10 Profitable Jobs Where You Can Be Your Own Boss

A mean dinosaur representing a big boss

If you don’t like your boss, you might consider going the freelance route | Thinkstock

Work is called “work” for a reason. When we arrive each day, we have various stresses to deal with, ranging from malfunctioning equipment, to angry customers, to a grumpy co-worker (or a controlling boss).

Now, there’s no possible way to eliminate every source of stress from a work environment. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. But if you’re the type of person who works much better independently, and you have trouble acting on someone else’s orders, finding a job where you can be your own boss may not be a bad idea.

According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 14 million workers in the United States are self-employed. Many of them are freelancers, consultants, or contractors, meaning they perform work on a job-to-job basis for large businesses or for smaller clients. Other self-employed workers run their own small operations selling products or services to consumers.

Of course, entrepreneurs generally face a higher risk than most freelancers or contractors. By investing large sums of money into an operation, or incurring large business expenses, they often put everything on the line. All self-employment situations, however, come with associated risks, even if that risk is stability related.

In spite of this uncertainty, you can still be financially stable. By compiling data from the BLS, we’ve created a list for you of 10 jobs that’ll allow you to be your own boss with little to no upfront investment. The No. 10 job earns a median wage of over $83,000.

1. Administrative work

Woman works on her tablet in a coffee shop

If you have administrative skills, you might enjoy working as a virtual assistant | iStock.com/Kladyk

Typical pay: The hourly pay for self-employed assistants (including virtual) ranges between minimum wage and upward of $30, depending on the client and the job’s requirements.

Upfront costs: Upfront costs associated with this type of position usually consist of a computer, internet and telephone service, and basic office supplies.

Requirements: Education requirements vary depending on the client. Generally, assistants will need at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. Experience as a secretary or an administrative assistant is a plus. Those looking to complete freelance work in this field should have excellent data entry skills, as well as communication, writing, and organization skills. Some clients will prefer a contractor or freelancer who can accurately type a certain amount of words per minute.

2. Interior design

Worker shows house design plans to a couple

If you have a bachelor’s degree in interior design, you might be able to work independently | iStock.com/ALotOfPeople

Typical pay: Interior designers earn an average annual salary of $41,779, according to PayScale. Self-employed interior designers may be paid on a per job basis, and their wages can be higher or lower than their employed counterparts. This is solely dependent on their skill level and reputation.

Upfront costs: The cost of advertising along with business and basic office supplies (like computer software and design equipment) should be considered. Additional education and training costs may also be incurred.

Requirements: Qualifications and requirements vary by location and by client. According to the BLS, interior designers generally hold at least a bachelor’s degree, and they may have to be licensed. “In states where laws restrict the use of the title ‘interior designer,’ only those who pass their state-approved exam, most commonly the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam, may call themselves registered interior designers,” the BLS states. To sit for the exam, you generally need at least a bachelor’s degree and two years of related work experience.

3. Event promotion

Cell phones and lights twinkle at a concert

If you have great communication skills, you might enjoy working in event promotion | Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Typical pay: Pay for self-employed event promoters ranges anywhere from $100 to $1,500 per night, depending on one’s reputation and the size of the event, according to Night Adventures. This can end up equating to around $20,000 to $30,000 annually for entry-level promoters, and up to $200,000 for those with adequate experience.

Upfront costs: Depending on your contract and the nature of the industry, your expenses will vary. Your costs may be related to booking the venue, advertising, purchasing equipment, and paying the talent, among others.

Requirements: There are no formal education requirements associated with event promotion. Generally, those who have the right combination of skills and work experience end up being a good fit for this type of work. Communication and people skills coupled with sales and advertising experience is often seen as a good mix.

4. Catering

A waitress serves food in a restaurant

If you’re good at management or you’re a great cook, then catering might be the right career path for you | iStock.com

Typical pay: Employed caterers are paid a median hourly wage of $11. According to PayScale, “Pay ranges from $8.60 per hour on the low end to $20.00 on the high end.” Self-employed caterers may demand higher pay, but they also have some associated costs to go along with their request.

Upfront costs: Self-employed caterers generally face advertising costs, the cost of menus and supplies (including equipment and groceries), and travel expenses.

Requirements: There are no formal education requirements for those who’d like to work as a caterer. However, generally caterers will have culinary training and/or experience working in the food industry. This type of experience can include working as a cook, chef, or manager.

