43 Flexible Jobs That Accommodate Modern Goals & Lifestyles
Flexible jobs are increasingly common these days. More and more companies are realizing that allowing employees a greater degree of work-life balance goes a long way toward keeping them happy—and happy employees are productive employees. In fact, in one survey, more than half of human resources professionals said flexible work arrangements had a positive impact on recruitment, retention, employee excellence, and organizational success.1
To many people, flexible careers are defined by being allowed to work from home. But telecommuting jobs are only part of the story. Flexible work arrangements also include compressed workweeks (for example, when staff members work four 10-hour days each week and get Fridays off), seasonal scheduling, job sharing, and flexible scheduling that allows employees to work outside of core business hours. Jobs with flexible hours—whether they are part-time or contract positions, or whether they simply allow employees to work on a unique schedule—are appealing to many people who put a premium on their free time or need to balance work and family commitments.
Flexibility is about changing the way work gets done in order to better meet employees' work-life needs and produce results for the business. Flexible companies give workers greater latitude about the way they accomplish goals. As long as the job gets done, it may not matter when or where people do the work.
Flexible jobs are available in a wide variety of industries. In fact, virtually any job could feature flexible options if the employer was willing to offer them. Check out the flexible jobs in the following career sectors, and don't forget to read our tips for negotiating workplace flexibility:
- Business and administration
- Science, technology, and engineering
- Health and wellness
- Communication and the creative arts
- The skilled trades
- How to negotiate flexible work arrangements
Flexible Jobs in Business and Administration
Thanks to technological advances, many business-related jobs that were once performed mostly in an office can now be done either from home or on a non-traditional schedule. Many of these positions involve traveling to clients' workplaces for face-to-face meetings, but the bulk of the work can often be accomplished through phone calls, emails, and videoconferences. Some flexible jobs in business and administration include:
1. Sales manager
Leading a sales team with members scattered across different areas requires a bit of flexibility all around. Sales managers assign sales territories, set goals, and mentor other salespeople. To accommodate different schedules (and sometimes different time zones), you might have to travel or attend virtual meetings during off-hours. But there are lots of opportunities to work remotely in this job. Training in marketing can get you started on the path to this career.
- Average salary—$135,0902
2. Tax manager
The job of a tax manager is to devise and implement the tax plan for a company. He or she handles tax reporting and makes sure the company complies with all tax laws. Typical tasks include preparing government tax documents, ensuring the accuracy of those documents, and offering solutions to tax problems. You'll likely need a background in accounting and a whole lot of experience to land a job as a tax manager. Many firms offer flexible arrangements in which you can work from home some or all of the time.
- Average salary—$116,0733
Actuaries use their knowledge of math and statistics to analyze the financial costs of risks to their clients' businesses. Their work helps companies create insurance policies, investment plans, and pension plans. Most actuarial consulting companies offer flexible schedules; as long as you get the work done to their satisfaction, you can set your own schedule around the core business hours (generally 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
- Average salary—$114,1202
4. Management consultant
If you enjoy finding new and better ways of doing things, you might thrive as a management consultant. These professionals recommend organizational changes and develop new policies and procedures to help businesses improve their performance. Business management training can give you a good foundation for this career, but some employers prefer candidates with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Lots of travel is required in this field, but many consultants are self-employed and thus control their own schedules.
- Average salary—$91,9102
The accounting field readily lends itself to flexible work arrangements. Many large accounting firms offer their employees the option to choose their own start and finish times, work from home a few days a week, or work a compressed schedule in order to take extra days off. Self-employed accountants can set their own hours and take on only as many clients as they wish. You might have to travel to your clients' place of business occasionally, but this is one job that offers a lot of schedule flexibility.
- Average salary—$76,7302
6. Business development manager
Seeking out sales partnerships and identifying business expansion opportunities doesn't necessarily mean being stuck in an office from 9 to 5 each day. Actively seeking out new clients can mean going to where the clients are. For example, if you market surfing equipment, you might hang out at surfing competitions. Even though you might have to travel, a high percentage of these jobs can be done via telecommuting at least some of the time.
