Coleman Gailloreto

For a major work-life balance think about these 9 flexible careers

Career development

For a major work-life balance think about these 9 flexible careers

Artwork by: Tal Yavin

  • Examples of careers that are flexible
  • Key takeaways

Often, professionals are forced to choose between having a job that pays well and a job with flexible working hours. With the careers listed in this article, you can receive decent income AND control when, where, and how often you need to work.

Most high-paying jobs have a strict “nine to five, five days a week” schedule, while jobs with flexible hours have tended to be short-term or low paying. The jobs listed in this article defy this trend by offering decent salaries AND the freedom to arrange your work schedule as you please.  

Although you’ll need to master highly technical skills and learn to build strong relationships with clients if you want to successfully pursue the flexible careers covered in this article, it’s well worth the effort. The jobs we’ll review include:

  • Virtual Assistant

  • Interior Designer

  • Data Scientist

  • Photographer

  • Content Writer

  • Graphic Designer

  • Personal Trainer

  • Front-End Developer

  • Dentist

Examples of careers that are flexible

1. Virtual assistants can work anywhere and anytime

Customer satisfaction is a key ingredient of success for department stores, e-commerce platforms, and other businesses that sell products or offer services. To maintain high levels of customer satisfaction, these businesses are always looking for talented virtual assistants who can answer phone calls, reply to emails, address client concerns, and support company executives–and that’s just the start.

Besides being paid well on average, virtual assistants can work remotely from any office space and are often given the freedom to work on the days and time they choose based on customer needs.

Do

Don't

The following when talking to customers as a remote virtual assistant:

Do the following when talking to customers as a remote virtual assistant:

Ask customers follow-up questions to make sure you understand  their needs.

Pretend to know something you don’t.

Be specific and precise with your explanations.

Sound impatient or dismissive towards a customer’s needs.

Be professional and patient at all times.

Work in a home environment that’s messy or noisy.

To be a successful customer support virtual assistant, you’ll need a high school level of education at the very least, along with the following abilities:

  • Strong communication skills that let you build rapport with customers

  • Knowing how to organize and manage your own work schedule

  • Familiarity with computers and basic office applications

  • Knowing how to memorize information related to common customer/client concerns

  • The patience and empathy needed to talk with irate or uncooperative clients


Virtual assistants can also fill many other roles based on their education, skills, and work experience so it’s worth some research to see if you can parlay your specific abilities into virtual work.

2. Interior designers remodel rooms and decide their own timelines

There are a lot of reasons why property owners might want to hire an interior designer. Perhaps they just purchased a long-term home and want to spruce it up. They may be listing their home for sale and want to drive up its market value. They might even want to refurbish parts of their residence for bed-and-breakfast or time-sharing enterprises. 

Whatever the reasons for remodeling, interior designers are constantly in demand among people who want to make the rooms of their property lovelier and more architecturally sound. Because interior designer work is so client-focused, you also have a great amount of freedom to create your own timeline for meetings, presentations, site inspections, and construction.

Besides getting a Bachelor’s Degree in interior design, architecture, or another related field, interior designers also need to pass the certification exams mandated by their home state and hone the following abilities:

  • Communication skills for building rapport with clients

  • Presentation skills to explain remodeling goals in clear terms

  • Proficiency with Computer Assisted Design software to create 3D models

  • A honed sense of creativity and imagination

  • Familiarity with classic and current interior design trends

3. Data scientists are assets for companies with numbers to crunch

As their names suggest, data scientists and data analysts are hired by companies to make sense of information using math, programming languages, and other detail-oriented skills. These two professions draw on many of the same skills, but have different end-goals.

Data analysts focus on scanning databases to identify and compile past trends in profit, customer satisfaction, etc. Data scientists, in contrast, focus more on creating innovative machine learning algorithms, automated data mining/scrubbing methods, and other means of gathering and interpreting information.

As an information-centric career, data scientists are always able to work remotely and can be hired on a part-time or contractual basis to improve a company’s data processing approaches. To be a successful data scientist on a freelance basis, you’ll need an appropriate Master’s Degree and strong backgrounds in:

  • Data Mining

  • Data Visualization

  • Math

  • Statistics

  • Economics

  • Machine Learning

  • Coding languages like Python or SQL

4. Flexible careers: photographers can court clients from all walks of life

Professional photographers with an established reputation can have very flexible schedules thanks to the sheer diversity of their potential client base. Product websites, wedding planners, athletic competition organizers – these enterprises and others often need photographers to capture images of their finest moments and finest items.

Technically, you only need a high school diploma or equivalent experience to become a professional photographer. Degrees in fields like art, visual design, news, or film help aspiring photographers hone their sense of creativity, their eye for beautiful shots, and their ability to set up perfect lighting conditions for the subjects they capture.

If you plan to become a freelance photographer, unaffiliated with any specific companies or agencies, these skills are also worth honing:

5. Content writers can promote themselves with their remote work

Freelance writing careers can be tricky to get off the ground, particularly if you’ve just graduated from college with a creative writing degree and no prior work experience. Still, with persistence, networking, and a frequently updated resume, you can earn lots of money creating content for clients and have the freedom to work at hours and places of your choosing.

A prolific freelance writer can create content in a wide variety of fields – articles for news sites, reviews for media platforms, “About us” pages on websites, and so on. To complete these and other writing projects, you need to be flexible in your writing style, changing the tone and structure of your content to fit the client’s style guide. You also need to be a competent researcher, backing up the statements you make with accurate, verifiable sources. 

Expert Tip


If you’re a writer with long-term career goals of publishing a book or becoming a full-time contributor to a major magazine, there’s one other perk to creating articles or reviews on a freelance basis. Any content of yours that’s published with an author bio promotes your name and demonstrates your writing skills to future clients, particularly if you take steps to share said content on social media.

