Forget gig-style roles that last all of six weeks. Here are the best careers for digital nomads offering stable long-term employment
The book was four inches thick with a bright yellow jacket. The soft paperback cover made the bulky pages difficult to manoeuvre – or maybe that was just my young and clumsy hands. I was eight years old and leafing through a careers handbook given to my older sister.
I started at ‘A’ and stopped when I reached ‘Actuary’. Careers don’t seem very fun, I thought and tossed the book aside.
I look back now and see that I was both wrong and right: careers aren’t very fun – but they can be. Pushing paper in a cubicle is rarely fun but if you do work that matters from a place you love, a career can be something else entirely: a sense of purpose, a contribution, even a calling.
Remote working is becoming increasingly popular, allowing digital nomads to work from anywhere. Here are the best careers that enable the digital nomad lifestyle.
Best careers for digital nomads
The title of ‘developer’ hides all manner of things. It most commonly refers to programmers (also known as software engineers, coders, hackers or ‘people who type very fast in movies’).
Based on the number of roles in our Remote Jobs section, software development is one of the best careers for digital nomads. It offers the widest breadth of roles usually in front-end, back-end or full stack development. It also includes a whole host of roles that don’t strictly involve development but are placed in the same category nonetheless (e.g. systems administration, testing, ops and infrastructure).
How to do it: Remote jobs in development are usually reserved for experienced developers who can work in isolation without guidance. If you aren’t yet experienced, start with the self-teach courses at W3C to get a taste for coding. You may wish to follow that up with a boot camp like General Assembly, but be warned that learning to code is harder than you think. Aim to get some in-house experience where guidance is readily available before making the jump to remote.
Like developers, designers of different disciplines are often grouped together. You may be a graphic designer working on logos and marketing material, a web designer putting together web pages, or a UX/UI designer working on wireframes and user journeys. These roles, under the banner of ‘designer’, constitute one of the best careers for digital nomads.
How to do it: If you don’t have a design qualification, you will need to build a portfolio to have a shot at a remote job. Start with a design course on Udemy for a fundamental understanding of the field. More importantly, create a platform (a blog or social media channel) through which you can showcase your best work. It doesn’t matter if the work is just a side project; what’s more important is that you demonstrate your skills in a tangible way.
3. Digital Marketer
The digital marketer must be well versed in one or more disciplines, whether that’s SEO or paid marketing, content, social media, affiliate, influencer and so on.
Digital marketing is one of the more accessible careers for digital nomads. The barrier to entry isn’t as high as in development, so it’s a good option for those who have a general interest in all things digital.
How to do it: Start with a marketing course on Udemy to build a basic foundation of knowledge. At the same time, consider starting your own blog to gain experience of SEO and social media marketing. Grow your own social media channels (feel free to focus on one or two channels). Showing potential employers a strong personal track record will make it easier to secure a remote job.
4. Product Manager
Like so many 21st century careers, that of a Product Manager’s can be somewhat nebulous. In essence, it involves coordinating the various different threads of building and marketing a product. It means handling/coaxing/persuading developers, designers, testers, stakeholders and marketers to work together harmoniously to build a product that people want.
If you have experience of bringing together lots of moving parts, a career in product management could be right for you.
How to do it: Start with a product management course on Udemy to get a taste for the role. If you have the budget, consider completing a product management course like Scrum – but be aware that an employer may be able to fund this for you if you manage to land a role first.
5. Content Producer
Ah, the much maligned role of a ‘Content Producer’. This job title takes something creative (writing, photography, videography) and makes it sound like working on a factory line.
Semantics aside, content production offers one of the best careers for digital nomads. In an age where so many companies are vying for attention on the web, quality content is an effective way to rise above the chaff. With that in mind, there’s plenty of work available for talented creatives. This type of role does tend to be more short term and gig style, but there are stable opportunities out there.
How to do it: Your portfolio is of foremost importance. It’s fairly easy to pick up odd jobs at content mills, but make sure you’re also creating work that you’re proud to put your name to. Gather these pieces on your website or a chosen channel (e.g. Instagram if you’re a photographer, Medium if you’re a writer) and link to it when applying for a remote job.
6. Customer Support
Customer support may seem more like a ‘job’ than a ‘career’ for digital nomads but it’s nothing to sniff at. Customer support staff at companies like Basecamp are a vital part of the team and, as the first point of contact for customers, are charged with upholding the brand’s voice and values.
Customer support jobs are well suited to digital nomads as they have a low barrier to entry and rely little on contact with the rest of the team.
How to do it: Customer support roles tend to ask for excellent written and spoken English, the ability to work autonomously, and basic admin tasks like Excel and customer support tools.
Ah, the dream of running a blog that funds your digital nomad lifestyle. Many bloggers or ‘digital influencers’ have spun lucrative businesses from their travels and lives. It takes years of hard work and persistence but, done well, it can be one of the best careers for digital nomads.
How to do it: Use our guide on how to start a travel blog (or any sort of blog for that matter). Persevere and bear in mind that it will take time!
The final word
As remote work opportunities increase, so too will competition. Would-be digital nomads would do well to hone skills across several of the fields above. For example, to successfully run a blog like Atlas & Boots, you need skills in writing, photography, basic WordPress development, SEO, social media and analytics.
The world of digital is poised to significantly change the way we work. With a combination of the above skills, you can get ahead of the curve.