- Average salary—$70,1084
7. Business process analyst
The main role of a business process analyst involves studying company processes with an eye to improving them. This job is about identifying slow and inefficient processes and deciding how to change them to make life easier for those inside and outside the company. That could mean automating tasks, for example. Many analysts work as consultants for multiple companies, which means they can choose their own hours.
- Average salary—$62,6804
8. Account manager
Account managers are sales professionals who manage client relationships, resolve problems, and develop new business from existing clients. Their primary concern is keeping clients happy. Lots of flexibility is available in this line of work, including part-time schedules, temporary positions, and freelance options. Telecommuting is also common.
- Average salary—$51,1814
9. Virtual assistant (VA)
Some companies hire virtual assistants to provide project-based business support services. Most VAs are contract or freelance workers who do their jobs from home and focus on administrative tasks like online research, data entry, writing, marketing, or bookkeeping. You can either go out on your own or work with an agency. Training as an administrative assistant can make it easier to land opportunities in this field.
- Average pay—$16.17 an hour ($33,634 per year)5
Flexible Jobs in Science, Technology, and Engineering
Virtual work wouldn't even be possible without the expertise of professionals in this sector, so it's no surprise that many of these careers are well known for their flexibility. That could mean setting your own hours, working on a unique schedule, telecommuting from home, or having unlimited vacation time. Here are some examples of flexible jobs in science, technology, and engineering:
10. Aerospace engineer
Designing airplanes, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles means working with sophisticated software—and that generally means the work can be done on a pretty flexible schedule. You might have to be on-site to oversee construction, but aerospace engineers don't typically work late nights or on weekends, and some employers allow their engineers to work compressed workweeks or telecommute at least part of the time.
- Average salary—$112,0102
11. Technical sales engineer
Part engineer, part salesperson, a technical sales engineer sells complex scientific or technological products. That could be anything from aircraft avionics systems to electronic building alarm systems. Your job is to explain the technical ways that a product solves a customer's problem. Sometimes the sales engineer is partnered with a sales professional who handles the actual selling, so the engineer can focus on providing the technical details. Sales engineers might have large territories and thus lots of travel, but many have the flexibility to set their own schedules.
- Average salary—$108,8802
12. Network architect
Without network architects, no one would ever be able to telecommute. These professionals plan and design data communication networks to help companies achieve their business goals. You might work on simple local area networks (LANs) and intranets or on complex cloud computing infrastructure. This kind of work often allows for remote work, flexible scheduling, and unlimited paid time off—as long as you produce results, employers often don't care when or where you work.
- Average salary—$104,2402
Designing, building, and maintaining apps for mobile devices like phones and tablets means paying special attention to memory, storage, and bandwidth. We rely on mobile application developers to write, test, and tweak the code that makes an app work and keeps us connected while we're out and about. As you might expect, these jobs often come with flexible work hours and the opportunity to work from home.
- Average salary—$104,200 (among all software application developers)2
14. Electrical engineer
Electrical engineers are in charge of designing, developing, and testing electrical products and equipment, from simple household appliances to complex telecommunications systems. The job can involve travel to job sites (you might have to find the best area to place a cell tower, for instance), but many employers allow their engineers to work flexible hours so long as they get the job done. Remote work is also possible.
- Average salary—$98,6202
15. IT security analyst
Protecting a company's computer systems from viruses or cyberattacks is the job of information technology security analysts. Their primary role is keeping data secure. They use their knowledge of computer security to assess the state of firewalls and anti-virus software and identify and fix any weaknesses or potential breaches. While this job sometimes requires being on-call outside of normal business hours, many employers do allow for schedule flexibility.
- Average salary—$96,0402
It might sound odd, but some chemists don't actually work in the lab. Instead, they manage a team of lab workers who do the instrument setup and maintenance while they apply their scientific expertise to data analysis, report writing, and project management—all of which can be done from home. These professionals might also be able to choose their own start and end times, or they may have the flexibility to work a unique schedule.
