Work-From-Home Dream Jobs and the Professional Certificates You Need to Get Hired

By Felicia Campbell
[11 minute read]

According to a Gallup poll, about two-thirds of all American employees started working remotely this year, and 59% of those workers say they'd prefer to continue working from home as much as possible in the future. Thankfully, in the digital age, many careers require only a strong internet connection and some specialized training, which makes it a great time to consider certificate programs that will help you land a dream job that you can do from just about anywhere.

Love to Read? Consider Copy Editing

Copy editors are the last line of defense against mistakes, whether in magazines, books or marketing materials. By its nature, copyediting is a solitary business, requiring a keen eye and laser-like attention to detail. That's why even pre-pandemic, many copy editors worked remotely.

This is an ideal job for people who are passionate about the written word. At UC San Diego Extension, you can learn from industry pros like Lourdes Venard and Christine Steele. Venard has over 30 years experience working as a reporter, copy editor and copy desk supervisor at major newspapers, including The Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Newsday, as well as freelance experience editing travel and online food websites and running Comma Sense Editing. Steele is an editor and writer with more than 25 years of experience editing everything from corporate style guides to historical fiction and books on retirement. She is known for sharing her quirky passion for words and the ampersand with her ever-growing collection of hilarious mistakes that she keeps in her "gallery of errors."

Once you have a certificate in copyediting, you'll be ready to take on positions at marketing firms, local magazines, newspapers, and online publications, or list your editing services as a freelancer on sites like Upwork and Fiverr to score everything from book-length projects to quick proofreading gigs at rates ranging from $25-$150 per hour. 

Prepare for a career in copy editing with the UC San Diego Extension Copyediting Certificate. Learn more about the 12-month program on our website


Creative Problem Solver? Consider User Experience (UX) or Graphic and Web Design

Do confusing, poorly designed websites make you crazy? Designing the architecture of a website to ensure an intuitive user experience is a lot like solving a puzzle, and as a UX designer that is exactly what you'll be doing.
"I love digging in, getting to know people, and finding out what makes them unique," said Kristin Pedroza, who changed careers from church pastor to user experience designer. "Part of my job at the church was communications, which included designing for digital and print...It seemed like a natural transition for me, and I freelanced for a while. One of the clients I did work for was a consulting firm of developers. They had me do some UX work for them, and I loved the complexity and intelligence it added to my design work. That was when I decided to go to UC San Diego Extension to learn all I could and make that my career." 

Most UX and web designers work freelance, either for one or two big clients who have consistent design needs, or for one-time clients looking for new website builds or re-designs, and most make at least $45 per hour.

Prepare for a problem-solving career with the User Experience program or the Graphic and Web Design Certificate at UC San Diego Extension.


Visual Artist? Consider Graphic Design or Communication Design

It can be hard to make a consistent living with creative art, but having a fine art sensibility translates well into a career in communication design and graphic design, both of which require the use of color, font, and imagery to communicate a message. 

David Conover, an instructor at UC San Diego Extension, studied design in college and decided to start his own firm, Studio Conover, in the 1980s with his wife. "Our vision at the time, as 28-year-olds, was to work independently. And we were young and dumb enough to realize that if we stuck to it, we could have our own studio. But we had a lot to learn," he said. "When we began our firm we were working with a number of developers – San Diego was growing up. In the late 1980s, a developer told us he liked the color of the brochures we designed and asked us what we thought the color of the homes they were building should be. It kind of took off from there…we do on the outside of buildings what interior designers do on the inside – everything from the color of the buildings, roof tile and stucco finish selection, decorative tile work on stairways and pools…there are not a heck of a lot of people doing that."

No two jobs will ever be the same when you work as a freelancer for clients requesting everything from a new restaurant logo to full digital communications campaigns. Larger companies and marketing firms often hire their own inhouse design teams, many of whom can work remotely. 

Transform your artistic vision into a career in design with a Communication Design Certificate.


Tech Junkie? Consider Computer Programming and Python

Computer programmers are always in high demand because it is an industry that is always changing, and those who are willing and able to stay current with emerging technology and best practices are rewarded handsomely for it. Python is one such programming language that is in high demand. A quick search of any job site will yield dozens of full-time, salaried positions you can work remotely, many paying from 75k to six figures a year. 

What most professionals enjoy about this field is the fact that it offers the opportunity to continuously learn and develop new skills, while maintaining the flexibility that comes from being able to work anywhere in the world. "I love programming and I love teaching courses online. It is my favorite specialty as it gives me a lot of freedom," said UC San Diego Extension instructor Shadi Tahmassebi, who works as an instructor for both Sweden's Malmö University and UC San Diego, while also lending her skills as a senior programmer to engineering companies in the U.S. and Sweden. 

UC San Diego Extension offers 13 different computer programming certifications, including Python, which has emerged as one of the most widespread programming languages in the world, often cited as one of the top five most used across many industries. The Python Programming Certificate provides students with a set of skills necessary to successfully perform python related programming projects. 

Learn more about all 13 computer programming certifications at UC San Diego Extension.


Organized Number Cruncher? Consider Freelance Accounting

If you love a good excel spreadsheet and all the organized, systematic data you can organize with it, you'll likely find accounting and bookkeeping a zen way to make a living. Minimal client interaction is needed, and most communication can happen via email and phone calls, making it a great work-from-home career. The best part about being an accountant is the fact that everyone needs one, making for some serious job security.

