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These are the top-paying remote jobs and how you can land one

These roles for knowledge workers offer a strong outlook today, and in the future.

These are the top-paying remote jobs and how you can land one
[Photo: ConceptCafe/iStock]
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While the numbers have dropped since the onset of the pandemic, a lot of us are still working from home. According to a survey from Gallup, 33% of Americans are always working remotely and 25% are working remotely sometimes. Of those who work remotely, nearly two-thirds of would like to continue to do so.

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While a study from GoTo and LogMeIn found that 62% of Americans would take a pay cut to work from home, working from home doesn’t have to lower your income. OneClass, a learning platform for college students, analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale, economic trends and workforce projections and identified top-paying remote annual salaries. These roles for educated knowledge workers offer a strong outlook today, as well as in a post-COVID world.

Remote IT jobs

Many tech jobs came with good salaries before the pandemic, but the shift to digital solutions created an increased demand for IT pros who could develop and support new systems. These jobs can be done from home and come with strong average salaries.

  • Network Architect, $121,640 salary, 5% growth
  • Information Security Manager, $115,602 salary, 31% growth
  • Cloud Engineer, $95,961 salary, 15% growth
  • Software Developer, $71,590 salary, 22% growth

Remote finance and math jobs

While many industries suffered layoffs, OneClass found that jobs in the finance and insurance sectors remained strong during the COVID-19 lockdown. These are some of the highest paying roles that can be done remotely.

  • Data Scientist, $96,087 salary, 15% growth
  • Actuary, $91,348 salary, 18% growth
  • Statistician, $74,227 salary, 33% growth
  • Financial Manager, $73,154 salary, 15% growth

Remote business jobs

Several positions in business, professional services, and management can be done remotely. Senior-level positions may return to the offices, but many large companies have announced that they’ll allow employees to stay at home. These are some of the highest paying business jobs that can stay remote.

  • Sales Director, $100,431 salary, 4% growth
  • Human Resources Director, $88,920 salary, 6% growth
  • Marketing Director, $88,211 salary, 6% growth
  • Business Development Manager, $73,367 salary, 7% growth

Geography matters

If you’re in the job market, it’s important to know that location can have a major impact on a paycheck, says Jay Denton, senior vice president business intelligence and chief innovation officer at ThinkWhy, a salary and labor market information firm. He recommends determining how close the market is to being back in job expansion rather than job recovery

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“A tighter labor supply will start to push companies to look to other markets, especially if remote work is becoming more of an expectation rather than a perk,” he says.

High-salary cities can tap into qualified talent pools in other locations at a fraction of the cost. “This is especially important right now as companies start to rebuild their revenues while keeping an eye on expenses,” says Denton.

For example, Denton says software publishing firms in Boston had 6% more employees in November 2020 than they did before the pandemic. “During a time when many businesses were struggling, those companies were actually able to add headcount,” he says. “The challenge is that talent supply was already extremely tight for software engineers in Boston. Maintaining the pace of hiring will prove to be difficult and ultimately impact businesses’ ability to execute their plans.”

According to a LaborIQ report by ThinkWhy, a software engineer role in Boston will likely cost upwards of $160,000 if the candidate has at least six years of experience and the average educational background and skills for the job.

“If getting somebody to move to Boston is a challenge, software companies might need to look for remote hires elsewhere just to meet their operational expectations,” he says. “The same hire in Atlanta would command a salary of $149,000, a savings of base salary of roughly 7%. Of course, talent supply for software engineers is also tight in Atlanta, but the candidate would still likely be looking at a pay raise, even though the rate is lower than Boston’s.”

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From a candidate’s perspective, proactively looking and applying for positions in other markets might yield different results than in the past, says Denton. “Remote work, for now, still largely comprises of employees that are in the same city but not going to the office as frequently,” he says. “Still, it appears more companies are open to hiring remote workers who will remain in other locations for strategic reasons.”

Landing a high-paying remote job

“Even though the opportunity for knowledge workers to be remote keeps companies going during the pandemic, it opens a Pandora’s Box,” adds Keith Sims, president of Integrity Resource Management, a Sanford Rose affiliate executive search firm. “If you can work from home in Pennsylvania, why can’t we have someone work from home doing the same job from somewhere with a lower cost of living like Eastern Europe?”

Those seeking a career change need to take that into account when choosing where to develop new sets of skills, says Sims.

“Where American workers still have an edge is converting concepts to working products or broken or inefficient processes into a well-oiled machinery,” he says. “The nuances of communication that we often take for granted give us an edge and are our value proposition over the global workforce.”

For example, Sims sees tremendous growth for those moving from an industry into application development. “Unique knowledge of an industry vertical’s standard business processes gives the candidate a distinct advantage and value over a developer,” he says. “There are lot of short programs to take college grads and teach them development and even some large companies like InfoSys are training in-house for career transition hires.”

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Another opportunity for high-paying remote work is an industry-focused application developer that moves into knowledge work, says Sims. “Application developers with old skills like .NET or even COBOL are learning new tools like SAP, Tableau, or Pega to move into developing low-code workflow solutions,” he says. “Their knowledge of the industry and processes allows them to ask the right questions of the business team to create highly effective solutions without a lot of rework. They know how their business users think already.”

When a job is remote, companies have a broader talent pool and the competition is tougher. “Landing a great work-from-home role requires convincing the soon-to-be manager that you possess the technical skills to perform the work, the discipline to work when no one is watching, the project and time management skills to set and meet expectations with your coworkers and internal customers, and the maturity to communicate good news and bad news at the same level of consistency,” says Sims.

Before every interview, he recommends preparing an example of how you have delivered against each of these areas and be prepared to share it. “You might even start the interview by getting the topic on the table,” says Sims. “Just because the job is remote, does not mean the manager is happy about it.”