Re-entering the workforce years into retirement and during a difficult economy can be intimidating. It might seem all the more challenging for retirees who want to work from home -- whether for convenience or necessity. And if that isn't hard enough, retirees have to be wary of the seemingly ubiquitous advertisements for work-at-home jobs. These can actually turn out to be scams seeking to cheat unsuspecting people.
The good news is that legitimate at-home jobs do exist. You just have to know what to look for -- and what to avoid. On the next few pages, we'll discuss some job ideas you might want to explore. But first, you should know to avoid supposed "work-at-home jobs" that don't describe the work you'll be doing or ask you to pay a fee (even for a starter handbook). Also, don't fall for promises of large salaries for little work.
One issue to consider is Social Security, which you might be able to continue collecting, depending on how much income you're making. Also, because so many at-home jobs revolve around the computer, you should evaluate your computer literacy and tailor your job search to fit your skills.
Customer Service Representative
You may be surprised to learn that several legitimate organizations offer customer service jobs that you can do from a home office. If you have the required equipment, you can make a salary and even benefits answering customer calls and chats through your computer.
The equipment requirements vary depending on the company, but most require at least a PC computer (usually Mac's aren't compatible) and a reliable Internet connection with appropriate uploading and downloading speeds. Obviously, such a job will also require you to have a certain level of computer literacy. Many also necessitate a dedicated telephone landline. Some stipulate that your home office be well-lit and free of distractions and noises. Aside from this equipment, you may also need previous customer service experience to be hired.
Some companies hire their own at-home customer representatives, while others use a staffing company, such as Alpine Access and WorkingSolutions.
Online Mock Trial Juror
If you're one of those citizens who actually appreciates the experience of jury duty -- especially if you don't have to deal with the hassle of going to a courthouse and waiting around for long periods -- becoming an online juror might be fun.
Of course, you won't actually be deciding cases. However, the cases themselves are real. Online juries are helpful for law firms so lawyers can present their arguments on real-life cases. It's more like you're a mock trial juror, but your input can nonetheless have an impact on how a lawyer will present a case.
The qualifications are pretty simple, too: They only require you to be a U.S. citizen and over 18. Web site services, such as OnlineVerdict.com, might ask you questions about your age and background to determine what demographic groups to put you in -- information lawyers want to know when they examine your feedback. The pay can be up to $60 per case, depending on the length and complexity of the case, and a case may only take you an hour to do [source: OnlineVerdict].
If, like many retirees, you aren't tech savvy or don't have a reliable computer, such technology-centered jobs we've discussed may seem discouraging. But don't get so wrapped up in these newer types of opportunities that you don't consider some of the simpler options.
If you're a parent or grandparent, for instance, you have experience that many people look for in a babysitter. Parents often seek summer daytime babysitting, after-school hours or the occasional evening out. You may even have family members or neighbors who could benefit from your babysitting services and be willing to pay you. If not, consider putting up ads in local coffee shops or newspapers.
Also, think about your mobility when deciding what age group you can take care of. Slow mobility may not be a problem when watching older children or babies who can't crawl yet, but it may prevent you from responding quickly to crawlers or young children who have a tendency to dash away.
If you have a natural love of writing, consider using those talents for a freelance writing or editing job.
If you're retired from a job that required any kind of technical expertise, look for organizations seeking technical writers and editors. They might need publications written or reviewed by someone with exactly your kind of expertise. Recruiters might also seek people who can write and edit professional resumes from home.
This kind of job will likely require a computer with reliable Internet access, as well as particular software, such as Microsoft Word. It will help if you can show you have writing and researching experience. Prepare writing samples that match the kind of work you want to do for potential clients.
Like babysitting, tutoring is an age-old job that might not have occurred to you. And it could be a great way to use your knowledge and skills productively while making some extra income.
This is an especially apt job for a retired teacher. However, for tutoring younger children, you may only need a simple proficiency in a subject to help them. Some students who are having a difficult time in a particular subject just need more one-on-one time to learn the concepts. But, if you excelled or have expertise in a particular subject, this will help recommend you as a tutor for older children, too.
Look for neighbors who know and trust you enough to let their children come over to your home for after-school tutoring. They could also serve as references and recommend you to other parents you may not know yet. Or, if this isn't possible, you could also try online tutoring from home. Some Web site services, such as Tutor.com, connect you with students virtually and provide online tools to aid in demonstrations.
For lots more information on job opportunities, see the links on the next page.
HowStuffWorks Now looks at a new twist in the sharing economy: renting your home for office space.
- Alpine Access. "Employee Qualifications." Alpine Access. (May 17, 2011) http://www.alpineaccess.com/en/apply/qualifications/
- Hannon, Kerry. "Great Work-at-Home Jobs for Retirees." American Association of Retired Persons. Jan. 21. 2011. (May 17, 2011) http://www.aarp.org/work/working-after-retirement/info-01-2011/great-work-at-home-jobs-for-retirees.html
- Johnson, Tory, Robyn Freedman Spizman. "Will Work from Home." Penguin, 2008. (May 17, 2011) http://books.google.com/books?id=i0N6BDUpKqsC
- OnlineVerdict.com "FAQs." OnlineVerdict.com. (May 17, 2011) http://www.aarp.org/work/working-after-retirement/info-01-2011/great-work-at-home-jobs-for-retirees.html
- WorkingSolutions. "Becoming an Agent." WorkingSolutions. (May 17, 2011) http://www.workingsolutions.com/work-at-home-agents/