Here's some good news for working parents: flexible jobs do exist.
If you're a working parent, you know how hard it is to juggle work and family. But did you know you might be able to find a career that offers a more flexible schedule - without sacrificing job stability?
"It's actually quite surprising how many careers are compatible with a flexible schedule," says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs.com, a job website that helps people find part-time, telecommuting, or freelance careers.
"At FlexJobs.com we have listings in over 50 career categories, so almost any career you name can fit," says Sutton Fell. "The top categories, though, are typically medical and health, education, computer and information technology, sales, and administrative careers," she adds.
Maybe you're looking for a career change or you haven't worked in a while. No matter your reason, if you want a career that better fits your lifestyle as a working parent, read on to learn about six careers that could help you better balance your life - and some education options to help you prepare for them.
Flexible Career #1 - Accountant
Was math one of your favorite subjects in school? If you're good with numbers and detail-oriented, consider pursuing a career as an accountant.
As an accountant, you could handle a company's taxes by preparing tax returns and making sure that they are paid on time, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Your attention to detail could come in handy when organizing financial records and double-checking the accuracy of financial statements.
Parent-friendly factors: "First, accounting consistently ranks as one of the most stable jobs a person can have, so working parents can feel confident in this career's longevity," says Sutton Fell. "Whether you are a certified public accountant or just enjoy working with numbers and have some accounting experience, this field is open to you. Accounting jobs can be part-time, full-time, telecommuting, freelance, and with flexible schedules."
Education options: If you're interested in preparing to pursue a career as an accountant, look into earning your bachelor's in accounting. According to the Department of Labor, that - or a bachelor's in a related field - is a credential that most accountants and auditors need.
Flexible Career #2 - Public Relations Specialist
Are you good at winning the cooperation of people in a charming, friendly manner? Consider pursuing a career as a public relations specialist.
As a public relations specialist, you might write press releases, raise money, or arrange interviews to help create a positive public image for your clients, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. And your communication and business skills could also help you figure out your client's target audience and the best way to reach them.
Parent-friendly factors: "Public relations specialist jobs are plentiful in the telecommuting and flexible schedule realm," Sutton Fell says. "They range from entry-level to experienced, so the barrier to entry can be minimal. And they're available in part-time, full-time, telecommute, and freelance form."
Education options: According to the Department of Labor, candidates usually need to earn a bachelor's degree to prepare for this career. Employers tend to want applicants who have learned about public relations, journalism, business, communications, or English.
Flexible Career #3 - Computer Support Specialist
If you're tech savvy and don't mind helping frustrated people (after all, what parent isn't an expert at helping a cranky toddler?), consider pursuing a career as a computer support specialist.
As a computer support specialist, you might assist people and organizations with their computer software or equipment. In order to reduce computer network issues, you may regularly test and assess network systems and troubleshoot computer systems like local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs), according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Parent-friendly factors: "Computer support jobs tend to be flexible because employees can work from anywhere as long as they have a computer, Internet access, and a phone," Sutton Fell says. "Many jobs come from well-established companies like Apple, Dell, and Manpower, so job stability is there. And these jobs are full-time, part-time, telecommute, freelance, and offer flexible scheduling."
Education options: Some computer support specialist positions require a bachelor's degree, but an associate's degree could be sufficient for some entry-level jobs, says the Department of Labor. For more technical-oriented positions, a degree in an area like computer science, engineering, or information science might be needed, adds the Department.
Flexible Career #4 - Registered Nurse
If you're compassionate and interested in the health care field, consider pursuing a career as a registered nurse.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as a registered nurse (RN), you could play a big role in patient care by giving medications and performing diagnostic tests, among other things. You may also educate patients on how to handle their illnesses and what they need to do once they go home.
Parent-friendly factors: "Nursing is a fantastically flexible career because it offers flexible scheduling, telecommuting options, and job growth and stability," Sutton Fell says. "Medical and health is a category that consistently has the most flexible jobs, and nursing is a huge part of that."
Education options: If you're interested in pursuing a career as an RN, consider earning your associate's degree in nursing (ADN), which is one of several education options aspiring nurses could take, says the Department of Labor. From there, you'll need to pass the nursing exam (NCLEX-RN) in order to get licensed.
Flexible Career #5 - Technical Writer
Can you take complicated ideas and write them in a way that is easier to understand? If so, consider pursuing a career as a technical writer.
As a technical writer, you could use your writing skills to better explain complicated technical information for instruction manuals or supporting technical documents. Other duties might include talking with developers and designers about their products, updating user manuals as products are revised, or creating a "frequently asked questions" page for a company, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Parent-friendly factors: "Technical writing is a great career for working parents with experience in a given industry who want to move onto a more flexible job," Sutton Fell says. "If you've worked in a field such as engineering, aviation, medicine, construction, pharmaceuticals, or manufacturing and have great writing skills, transitioning to a career as a technical writer is possible."
Education options: Employers generally favor candidates with a bachelor's degree in journalism, English, or communications, says the Department of Labor. Depending on the subject, you might also need experience in a specialized field, such as engineering or computer science.
Flexible Career #6 - Pharmacy Technician
If you're interested in health care and prefer a less hands-on position, consider pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician.
As a pharmacy technician, you could help licensed pharmacists distribute prescription medications in a hospital or pharmacy. Other duties could include mixing medications like ointments, handling insurance claims and prescription payments, and answering phone calls from pharmacy customers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Parent-friendly factors: "With the growth in medical and health care jobs, pharmacy technicians are sure to see stability into the future," says Sutton Fell. "Pharmacy tech jobs are also very flexible, and can be telecommuting, part-time, full-time, and include flexible schedules."
Education options: If you're interested in pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician, check with your state to see if you need to pass an exam or complete a formal training program, as requirements vary by state, says the Department of Labor. One education option to consider is a pharmacy technology certificate program.
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