Top 10 Telecommuting Jobs in Healthcare & How to Get One

Health and Medical Field Named Best Industry for Telecommuting Jobs

Man sits in front of computer at a home workspace
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When you think of telecommuting jobs, healthcare may not be the first industry that comes to mind. However, due to the rapid growth of the healthcare industry, plus advances in technology, the healthcare field offers more work-from-home (telecommuting) jobs than ever before. In fact, one recent study shows that healthcare offers more telecommuting opportunities than any other field.

Based on an analysis of more than 30,000 companies and their job posting histories in 2014 in its database, FlexJobs reports that medical and health is the leading career field for telecommuting jobs. Earlier this year, FlexJobs released its 2015 top 100 companies likely to hire for remote jobs, of which nearly one quarter were healthcare-related companies. FlexJobs itself experienced a 26 percent increase in the number of telecommuting jobs posted over the last year. Telecommuting refers to work that can be performed from home and options may include contract, employee, part-time, and full-time positions.

"Don't assume that because your role is patient-focused, you can't work from home."  -Sara Sutton Fell, CEO, FlexJobs

Telecommuting is attractive to various demographics, such as millennials, semi-retirees, working parents, military spouses, people with health issues or disabilities, caregivers, and people looking for work outside of their local economy.

10 Most Common Telecommuting Jobs in the Healthcare Industry

  • Healthcare information specialist
  • Medical coder
  • Research scientist
  • Pharmaceutical representative
  • Nurse case manager
  • Medical director
  • Clinical program manager
  • Insurance representative
  • Patient advocate
  • Medical transcriptionist

Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and Founder of FlexJobs answered a few questions regarding the list of top telecommuting jobs, and how healthcare is a leading industry in the telecommuting trend. She offers some wonderful advice for job seekers who are interested in a telecommuting role within the healthcare industry.

How were the job titles selected - what factors went into making the list?

Sara Sutton Fell: The job titles on the list were chosen because they are the ones we see most often when researching, vetting, and posting telecommuting healthcare jobs. They all offer telecommuting to some degree (either 100% work-from-home, partial work-from-home, or occasional work-from-from) and are all categorized as medical and health jobs on our site.

We've also seen more unusual common telecommuting healthcare jobs like triage nurse, social worker, and – believe it or not! -- neurosurgeon, so the list of 10 common jobs is by no means the end of the story.

Are there any healthcare jobs that you think should be on the list that aren't but perhaps may be on a future list? (e.g. roles that are beginning to move towards telecommuting that haven't yet.)

Sutton Fell: We actually don't see much changing in terms of the specific roles because there's already so much variety, but that the volume of healthcare jobs listed as remote positions definitely looks like it will continue to increase.

How does telecommuting impact salaries for the given jobs, if at all? Do telecommuters earn more or less on average than their counterparts who go into the office setting daily?

Sutton Fell: This very much depends on the particular role and career field, but on the whole, telecommuting jobs should pay in-line with their in-office counterparts. Some do pay less, while some actually pay more, but the great thing about telecommuting is that people who work from home stand to save between $4,000 and $9,000 annually because so many of their expenses related to working in an office are reduced or eliminated by working from home. Additionally, you can find jobs outside of your local area and cost of living which can impact how high or low the salary is – for example, if you live in Kansas but find a telecommuting job with a company based in Atlanta, the company might feel like they’re getting a great deal while you’re getting paid a high rate for your local cost of living. 

We've done some comparisons when it comes to telecommuting salaries vs. in-office salaries, and they usually average about to about the same. So once you factor in the cost savings, it's clear that working from home is a net positive for professionals.

What are the typical guidelines for those who telecommute? Are there rules, checks/balances etc to make sure the work is getting done?  

Each company creates its own specific guidelines for its telecommuters, but those different guidelines often touch on the same general themes. For example, we typically see that companies request that telecommuters have high-speed Internet and a dedicated home office or quiet office space from which to work in their home. Telecommuters also need to be comfortable with technology and able to do basic troubleshooting when it comes to their computer and software programs.

What's a typical schedule for a telecommuter? 

Sutton Fell: When it comes to telecommuting jobs, there really isn't a typical schedule. Some companies require professionals to work traditional business hours, like 9am to 5pm. Others allow telecommuters to have flexible hours, or to set their own schedules entirely. Job seekers should look for indications of hours and scheduling in the job description to get a better sense of the hours they might work.

Do telecommuters often split time between office / home / meetings onsite etc., and if so, how much?

Sutton Fell: Yes, one common misconception of telecommuting is that it's all-or-nothing -- that you're either working 100% from home or 100% in an office. But we see listings that have a wide range of telecommuting schedules, from 100% to the option to telecommuting, and everything in between. Most common is "some telecommuting" at about 45% of our telecommuting listings. where the worker may be required to attend regular meetings on-site, or visit with clients occasionally, away from their home office. The next most common is 100% telecommuting, about 30% of the listings on our site, where people work completely from home.One thing job seekers should note is that the vast majority of telecommuting jobs, about 95%, do require candidates to be based in a particular location, whether in a city, state, region of the country, or country itself, and there are a number of reasons why a telecommuting job may let someone work from home, but only if they're based in a particular location.

