Work How You Want: 10 of the Most Surprising Flexible Jobs

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People looking to work from home or switch to a part-time schedule have reason to celebrate this year. FlexJobs, which connects people looking for flexible work with job opportunities, says it’s seeing more variety than ever in the types of telecommute, part-time, freelance, and other flexible job openings posted on its site.

Recently, the company combed through more than 100,000 employment ads from 2015 to find some of the most surprising job titles. The resulting list belies the notion that flexible work opportunities exist in just a handful or fields or are largely low-paid and low-skill.

“One of the main reasons we highlight these jobs is that most people believe that jobs that offer work flexibility are exclusively low-level, unskilled, and unprofessional — whereas the truth is there are fantastic jobs in all industries and for almost any career path,”  Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, said.

The positions FlexJobs highlighted generally fell into one of three categories. Either they were for jobs that aren’t usually flexible (like a job for a senior marine scientist), jobs that you might not think could be done from home (Edmentum, a company that provides online learning programs, was seeking a virtual health and PE teacher), or a job that doesn’t usually have a part-time schedule (like a director of marketing position that requires less than 40 hours per week).

Here are 10 of the most surprising flexible jobs that FlexJobs saw in 2015 in 10 industries, along with the company or organization that was hiring for that position.

  1. Nonprofit and philanthropy: Carbon trading and coal cap policy analyst (National Resources Defense Council)
  2. Science and pharma: Anatomic pathologist (DEXX Laboratories)
  3. Sports and leisure: Football head scout (National Collegiate Scouting Association)
  4. Medical and health: Vice president of clinical coding (Altegra Health)
  5. Education: Teacher education evaluator (Western Governors University)
  6. Law and government: Arabic news monitor (SOSi)
  7. Business: Data Forensics Solution Architect Vice President (Aon)
  8. Food: Test kitchen chef (Food52)
  9. Writing, editing, and communication: Museum communications project manager (Harley-Davidson Motor Company)
  10. Entertainment and media: Cruise captain (Benchmark Resorts and Hotels)

Other surprising flexible job titles included director of talent acquisition, pastry chef instructor, coordinator of baseball operations, and cardiac genetic counselor.

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Interest in jobs outside the traditional 9-to-5 has been growing in recent years, especially among younger workers. Many millennials are seeking out careers that allows them to better balance their work and personal life and are willing to shun companies that don’t accommodate their needs. Having a boss who didn’t allow for telecommuting, alternative schedules, or other accommodations was one of the top five reasons U.S. millennials surveyed by Ernst & Young in 2015 quit a job.

“Wanting flexibility or work-life balance is the number one thing we hear all the time from candidates. It’s the number one reason why people are looking for a new job, by far,” Heidi Parsont, head of TorchLight, a recruiting firm in Alexandria, Virginia, told the Washington Post. “We’re definitely seeing more candidates asking for it. But companies still see it as making an exception. It’s still not the norm.”

Currently, 37% of workers in the United States telecommute at least occasionally, an August 2015 Gallup poll found. That’s up from 30% in 2008 and is a huge leap from 1995, when only 9% of people surveyed ever telecommuted.

Though some companies have been slow to embrace the flexible work trend, many others seem to be getting the message that the modern worker is often looking for a job that isn’t so rigid about scheduling and facetime. FlexJobs has more than 35,000 companies in its database that are currently looking for flex workers or have done so in the past.

“One of the most surprising things is how quickly flexible jobs have gone from being seen as a ‘fringe’ way of working into a normal and acceptable way of doing business,” Brie Reynolds, the director of online content for FlexJobs, said.

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Not only are companies offering more formal flex work opportunities, according to Reynolds, but they also appear more willing to embrace telecommuting and flexible schedules on an ad hoc basis. She points to federal workers in Washington, D.C., who were told to telecommute during the Pope’s visit this fall and businesses that embraced flexible schedules and telecommuting to cope with last winter’s record-breaking snow falls as signs that more bosses are becoming comfortable giving workers a bit more freedom.

“The trends in flexible jobs seem to indicate that most industries are finding ways to get flexible,” Reynolds added. While she predicts that most flex job postings will continue to be for positions in healthcare, customer service, sales, and education, workers in other industries should also start to see increased flex work opportunities.

“As the overall job market continues to strengthen, all employers will need to find creative ways to entice the best talent, and flexible work options are bound to be part of the mix,” she said.

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