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14 Unexpected Fields That Offer Work-From-Home Jobs

Remote jobs can now be found in manufacturing, construction and other surprising industries

A woman sitting on the floor working from home

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En español | Tech companies like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have made headlines recently for allowing their employees to work from home permanently, even after their corporate offices reopen. But, of course, remote work isn't specific to just the tech industry.

There are more jobs than ever that can be done remotely, and opportunities abound even in industries known for in-person duties, such as construction and manufacturing, according to a recent report from Upwork, an online platform that connects freelance workers with employers.

Upwork analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics about remote jobs in industries that traditionally require more manual skills, like manufacturing or mining. Upwork discovered that, surprisingly, many of these fields offer work-from-home jobs. Their findings echo a 2020 report from the University of Chicago and the National Bureau of Economic Research suggesting that 37 percent of all American jobs can be performed from home.

"I think the remote work revolution and the growth of remote freelancing is really touching almost every industry to some extent,” said Upwork's chief economist Adam Ozimek.

The most common remote jobs in non-tech industries generally require some skill with a computer, such as administrative work, communications duties or computer programming. In total, Upwork estimates, there are more than 27 million jobs with possible remote options at non-tech companies.

Here's a list of the “non-tech” industries with the most professional services jobs — the types of jobs that may be eligible for remote work, according to Upwork's report.

1. Public Administration

The industry with the most remote-ready jobs is public administration: overseeing and managing public programs, particularly for local and state government agencies. According to Upwork's report, 47.3 percent of jobs in this industry — about 3.43 million overall — could be performed remotely. A good way to look for these positions would be checking the job boards for your local government agencies.

2. Wholesale Trade

Companies in the wholesale trade industry are the middlemen, selling merchandise to other companies. Picture the behind-the-scenes workers who keep warehouses and shipping yards running. Upwork estimates that 43.9 percent of jobs in this industry (1.56 million overall) are professional services jobs that can be done from home.

3. Arts, Entertainment and Recreation

You don't have to be onstage or even backstage to work in the arts. More than 1.32 million jobs (about 37.8 percent) in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry are professional services job that can be done from home. As of January 2021, about 19.6 percent of workers in this sector were doing their jobs remotely because of the pandemic. The AARP Job Board has postings in the arts, including social media managers, photography editors and online music teaching, that can be done from home.

4. Utilities

It takes talented people to make sure that gas and electricity keep flowing to the nation's homes, and many of those people may be working from home themselves. Professional services jobs account for 36.1 percent, or about 497,000 positions, across the utilities industry. Examples of positions that are posted as remote-friendly include sales and customer service jobs.

5. Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction

Nearly a third — 32.9 percent — of jobs in the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry are professional services jobs that can be done from home. As of January, about 22 percent of these workers were telecommuting because of COVID-19.


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6. Manufacturing

In recent years, manufacturing has changed significantly from the often challenging assembly-line work that used to be its calling card. More than 4.18 million manufacturing jobs can be done remotely, accounting for 28.4 percent of jobs across the industry overall. And freelance opportunities abound for those looking for more flexibility. The industry that uses Upwork's services the most outside of tech is manufacturing, the company says.

7. Waste Management Services

Workers in this industry provide support, like trash services, crucial to the day-to-day operations of other organizations. And 1.75 million jobs are professional services jobs, or 26.3 percent of jobs across the industry.

8. Health Care and Social Assistance

During the pandemic, the idea of remote health care became more widely accepted, and as of January, 16 percent of the sector's employees were working from home because of COVID-19. Still, many jobs in health care were work-from-home-friendly before then. A recent example includes an opening for a director of managed care at Nashville-based Envision Physician Services. Just over a quarter of health care and social assistance jobs are professional services jobs — 5.58 million in total.

9. Support Services

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, organizations in this sector provide support for other organizations in areas such as “equipment and machinery repairing, promoting or administering religious activities, grantmaking, advocacy, and providing dry-cleaning and laundry services, personal care services, death care services, pet care services, photofinishing services, temporary parking services and dating services.” About a quarter — 24.2 percent, or 1.86 million jobs — of the industry's jobs are professional services jobs that can be done remotely.

10. Retail Trade

About 14 percent of jobs in retail are professional services jobs that often don't require employees to be in a store. That's about 2.2 million jobs overall. Remote retail freelance jobs on Upwork include technical writing, copy editing and interior design.

11. Transportation and Warehousing

About 1 million jobs in the transportation and warehousing industries are professional services that jobs can be done remotely. That translates to roughly 13.2 percent of positions across the industry.

12. Construction

During the pandemic, about 7.5 percent of employees in the construction industry reported working remotely, according to Upwork. And the number of remote jobs could be even higher: 10.5 percent of jobs in construction, or 4.18 million in all, are the types of professional services jobs that can be done from home.

13. Hotels and Food Services

While accommodation and food service jobs are more likely to require that workers report to the same location every day, 6.9 percent of the industry's positions, or about 786,000 in all, are professional services jobs. Employment in this field overall has suffered greatly during the pandemic, so it's unclear when hotels will get fully back to business, for both on-site and remote workers.

14. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting

Even in the agriculture sector, there are 154,113 jobs in professional services, or 6.3 percent of jobs overall. In fact, as of January 2021, a slightly higher share of workers in this industry — just over 5 percent — were teleworking compared to workers in the hotel and food services industry.

Grace Tatter is a contributing writer for AARP. She previously has been a writer and producer for WBUR public radio and Chalkbeat, which is a nonprofit education news organization.

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