This article is a repost from Escape Artists, written by Brian Sheehan
Seventeen years ago, I became an expat and haven’t looked back, and I can say—without hesitation—that it was the best decision of my life. As with any big move, there was much planning and preparation involved. But no matter how grandiose those plans may have been, I realized that one critical factor was required, or else the whole thing would come crashing down: money. Or, more specifically, the risk of running out of money.
If you’re a novice expat, it’s easy to get carried away by the romance of a new culture and the promise of a new journey. Those rose-colored glasses are great at making you feel euphoric, but not so great at putting food on the table. The risk of giving up everything and falling through the cracks is very real.
Enter the IT Remote Worker
Whether by good fortune or accidental strategic design, I’ve worked in the IT industry for the majority of my life. Most of that time was spent in technical and marketing documentation — helping software companies engage with their customers via user manuals, brochures, blog articles, digital onboarding platforms, online help systems, and so on.
On reflection, the industry as a whole is exceedingly remote worker-friendly. When most people think of working from overseas, however, they think of the Digital Nomad concept. Running a vlog and building a subscriber base comes to mind as a tried-and-true approach.
There is a different category, though, that deserves a share of the spotlight: the IT Remote Worker. In today’s newsletter, we’ll introduce this concept and how it can be a life-changing career path for those intrepid expats seeking to leverage their skill-sets in another land.
It’s More than Coding… Much More
The good news is that 1) there are many jobs available whether your brain is logical, creative, or somewhere in-between, and 2) the majority of modern US-based software companies are open to hiring on a remote basis. Yes, you can work from home with the majority of the jobs discussed below, provided that you’re willing to put in the effort to find the right employer.
Let’s explore some of these roles based on some core skill-sets.
Do you know HubSpot like the back of your hand? Know how to configure Yoast SEO settings in WordPress? Do you intuitively know when you’ve hit a Tweet’s character limit without looking at the counter? Realize that CPC, CPM, PPC, CPA, and KPI are not obscure abbreviations used in the military?
If so, then you may be a Social Media Analyst, Digital Marketing Manager, or Digital Media Buyer in the making. The Promoter specializes in using digital tools to engage with defined target audiences. These are all skills highly sought after by software companies who seek to leverage social media, online advertising, and content management to realize higher profits.
Most in-demand job: Digital Marketing Specialist
…and the average salary in the US for this role: $85,175.
Proudly subscribe to every single tool in Adobe Creative Cloud? Know how to write engaging marketing copy on a deadline? Know the difference between RGB and CMYK? Feel comfortable creating and managing publication calendars? Love video games and 3D design?
Then don’t hesitate to use your creative skills in the IT industry! The sector is in dire need of people who have new ideas and want to express those via some medium, whether it’s the written word, computer graphics, artistic works, etc.
Most in-demand job: User Experience (UX) Director
…and the average salary in the US for this role: $130,500.
Know that full-stack doesn’t refer to pancakes? Realize that Ruby on Rails isn’t a sad country song about train-riding lovers? Include your GitHub profile in your e-mail signature?
The Engineer is the heart and soul of any software company, as they are the ones who breathe life into the ideas imagined by the C-suite. Common roles include frontend/backend developers, cybersecurity analysts, full-stack developers, and AI engineers.
Most in-demand job: Data Scientist
…and the average salary in the US for this role: $150,000
Spend the majority of your days scheduling Zoom meetings? Can drag & drop Trello cards with your eyes closed? Realize that the SDLC is really just an exercise in herding cats?
If you’re a people person who knows how to empower colleagues to achieve results beyond what they expected, then congrats: you are Manager material! The software sector is starving for managers across a wide variety of disciplines, particularly when it comes to both product and project management.
Most in-demand job: IT Manager
…and the average salary in the US for this role: $120,000.
Memorized the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications? Have a deep-seated belief that IT Support requires an inhuman level of patience? Make tutorial walkthrough videos for fun?
You, my friend, are a Guide at heart. In the IT world, this is someone who specializes in helping customers understand how software works. Common roles include Technical Writer, Instructional Designer, IT Support Manager, and UI/UX Designer/Engineer.
Most in-demand job: UX Designer
…and the average salary in the US for this role: $85,000.
Becoming an IT Remote Worker
The IT industry is a different animal than other business sectors. It is in the unique position of being at the forefront of the remote working lifestyle, and this trend has been quickly rising over the last several years (particularly given the pandemic). The popularity of online solutions that empower remote workers, such as Zoom and Slack, is a testament to the growth of the IT Remote Worker.
Interested? Some tips: Go West, young man. The western US, home of Silicon Valley, is at the vanguard of the IT world for a reason: they are progressive. Software companies with headquarters there, particularly startups (1-50 employees), are open-minded and keen on finding the right talent, no matter where in the world they are located. Opportunities can be found worldwide, though, and the IT industry as a whole is more forward-thinking than other, typically older, business sectors.
Whether you’re pounding out some code in your condo in Kuala Lumpur or posting social media blurbs from your cottage in Greece, don’t hesitate to pursue the dream. The IT industry awaits!
About the Author:
Brian Sheehan has over 20 years of experience as both an expat in SE Asia and as a remote worker for global IT companies, such as IBM, Microsoft, and UnitedHealth Group. When not managing content for Escape Artist, he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and cooking.