5. Event planning

Colleagues drinking together after work

Similar to event promotion, event planning is a great opportunity for those with excellent communication skills | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

Typical pay: Employed event planners are paid a median annual salary of $46,260. Those who earn on the lower end of the spectrum bring in around $25,000, and those on the higher end bring in upward of $80,000, according to BLS. As a self-employed event planner, you’ll likely be paid on a per event basis.

Upfront costs: Event planners face an array of costs, including those related to advertising, design, and basic office supplies. Working from home reduces overhead and operating costs for event planners significantly.

Requirements: Most event planners have a bachelor’s degree. Apart from education, a license can help enhance your reputation in the field. “The Convention Industry Council offers the Certified Meeting Professional credential, a voluntary certification for meeting and convention planners. Although the CMP is not required, it is widely recognized in the industry and may help in career advancement,” the BLS states.

6. Personal training

Woman doing full plank core exercise outside

Are you a yoga or Pilates guru? Then personal training might be the right career path for you | iStock.com/undrey

Typical pay: Employed personal trainers are paid around $15 per hour. Self-employed trainers and instructors may charge roughly $10 to $20 (or more) per person or per class.

Upfront costs: Expenses in this line of work can add up quickly. So what are you looking at? Namely the cost of equipment, gym fees, and the cost of insurance and advertising. Some instructors operate out of their homes to save money.

Requirements: Education, training, and licensing requirements vary by the specific discipline and by location. “Training for specialized fitness instructors can vary greatly. For example, the duration of programs for yoga instructors can range from a few days to more than [two] years. The Yoga Alliance has training standards requiring at least 200 hours with a specified number of hours in techniques, teaching methods, anatomy, physiology, philosophy, and other areas,” according to the BLS.

7. Accounting and tax preparation

Blank tax forms

There’s a lot of money to be made in accounting and tax preparation | iStock.com/alfexe

Typical pay: To give you an idea of what you can earn in this field, a tax preparer charges around $250 to file a Form 1040 (with a Schedule A and a State return), according to data published on Accounting Today. Employed accountants earn a median annual salary of roughly $65,000.

Upfront costs: You may have to pay for advertising, general office supplies, and accounting and tax preparation software fees before you can get started.

Requirements: Accountants and tax preparers generally need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. You may also need a certified public accountant designation. To obtain a CPA, you must pass a national exam and meet other state specific requirements. The BLS reports that “almost all states require CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework to be certified, which is 30 hours more than the usual [four-year] bachelor’s degree.” Some schools offer a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program so students can meet this requirement.

8. Real estate agent

Couple views a potential new home they'd like to buy

Real estate is a good venture for those who wish to work independently | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

Typical pay: Real estate brokers and sales agents earn a median annual income of $45,610, according to the BLS.

Upfront costs: For this type of role, you’re looking at costs related to training, advertising, and obtaining a real estate license.

Requirements: Agents must take a pre-licensing course and pass a state licensing exam. However, some states waive the course requirement if the candidate took real estate classes during college. Pre-licensing courses cover real estate principles, practices, and legal basics.

9. Life coach

Man talking to a life coach

If you’re a good mentor, you might want to look at becoming a life coach | iStock.com

Typical pay: Coach practitioners make an average annual income of roughly $61,900, according to an International Coach Federation report.

Upfront costs: The cost of training, obtaining certification, and advertising need to be taken into account for potential life coaches. Although certification is not a requirement, it does help life coaches attract new clients.

Requirements: For those who decide to obtain certification, the organization of choice is the International Coach Federation, which offers three levels of individual credentialing (Associate Certified Coach, Professional Certified Coach, and Master Certified Coach). Among the requirements to become an Associate Certified Coach are the completion of an ICF accredited coach training program and at least 100 hours of coaching experience. Certification at this level takes roughly four weeks.

10. Makeup artist

Makeup artist

Makeup artist| iStock.com/YakobchukOlena

Typical pay: Makeup artists earn a mean annual wage of $66,560, according to the BLS. Those who work with celebrities or in the motion picture industry can earn an annual mean wage of $83,580.

Upfront costs: The costs related to this career path consist of training, advertising, and travel.

Requirements: Makeup artists in most states must earn a license to perform their job.

Erika Rawes also contributed to this story.

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