Today, young graduates and students are faced with a multitude of available career options. In our parents’ day, it was normal to work for just one company your entire working life, but now it’s not uncommon for a 25-year old to have changed career paths more than once. Furthermore, there is another complicated decision to be made – not only what do you want to do, but where do you want to do it. That’s right folks, you too can find fabled and elusive digital nomad jobs.
With wifi available almost worldwide, it is easier than ever to work from anywhere in the world. The early adopters of this transient lifestyle, “the digital nomad lifestyle,” are just that — digital nomads. They are online entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote workers who roam the planet while working on their laptops. They’re free to choose to work from anywhere in the world (as long as there’s reliable internet connection!).
But what do digital nomads actually do, what are the most popular digital nomad jobs, and how can you become a digital nomad too? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
How to Become a Digital Nomad
If you’ve been inspired by photos of people working on personal devices in tropical destinations, on ski slopes, or in the desert, you might start wondering how you can take your work around the world too. This will depend on your background, experience and employment status, but there are a few ways to break into this lifestyle.
1. Research (Duh)
If you are employed in a role that you already carry out completely or partially online, you should research whether your company has a remote working policy in place. Make sure you do your homework before approaching your boss to negotiate remote working conditions. It’s always a good idea to suggest a trial period first so that you can work out all the kinks. For example, try working from home for a few months first while you put into place all the processes you’ll need while traveling abroad. Both you and your boss will feel more confident with this new arrangement if it has been given a low-stakes test run first.
2. Working Out the Logistics
Freelancers and self-employed people usually have a great advantage because they can decide where they want to work every day. For example, freelance writers can work just as easily from a Starbucks in Chicago or a cafe in Hong Kong. Of course, there are logistics to account for, such as being in different time zones to your clients, communication tools, and arranging international payments, but it is completely possible. If you’re already a freelancer you’re in a great position to take on the digital nomad lifestyle.
If your job can’t be carried out completely online, then you will need to think about starting your own business, freelancing, or looking for a remote job.
3. Finding Digital Nomad Jobs
Get close and personal with your laptop. That’s easily a prerequisite to living the digital nomad lifestyle. To talk the talk you’ve got to walk the walk when if you want to become a digital nomad. There are many online job boards dedicated entirely to remote jobs, with opportunities to work from anywhere in the world. Even government jobs can now be carried out remotely or from home, as governments around the world begin to transition some of their teams to remote work. You can always use freelancing as a side hustle while you work abroad in another field. Yeah, that still qualifies you as a digital nomad.
4. Start Freelancing Your Pants Off
Easy for you to say! How do you even get started in the freelance world? Well, the easiest place to start freelancing is to join a freelance platform, such as Upwork, People Per Hour or Toptal, which focuses on jobs for developers.
5. Become an Entrepreneur
Start your own location independent business. There are thousands of entrepreneurs who travel the world while successfully running their own businesses, and they’re not just “solopreneurs.” An increasing number of large companies have partial or fully distributed teams, including Automattic (the creators of Wordpress), Buffer, and Mozilla. Others are starting to see the benefits of working with remote or distributed teams, and offer remote working conditions as an employee benefit.
The Best Digital Nomad Jobs
The first jobs that spring to mind are tech related: web development and web design. But, if you’re not hip to coding, HTML5, and CSS, there are still a whole host of jobs in different sectors available that allow you to be location independent.
Let’s start with the most obvious first. It is true that many digital nomads are involved in software or website development. When searching on remote job boards, you will find a host of development jobs. For example, on Remote OK, we came across various development positions for all levels of experience, and from Ruby on Rails to Python developers. The advantages are clear: the work pays well and it can be carried out anywhere with a good wifi signal. Nine out of the 10 highest paying jobs on Remote OK are in development. So, if you have a knack for coding, it’s a great way to work from anywhere in the world, and if you’re just a beginner, you can take part in a coding bootcamp to quickly learn the skills you need.
Wordpress Web Design
If you’ve got a talent for design and don’t want to dive too deep into code, you can become a website designer. Using popular platforms like Wordpress (or Squarespace) means you can get by with minimal coding expertise and create beautiful websites for individuals or small businesses.
Many digital nomads work in different areas of marketing. Businesses have learned that digital marketing is here to stay, so there’s no shortage of positions available, many of which easily translate to remote work. Email marketing is popular, as is social media marketing, inbound marketing, and content marketing. One of the great advantages of social media marketing, for example, is that the work can be batched. This means a lot of the content can be prepared in advance and scheduled to be distributed automatically using a few clever tools. This is ideal for travelers, allowing them to plan ahead to avoid working on travel days, or to just take some time off to explore.
