Help me find a work from home career path
November 13, 2017 3:51 PM   Subscribe

I have recently become a single mom and have need of a job that will pay decently to help my family find a more independent footing. I also have a special needs child that makes getting a "regular" job almost impossible. I need some direction!

Quick background - So, I have been out of the workforce for 17+ years, some of that in college but the majority of it raising children. My older son, who is 13, is autistic, has little expressive language and needs help with daily hygiene. This limits my work availability to Monday-Friday, 9-3, with all school holidays and summers out of the question. I have no family available to help, so I would have to hire a sitter/nanny for him for any hours I worked, which can get very pricey. I am thinking that finding a work at home job would be the best fit for me.

I've done two home-based jobs in the past: I was an online college tutor for English, which I liked well enough but was extremely part time, and I've done a little freelance writing piecework to make extra cash. The problem with freelancing is I write very slowly. My hourly rate basically turned out to be $1.80 after I did research and editing.

So here are my skills -
- I have a BA in Anthropology/Sociology, so haha me
- I've done a little education post-graduate work, but am far from a masters
- I am very good with computers and learn systems quickly. In the (far) past I have written web pages and data bases, but that is old and rusty stuff there
- I am a decent enough writer, but like I said I am very slow
- I am very good at finding patterns
- I have some editing experience

- I am not very good at math. I'm competent but not accountant material.
- I will not always have access to a quiet and undisturbed work environment.

I have time and money to take any classes or certifications that might be required for something that pays decently. By decently I am thinking $30-$40k a year to start.

Thanks for any help!
posted by kittyloop to Work & Money (13 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
What about childcare in your home? It is hard work of course but pays fairly well.
posted by k8t at 4:13 PM on November 13, 2017

My son sometimes presents aggressively to other children, so this is probably not a possibility.
posted by kittyloop at 4:43 PM on November 13, 2017

How about medical coding/billing? You would need some training, but it's in demand and will only get moreso as our health care system expands and gets more complicated.
posted by mccxxiii at 4:57 PM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Can you look at jobs available in your son's school system. An office job seems like it would work well with your skills.
posted by stray thoughts at 5:07 PM on November 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'd second a job with your son's school system, if possible, either as an administrative assistant or an educational assistant. Depending on the school system, I'd say they can be quite flexible and understanding. I know at the school system I work for most educational assistants begin when school begins and end when school ends, so 8:30-3:20pm here.
posted by modesty.blaise at 8:23 PM on November 13, 2017

For remote work, technical writing, editing, or proofreading pays well and you might be able to parlay your skills into finding work. User Experience testing can be done at home.

If you're willing to pursue continuing education, instructional design is often done remotely. There are a number of certification programs out there. The added advantage to this kind of work, particularly if you decide to go the contract route, is you can work additional hours in the mornings or evenings, if desired.
posted by dancing_angel at 9:22 PM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

There was a huge thread on reddit a few weeks ago asking the same thing, there might be something in there:
posted by kjs4 at 10:09 PM on November 13, 2017

Definitely research this first, but I was intrigued by this article in the NyTimes. If not this particular company, perhaps another in which you could do customer service from your phone at home.
posted by Toddles at 11:11 PM on November 13, 2017

Learn Salesforce. Either take the Salesforce Administrator class or teach yourself. You can get a free developer license and learn in Trailhead (the Salesforce training world).
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 11:55 PM on November 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

I am actually not sure a work-from-home situation is necessary or even the best option for you. I've worked with parents who worked from home and they were never able to really get work done when the kids were home (which I assume is what you're hoping for on school holidays and summers, yeah?). It worked out ok for them because these were in really family-friendly workplaces, but it's the latter part that's key, I think.

I think your best bet is to find work in a place that will work around your schedule and be pretty family friendly. No easy feat these days, I know. But your salary requirements are low enough that you might be able to find this. I think your best bets would be to reach out to your personal networks, and let people know what you're looking for. You might have to take something that feels pretty menial to you, but I bet your life experience will allow you to move forward in your career (if you want to!) faster than a recent grad.

A few specific ideas that come to mind:

- Receptionist/office aide/admin assistant in a small office. This is exactly the kind of thing you'd get through personal networks. I'm thinking something like a church or a small legal office. Or as others have said, a school. A lot of places like this can't afford to have someone full-time, and they don't necessarily want a recent grad who might just bounce after a year or so. These jobs tend to be filled by women who stayed home with children and are looking to get back into the workforce.

- Gig economy stuff? I know, ugh. But I know people who drive for Lyft (NOT Uber) and really like it. The hours you're available are not the most money-making hours, but if you live in our near an area with a lot of population density, you can actually make ok (not great, but ok) money. You might also look into airbnb if you have the space, or if you like dogs.

As for your writing: I think there are a lot of avenues you could pursue there. I know there are a lot of out of work writers out there, but in my limited experience hiring writers as a digital marketing manager, I think the key is having a niche skill and doing it well. Grant writing, all the different avenues with marketing writing (some of which are skeevier than others), technical writing. You'd have to do some training, but a lot of that can be done on your own, or you could take a continuing ed course. A lot of these do require fast writing (though not all) but that's a skill you can learn too. Once you have a niche and know the formula, it's a lot easier to write quickly (for instance, I run digital programs for a nonprofit, which involves a lot of writing supporter emails. When I first started, it could take me half a day to write a fundraising email. Now it takes me half an hour).

Oh, and one interesting thing I heard from a career coach once: most fields are pretty ageist these days, especially for women. EXCEPT for fundraising, where age is seen as a benefit. Writing/general liberal arts skills are a GREAT benefit in a fundraising career. So if you're in your thirties and starting a career now, that could be a good avenue.

If you're interested in chatting more about digital marketing or fundraising jobs, feel free to memail me!
posted by lunasol at 8:01 AM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I approached a very small father/son business and offered to take their phone lines (they call forward their office number to my cell), schedule work and order parts to free the father up to semi-retire and go out and solicit business. Zero regrets, though its not the most money I've ever made. I love working from home.
posted by kiwi-epitome at 8:32 AM on November 14, 2017

How about a SEIT, 1:1 para or ABA aide? My son has autism and a lot of the folk we have had working with him have no formal qualifications but work for agencies who provide on the job training. By definition those types of positions are school hours and vacation days would align with your sons. On the off chance you’re in NYC I can out you in touch with the agency that supplies our ABA.
posted by hibbersk at 10:52 AM on November 14, 2017

I just started at a call center, and before it gets completely ruled out, the reason it works for me (since I am in a very similar situation with a special needs son, plus my mom now lives with me), I work midnights - 11 pm to 8 am, and I do only inbound calls - people calling in to place orders or for account maintenance, etc. There's a possibility after I complete my training that I can work at home for at least part of that time (I was originally quoted 32 of my 40 hours could be worked at home). It is not a job I will ever love, but it pays well, comparatively, and with the possibility of working at home, may turn out to be even better than it is right now. It'd be easier to find child care for nights (If I didn't have my mom here, I'd probably think about renting a room in return for someone's reliable presence at night, depending on how well your son sleeps - my son, thank goodness, has never had the sleep problems you sometimes see with autism.) You sleep when he's at school, which would make holidays and stuff hard, but manageable - and finding support for those times is important already.
posted by lemniskate at 10:48 AM on November 19, 2017

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