What advice would you give someone seeking a telecommute position in the healthcare industry?

Sutton Fell: First, you're in a great industry for telecommuting. We look at telecommuting job statistics regularly, and the field of medical and health is consistently #1 for telecommuting jobs.

Second, don't assume that because your role is patient-focused, you can't work from home. One of the largest and growing portions of telecommuting healthcare jobs are at-home or "telehealth" nurses. They might work on an after-hours nurse call line where patients can ask questions and get help over the phone. Or they may help guide patients through their treatment plans, or navigate a health insurance claim. These professionals are still assisting people every day, just not in person.

Finally, you have previous telecommuting experience, even if only during bad weather, or while waiting for the cable guy, be sure to include this in your application materials. And if you don't try to get some, either by asking your current employer if you can work from home occasionally, or by really capitalizing on those "emergency" situations where working from home is a must (like during this winter's record snowfall in the northeast which forced many people to work from home on a regular basis). Having a history of working well from home (which means working well independently, self-managing, staying focused, being productive, all from home) goes a long way to show employers that you're ready to jump into one of their telecommuting roles.

What are the challenges, if any, of telecommuting for employees? And also for employers?

Sutton Fell: As with any job, telecommuting presents its own challenges. Employees have to be incredibly diligent and self-managed. They must be able to stay focused amid distractions and be productive without constant managerial oversight. And working from home can feel a bit isolating at times, so it's important to know how to get your "people fix" to overcome that isolation.  People who work from home also have to be careful not to blend their work and personal lives too much.  Telecommuters often wind up working more hours than in-office workers because they can't simply "walk away" from work when the day is over. 53% of telecommuters work more than 40 hours/week. Only 28% of non-telecommuters do

For companies, the main challenge seems to be in managing telecommuters. Luckily, a shift in managerial practices that work best for telecommuters is actually a huge benefit to their in-office workforces as well. As we saw in the case of Yahoo!, the same managerial practices that work in an office don't necessarily work with telecommuters, because using face time (the amount of time someone spends in an office, looking like they're doing work) simply doesn't work with people who telecommute. Luckily, the management best practices for telecommuters also translate beautifully into an office setting. In an office, managers need set goals for each telecommuter, review those goals regularly, and make sure that everyone understands how their work is contributing to the company's overarching business objectives. Managers need to be proactive communicators, reaching out to telecommuters to check in regularly, to ensure they're working towards their goals and meeting milestones. What traditional office wouldn't benefit from this shift in management based on results instead of management based on face time?

What are the perks/benefits of telecommuting for employees and employers?

Sutton Fell: The benefits certainly outweigh the challenges when it comes to telecommuting. For employees, they include reducing or eliminating their daily commute, saving thousands of dollars every year (as noted above), gaining more control over their work-life balance, feeling more satisfied at work, and particularly interesting as it relates to healthcare jobs, being less stressed. Telecommuters have more time to spend with friends and loved ones, they're able to better adapt to unexpected issues that arise, and they're even more likely to volunteer at their children's schools.

For employers, telecommuting reduces turnover and improves employee satisfaction, it reduces costs by $11,000 per telecommuter annually on average, it makes workers more productive, it helps them save on real estate and operating costs, and it opens up a wider talent pool to find the best possible candidates for each job.

What if someone currently works in one of the listed healthcare jobs, (or any other position that lends itself to working from home), but their employer doesn't allow them to telecommute? Should they ask their employer about it, and if so, how should the employee approach the topic?

Sutton Fell: There are definitely ways to approach your current employer about working from home. First, do research on the specific job to see how the telecommuting arrangements are set up. Are candidates asked to work 100% from home, or only partially? Which parts of the job are done from home? Do research to get a really good sense of how your particular job can be done from home so that you have ideas to recommend to your boss.

Then, schedule a meeting to discuss the possibility. Frame your request in a way that showcases the benefits to the company more-so than the benefits to yourself (productivity, for example). And if your manager seems hesitant, propose a trial run to demonstrate exactly how the arrangement would work. After a period of 2-3 months, have a check-in with your boss to discuss outcomes and move things forward.

Why would an employer NOT allow telecommuting for these jobs?

Sutton Fell: In some cases, the organization is simply not ready or willing to consider telecommuting as an option for employees. They may be hesitant about its efficacy, or they may not understand that its an increasingly common work option for some healthcare workers. In other cases, they may have considered the options but decided that their policy would be to keep everyone in the office. As I discussed before, the "all or nothing" idea sometimes holds managers and leaders back because they don't realize that telecommuting can be a gradual, partial option rather than something they need to jump into. As the trend continues to increase, however, more employers continue to adopt telecommuting as a way of doing business, and that is equally as true in the field of healthcare, which already leads the pack.

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