Work At Home, Remote, Telecommute? Do They Mean The Same Thing?

When you want a job that you can do at home, there are several keywords you can consider to help you in your search. They can all be used to mean a job you do at home, but sometimes they mean something else. Let’s take a look at some of these terms. Most often they mean that you will be working at home, but other times may imply that you will be working elsewhere at least some of the time.

Work At Home

The classic search term for work at home jobs, yet one of the most dangerous. You can pretty much assume that a “work at home” job is to be done primarily at home, but some jobs will involve a bit of travel, probably local.

The danger with searching for “work at home” is that too many scams use it as a keyword. Lots of legitimate jobs use it as well, so don’t rule it out entirely. Be careful.

You will probably also say that you work at home if you run your own business from your home. Then again, you might be better off talking more about what your business has to offer, and less about where you work.


Telecommuting has been around for a long time. Telecommuting jobs aren’t always done entirely at home – they may require you to work in the office some days as well. This term isn’t as popular as it once was, but you will still see it around.

If you have a current employer and want to work at home, telecommuting is probably what you would suggest. You and your employer may both benefit from a telecommuting arrangement if your job is suitable.

Work From Home

“Work at home” and “work from home” are very similar, and are often identical. Sometimes the term “work from home” means you may not be at home as much. You might do some work at your home, then go to another site to do other parts of your job.

Home Based

Much like a work from home job, a home based job may mean that you use your home as a base from which you work, but you may work other places at certain times. Other times, it is simply a job you do from home.


A virtual job is generally done online, or at least at home. There’s an implication that the job is done over the internet, but virtual jobs can involve phone work as well.

You may be familiar with the term “virtual assistant,” but that’s far from the only job that is call “virtual.” Some companies are entirely virtual, which is wonderful when you want to work for them from home.

Not all jobs that say they’re virtual are done from home. There are virtual assistant companies where employees work in the company’s office and are virtual assistants for various clients. They aren’t at home at all. That’s an exception, but it happens.


Now here’s one of the tricky terms. Most of the time when I see a job listed as being remote, it’s a job you do at home. Other times it means you work at client sites, in another country, or in an office that isn’t the main office of the company. I’ve seen it used all those ways.

Read the job description carefully to ensure you know which way the potential employer means it. If it still isn’t clear, make your expectations known in your cover letter and clarify things during your interview if you get one.


An online job may be much like a virtual job, but not always. As a job searching keyword, it may find you some jobs, but it will often refer only to that the job is listed on an online job board.


A freelance or contract job means that you are self employed and working for someone else under a contract. While these jobs are often done at home, sometimes the contract will require that you work on site. A freelancer is responsible for paying his or her income taxes quarterly, as there’s no withholding by the employer.

Which Terms To Use When Looking For A Work At Home Job?

You can use just about any of these terms if you want to find a job you can do at home. Any of them will show up on job boards. With all job searches, even if you aren’t trying to work at home, be aware of the possibility of a scam. Pay close attention to any travel requirements as well. If you don’t want to travel at all, it’s a quick way to rule out many jobs.

Don’t use them as your only search term. What kind of a job are you qualified for? What do you want to do? Consider possible job titles and the skills you have to offer, and use them in combination with your preferred terms.

Don’t use “freelance” unless you are looking for that kind of work. There’s nothing wrong with freelance work, and a lot right with it, but it’s not what everyone wants to do.

It’s not uncommon for work at home jobs to consider you an independent contractor rather than an employee. Make sure you know which they consider you to be. You should read up on the legal differences between being an independent contractor and an employee. Be aware of the tax implications if you want to do freelance or contract work. It can really mess up your finances to be hit by a big tax bill when tax time comes around if you haven’t been paying quarterly.

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