A laptop and a stable internet connection are all you need to get started as a Digital Nomad.
You also need a job that pays.
There’s a lot of jobs out there waiting for you but the question is…
Can you take your work anywhere?
One of the most common question I get is what kind of job should one get
...and an equally important question is WHERE to find these jobs
To be direct, I can’t tell you what job YOU should get since we all have different sets of skills. We likely enjoy different activities too.
So I have asked fellow digital nomads to share their jobs (or business) to give us an idea.
Some are also based on my own experience and research especially when I was starting out.
Digital Nomad Jobs
Programming and Tech Jobs
Half of the digital nomads I met on the road are programmers or developers.
My partner is a developer who creates and works on his own projects so he doesn’t look for an employer.
If you want to get a client or get hired, then there’s also a lot of opportunities for you.
Just a quick search through remoteok.io and you’ll find several employers looking for remote tech.
The demand is still high and pay is much higher especially if you possess a skill that is more specialized. For instance, decentralized exchange PancakeSwap offers $120k-$160k per year for a remote blockchain developer.
Best places to look for tech jobs:
Work on your own projects
Direct on company sites like on the photo below. They posted this on Twitter so following the right accounts might present you opportunities too.
Build your own digital business
@digitalnomadarch shared that she created her own online business. She offers digital products to architects.
This topic is obviously broad. In general, the most common business that can be done as a nomad is offering digital products.
This can range from e-books, webinars or software.
You can also sell physical products through Dropshipping.
Online services can also be a business. I have seen several people create their own agencies that sell digital services like Marketing services.
As this is your own business, you do not need to look for it. Instead, you might be the one needing to hire someone to help you in growing your business.
Working and traveling in Colombia. Check out @digitalnomadarch's profile for some DN inspiration.
@titajatravels shares that she’s a Quality Manager and she looks for work in Upwork and onlinejobs.ph
Being a Quality Manager sounds like a job in the office.
Several only-office jobs were forced to be done remotely. The pandemic has proven this. Employers realized that their workers can be as productive without being physically present in the office.
But not all kinds of remote work is ideal for digital nomads. If your employer requires that you be in front of your laptop from 9 to 5, then you would always have to adjust when you change time zones.
More on this later on the last section of this blog.
Where she looks for a jobs:
Working while enjoying the island life. Check out @titajatravels' profile for some DN inspiration.
If you have several years of work experience or an expertise in a field, you can consider Consulting.
Consultants provides expert business advice and direction to a company or a business.
You do not need to work full time as a Consultant as you can create a plan for a company at your own time.
Consultants can either get paid by the hour or per project.
I am currently an HR Consultant for an SME in Dubai. The only time I had to consider time zone difference is when I have a scheduled meeting with my client.
I have over a decade of corporate work experience and finished my Masters before I went nomadic and these helped me land on projects.
Depending on your field, you don't necessarily need a post graduate degree. Some get certifications, while some acquired authority through work experience or by creating their business.
There several paths to become a Consultant and I am just giving you my own experience.
Where to I find clients:
Meeting other digital nomads and networking to learn from the experienced DN's. Follow my DN journey in Instagram.
Copywriting is a sustainable job for digital nomads because it pays well and you can create a copy anywhere... anytime.
Aside from my HR Consulting job, I am also starting out as an Email Copywriter. This is my back up work since I do not always have a client for my HR Consulting service.
There has been an increased interest in Copywriting so it is becoming a highly competitive job. This is why I chose a niche and enrolled in a formal workshop to get mentored.
Just be careful of fake gurus out there!
Where to find projects:
Network with fellow Copywriters (several FB groups)
Pitching directly to clients
Online ESL Teaching
This is a good job to start with especially if you are a native speaker. You can get a job even if you’re not a native speaker, however, the pay is lower than that of the former.
This was the job I had during my first year as a digital nomad. It is easy to get started, however, I had to change careers as it isn’t sustainable if I want to travel to high cost countries.
As a Filipino, we tend to get paid lower because there are so many Filipino ESL teachers who are willing to get paid less.
Even other non-native speakers get paid the same rate as a native speaker.
It was a job I enjoyed but it is only sustainable while I was traveling in low cost countries. During the pandemic, I had no choice but to travel between Germany and the Philippines as my partner lives there and that’s the only country I can get an exemption to visit.
My previous job as an ESL teacher won’t sustain round trip tickets alone! This was the reason why I re-considered going back to my field of expertise (Human Resources) so I don't use up my travel funds.
There are other digital nomads who teach in the country. But be careful with this as you’re not supposed to get employed by a local company when you’re a tourist. An online ESL job is still best for digital nomads.
