At-home call center representative. “These jobs can be ideal for moms,” says Christine Durst, co-author with Michael Haaren of “Work at Home Now: The No-Nonsense Guide to Finding Your Perfect Home-Based Job, Avoiding Scams, and Making a Great Living.” Many customer service positions can be done from home, during the shift of your choosing, Durst says. These jobs often require your own computer, a quiet workspace, and a background check, she adds. For a list of 86 legitimate companies that provide at-home jobs as a call center represetative, see Durst and Haaren’s site RatRaceRebellion.com. Some jobs may require a getting a business license or other preparations so do your research carefully. Median hourly wage: $12.89 plus bonus.
Interpreter or translator. Bilingual? Do you think you can pass a basic language skills assessment? Then, why not get paid for your language skills? “For medical and legal interpreting, you’d get a certification,” says Dr. Laurence Shatkin, author of more than 20 books for job hunters, including “300 Best Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree.” While interpreters work verbally in a place of business, translators work with written documents, often from home, on their own time, and against a deadline, says Shatkin. Median hourly wage: $18.21 plus bonus.
Retail sales associate. “Most salespeople have flexible schedules,” though evening and weekend work is often part of the package, Durst says. “The mom who’s already doing Pampered Chef or Mary Kay can parlay those marketing skills into a more traditional job like this.” Despite the hits that retailers have taken during the recession, “There’s always a lot of turnover, which means there are still a lot of job openings,” Shatkin adds. Median hourly wage: $9.54 plus bonus.
Fitness instructor. Are you an aerobics buff? Jog your way to the head of your exercise class. Many YMCA and health club fitness instructors don’t go to school to learn how to be a fitness instructor, but instead are self-taught, says Shatkin. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an audition is often all that’s required to apply, though employers may request certification once you’re on the job. Job prospects are plentiful and the hours are flexible — to a point, says Shatkin. “You’re needed evenings and weekends when people are available to take the classes,” he explains. Earnings for yoga instructors tend to be slightly lower than for aerobics instructors, according to PayScale’s data. Median hourly wage: $17.39 plus bonus.
Medical transcriptionist. How do you work as a medical transcriptionist from your home? “With the wave of aging baby boomers, there’s a huge medical need coming up,” says Durst, who recommends visiting the site mtjobs.com for industry job listings. According to the BLS, about 70 percent of medical transcriptionists work for hospitals or physicians’ offices, with many telecommuting from home. If you want to learn about being a medical transcriptionist and medical terminology, as well as software and hardware, a certification program is a must, says Shatkin. Median hourly wage: $14.35 plus bonus.
Cosmetologist. As the BLS reports, many hair, makeup, and beauty professionals have flexible hours. What’s more, “About half of them are self-employed,” says Shatkin. You’ll need a license to work in cosmetology, with requirements varying by state, Shatkin advises. So, what skills do you need to be a cosmetologist? The website Beauty Schools Directory says that on average, a full cosmetology program involves 1,400 to 1,600 hours of training in areas like hair cutting and styling, nail technology and esthetics. (For details, see this list of state board licensing agencies.) How much money does a cosmetologist make a year? See our chart for median annual salary of a cosmetologist by years of experience. Median hourly wage: $9.55 plus tips and bonus.
Tutor. If you excel in math, science, or a second language and like working with kids, tutoring may be for you. “The formal requirements are just about nil,” Shatkin says. What’s more, he says, most tutors are self-employed and enjoy flexible schedules. Companies like Kaplan often hire tutors to help teens prepare for their SATs, Shatkin suggests. In addition, Durst says, companies like Idapted hire those with teaching experience to teach English to overseas students — simply by conversing with them online. Median hourly wage: $16.05 plus bonus.
Bus driver. About a third of public transit and school bus drivers work part time, Shatkin says. And according to the BLS, split shifts are common. Job requirements include a clean driving record, a commercial driver’s license, and several weeks of on-the-job training, Shatkin cautions. On the plus side, he says, “It’s more recession proof than a lot of jobs. Even if the teachers get laid off, the kids still have to ride to school.” Median hourly wage: $13.74 plus bonus (school bus driver); $15.77 plus bonus (transit and intercity bus driver).
Michelle Goodman is a freelance writer and author of “My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire.”
Source: Salary data from PayScale.com, a leading online provider of employee compensation data. The wages listed are median hourly rates for workers with 5-8 years of experience and do not include any bonuses, commissions, or profit sharing.