Try this if you don't want your grandma's type of flexible career

By Kaylie Astin

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, March 11 2013 2:50 p.m. MDT

Flexible work options have expanded to include more than being a teacher or a nurse. These options are often tech-heavy.

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It wasn’t so long ago that if you were looking for a family-friendly career, your only options were to become a teacher or a nurse. They are still popular career choices today, partially because these careers can make it simpler to fit your schedule around your family.

But the workplace is changing. Employers are more willing to accommodate your needs than ever before, and while teaching and nursing are great choices for some people, plenty of other options are available. Here are some characteristics of jobs that could make your work life more flexible.

They’re highly paid. Here’s some math for you. If you’re a cashier earning $9 per hour, how many hours will you have to work to make $3,000 a month? If you’re a lawyer earning $200 an hour, how many hours will get you the same amount of money? Fewer hours at work equals more time at home. Take a look at the Huffington Post's list of the 10 highest-paying jobs to get you started.

They’re highly skilled. Many employers say they have a difficult time finding qualified workers to meet demand. If you have years of experience behind you and some highly developed skills, people will want to hire you. If you’ve been working for a company for a few years and you tell them you need to cut back your hours, they’ll want to keep you. They don’t want your position to be vacant for months while they search for your replacement. On the other hand, if you’ve got a low-skill job, it doesn’t cost your employer much to find and train someone new.

They’re tech-heavy. Helping professions such as health care, education or dental assisting are popular with women, but most of these jobs require your physical presence. You have to go to the hospital or the office or the classroom to get your work done. If you have a job that relies heavily on technology, it’s easier to work from home, and it’s easier to pick your own hours. You can still help people; how many non-profit organization need web developers? Plus, you can cut down on commuting time. For example, coders can earn a lot of money, and many work from home.

They’re in demand. Forecasters have already done the work. They can predict what jobs are most likely to grow over the next several years. So, if the market needs lots of people doing your job and there aren’t enough people qualified to do it, employers will roll out every recruitment tool available. It isn’t a stretch to imagine that family-friendly schedules will be on the table.

They don’t necessarily require a W2 form. Contract work is growing in popularity, both for workers and employers. Many people start their own businesses. Being your own boss is its own kind of stress, but you may want to consider creating your own venture, either as a freelancer or as a business, especially if you're not getting what you need from your employer.

The leadership and workforce are diverse. If you're looking at a company that has women and minorities in leadership, you know it doesn’t require pin-striped suits and a bald spot in order to climb the ranks, and that’s great news. In other words, not every worker has to be the same. If you’re looking for a less-than-typical schedule, it helps to know your employer doesn’t expect all the employees to match a certain model. Bonus: If women are in charge, they’re more likely to grant flexibility requests.

Not every job will fit all of these criteria, and flexibility varies widely from company to company, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll find the perfect job. But if you’re willing to think outside of traditional career paths when you’re contemplating a flexible job, you’ll find more options than you’d ever considered before.

Kaylie Astin's website, familyfriendlywork.org, is a resource to help people find a way to balance their work and family lives. The site helps employees, students and business people identify and implement workplace solutions.

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