When it comes to juggling a job and family, few parents feel they have the master formula—especially when they work outside the home. Working from home, however, can help maintain that balance. Here are five work-at-home careers—and the parents who are showing it can be done.
Real Estate Agent
The job: Help clients buy and sell homes, stage properties, and handle the sales process from start to finish.
Salary: Payscale reports a median of $43,860/year and a range from $23,000 to $99,000.
Kathy Wren flew as a flight attendant with Delta Air Lines before having her daughter in 2004. But traveling four days a week didn’t work with a baby, so now she works as a real estate agent with a local agency. Since much of Wren’s work occurs in her client’s homes, she manages 90% of her business from her own home in Orange County, Calif. Wren specializes in her immediate area, staging homes and prospecting for new clients at open houses. Like Voegele, she works her schedule around her daughter’s but still finds it challenging to balance her priorities as a professional and a mother. While physically present, Wren worries she isn’t always mentally there for her daughter. Some of her distraction comes from real estate’s irregular and erratic schedule that doesn’t conform to business hours; some of it is the constant ability to work that technology provides. Wren sometimes finds it difficult to shut down her work and focus on her family.
“But I think that’s true for a lot of people because you are always connected whether you work from home or work in an office,” she says. “But again, if I worked somewhere else, I wouldn’t be here.”
The job: Create graphics, logos, and illustrations either by hand or with technology.
Salary: Payscale reports a median of $40,593/year and a range from $29,766 to $59,064.
After the birth of her twins in 2006, Jodi Voegele quit her job working full time for a marketing firm because it didn’t make financial sense to pay childcare for two newborns. She started her graphic design agency, Voegele Design, at her home in Ladera Ranch, Calif. in 2009 and quickly learned that an office isn’t required to do the work—although the right software and a computer upgrade were essential at the time. At first, Voegele took jobs she could do at night or on weekends when her husband could help with the kids or while they napped. And when her children reached school age, she was able to take on more work. Continuing her career from home has kept Voegele’s skills up to date, as well as her network. She also appreciates how her freelance lifestyle allows her to be a professional while staying the primary caregiver to her kids.
“It allows me to operate just like a stay-at-home mom,” Voegele says. “I take them to school. I can pick them up from school. I can take them to all their activities, and then I just squeeze in my work around their schedule.”
The job: Conduct photography sessions in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings, taking portraits of individuals, groups such as families or teams, and events like weddings or corporate meetings.
Salary: Payscale reports a median of $58,359/year and a range from $33,000 to $97,000 for a senior-level photography professional.
Paul Gero lived all over the U.S. before settling in southern California with his wife, Nicki, and their two children, ages 9 and 6. Following a long career in photojournalism, he’s focused on portrait photography for the past seven years. Gero likes having more say over how he spends his time and is a master multitasker. (He once combined a venue scouting trip for a client with his 14th wedding anniversary dinner.) He runs his business, Paul F. Gero Photography, from a home studio and uses it to coordinate client meetings. Gero believes it’s important for his kids to see that work doesn’t always mean leaving the house and going to an office, and that it shows them how to create a career for themselves—a skill he thinks might be important for their future. Then there’s the bonus that his kids get to know him because he’s there when they are.
“They get a different sense of who I am,” Gero says, “because they see me differently than most kids see their dad.”
Health and Wellness Consultant
The job: Provide clients with exercise, nutrition, and stress-reduction plans to get them in shape and make healthier choices.
Salary: Payscale reports a median of $56,716/year and a range from $23,919 to $93,301.
Amy Martinez was a professional trainer in Newport Beach, Calif., before she started her own business, Roots Fitness, a few years ago. Every Tuesday and Thursday she gets up at 5 a.m. to train groups of six to 10 women in a fitness boot camp at a local park near her home in Orange, Calif., and then she gets her two children ready for school. She’s also an executive area manager for Arbonne International, a skin care company and nutrition line. Running her company from home instead of a gym affords Martinez the opportunity to do what she loves without the long commute and long daycare hours that she says made both her and her children cranky. She can schedule her business meetings around her children’s school and soccer schedules, usually at local coffee houses or the occasional happy hour in the evening.
“I make sure to have all my stuff done so when they get out of school, I am in mommy mode. When I am more present for them, the flow is better in our house, my energy is better, we’re more positive. Things get done a little more efficiently,” Martinez says. “My sanity is way better, too.”
The job: Provide services to build and maintain websites, typically using custom scripts to meet clients’ needs for their business.
Salary: Payscale reports a median of $55,542/year and a range from $37,000 to $83,000 for an experienced developer.
Brandon Selfors is the founder and president of Emboss, a digital marketing agency in Largo, Fla. In addition to his work office where his staff is based, he maintains a home office too. A new father of a six-month-old daughter (his first child), Selfors enjoys the flexibility to work remotely from home a couple of days a week. Much of what web designers do doesn’t require a presence in an office, although these days, he spends less time designing websites and more of it on the phone with clients. While Selfors enjoys the chance to be a part of his young family’s day-to-day life, he cautions parents starting their own businesses to make sure they have the self-motivation and time management skills to make it work. And he advises parents to work away from home sometimes, too.
“Not everyone has an office, so for people that don’t, find a third place and go there to work,” Selfors says. “Sometimes that distance from my family creates more of a closeness and a better conversation when I get home.”