For many people, one of the biggest things to love about a job is having autonomy and control over their time. These workers say that a flexible job — one with an adaptable, telecommuting, part-time or freelance component — lowers stress, improves quality of life and makes them more engaged in the work itself. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report backs that up, showing that engagement rises when employees have the opportunity to work from home or off-site.
This fact is why my book, AARP’s Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills, delves into flexible jobs in a wide range of categories. In my reporting for the book, I generally found that workers over 50 are often willing to trade pay for that sense of independence.
So here are five flexible jobs that you can expect to be in strong demand in 2018.
1. Event planner
The nitty-gritty: You’ll need organizational chops to manage logistics smoothly and professionally and with a sharp eye for detail. Event planners are the engineers behind annual association gatherings, big birthday bashes, weddings and fundraisers such as 10K charity races and silent auction black-tie dinners. Employment for meeting, convention and event planners is projected to grow by 10 percent from 2016 to 2026 — faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Pay range: Hourly pay ranges from $11.41 to $35.59, according to PayScale. Annual salary ranges from $28,950 to $72,942.
Qualifications: There’s no must-have degree or certification for this kind of job. But some universities and community colleges offer them. George Washington University in Washington, D.C., for example, offers an event management certificate. You might also consider the certified meeting professional credential. If weddings are your thing, check out the websites of the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners and the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants.
2. Customer service representative
The nitty-gritty: You’ll need an up-to-date computer, a high-speed internet connection, a dedicated landline phone and headset, and a quiet place to work. You can expect to be answering calls, taking new orders and tracking existing ones. You might troubleshoot problems or help out with technical support. A sympathetic tone and can-do approach will serve you well in this work.
Pay range: $9.61 to $18.36, according to PayScale. Some firms provide health, vision and dental benefits, or access to group plan rates. Paid vacation and matching 401(k) plans may be a perk, but you’ll have to clock in enough hours to be eligible.