Legitimately working at home in the education arena

Working at Home

by Debra L. Karplus, MS, OTR/L

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You've seen the signs along the highway. Work at home. Earn one thousand dollars a month. Call this toll free number. Sounds like a terrific idea, especially if you're a stay-at-home parent caring for young children or for an aging family member, or you live in a rural setting with little commerce or industry, or you have a disability, which makes commuting to work a challenge. Those jobs may or may not be real jobs, so be cautious.

But before you abandon the idea of stretching dollars by adding a second income that can be earned from the comfort and ease of your home, you need to explore other avenues. Though many of the work-at-home opportunities involve paying cash in advance, supposedly for training that will never bring you any income, there truly are many legitimate ways to be employed from home by solid companies, and receive an hourly or piece-rate pay. When you do an internet search using key words such as "working at home jobs," you will likely find several exciting opportunities that may be perfect for you.

There are also many income earning opportunities working from home that are within the education arena.

Capable employees are needed to grade standardized tests from home. A variety of standardized achievement tests are administered to your children during their years in elementary, middle, and high school. In recent years, more frequent testing has been done since the passage of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation of 2001; one aspect of this law is to improve schools by assessing student progress in math, reading, writing, and other academic subjects. Most of the components of these exams, multiple choice questions, are scored electronically. But certain test items, such as essay questions, must be evaluated and graded by a human being.

You can do an internet search to discover these opportunities, such as MetriTech. Some may require a bachelor's degree or a teaching certificate, but this varies from company to company, so you need to read the requirements before completing your online application, which asks for your credentials, resume, and commitment to number of hours you'll work. If accepted, you'll be trained online, with guidelines and rubrics for coding test items. Some of this work is seasonal, such as eight to twelve week session in the fall; other opportunities involve year-round work. People who grade tests say that they enjoy the flexibility and extra income.

Test questions are written at home by people like you.

Companies that create standardized tests revise the exam from year to year. They do this by maintaining a pool of new test items. That's where you come in; search online for opportunities to become an item writer for companies, such as The ACT or Pearson. When applying to be hired, you'll be asked to note your preferred subjects, strengths, and skills from a checklist including English, math, and science.

The process of item writing is not quite as simple as you might imagine. Online training is the first step. You'll learn how to format questions, titles of specific acceptable reference books, list of words that you cannot include in your questions, methods for preventing your submissions from being culturally biased, and writing tips for the question stem, key and distracters. You'll also be asked to send a signed statement of confidentiality. After you've been trained, you'll receive assignments for a certain number of test items, topics, and a deadline for submitting them.

Life is flexible. Is your job?
Find flexible work at Flexjobs.com.

Online tutors can earn money helping students online with academics.

If your child has ever struggled in school, you may have joined one of the online tutoring services. You would have paid about $35 for a month of help for your student. This assistance was available any hour of the day, seven days a week, including holidays. The tutoring program's website indicated that services were offered by well-screened experts in math (algebra and geometry), science, English (reading and writing), and social studies (history and geography) for students of all levels in these subjects.

So, who are these experts? They're people like you who passed online tests in every area where they chose to provide tutoring. These opportunities are available at different times of the year, so search periodically. Online tutors say that the chance to help improve students is very satisfying, and that the paycheck is an added bonus. Check out Tutor.com for opportunities to tutor online at home in a variety of subjects.

Work-at-home opportunities have a bad reputation because, frankly, some of them are scams, but you can directly or indirectly have a positive impact on the educational prowess of students of all ages. Explore the many different ways to help children, while earning money. It's definitely a win-win situation.

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon.com (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for freelancewriting.com and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.

Take the Next Step:

  • Find telecommuting and other great jobs such as part-time and freelance work at Flexjobs.com. Because life is flexible. Is your job?
  • For more on working at home, please visit The Dollar Stretcher Library.
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