Why work from home?
In the current economic climate, all of us are having to be more open-minded and flexible about the types of employment we consider. Though some people might actively prefer to work from home and would choose a career that allows them to do this regardless of any other factors, other people might like the buzz of a workplace and the sociability of working with colleagues, but are not able to achieve it for a number of reasons.
Whether you are contemplating working from home because that’s your first choice of workplace, or whether you are thinking about it because you would like something that fits in with childcare or other jobs, the popularity of such jobs is ever increasing.
Even if you are only considering working from home as a temporary stopgap while you are between other jobs, it still offers numerous benefits. You will have no travel costs or stressful commute, start-up costs are typically very low and you are very likely to notice a significant increase in the flexibility of your working hours.
Why are typing jobs suitable for those who work from home?
Typing jobs are suitable for those who work from home because they require very little outlay in terms of initial costs as you are likely to have all the necessary equipment already. If you work from a laptop you may not even need to dedicate a particular area of your house to your new-found work as you can simply settle down wherever is most comfortable for you at the time.
Given that your work will be measured by output and not by the number of hours it has taken you to complete each task, you are therefore free to complete each assignment at your speed and at whatever time of day is most suitable for the lifestyle that you and your family lead. You don’t need to finish a task in one sitting and can easily save your work partway through and return to it later when things are calmer. This factor can be pivotal in the choice of jobs for stay-at-home parents in particular, who might have small windows of opportunity at random points throughout the day and then larger chunks of time available in the evenings (all of which could be subject to interruption!).
What skills or qualifications would I need?
Official skills and qualifications
The most widely recognised qualification is administered by the Oxford, Cambridge and Royal Society of Arts (OCR) examination body. Previously, these qualifications were run solely by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and some people may still refer to RSA qualifications even though the name has now changed.
The most relevant OCR qualifications for typing jobs are in Text Production and in Word Processing. There are three different levels for each subject area, each with an appropriate increase in the challenge of the tasks and assessments, and you are also able to count success in these modules towards an OCR Diploma. This article provides a great introduction to these most pertinent qualifications (listed below) and is definitely worth a look if you want to get your head around what is involved in obtaining some key skills with which to commence your employment as a freelance typist.
The key qualifications to consider are:
- OCR (RSA) Text Production and Word Processing - Level 1
- OCR (RSA) Text Production and Word Processing - Level 2
- OCR (RSA) Text Production and Word Processing - Level 3
- OCR (RSA) Diploma - Level 2
- OCR (RSA) Diploma - Level 3
The OCR also offers modules that cover topics closely related to those listed above, such as:
- Audio Transcription
- Mail Merge
- Medical Word Processing
- Business Presentation
- Medical Audio Transcription
Having a working knowledge of these areas is likely to increase the range of typing jobs for which you are able to apply and therefore give you a better chance of having a more constant stream of work. If you complete and pass four modules from the above list (in which Text Production and Word Processing must be included) then you are eligible for an OCR Diploma, which will strengthen your resume and be even more attractive to employers.
Visit www.ocr.org.uk for more information about all the courses they provide and to find out more about which route is best for you. Although you may well have to attend a local college (or other institute for further education) in order to obtain your OCR qualifications, in the long run this could be time well spent. Most centres of learning now offer very flexible learning paths, meaning that even though you can’t complete the courses from home, you should be able to find an option that suits your lifestyle.
For typing jobs, the expectation will that you are able to work at speed, making few (if any errors as you go along). This also works in your favour, as working faster means more tasks completed, which means you will earn more. You should be able to demonstrate, through the medium of a test to measure your keystrokes per hour (KPH) that you can type upwards of 55 words per minute (WPM) whilst also making very few errors.