- Average salary—$80,8202
17. Systems integration analyst
When a company gets a new software system, someone has to manage and coordinate the addition of that new software to the existing computer network. That someone is a systems integration analyst. These professionals are efficiency geeks, striving for the maximum productivity at the lowest cost. Many of them have backgrounds in information technology or software engineering. Many contract positions are available, so you could control how much you work.
- Average salary—$72,1604
18. Web developer
Telecommuting is extremely common in the web development field. Developing the layout, features, and functions of a website can easily be done from home. The work also involves analyzing client needs and interacting with designers, illustrators, and copywriters, but all of that can be done on a flexible schedule. Part-time and freelance positions also abound in this field.
- Average salary—$72,1502
Did you know that a single video game can take two years or more to develop? Video game designers create the concept, characters, story, and gameplay for electronic games. This role often requires working with a team of artists and other designers. You need to be comfortable with programming languages and 3D modeling software, and you should always be aware of what the competition is doing. The gaming industry is known for flexible work arrangements; many game designers work from home.
- Average salary—$58,7184
20. Avalanche forecaster
Talk about a unique schedule. Avalanche forecasters might spend an afternoon testing the snowpack for stability, then get up long before dawn the next morning to prepare the daily forecast and issue advisories. Then they might get to nap for a few hours before going back out to monitor conditions again. The hours can be erratic, but the job is obviously seasonal: You generally work from November to May and get the whole summer off.
- Average salary—$20,0006
Flexible Jobs in Health and Wellness
The demand for health services isn't going away anytime soon, and a growing number of employers in this sector are offering flexible work arrangements to attract and retain talented workers. Whether you want to work from home, enjoy flexible hours, or find part-time or contract positions, you can do it in this field. With the right training and qualifications, you could find opportunities like the following:
Doctors trained in interpreting medical images such as x-rays, MRIs, CTs, and ultrasounds can make a good living working from home as a teleradiologist. These medical professionals interpret images and write reports for hospitals, urgent care facilities, or mobile imaging companies. You'll be more in demand if you're willing to work nights or weekends, but you can set your own hours and decide if you want to do it as a full-time job or just as a part-time side gig.
- Typical salary range—$100,000 to $600,0007
22. Genetic counselor
Genetic counselors support people who have or are at risk for developing hereditary disorders. They explain test results, provide information, and answer clinical questions. A compassionate nature and solid communication skills are essential in this career. Part-time and contract positions are available, and some jobs allow you to work from home providing counseling services via telephone or videoconference.
- Average salary—$74,9602
23. Dental hygienist
Cleaning teeth, taking x-rays, and educating people on proper brushing and flossing techniques are all in a day's work for a dental hygienist. You should also be prepared to deal with anxious patients, particularly children. Flexible schedules are very common in this career: Many dental offices are only open four days a week, for instance, and almost half of hygienists work part-time. Some even work for more than one dentist in order to increase their hours.
- Average salary—$73,4402
24. Clinical research associate
Monitoring clinical drug trials is essentially about quality control. Clinical research associates oversee the trials, make sure that participants meet the criteria for inclusion, and ensure that trial supplies are handled appropriately. These positions offer a lot of independence and the opportunity to work remotely, though travel to clinical sites is often required. Many employers look for associates with a background in nursing.
- Average salary—$61,9844
Dietitians use their expert knowledge of nutrition and disease to help people make suitable food choices. They generally work with people who have medical problems or are recovering from illness, but sometimes their clients are healthy people who need help designing an appropriate diet. The dietitian's role is to give advice and information that is tailored to each patient's needs. Many dietitians work alone and can control when they make their appointments. Part-time and flexible hours are also common in this field.
