Top 5 "Be Your Own Boss" Careers

by Joe Taylor Jr.

A growing number of Americans have discovered the joys of working for themselves. By developing a marketable skill, you can work directly for customers and clients without having to worry about middle managers or boring company presentations. In today's increasingly flexible job market, medical careers no longer require working in hospitals, and technology degree holders can find lucrative work from their home offices.

According to government data, these five careers offer some of the easiest ways to get started with self-employment. In many cases, you can usually start earning money while completing your formal training.

1. Home Health Aide

While most home health aides spend their time working from clients' homes, this fast-growing profession combines many of the benefits of a nursing career with the flexibility of self-employment. Earning $20,000 per year or more by working part-time, a typical home health aide assists clients when he or she is not caring for family members or completing a nursing degree program.

Many states require a prospective home health aide to hold an associate medical degree, as well as a personal bond. Though some home health aids are truly self-employed, the vast majority of professionals book clients through a professional agency. Agencies provide tax withholding, bookkeeping, and business support for home health aides. Some larger agencies even provide tuition reimbursement for online health degrees.

2. Private Investigator

A criminal justice degree and a love for working unusual hours are two of the most important ingredients for a job as a private investigator. Private eyes often transition to this career during or after a similar career in law enforcement.

Retired or injured police officers who cannot return to active duty often take on P.I. work to supplement pension or insurance payments. Hard work in the field pays very well, since skip tracing and other collection activities frequently offer larger, immediate bonuses. Many private investigators earn over $32,000 per year working full-time. However, the flexibility of P.I. work allows many professionals to spend time attending law school or completing other degree programs.

3. Freelance Database Administrator

Nearly every business in America relies on a database, yet few small businesses can afford to hire a full time staff member with a technology degree. Therefore, the market for freelance database administrators has blossomed over the past ten years.

Many online technical degree programs now offer elective courses on business management and marketing for freelance professionals. Meanwhile, online technology courses help freelancers earn and maintain industry certifications.

Working full time from home, some freelance database administrators earn $60,000 or more per year.

4. Personal Chef

Don't confuse today's personal chef with a nanny or housekeeper. Professional personal chefs spend their afternoons bouncing between two, three, or four home kitchens, putting their culinary degrees to work for clients. Many personal chefs earn $33,000 or more per year, without the long hours or the stress of working in a commercial kitchen.

Personal chefs are also part of another interesting trend in larger cities: personal dinner preparation centers. Customers can book time at these open, professional kitchens where chefs help prepare ingredients that can be completed quickly at home. Personal chefs often round out their schedules by teaching group culinary courses at the homes of clients or at catering facilities.

5. Graphic Designer

Thanks to new technology, a growing number of graphic designers prefer to work from home studios and keep their own hours. Some modern graphic design degree training is done on software that can run on home computers. Working online graphic from home allows many creative people the chance to complete design degrees while still earning an income of $38,000 per year or more.

Although working from home requires more discipline than working at an agency, many graphic design schools offer time management and business courses that help students prepare for the freelance life. Local graphic design colleges also sponsor exhibitions, seminars, and other social events that help professionals make valuable, personal connections.

Transitioning to Self-Employment

Many career experts recommend testing the waters before making a major career change that involves being your own boss. For example, taking a few culinary courses can help you decide whether you really have the patience and the skill to become a personal chef. Likewise, an introductory online technology course can determine whether you've got the passion to make databases your full time job.

While working independently can hold tremendous personal rewards, self-employment carries some burdens and risks. Experts encourage self-employed professionals to save at least a third of their income in a high-interest savings fund to cover emergency expenses, unexpected sick days, and income tax withholding. On the flip side, small business owners can often take tax deductions on work-related equipment and professional development programs.

Enrolling in online career training courses today can help you start your own career transition.

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