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Work from home job opportunities in home-shoring industry.

Home-shoring is a term that some experts use to describe the numerous companies' that are tapping U.S. workers to answer phone calls, including customer-service and tech-support calls, from home. Some of those jobs, which were outsourced years ago to eastern Asia and other parts of the world, are returning to the United States.

These at-home workers handle many tasks, including coordinating roadside assistance, taking hotel and airline reservations, tech support and even sales calls. Many people are finding these work-at-home job opportunities as an effective way to earn extra cash that helps them with paying bills.

There are many examples of companies that operate in this industry. Hilton Hotels employs over 900 work-at-home reservation agents, while out sourcing (“home-shoring”) companies such as Arise Virtual Solutions, Alpine Access, and LiveOps, among many others, hire numerous agents to process various types of call-center work for their corporate clients. (More real life stories on successful working from home.)

Agents are still wanted

Despite the ever evolving economy, many of these firms still plan to continue hiring for positions. For instance, Hilton continues to expects to hire more work at-home agents each and every year as they continue to look for efficiency. In addition, Alpine Access (also known as SYKES) will hire more than 250 agents this year and plans on hiring more than 1,200 in the first quarter according to the CEO of the Denver-based firm. This is just an example of the growth here in this industry. There are many opportunities for Americans to work from home to help pay bills.

These companies say that the growth is driven by companies that are moving call-center operations back to the U.S. from overseas. This is occurring for a couple reasons, including communication difficulties are resulting in customer backlash, and also wages and other costs are rising in other countries. It is a well known fact that many customers prefer to speak with native English speakers vs. foreigners that are based oversees.




Qualifications and conditions of call center jobs

You often need some experience for these jobs. Alpine says that they hired under 5% of applicants this year. While the flexibility of this positions is a perk, it is never guaranteed. Each job opportunity may be different. But in general work at home agents are able to set their schedules about a week in advance. Also note that many of these jobs are part time. The pay can range from about $8 to $14 an hour, so they are not the highest paying opportunities. Many of these companies offer very limited or no health insurance benefits.

You will need to have a quiet work space to work in and to take telephone calls. Noisy children or a barking dog will present a problem. (Most of the calls are recorded, so home based agents can't pretend it isn't happening.) Usually you need equipment for these jobs as well, such as high-speed Internet access, a relatively new computer, and a dedicated phone line.

Some companies also require some type of upfront investment. As an example, Arise Virtual Solutions, which is based in Miramar, Florida., will require home based personnel to be stand-alone incorporated businesses. That means paying an incorporation fee, which can cost about $100, but it can run higher. Plus, Arise Virtual also requires that job applicants pay $99 for an 18-hour online training course. While almost 99% of applicants pass this training course, those who do not pass it forfeit the fee, according to Arise.

Arise agents need to also undergo job training for the specific firm whose calls they will be responsible for handling. This additional this training will cost $25 to $200, depending on the client and complexity. If a company requires an upfront contribution from you, ensure you read the fine print before signing any contract.

However any company that asks for upfront costs or investments needs to be well researched. Always be aware of the fly by night scams in the homeshoring industry. Read the fine print of any contract that may need to be signed.





Getting past these hurdles and benefits

For many Arise agents, these requirements were well worth it, and the income has helped with all types of debt and bills that she was incurring. While it is a bit of an investment, it is not often a huge dollar amount. There are home-shoring positions for part time work, retirees, and others. Many people work anywhere from 30 to 35 hours a week. It can often be very rewarding work, especially as many of the phone based home shore positions will be involved in helping people.

Work-at-home companies do vary widely in their services, benefits, and other ways they hire and pay employees. Alpine Access hires its agents as employees, both part and full time. Full-time positions enjoy subsidized healthcare insurance, and even part-timers can join the company's group health plan, but they need to pay full price.

Another benefit is that there is a 401(k) plan available to both full- and part-time workers. All job applicants are also paid for the hours that they spend training, and the sole cost an employee needs to pay (other than setting up a home office) is they need to pay a $45 bill for a background check once they have been hired. The hours can be flexible, and most employees are able to work from the comfort of their own homes.

Do your own check of work at home companies. FAQ for work at home jobs

Before signing up with any work-at-home company, you need to check out the firm with the Better Business Bureau. You need to ensure that the company has a high rating and very few unresolved complaints.

Also, before signing up with a company, know what you're getting into. Some of the questions to ask include the following::

What are the total upfront costs you need to pay, including equipment, training, or background checks?

How will you be paid? Per call, by the hour, or per minute on the phone? Do you need to bill them?

Will you be paid for any time you spend training?





As with any call center job opportunity, whether it is home shorting related or with a major company, ask questions about the work environment. Always read any employment contracts, and if fees are involved, double and triple check any contact that needs to be agreed to before paying a fee. But the fact is there are an increasing number of legitimate, home-shoring opportunities available.

By Jon McNamara

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