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The Top 5 Stay-at-Home Careers

You've probably seen the ads. Certain companies will guarantee that thousands of dollars can be made by stuffing envelopes at home, or doing something equally easy. These scams are everywhere, and sometimes obscure the truth: A college degree can lead to real money made in real work-at-home jobs.

These five jobs are among the top careers for those who prefer to stay at home while working. Some of them might surprise you.

Customer Service Representative

Large companies need someone manning the phones, often around the clock, in order to handle calls from their customers. With a dedicated phone line and a reliable Internet connection, the customer service representative can work from home. Patience and great communication skills are a necessity for this position.

An associate's or bachelor's degree in a related field, such as business or communications, is increasingly preferred by employers. Career training takes place on the job, and those who do well in the position might find opportunities to advance in the company. The average annual salary for a customer service representative in 2008 was $29,860, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Travel Agent

Want to help travelers find lodging, vacation packages, and those routes off the beaten path? You can do it from the comfort of your home office when you opt to become a travel agent. Travel agents customize the traveling experience for their clients and are often the source of recommendations and referrals.

A bachelor's degree in business can give you the skills necessary to launch your home business as a travel agent. Many vocational schools offer career training specifically designed for travel agents. Strong communication skills and a familiarity with reservation systems are a must, and extensive travel experience is a plus. In 2008, travel agents made an average of $30,570, according to the BLS.


Do you think a teacher has to go into a classroom every day? Think again. As more students opt for online education, the classroom setting has changed for tech-savvy teachers. It is now possible to teach classes online without ever setting foot on a college campus.

The degree required for teaching at the post-secondary level varies depending upon your expertise and the classes you intend to teach. A minimum of a bachelor's degree in education will open the doors to your teaching career, though advancement might require a master's degree or doctorate. The annual income of postsecondary teachers was an average of $56,120 in 2006, the last year for which numbers were available.

Web Designer

If you know your way around a computer, becoming a Web designer can allow you to work from home. Web designers are responsible for the creation and design of Web sites. They sometimes serve as Web masters as well, handling the day-to-day operations of the sites they have created.

The world of technology moves fast, and the higher your degree, the better your chances of advancement. Those with a bachelor's degree in Web design or computer science are often qualified for entry-level jobs, but relevant experience and an associate's degree in a technical field is also acceptable. The median wage for a Web designer in 2008 was $75,150, according to the BLS.


A career as a writer often allows for great flexibility, which makes it an excellent choice for working from home. Time management skills are essential, as well as the ability to see a project through from start to finish. A degree in journalism, communications, or English is a good way to start your writing career.

Many employers seek writers who can provide Web content, so taking classes in computer science is a bonus. Those with technical degrees, such as a bachelor's of engineering, are often hired as writers for technical manuals and guides. According to the latest BLS numbers, writers could expect to bring home $53,070 each year, while technical writers averaged a bit more at $61,620.

The Best Stay-at-Home Jobs

As more companies offer telecommuting as an option to their employees, more jobs once reserved for the office cubicle are making the leap to the home office. Whether you are opting for your bachelor's degree, your associate's degree, or career training through an online vocational program, a work-at-home job could be just around the corner.

by Shannon Dauphin, a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee.

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