Creative minds are just as able to go nomadic as their technical cousins. Graphic design, or any other form of design for that matter, are great jobs for digital nomads. You can communicate with your clients from around the world, and frequent travel can even become a source of inspiration. After all, working on a logo design while overlooking a beautiful valley or beach will get the creative juices flowing much more than any office cubicle ever could.
Coaching & Consulting
For those with a lot of experience in a field, becoming a consultant or coach is a viable option. Consultants don’t have to be middle-aged with 20 years of experience. If you’re really good at Facebook ads for example, you could become a consultant specialising in this area.
Coaching is also a very popular job for digital nomads. Coaches focus on various different areas – from life coaching to business, mindfulness to creativity – and there is a lot of potential. Just make sure you have any required certifications.
This is a job that doesn’t come to mind immediately, but it actually fits the location independent lifestyle perfectly. A lot of translators work with agencies and can, therefore, adjust their workload to their schedules and work from anywhere in the world. You only need a laptop and maybe a few translation programs, so there’s no need to lug around heavy dictionaries or thesauruses anymore – everything can be found online. You don’t even have to be a certified translator – if you’re bilingual you can start picking up work through freelancing platforms like Upwork to get some experience.
For centuries, writers have roamed the planet in search of stories to tell. Writing is still one of the best jobs for digital nomads and there are so many fields you can try: content writing, blogging, copywriting, travel writing, journalism, and ebooks are just a few of them. If you are new to writing and want to get a foot in the door, it’s a great idea to start your own blog. Blogs are easy to set up, allow you to write about anything that interests you, and can act as a portfolio of your work to show potential clients.
Just like writing, editing is a great job for the digital nomad lifestyle. The more written content that is produced every day, the bigger the need for competent editors to ensure quality. Editing can be especially rewarding if you have a background in a specific subject, for example law or science, and offer your editing services in that field. Specialist jobs are better paid and less competitive, as fewer freelancers will have the necessary knowledge. There are many online editing agencies that provide work, so sign up with a few to get started.
Another great job for digital nomads looking to work from anywhere in the world that isn’t obvious at first is teaching or tutoring. Even if you’re not looking to be an ESL teacher in a classroom abroad, a lot of of teaching opportunities exist online so you can still travel while you teach abroad. You can teach anything from English to Chemistry, and there are agencies that will assign students to freelance teachers. Just be aware of the time zones – if you’re based in Mexico and teach English to students in China, you might find yourself having to be online in the middle of the night.
Are you really organised and love admin? Then becoming a virtual assistant could be a great option for you. You don’t necessarily need experience as a personal assistant, but it helps to have some experience. It’s also possible to go very niche and become a VA for videographers, for example. If you have experience in a certain field, you’ll be well equipped to support others in that area. The more you specialize, the higher the rates you can charge.
You can also find paid work with remote videography jobs or internships, either recording videos, editing videos, creating your own raw footage, and more! This is a good entry-level digital job abroad, as you only need a computer and some de-facto video software to be an all star.
Psst! GoAbroad is hiring right now. Find out about all of our video-related job opportunities here.
Blogs on the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
The digital nomad movement is still in its early stages, and people interested in how to become a digital nomad have a lot of questions. There are hundreds of blogs focusing on location independence and they are a great way to find how to get started and if this is the right direction for you.
Making it Anywhere is a popular and hilarious blog by a British couple who are very successful online entrepreneurs. In their blog and books, they share advice on how to make it anywhere.
On Thrilling Heroics, Cody McKibben writes about following your passions to create a successful business. He’s been writing since 2006 and has a lot of advice and inspiration to share.
Nomad List provides information on cities around the world. Founded by Pieter Levels, it ranks cities by criteria, such as cost of living, wifi speed and safety.
There are many communities out there for digital nomads that provide support, advice, and a network of other remote workers. Web Work Travel is one of the most popular, while Digital Nomad Girls is a community for location independent women, and Nomad List has its own forums and chat channels.
As you can see, there are many job options for digital nomads and despite being a relatively new movement, there is a lot of support and advice out there to help you become location independent. You no longer have to choose between a stable job and a life abroad. Take advantage of the digital nomad lifestyle and the ability to work from anywhere in the world.