Other skills and qualifications
Over and above the official qualifications that will help you get good typing jobs, there are other additional qualities that will benefit you and make you attractive to employers. There is great scope for variety in the sort of typing jobs that you will hopefully be offered, but all of them are likely to require you to have:
- a secure grasp of the English language (this does not just apply to spelling, but also to grammar, syntax and a general common sense approach to making things clear for the reader);
- the ability to proofread your own work and that of others and to note (and possibly correct) mistakes accurately, tracking the changes you make (especially important if multiple people have contributed to a document) so that they can be traced at a later date if and when further amendments are made;
- the ability to type with speed and accuracy - clearly the faster you work, the more assignments you will be able to complete, but these assignments must also be of a high quality and cannot be returned to the client riddled with errors which it will then take time for someone else to correct;
- the ability to manage your own time effectively - this is a key point for anyone intending to work from home, as you will need to have much more self-control and be able to manage your distractions well. As you are a freelance worker, your success depends you on being able to build a solid reputation and being someone who delivers high quality work that meets the deadlines of each client.
Once you have ascertained that a career completing freelance typing jobs might suit you, it would be wise to create a resume, listing any relevant skills or previous experience that might help you to stand out to potential employers. This article will help you get started and will give you a few tips about how to set out your resume in the most attractive way. Given that you are applying for jobs where your word processing skills are vitally important, it is absolutely imperative that your resume does not contain any spelling mistakes or formatting errors. A failure to pay attention to this key point will see your CV end up on the, “Thanks, but no thanks!” pile, so check it over with a fine-toothed comb and ask a few friends or family members to do the same.
Is there an easy way to get the necessary skills or qualifications if I don’t already have them?
If you feel that you would like to pursue a career as a freelance typist working from home, but don’t yet feel confident that you have enough to offer potential employers, then there are a few ways you can start to improve your situation.
Assuming that you have the personal qualities required to undertake any job that requires you to work from home (effective time management, the ability to manage your distractions, a high level of organisation, etc), let’s focus on how you could work towards the necessary professional qualifications to help you on your way.
The official OCR qualifications have already been discussed in detail above, but perhaps you don’t currently feel confident enough to start a formally assessed course, or perhaps you took the course years ago but now feel that you are out of practise and that you would like the chance to refresh your skills.
There are a few alternative methods for improving your typing speed and accuracy at home and the good news is that the more you practise, the more your hard work will be rewarded. You WILL see progress if you are prepared to put in the time and effort to keep completing timed typing tasks and games, which will then stand you in good stead as and when you should decide to take the formal OCR tests.
The following websites provide typing tasks and games - which you can often choose to practise with or without being timed - for you you to use online. Visiting these sites regularly and tracking your scores will allow you to measure the progress you are making quickly and easily.
It is also possible to buy software that you can install on your home computer, which allows you to create a personal profile and track your progress more closely. This software should also be able to identify, through a series of initial assessments, your individual strengths and weaknesses, after which you will be given tasks, games and challenges that are specific to your personal needs and should therefore help you improve more quickly. A great place to start is the tried and tested Mavis Beacon software, which can be purchased on Amazon here and can also be investigated on the dedicated website, at www.mavisbeacon.com.
You will find that, with support from the sources listed above, you will soon have memorised the location of all the keys on the keyboard and can perform other functions (such as cutting, copying and pasting or formatting the layout of documents) without even looking at what your hands are doing and without even thinking about which keys to press in which order!
In addition to improving your typing speed, it is also worth taking the time to navigate the Microsoft Office suite of products (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc) as these are the programs you are most likely to be using in your work. Learn about how to use various keys to operate shortcuts within these programs (saving you valuable seconds or even minutes once you start typing) and how to correct any of the (hopefully very few) mistakes you make without interrupting the flow of your typing. What equipment will I need to get started?
First and foremost, you will need access to a computer. This computer does not have to be expensive, but it does have to be a model that you can trust and that doesn’t break down regularly. Other than your fingers and thumbs, it will be your most important tool, so you need to be confident in its capacity to function. You will also need a fast and reliable internet connection and if you’re working from a laptop, this will need to be a WiFi connection.
You will also potentially need some decent headphones, which will be used if you are going to undertake audio typing tasks (where you are asked to transcribe from a voice recording rather than from a written document).
As you are potentially going to be spending extended periods of time seated in one position, it is definitely worth ensuring that you have a suitable seat in which to work. Depending on your individual posture and how you feel most comfortable, you might also need a laptop stand or wrist supports so that your back and your arms are not taking any unnecessary strain.
