,’ (below)
26. Reseller, drop ship model.
You sell products online, but instead of packaging and shipping the items yourself, your order automatically goes through to a warehouse that does everything for you. That means you can sell anything to anyone from anywhere and never touch – or even see – the product!
27. Graphic artist.
Every company needs a logo, infographic, or other artwork.
28. Wedding/event planner.
You can handle all of the minutiae of organizing big events, corporate or personal, and get paid to do it.
29. Grant writer.
Writing grants for nonprofits and research is a super important field, yet requires a specific writing format. Nonprofits are ALWAYS applying and reapplying for grants and funding, so you will never be out of work.
30. Social media consultant.
Every company wants to market their brand or service through social media and have access to an unlimited number of new customers, but many of them only know how to use Facebook enough to post inappropriate political comments and send out birthday requests. Help them, please!
Send out press releases, make connections, and garner traditional media attention.
32. Cottage Publishing.
Attract clients who want to self-publish a book and help them from start to finish, using cheaper subcontractors or services, and then mark up the price to include your fee.
33. Desktop Publishing.
Design the layout and graphics for menus, brochures, books, newsletters, etc.
34. Software engineer.
If you know all of that fancy technical stuff, you’ll be in high demand and can work from anywhere.
35. IT Professional.
These days an IT professional can assume control of your computer virtually, and poke around and fix the problem without even being there.
36. Educational tutoring.
Tutor children in after school programs or learning centers, or college kids in specific subjects.
37. Language teacher.
Believe it or not, knowing English well is a commodity, and these days you can teach English via your laptop anywhere in the world (see profile at the end of this article)
38. Travel Agent.
You can arrange and book airfare, travel, and vacation packages virtually. The job of travel agent has actually shifted toward a work-at-home model years ago.
39. Franchise owner.
If you own a Subway store, you’re not the one expected to bake the bread. So hire great managers and supervise virtually. Think about it – you don’t even need a staff if you own a laundry mat or vending machine.
Own rental properties and manage them from abroad. The check will be in your bank every month and you can have a handyman on call. You can even rent out your own house while you’re out there traveling!
41. Answering service or scheduler.
Many businesses use an answering service during off hours, or someone to manage their busy schedule. You can take on as many clients as you can handle.
42. Insurance adjuster.
A lot of tedious work in the insurance field – like worker’s comp audits, for example, has been outsourced to virtual employees.
43. Support for open-source software.
There are software systems out there like Linux, Wordpress, Dupral etc. that may be free, but people will pay for technical support.
Manage the books and accounting for any business, from the beach.
45. Financial advisor.
Many independent financial advisors can work virtually – why not? They are dealing in information and expertise, not standing on the trading floor on Wall Street.
I'll also talk about the application and interview process, avoiding scams, and virtual employment code of conduct.
Happy job hunting, and safe travels!
Working virtually as an English teacher at an online school.
How long have you lived abroad/where have you lived?
I'm from England, originally, and have lived abroad the last four years, in Australia, New Zealand, U.S.A. (Texas), The Czech Republic, China, Nicaragua and Russia.
What have you done for work?
Australia- Concreting and steel fixing. New Zealand- Nightclub security. U.S.A. Online teaching. The Czech Republic- English Language Teacher. China- Head Teacher of an international school. Nicaragua- manager at a bar/restaurant and teaching English online. Russia- Head Teacher of an international school, teaching English online.
What are the challenges?
Cultural differences always seems to be the biggest challenge while working overseas. Language can also be a challenge, but more of a fun challenge.
What are the unique opportunities?
Getting to fully immerse yourself into a completely different way of living, is one of the coolest experiences anyone can have. It also opens up your mind, and humbles you in such prolific ways, I can't even begin to describe. Being able to work within a different country, within a different culture; allows you to see the world in a different light, and it allows you to understand the unknown, just that little bit more.
Where do you see growth in careers working virtually?
Having taught online, I see the benefits to virtual careers. I was able to have a half decent paid job in England, Nicaragua, and the U.S. I didn't have to worry about finding work in each new destination; It was already there.
What advice would you give young travelers who are looking to work while they live/travel abroad?
Do it! Ask yourself "What do I really want to be?" "Where do I really want to be?" Once you know the answers to these questions, then there's no stopping you. So go ahead and quit your day job, book a flight, and don't regret a moment! You will experience things that you would never imagine, you'll meet the most interesting people on the planet, you'll broaden your views on life, and you'll make friends who you will treasure forever.
You can email Tommas