Where to find work:
(apply directly at ESL teaching platforms)
Blogging and Vlogging
As you can see, I am also a blogger.
I do several things at a time but you don’t have to.
Some people thrive in focusing on one career, while others like me, build multiple income streams. I am also experimenting which will work best for me.
If you love writing and sharing your stories, then blogging is perfect for you.
I personally earn from Affiliate Marketing. That is when I write valuable and honest reviews about a product and my readers choose to purchase through my link.
Some bloggers earn from Google Adsense but you can only get a substantial earning from this if you get thousands of visitors each day, at the least.
If you love speaking in front of the camera, then there’s a more lucrative industry in vlogging. There are several travel vloggers who get sponsored trips aside from their earnings from Google Adsense.
How to get started:
For travel blogging, TravelFeed.io provides an easy-to-use platform that is why I have migrated my site to them.
I started out with WordPress but I don’t have the time to figure out technicalities, adding hundreds of widgets, and the constant downtime of popular hosting providers which are blatantly recommended by bloggers due to their high affiliate commissions.
You can easily set up your travel blog in literally minutes through TravelFeed.io (not an affiliate link but I am promoting it, they do not have an affiliate program yet). They have a free blog and a paid hosting if you will use your own domain.
For vlogging, YouTube is the most popular site and even Facebook is now monetizing video content.
Questions to ask yourself when deciding on a Digital Nomad Career
The above list is not exhaustive. These are just a few samples from people I met and from my own experience.
There are several jobs out there that you can do anywhere.
If you're still unsure what career to take, ask yourself the following questions.
Can I do the job anywhere in the world and at any time?
If your employer allows you to work remotely, great!
But if you have to follow the same 9 to 5 job then it might cause you more stress when you’re constantly moving to different places and time zones.
If you choose remotely working for a company, you only have the same 20 days of vacation leave per year. That means that you won’t be able to have enough beach time even if you’re in Bali because you have to clock in from 9 to 5.
The best digital nomad job has flexible working hours. This is why most digital nomads are freelancers or business owners.
Is it sustainable budget-wise?
Does it pay more than enough?
Aside from the cost of living, you have to consider flight fares, visa fees and insurance costs as well.
There are several jobs that are easy to get started to such as data entry jobs. I have nothing against these jobs, but as a digital nomads the rate for these jobs isn’t sustainable if you’re traveling.
Practically, your monthly income must be higher than the cost of living of the country you plan to go to because there will be times when you have to move to a country with a higher cost of living.
Being a digital nomad doesn't have to be expensive. You actually save more when you pay the monthly or weekly rate of rent. But different countries, and even cities within the same countries mean varying costs.
If you're concerned about budget, you can start your journey in lower cost countries
You can check out Nomadlist.com to see the average cost of living in different locations.
I realized that I wrote this from a perspective of a Filipino worker because we tend to get paid lower. Some digital nomads actually use geo-arbitrage. This means that they are getting paid their country's salary while living in a lower cost country. So for them, being a digital nomad is even more sustainable than staying in their expensive hometown.
Is this the job that I really want to do?
Even if you earn well, it wouldn’t matter if you hate your job. Being a digital nomad gives you more options to choose a job that you will really enjoy.
What’s the point in leaving your toxic 9 to 5 job if you're just gonna get another stressful remote job?
But yes, pay is a big factor to consider unless you will always stay in low cost countries.
People often ask what’s the best job as a digital nomad. There is really no definitive answer and there are several jobs for digital nomads.
Some people follow popular travel bloggers and to be honest this is how I got started into ESL teaching.
However, I learned that it wasn’t sustainable for me. I also realized that they were merely selling ESL courses so they get the affiliate commission.
Affiliate commissions are fine (I also earn from it!) but I was disappointed to learn that they weren’t even doing it as a job. They don’t walk the talk, or at least tell their readers the reality of having a low paying job as a digital nomad.
This doesn’t apply to native speakers or nationalities who can get paid more with ESL teaching.
As a result, there are digital nomads who end up broke and stay in low cost countries like "begpackers" to be able to sustain it through a low paying job.
(unless you're a begpacker by choice, you wouldn't want to always stress about money)
And if that's you, it’s not too late. You can always re-invent and re-create your digital nomad journey. I started on that route and thankfully got out of it after a year.
It is now easier to be self-taught, or get an online workshop to learn new skills to get a job that you would love.
If you already have a career and you love it, check if you can offer your services online on flexible terms. There are now more remote opportunities. Search through remote job listings, I even found an employer looking for remote Psychotherapists.