- Average salary—$59,6702
Occupational therapy assistants work under the direction of occupational therapists to help patients develop or regain the skills they need to function in their daily lives. You might help people with therapeutic exercises or teach them how to use special equipment to make their daily tasks easier. Be prepared to lift patients and spend most of the day on your feet. This job comes with a lot of flexibility: OT assistants are often able to choose their own hours and aren't usually on call like a lot of other medical workers.
- Average salary—$59,5302
27. Home health aide
People who need assistance with daily tasks but can't or don't want to move into a care facility often turn to home health aides for help. This job involves helping people with activities like eating, bathing, and dressing. You might also provide basic health-related services like checking vital signs and administering medication. Training as a nursing assistant can give job seekers an advantage. Work schedules often feature flexible hours; jobs are also available for part-time aides.
- Average salary—$23,6002
Flexible Jobs in Communication and the Creative Arts
Careers in communication and the arts often come with an exceptional amount of flexibility. Those who make their living working with written text or digital images are often based at home, and many tend to work on a freelance or contract basis that allows them to set their own schedule. Even those who work in-house at a company may get to spend all or most of their time telecommuting. Consider these jobs:
An editor's job is to plan written content and improve the quality of it. To be successful in this field, you need a love of words and an eagle eye for detail and accuracy. Since the only tool you need is a computer with an Internet connection, more and more editors work from home, and many are freelancers who have complete control over their work schedule. Freelance editors also have the flexibility to market their services only to industries or clients that interest them.
- Average salary—$66,0802
29. Closed captioner
Creating television and video captions for the hearing impaired can easily be done from home. Keep in mind that real-time captioning for news broadcasts or sporting events is fast-paced work that requires a high level of skill—closed captioners use a stenotype machine and can record over 200 words per minute. Much of this work is done by freelancers who work remotely and set their own hours.
- Average salary—$56,940 (among all court reporters)2
30. Content strategist
Being an effective content strategist requires a blend of communication skills and digital marketing know-how. These professionals plan for the creation and delivery of online content to increase a company's brand awareness and conversion rates. To be successful, you need to understand how content can be used to achieve business goals. Flexible hours and telecommuting options are common, and some companies even offer unlimited vacation time.
- Average salary—$52,6574
31. Graphic designer
Graphic designers are visual communicators who create a huge range of material: brochures, websites, billboards, logos, and more. They might work full-time for publishing companies, advertising agencies, or marketing firms, or they might be self-employed freelancers who work on a contract basis. Full-time employees often have the option of working from home; freelancers can work anywhere they want and set their own schedules.
- Average salary—$52,2902
You need an excellent memory and top-notch listening skills to succeed as an interpreter. These communication professionals convert information from one language to another and find the best way to express whatever is being said. There are lots of opportunities to work remotely using telephone, video, or online technology to interpret for people. This career can easily be tailored to the hours you want.
- Average salary—$51,2602
Copywriting is one of the easiest jobs to do from home, or on a flexible schedule. Writing attention-grabbing copy for newspapers, magazines, websites, and other media can be done as readily from a local coffee shop at 8 p.m. as from a corporate office at 8 a.m. There are lots of freelance opportunities in this field. Copywriters who build an established client base can work as much as they like.
- Average salary—$46,2744
Do you have an eye for images? Taking pictures of people, products, buildings, landscapes, or artifacts can be a surprisingly flexible way to make a living. Most photographers (especially those who focus on portraits or weddings) are self-employed freelancers who work on contract. You may need to travel to meet with clients or attend photo shoots, but you have a significant amount of control over your work schedule.
- Average salary—$42,6402
Flexible Jobs in Education
As distance learning and homeschooling become more widespread, and as businesses increasingly move toward web-based training materials, the need for those who can design and deliver educational experiences online is growing. The jobs listed here can be done almost entirely from home, or at least on a flexible schedule. Explore these examples of flexible jobs in education:
35. Curriculum developer
Evaluating students' educational needs and developing a plan to meet those needs is the job of curriculum developers. They decide what teachers need to teach and recommend learning materials like textbooks, websites, and software programs. The idea is to create a curriculum that helps kids learn and meets established standards. This work goes year-round (there aren't any summer break like teachers get), but you can often work from home and set your own schedule. Part-time and temporary positions are also available.
