A portable career is any work that you can do from wherever you are -– you don’t need to be in a specific place at a specific time to do it.
For an expat or future expat, it usually means work you can do with just your computer, an internet connection, and some expertise.
There are many kinds of work that can be made portable. If you have a specialized skill or knowledge, think about some creative ways you can offer it without being tied to an office. Computer programming can be done remotely, for example, although anything in the IT realm that involves hardware or cables probably can’t.
You could enter medical data remotely, but you have to be in the room with someone to draw blood.
You get the idea …
At Future Expats Forum, we focus on five broad categories of portable careers.
Each of these involves skills that you can learn and develop, and we also point you to resources for doing just that.
You’ll notice I’ve included teaching here. Even though most teachers need to be in their classrooms to do their jobs, one type of teaching in particular is very popular among expats.
That’s teaching English as a second language. And while it’s not as portable in the short run as the others, you can still pick up and go somewhere else at the end of your six-month or one-year contract and find a new teaching job in a new location.
Of course, within each of these main categories there are many subcategories and niches.
Here are just a few examples.
- Travel writing
- Travel blogging
- Content Marketing
- Article writing
- Social media writing
You’ll find more about writing as a portable career here.
- Travel photography
- Stock photography
- Photo blogging
There’s more information here.
Most of the coaches I know have an area of specialty. There are career coaches for real estate agents and lifestyle coaches for business executives, for example. I’m not going to list them all here. If you have a professional background and want to coach people with similar backgrounds, that’s a great place to start.
There is a growing market for coaching expats.
If coaching interests you, find out more about it in a three-part series that begins here.
The website really isn’t the business – unless your business is building websites for others, of course — but it represents the business.
Once you have a business that offers a service or sells a product, you market it with a website or blog.
Even if you’re selling a physical product, you can set things up to give yourself location flexibility. You might have to hire a company to handle order fulfillment for you in your home country, but that’s a small price to pay for the freedom to work from your hammock.
I’m including blogs here, since a blog is a type of website. Getting a site up and running is easier and faster with a WordPress-powered blog.
Because blogging is so popular, I’ve written a series of basic tutorials for beginners on setting up a WordPress blog. I call it Blogging for Expats.
English as a Second Language
Many expats support themselves overseas teaching English. Depending on where you go, it can be a very nice gig. The demand is especially strong right now in Asia – especially S. Korea and China – and the Middle East.
In areas with a high demand for teachers, a job usually comes with a furnished apartment, transportation expenses paid, help with getting the proper visas, significant vacation time of a month or more each year and bonuses. In those areas, the time you need to spend in the classroom is about 20 hours/week.
You do need some specific credentials. Usually they want to see a Bachelor’s degree and certification for teaching English as a second or foreign language. Contracts normally range from six months to two years.
If you want a job where you can live in a new country, earn a living, and save money on top of it, teach in S. Korea or China.
Jobs teaching English are available throughout the globe, although they’re scarcer and not as well paid outside of the high-demand Asian and Middle Eastern markets.
Virtual or Online Teaching
More and more schools, colleges and universities around the world are offering online or distance learning. Find a job that doesn’t require you to spend any classroom time or show up for on-site meetings, and you can do it from anywhere (although you might have to be available during some strange hours because of time differences).
Individual or Small Group Skype Classes
If you have a skill you can teach, consider offering it through Skype. (I suspect this works best if you’re teaching adults, not children … ) I recently read about a guitar teacher who started offering instruction via Skype.
There are lots of courses that could be offered this way. Here are a few that I thought of:
- Needlepoint, knitting or other crafts
We talk about these kinds of issues over on The Anywhereist Podcast – give it a listen!