You’ve likely seen the ads online: “Make $2,000 a week working from home just two hours a day! No experience required!” or the comments on completely unrelated articles posted on social media: “I make $120,000 a year working five hours a week online using this website.” It all seems too good to be true—and to be completely up front, it is.
There is no “one simple trick” that will help you make a salary online that’s wildly disproportionate to what you’d make in a traditional in-person role in a fraction of the time. But you can find good, legitimate online jobs that don’t require a lot of—or even any—experience.
Here are some of the most common online jobs and how to land a legitimate one, with or without experience.
How to Tell if an Online Job Is Legitimate—and Avoid Scams
There are a number of online and remote jobs that are completely real and pay you a decent amount of money in return for your labor. However, there are also plenty of scams masquerading as legitimate online jobs as well as jobs that are real but pay you so little they may not be worth your time and effort.
“Online jobs are still jobs,” says Esther Inman, a career coach and the CEO and founder of Virtual Assistant Internship, a company that helps people looking to start online careers. So if an online job you’re considering “ever seems too good to be true or like you don’t have to do much in order to get paid, then it is a scam.” Any jobs that advertise themselves with statements like “work five hours a week and make $1,000” should be ignored, Inman says.
You’d be smart to also avoid any job that has an application fee or requires you to pay up front for supplies or anything else. If you’re asked to prepay for inventory as an independent “distributor” or “business owner” for a larger company (or as product assembler or package reshipper or processor), this is also a red flag. Worst-case scenario, it’s a scam or an illegal pyramid scheme. Best-case scenario, you’re joining a multi-level marketing (MLM) company. While they’re not explicitly illegal, “Most people who join legitimate MLMs make little or no money. Some of them lose money,” according to the FTC—and some of them lose a lot of money. If you want to make money online as a salesperson, many reputable businesses employ remote sales staff.
Also note that some legitimate online jobs just don’t pay very much. This includes things like performing micro jobs or short tasks, writing for a content mill, or taking online surveys. However, these could be the right choice for your particular situation if you’re looking for something that requires a lower time commitment. You don’t need to avoid them completely, just be realistic about how much money you’ll be making.
If you want to make sure you’re only applying to real opportunities with legitimate companies, you can search for online jobs on The Muse. If you’re not sure what kind of roles to look for, here’s a list of online jobs to consider that require little or no experience:
1. Data Entry Clerk
Average salary: $34,423
Data entry clerks take information from a spreadsheet, printed document, order form, or other source, and input it into another, usually digital, source, often a database, computer program, or spreadsheet. They might also be responsible for verifying information and checking for errors. For example, a financial accounts processing company may need data entry clerks to manually input or verify invoices or other bills for outside clients.
Many companies will hire data entry clerks or keyers with a high school diploma and no work experience on a full-time, part-time, or freelance basis. Since much of the data and information that companies now process is digital, this is a common work-from-home job. Often, data entry doesn’t need to be done during business hours, so it can be good for those looking for flexible hours as well.
2. Proofreader or Copy Editor
Average proofreader salary: $46,113
Average copy editor salary: $50,684
Proofreaders and copy editors are two slightly different positions with similar goals: to make sure that written text is error free. Proofreaders are often the last set of eyes on a text before it’s printed, published, or posted online, and they check a document for any grammatical or style errors, incorrect formatting, or typos. Copy editors do similar work, but might also make changes to a written piece’s sentences or paragraphs to ensure accuracy and clarity.
Companies producing large amounts of written material may hire in-person or remote proofreaders or copy editors to work part or full time, but there are also opportunities to do this work as a contractor or freelancer on a per-project basis. To become a proofreader or copy editor, you’ll need a strong handle on English spelling and grammar conventions and a keen eye for detail, and you should expect to take a skills test before being hired. If you have experience in the subject matter a company deals with or familiarity with the style guide they use, that will likely be a bonus. Copy editors and proofreaders often, but not always, have English, communication, or similar degrees, but in some cases you can find copy editor and proofreader positions without prior professional experience.
3. Administrative, Virtual, or Executive Assistant
Average virtual assistant salary: $41,986
Average executive assistant salary: $57,033
Depending on the employer, administrative assistants—sometimes called virtual assistants if the job is entirely online—might respond to emails and other messages, schedule meetings, prepare memos, maintain databases and filing, or perform any other clerical duties an organization needs. Executive assistants are administrative assistants who specifically work for one or more people within a company (usually executives). In addition to administrative assistant duties, they might organize their executive’s calendar, plan their travel, take notes for them at meetings, and do research, Inman says. This is a great role for those who “need flexible work schedules, but are very organized, work well without direction” and have strong problem-solving skills, Inman says.