- Average salary—$65,500 (among all instructional coordinators)2
36. Instructional designer
Instructional designers create and develop interactive e-learning experiences. They identify the best way to convey a particular concept to different kinds of learners, then design training that is both efficient and impactful. You have to understand how people learn so you can come up with ways to help them learn better. Most instructional designers work from home, and both full- and part-time opportunities abound.
- Average salary—$64,6715
37. Online teacher
You don't necessarily have to be physically present in a classroom in order to teach. Both part-time and full-time online jobs are available to certified teachers across the country. You could create lesson plans, maintain student records, select educational materials, and work directly with students to help them learn, all from the comfort of your own home. Opportunities are available at all grade levels. You might work standard classroom hours, but you can choose how many courses you want to fit into your schedule.
- Average salary—$59,020 to $61,420 (among all K-12 teachers)2
38. Test scorer
Some companies hire freelancers or part-time workers to score and review standardized tests in language arts, math, science, and social studies. Typical exams that need to be scored include the SAT, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Work schedules vary, but most positions are part-time. Scoring can be done either from your home or from scoring sites around the country.
- Average pay—$10 to $20 an hour8
Flexible Jobs in the Skilled Trades
Lots of jobs in the skilled trades offer contract or seasonal options as well as opportunities for self-employment. Independent contractors might still choose or need to pick up work after regular business hours, but they can usually charge customers a premium for that time. Some of these jobs even let you work from home. Explore these options:
Overseeing and supervising construction projects is the role of construction managers. They are responsible for monitoring scheduling, coordinating crews of workers, and checking that all work is completed according to established standards. Their job is to make sure projects get done on time and within budget. Many construction managers are self-employed; you can also find part-time and telecommuting opportunities.
- Average salary—$99,5102
Electricians keep our lights working and our mobile devices charging. They travel to different job sites to install, maintain, and repair the wiring and electrical systems in homes and businesses. Self-employment is a viable option in this field. Working as an independent electrical contractor might mean irregular hours (and you might need to be available for after-hours emergencies), but it can allow you the flexibility to set your own schedule.
- Average salary—$56,6502
As a plumber, you might design plumbing systems for new buildings, install water lines and plumbing fixtures, or fix clogged or leaking pipes. Hours are often flexible in this job, but you may have to work evenings or weekends, or be on call during off-hours. However, owning your own plumbing business can give you the flexibility to work when and where you want.
- Average salary—$56,0302
42. Mining heavy equipment operator
Workers who can safely operate heavy equipment like bulldozers, scrapers, and loaders are often needed in the diamond mines of remote northern Canada. You live on site while on the job, and your work schedule will typically involve two weeks on and two weeks off—which essentially means you only work six months of the year. That kind of schedule leaves you with a lot of time to do other things you enjoy.
- Average salary—$50,6502
Some automotive technicians are finding new jobs as mobile mechanics with an online service called YourMechanic. The service matches technicians with basic mechanic jobs (such as brake repairs, tire rotations, and air conditioning service) in their area; you go directly to the client's home instead of to a garage. You control your availability and decide how many hours you want to work. Earnings depend on your location, skills, and experience, but hourly rates are generally higher than they would be at a garage.
- Average pay—$40 to $60 an hour9
How to Negotiate Flexible Work Arrangements
For today's workforce, achieving an effective work-life balance is a top priority. In one survey, a full 95 percent of millennials said work-life balance was important to them, and flexible work hours outranked financial rewards on the list of benefits they most wanted from an employer.10 And it's not just millennials who want flexibility in the workplace: Such arrangements are also important to working parents, employees easing into retirement, and those who simply place a high value on their personal time.