Although you can work from a laptop, you might find it easier to be seated at a desk if you are working on longer assignments. If this is not an option due to space restrictions in your home, then perhaps at least make sure that you are able to use some other flat surface if necessary. This will be more important if you are typing up documents from hard copies which you will need to be able to see as you work. A simple book stand might help you to prop such documents upright, enabling you to maintain your head position without constantly looking from screen to desk and back again.
How much could I earn?
Your earning potential as a freelance typist is somewhat of an unknown quantity, but you can normally expect to receive around £10 for a typical assignment. This figure will increase as your projects grow in length and complexity and will potentially vary between employers. If you are lucky enough to establish a successful working relationship with one or two key employers, you may find yourself in the position of being able to negotiate an increase in your rate of pay. Employers are always looking for trustworthy, reliable people who are able to work to a high standard and if this applies to you, they will consider paying more to retain your services.
How do I apply for typing jobs that allow me to work from home?
An online search is likely to yield a plethora of typing jobs and a good place to start would be reputable recruitments agencies, such as www.reed.co.uk. It is also worth considering online outsourcing specialists such as uk.vivatic.com. This site, in a similar way to www.freelancer.com, advertises a huge number of tasks that can be taken on by anyone with the appropriate skill set, without any further commitment once the job is complete. Clearly, the more work you do for them, the better your reputation will be as you will become more of a known quantity.
These sites work well because they allow individuals or small companies to outsource tasks that they cannot complete themselves, but for which they cannot afford to employ a full-time member of staff. You should therefore be aware that, just as there is no commitment on your part, there is no obligation on their part to provide you with continuous employment. Thus, as a freelancer, you must always remain proactive and be looking for your next job even while you are still working on the previous one.
Unfortunately, as the majority of your job-hunting will take place online, you will always run the risk of being exposed to scams and to unscrupulous organisations who are not what they might seem. Never reveal any confidential information about yourself when applying for jobs or registering with websites and certainly do not disclose any financial details. Reputable companies will never ask you part with any money as part of the registration or application process, so those that do should be avoided. If you are ever unsure, get in touch with the organisation in person and visit trusted online forums such as those at Money Saving Expert to gauge other people’s opinions. Your gut instinct will usually be right, so don’t proceed if something seems vague or suspect in any way.
What sort of typing jobs will I get?
One of the advantages of taking on typing jobs is that you will see a huge variety in the range of tasks you are asked to complete. This article article provides details of what these might be, but in summary, typical assignments might include:
- transcribing texts from handwritten or electronically produced documents into other formats.
- typing from dictated notes (in other words, transcribing audio files into written form) such as interviews where answers have been recorded rather than written down.
- typing up research and creative projects.
- typing as part of a wider role (such as that of virtual assistant), where your tasks might also include proofreading and other related skills.
- some more unusual assignments, such as typing up dissertations for university students.
You will find that, as you become more confident and experienced in your role as a freelance typist, you are quickly able to adapt to whatever task is next on the agenda and you will switch effectively between all of the options listed above and more!
How will typing experience help me when applying for other jobs?
Typing experience, especially when you can demonstrate that your work is of a high standard, is useful for almost every job on the market and there are some for which it is absolutely invaluable. Any professional qualifications you obtain will always be worth including on your CV, but equally you will able to capitalise on the transferable skills you will have honed such as time management, attention to detail and the ability to multi-task. You may even find that you have developed useful knowledge of particular industries and would therefore feel capable of expanding your role within those areas. For example, if you have transcribed a huge volume of medical notes, you might want to apply for a job working in the office of a surgery.
Are there any downsides to me undertaking typing jobs at home?
The downsides to completing typing jobs at home are, in the main, similar to those of any career where you are working from home. You might miss the atmosphere of a busy workplace and you might find it hard to separate your work and home life as they both take place in the same physical space. With typing jobs especially, you will spend long periods looking at a screen and sitting in the same position, so take to look away regularly and to get up and stretch and walk around at frequent intervals. However, these are a small price to pay for having the freedom and flexibility to create a satisfying career on your own terms.