In an increasingly digital world, many administrative assistants can now do their jobs entirely online on a full- or part-time schedule. (However, not every administrative or executive assistant has only online duties, so be sure to carefully read any job description before applying!) You can often land one of these jobs with just a high school diploma, but some employers might prefer a college degree. Many administrative assistant roles are entry level, but executive assistant roles may require more experience.
4. Social Media Coordinator or Manager
Average social media manager salary: $51,898
As businesses’ online presence becomes more important, organizations increasingly need social media coordinators and managers to help run their Twitter, Facebook, and other accounts. Depending on the company, a social media coordinator or manager might be responsible for tasks such as planning and scheduling posts across social platforms, writing the copy and creating the graphics to go along with these posts, responding to audience comments and questions that come through social feeds, monitoring social performance, and conceiving of and implementing social media marketing campaigns and strategies. Social media manager is a job title that might be an entry-level position at a smaller business without a large—or any—marketing department, or it might be a higher-level position with more responsibilities and even direct reports at a company with a larger marketing team. Social media coordinator is generally an entry-level or early career position.
You can find remote social media manager and coordinator positions for all types of organizations—from local restaurants to giant tech companies—and these positions can be full time, part time, or freelance. If you’re interested in becoming a social media manager or coordinator, you’ll have to demonstrate a strong handle on the intricacies of various social platforms—especially Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—and it will help if you can show examples of accounts you’ve successfully managed, whether your own or someone else’s. Strong writing skills and some data analysis skills will also help you stand out. You don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s degree to get hired—particularly if you have a strong portfolio—but many positions will require a degree in marketing or similar.
5. Graphic Designer
Average graphic designer salary: $46,369
Graphic designers create visuals that communicate the ideas, messages, and aesthetics that an organization, brand, or individual is trying to put forward. Graphic designers might work with words, images, or both and generally create art digitally or convert handmade art to a digital medium. Graphic designers can design pretty much any visuals a company needs, such as logos, product packaging, infographics, social media images, and even elements of websites and software programs. Once a graphic designer knows what their employers or clients want, most of their work is done solo using a computer and other equipment they can easily keep at their home, making it an ideal online job.
Some companies might hire full-time or part-time designers to work on graphics for their purposes or their clients’, or they might establish relationships with freelancers or contractors whose work they like. In order to be a graphic designer, you’ll need creativity and artistic skills as well as a strong grasp on the latest design, photo, and layout software. You’ll also need strong communication skills to make sure you and whoever you’re designing for are on the same page. Graphic designers typically, but not always, have a bachelor’s degree, but a strong portfolio of your work is paramount regardless.
On a broad level, writers create all the text you read on a day-to-day basis both online and offline. But there are many types of writers and many of these jobs can be done online on a full-time, part-time, contract, or freelance basis. For all types of online writing jobs, you’ll need strong writing skills and strong writing samples. And if you’re posting your work online, knowledge of basic search engine optimization (SEO) practices—i.e., how to write so that your work is highly ranked by Google—is a big plus and can be learned through a number of online resources or courses.
Technical and Medical Writer
Average technical writer salary: $61,158
Average medical writer salary: $73,527
Technical and medical writers take complex technical and scientific information and break it down in an easily understandable way for informational pamphlets and brochures, instruction manuals, articles, and educational resources. Technical and medical writers often have a bachelor’s degree in English, communications, or journalism and may need to demonstrate background knowledge in the subject matter they want to write about or they might have a degree in their focus subject matter and strong writing chops.
Average salary: $53,154
Copywriters create written, generally shorter, content that is intended to help sell an idea, product, service, or brand. They might write the text for social media posts, websites, product packages, or any number of sales or marketing tools. Most copywriter positions require a bachelor’s degree in a marketing, writing, or communications field.
Average salary: $47,749
Content writers tend to create longer-form text than copywriters—for example, articles based on expertise, interviews, and other primary sources. Their goal is generally to educate, inform, or increase brand awareness and drive traffic to the company’s website. Content writers can be full- or part-time employees, but can also be freelance for the most schedule flexibility.
7. Customer Service Representative
Average salary: $39,533
Customer service representatives provide phone, chat, or email support to a company’s customers and help them solve problems with or answer questions about their products or services. This is one of the most common options people looking for online jobs will see, Inman says. But you need to be careful which roles you apply for and accept because many of them have strict schedules and offer little growth potential. So be sure to inquire about opportunities for advancement and flexible hours—if that’s what you’re after.
This job is great for people who love talking with others and can handle dealing with customers who might be upset. However, Inman cautions that this job isn’t always the right fit for folks with kids or other caretaking responsibilities because as a phone support representative you need to have a quiet background and be available without interruption during set times. That said, some customer support jobs use email or chat—with those jobs, noise isn’t a concern. You can often get a customer service representative role with no experience.