And companies are listening. A growing number of employers are realizing the long-term benefits of offering flexible work arrangements to their staff. In a 2015 survey, 32 percent of human resources professionals said the work-from-home option reduced absenteeism rates at their organizations; 20 percent said telecommuting resulted in increased productivity. And over 90 percent of organizations that offered a compressed workweek said the practice had been a success.1
Many employers who don't officially offer flexible work arrangements might be open to the idea if it's presented to them the right way. Here are some tips for negotiating flexibility in your job:
1. Consider the kind of work you do.
Does your role lend itself to flexible arrangements? If a significant chunk of your work is done over the phone or by computer, working remotely might be a feasible option. You need to think about how the work will get done if you aren't physically in the office at the usual times. Will someone else have to take over some of your responsibilities? Can you manage your team through email or teleconferencing?
Look at your current office environment. Do any of your coworkers have flexible schedules? If so, find out what they did to put that in place. Do they have any tips? Is it working out the way they thought it would? Gather as much information as you can before you proceed.
2. Decide what kind of flexibility matters most to you.
Maybe you want to work alternative hours to avoid the rush-hour commute. Maybe you'd prefer to work earlier in the morning, take an extended midday break, and get back at it later in the afternoon. Maybe your goal is to have a compressed workweek, or to work from home some or all of the time, or to switch from full-time to part-time hours. Be specific about what would work best for you.
And remember the trade-offs: Compressed workweeks make for three-day weekends but much longer workdays. Going from full-time to part-time will mean a pay cut and possibly a loss of benefits. Make sure you understand the implications of what you're asking for.
3. Remember that it's not all about you.
Before you approach your boss, you need to be clear about the advantages that flexible work arrangements bring to your company, not just to you. For instance, maybe the two hours you spend commuting every day could be better spent on job-related tasks. If you want to telecommute, play on the fact that your employer won't need to provide a desk or computer for you. Be prepared to sell the idea as beneficial to them.
4. Write out a proposal.
Be as specific as possible. Be sure to outline why you want a flexible schedule, how it will benefit your boss, how you will maintain communication and meet your goals, and how the arrangement can be periodically reviewed. Remember that your manager has to explain and defend your flexible work schedule to the higher-ups in the organization as well as to other employees. You need solid reasoning to support your request.
In your proposal, show your commitment to the company. For instance, have some ideas about how a full-time workload can be accomplished in four days. Don't suggest anything you can't reasonably expect to accomplish, though, or your credibility will be shot.
5. Meet with your supervisor.
Approach this meeting the same way you would if you were asking for a raise. When you explain your proposed arrangement, talk about what you've accomplished in your role and how you've provided value. Use concrete examples: You implemented a new organizational system that saved the company X number of staff hours, you reduced phone expenses by X percent, or you found a new vendor that saved the company X dollars per year.
Suggest a trial run. You could try the flexible schedule for two or three months and then meet at the end of the trial to discuss what worked well and what could be improved. Giving the company the option to make changes can go a long way toward convincing your manager to buy into your plan. And if your boss does agree to try it out, be sure to give the trial run your best effort.
Move Into Your Future
Flexible jobs are becoming increasingly popular as more and more people seek to balance a rewarding career with a busy home life. Maybe you'd like to learn about vocational training that could help you take advantage of some of those opportunities. Enter your zip code into the search tool below to explore schools near you that offer convenient programs!
1 Society for Human Resource Management, SHRM Research: Flexible Work Arrangements, website last visited on June 14, 2017.
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on June 12, 2017.
3 Salary.com, website last visited on June 12, 2017.
4 PayScale, website last visited on June 6, 2017.
5 Indeed, website last visited on June 14, 2017.
6 Job Monkey, website last visited on June 1, 2017.
7 Teleradiology Groups, Teleradiology Jobs and Salaries, website last visited on June 14, 2017.
8 Dream Home Based Work, "Online Test Scoring Jobs from Home", website last visited on June 14, 2017.
9 YourMechanic, website last visited on June 14, 2017.
10 PwC, Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace, website last visited on June 14, 2017.