"In a 38-year career, I've been unemployed for the 20 minutes it took to drive from the old job to the new one," said Dana Basney, a forensic accountant and director of CBIZ Nation Smith Hermes Diamond. "I've never seen a time when a person with an accounting certification and three years experience who can fog a mirror couldn't get three or four job offers in a week."

Beyond job security, being a certified CPA can open up the opportunity to design a career around your lifestyle, instead of the other way around. Colby Sellman, a graduate from the certificate in accounting program, did just that. "It's allowed me to be an entrepreneur, what I've always wanted to be," said Sellman, who moved to Santa Barbara, where she bought a small accounting firm and made it her own.

Start a career in accounting with a professional certificate in accounting at UC San Diego Extension. 


Digital Detective? Consider Becoming a Paralegal

"Paralegals now get a lot more respect from attorneys because they have to have faith that the paralegals they hire can do similar work to the attorney and do it well," said Julia Dunlap, past president of American Association for Paralegal Education. "The attorney is ultimately responsible for anyone who works for them. So, writing a motion or doing legal analysis may be done by a paralegal, but it has to be up to attorney standards because it's the attorney's reputation on the line."  

The nature of legal research has evolved and grown infinitely more complex. "Technology skills are in heavy demand," Dunlap said. "In addition to handling some things that were previously solely reserved for lawyers, paralegals also need to be digital detectives. They must be experts in finding things that are hidden electronically, or often reviving documents and financial records that have been deleted." 

Many firms are now hiring virtual paralegals who work remotely, either as employees of a single law office, or as independent contractors who provide legal services for several attorneys. Today, paralegals earn an average of nearly $60,000 (including bonuses), according to the National Association of Legal Assistants

Learn more about the American Bar Association-approved Paralegal Studies programs now being offered online/remotely at UC San Diego Extension.


Language Lover? Consider Becoming a Translator

If you have a knack for learning languages, then a career as a translator might be closer than you think. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for interpreters and translators will grow faster than many other fields, with an estimated 19% increase in demand from 2018 to 2028. Most translators have traditionally worked from home, with nearly a quarter self-employed and a third employed by companies in the scientific and technology markets for salaries averaging over $50k per year and up to $100k.  

Hiring managers look for more than a proficiency in language, often favoring those with professional certificates in translation best practices. Daniel Salinero had been teaching English as a second language (ESL) and translating English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English part-time for decades before deciding to enroll in the UC San Diego Extension translation certificate program. 

"I realized that I needed a better, more formal foundation upon which I could build," Salinero said. "The catalyst was working on a project for a global surrogacy insurance company based in the Coachella Valley, where I live. It was very interesting work. I did a good job, but quickly realized that with more formal education, I could make better use of my time while translating, employ new strategies and techniques that I was not yet aware of, learn about online and print resources that would make my work easier and more enjoyable, and better understand translation software tools."

Similarly, Gabriela Vasallo was already fluent in Spanish and English, as she had been speaking both languages for most of her life, attended a bilingual school from grades K-12, and graduated with honors with a Bachelor's Degree in English Communication. 

"I worked in advertising and public relations for many years, and I was constantly writing in both English and Spanish. But translating is different, and most of my clients want to have the peace of mind that they're hiring a certified translator," she explained. "When I first started the program, I thought it was going to be easy, but it covered a much wider scope than I had expected." She was especially pleased with the variety of specialized courses, including medical and legal translations. "Personally, I felt a lot more confident marketing my company and our services to a wider variety of clients after completing my certificate at UC San Diego Extension."

Transform language skills into a specialized career in translation services through the UC San Diego Extension Translation Certification (Spanish/English).


Over-Explainer? Consider Becoming a Technical Communication or Science Writer

Can you read a technical manual and then explain it in everyday language? That's a highly marketable skill for the bevy biotech and science-driven companies around San Diego, and it is a job that can easily be completed remotely.

The Specialized Certificates in Science Communication and Technical Communication are designed to teach you how to communicate technical and scientific research for an audience of general readers. You'll learn from industry pros, like Heather Buschman, who has 12 years of experience communicating science to non-scientists in roles at the National Cancer Institute's press office, the Consortium for Functional Glycomics at The Scripps Research Institute, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and NuVasive, a medical device company. She is currently Senior Communications and Media Relations Manager for UC San Diego Health, where she translates complex research findings into reader-friendly stories in the form of press releases, newsletter articles, magazine pieces, podcast episodes and more. She has won a number of awards for her writing, including an Association of American Medical Colleges Award for Excellence, Health Care Communicators Finest Award, MarCom Award, Content Marketing Institute Gold Award and PR Daily's Nonprofit PR Award.

Prepare for a career explaining complex ideas with a certificate in Science Communication or Technical Communication from UCSan Diego Extension.


Teacher Who Loves Teaching (But Needs Some New Skills for Moving Online)? Consider the Teaching Online Program

If you're in education, you no doubt have a passion for teaching, but the way classes are being taught has changed dramatically almost overnight with the shift from in-classroom to online learning for students from grade school to college. 

The Teaching Online program at UC San Diego Extension will help you learn how to redesign your classes, hone new techniques and strategies, and take advantage of the technologies that will help you navigate the challenges and opportunities of online learning. 

Pandemic-proof your teaching career with UC San Diego Extension's Online Teaching Certificate.


Liam Chan
Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!
1/6/2022 6:09:58 PM

Tia Geary
Coming from the digital world, it's nice to see practical, transferrable skills like copywriting on the list. Digital Marketing, specifically paid media would also be a good skill to have - good digital marketing talent is hard to come by.
9/29/2020 1:26:19 PM

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