6. Graphic designers can find and accept commissions online

Freelance graphic designers can be gainfully employed by any client who needs clear illustrations and icons that let people grasp key information in a single glance. For this reason, lots of businesses reach out to graphic designers for images that will “add spice” to their documents, ads, brochures, or websites.


Thanks to desktop publishing tools and illustration software, it’s easier than ever for graphic designers to find/accept commissions online and work remotely. Indeed, many modern illustration projects begin and end through email correspondence. For example,  the graphic designer submits a first draft image based on the client’s request then revises it based on feedback emails until the customer is satisfied.


Aside from earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design, you should also acquire the following to become a qualified graphic designer:

  • Proficiency with design tools such as Photoshop or Illustrator

  • A well-built career portfolio with excerpts of your greatest work

  • Solid time management skills

  • The ability to complete and submit projects by their due date

  • The willingness to tweak graphic designs in response to customer feedback

7. Careers with flexible hours: personal trainers cultivate clients and themselves 

Personal fitness is an intricate and sometimes grueling process – a mixture of diets, special workouts, and the mental attitude needed to commit to new routines. These challenges prompt many people to hire personal trainers who can craft custom fitness regimens and support their clients during scheduled training sessions and/or group classes. 

If you have a personal interest in health, nutrition, or athletic pursuit, becoming a personal trainer can be a profitable way to apply these aptitudes. You also won’t be restricted to a fixed weekly schedule.

Along with a high-school diploma and professional certification in athletic coaching or kinesiology, you should master skills like these when pursuing a Personal Trainer career:

  • Certification in CPR and First Aid

  • Communication skills to engage with and encourage clients

  • Knowledge of how to promote yourself on social media

  • Familiarity with new innovations in health science

Many personal trainers also make a point of practicing their own fitness regimens. Besides practicing what they preach, a personal trainer’s resilient, athletic body advertises their understanding of fitness principles and shows clients that their self-improvement goals are very possible.

Expert Tip


If you’re a personal trainer (or any professional with a freelance career) trying to promote yourself on social media, use methods like these to build your visibility.



Identify your target audience and the types of social media posts they’d be most interested in.


Identify the social media platform your target audience likes to use.


Make regular posts on the social media accounts you create.


Reach out to popular influencers on your chosen platforms.


Analyze your own social media analytics to see what content gets the most attention.

8. Freelance front end developers can have flexible schedules

Front end and back end developers are both in high demand among employers who need to develop new websites or software. For the most part, back end developers deal with all the behind-the-scenes parts of a website or application – the servers, the databases, debugging, etc. Front end developers, in contrast, build and maintain the visible parts of a website or application – the user interface, the menu layouts, etc.

To be a successful front end developer, you’ll want to know coding languages such as JavaScript, C++, HTML, or CSS. These technical skills aside, you’ll also need:

  • Communication skills to connect with clients and respond to their input

  • An understanding of User Experience or “UX” design principles

  • Creative skills for designing aesthetically pleasing interfaces

  • The ability to troubleshoot software/websites and find solutions to bugs or glitches

Freelance front end developers generally have more freedom to negotiate with employers and design work schedules to fit their needs, while “traditionally employed” front end developers are more likely to have fixed, rigid working hours. As with many employer/employee interactions, it’s important to communicate honestly with your clients during the hiring process and tell them what kind of schedule fits you best.

Statistical Insight


According to this Free Code Camp website article, user interface development tools built using JavaScript are incredibly popular among front-end developers these days. The total downloads of the Vue open source framework and React library, for instance, have drastically spiked in recent months.

9. Becoming a dentist is hard, but has many perks

Compared to the other jobs listed above, the professional requirements of dentists are fairly high. Besides earning an undergraduate degree, aspiring dentists need to take and pass a Dental Admissions Test to be admitted to the dental school of their choice. 

After four years of dental school – a mix of coursework and clinical on-site training – you’ll receive a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry. To specialize in fields like Orthodontics, you may need to continue your studies for a few years more.

The bright side of all this hard work is that once you’re a certified dentist, you’re practically set for life. You can earn high annual salaries and will rarely, if ever, run short of clients (tooth decay and plaque build-up being ailments as old as civilization itself). 

If you manage your own practice, you’ll also have lots of freedom to choose how many hours you work and when your office will be open.

Key takeaways

  1. Virtual assistants can do all of their work remotely and support clients anywhere in the world at any time.

  2. Interior designers can collaborate with clients to decide on remodeling plans, project timelines, and meeting dates.

  3. Data scientists can find remote work with nearly any company that needs help processing information.

  4. To make a living as a freelance photographer, master skills related to art, lighting, and self-promotion.

  5. Freelance content writing gives you the freedom to pick your own work hours and promote yourself with online content that has your author bio.

  6. To be a prolific freelance graphic designer, learn how to communicate with clients and adjust your visual creations to fit their needs.

  7. Personal trainers can negotiate with their clients to work out schedules for one-on-one training sessions or gym classes.

  8. Freelance front end developers have more freedom to design their own schedules compared to front end developers who work for a specific company.

  9. Dentist careers have a high barrier to entry, but dentists can make a lot of money and customize their schedules once they’re fully qualified.

Coleman Gailloreto

A Chicago-based writer and freelance translator. Seeks to prepare his readers for the next renaissance or apocalypse, whichever comes first. Experienced at creating incisive feature articles, professional product reviews, informative interviews, and quality resumes/cover letters. Publishes long-form fiction on Inkshares.com and storytelling games on itch.io under the pseudonym Aldo Salt. Enjoys hobbies such as dog-walking, jogging, book-binding, and board games with friends.

Share this article