8. Sales Representative or Account Executive
Average sales representative salary: $48,435
Average account executive salary: $55,486
Sales representatives and account executives—also known as salespeople and sales agents—sell products and services on behalf of their employer. Depending on the position, they may look for and reach out to potential new customers, follow up on warm leads, have conversations with prospective customers to teach them about their company’s products or services, negotiate and close deals, and re-sign and upsell existing customers. This job is ideal for those who want to work online but still interact with many people on a daily basis.
You can be hired as a full- or part-time employee. A bachelor’s degree isn’t usually necessary to get hired as a sales representative, but you definitely need strong written and verbal communication and persuasive skills. If you come across a sales position that requires you to pay up front for a product you’re going to sell or recruit other salespeople or only pays you commission, that’s often a red flag and you’re likely better off looking elsewhere.
9. Software Engineer
Average salary: $87,293
Software engineers or developers use different coding languages to create computer programs, websites, and computer systems. They spend a lot of time troubleshooting and problem solving to get their code to work correctly. Software engineers almost always work as part of a team, so collaboration and communication skills are a must, but all of this work can be done online, so companies often hire fully remote software engineers.
10. English Teacher
Average salary: $47,932
Online English teachers instruct students from countries where English isn’t the primary language. This job is “great for former teachers or if you don’t mind working super early in the morning” due to time zone differences, Inman says. Companies that hire online English teachers will often give you the resources you need to teach your students, such as lesson plans or access to online language platforms or games. Many of these companies will require that online English teachers have a teaching certification and a TESOL or TEFL certificate (which shows you’re qualified to teach English as a second or foreign language), but some companies won’t require a teaching background, just a native-level fluency in English and a bachelor’s degree.
11. Community Manager
Average salary: $52,745
Community managers are responsible for moderating and organizing the audience of a brand or organization across social media groups, Slack channels, online forums, and other communities. Community managers may be responsible for answering questions, moderating discussions, and adding and removing people from groups. This online job, which often has a somewhat flexible schedule, is great for extroverts who won’t get drained from communicating with people online all day, Inman says.
Community managers should be familiar with and enthusiastic about social media and have strong written communication skills. You can also get this job without prior experience or a degree, Inman says: “There’s no degree in ‘how to best manage a Facebook group’ so really anyone can do this!”
How to Land an Online Job Without Relevant Experience
Even if you don’t have experience that’s directly relevant to the online job you want—or any professional experience at all—it’s still possible for you to snag a great role. Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Get clear on what skills you need for the job you want. Before figuring out how to sell yourself for a given job, it’s always helpful to know what employers hiring for this and similar jobs are looking for. Pull up a few job descriptions for the type of job you want and read through them to identify what skills and experiences employers generally want applicants to have.
- Figure out your transferable skills and highlight them in your job search. Transferable skills are abilities that you’ve used in one situation that can be used in a job that doesn’t seem directly related. So for example, if you coordinated the schedule for a student or parents’ group, that could translate to an executive assistant job where scheduling and planning are regular tasks. Work these skills into your resume, cover letter, and interview question responses so whoever is hiring you understands that you have the skills they’re looking for.
- Take an online class or earn a certificate. If there’s a job you’re interested in but don’t have the skills for, you can always learn those skills. Consider taking an online course or earning a certificate. There are many free or low-cost options that will help you learn marketable skills on sites such as Coursera or LinkedIn Learning, or you might consider taking an online course from an accredited university.
- Apply for an online internship. When you’re looking for in-person work after finishing your education or a certification program, it’s common to look for an internship first, but Inman says this option is often overlooked in the online space. An online internship often has a lower barrier to entry than a permanent role and will help you get on-the-job skills and training to make you a more valuable hire for either the company you interned for or another employer. (You can search for online internships on The Muse!)
- Create an online portfolio (if relevant). For writers, designers, software engineers, social media managers, and anyone else who will be producing creative work for an employer, a strong portfolio is indispensable. Create an online portfolio or personal website that puts all of your best work in one easy place. You can link to it directly on your resume. If you haven’t held a job in the field before, you can still create graphics, articles, programming projects, or whatever else you’d be producing in your job to show employers your skills and style.
- Show employers that you have what it takes to be a good online employee. When employers are hiring somebody that they’re not going to see in person everyday, they want to know that the employee will still complete their work on time and won’t struggle to keep up without being in the office. So be sure to emphasize your independence as well as your communication, problem-solving, organizational, and time management skills throughout the hiring process, and prepare to answer common remote interview questions.