Education & Skills needed to work online from your Rig

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Well-known member
May 31, 2015
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Wayne National Forest, Ohio
This Covid Pandemic has brought on a bunch of changes for everyone.  Loss of work-income, housing, and ability to sustain one's most basic needs.   I read in these forums occasionally where people can't find work and are growing desperate. 

For those who don't have much job related training  or the retired whose past "job" experience doesn't translate into the needs of so many of today's employers  it may feel more down and out than out and about.

Lately I've been giving this time and thought to see what people in this category could actually do to have skills
that would allow them to sustain themselves to the extent they feel secure.  Perhaps build up that rainy day fund
so they could replace or repair any "Murphy's Law" SHTF event.

Working from home or from your rig can fall into two categories.  Hourly Wage with W2, or contracting with a 1099 for tax purposes.  I first heard about this in the later 90's when people working online were called  "Online Assistants" or "VA's" (virtual assistants)   Even with some of the simpler skills people made big money.   They often used portals like Guru com, Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer, (gigs) Outsourcely, People per hour (remote workers) and so on.

To engage in this kind of work one should have the personal skills of:  Self Discipline, Flexibility, Results Orientation,
good thinking skills, and be able to communicate well with others.

The internet is turning up more and more FREE courses from well rated schools now and they even offer a certificate upon completion.  (some courses are fee bearing and others are free but they hook you for $50 bucks for the certificate....but that may still be a bargain)   If you put together a resume website images of these credentials may be enough to get you consideration. 

So far I've found free courses to become a Chef, Nutritionist, CPR, and more other courses in IT, etc than I could begin to count.  These schools are taking advantage of the number of people available now to develop these courses (which may not be free forever). 

So you may have heard the TV commercial  that ask "So....what's in your wallet"?   You may ask yourself,  "What's in my bag of tools".   Right now a lot of tools are free to those who will pursue them.

So many employers today rely on applicants applying thru their website.  Then they may be asked to take an interview online where they are given a list of questions to answer.   This may use Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc.
As you are going to be on camera you can hold up certificates, diplomas, and even a cue card with your website/facebook address which would provide the employer with much more info about you that they can look at after viewing your interview.

Is this info helpful for you ?

60 free courses with certificates
25 best remote jobs for 2020 100 Companies with remote jobs Complete Guide to remote work online courses to launch your work-at-home career
For those actively seeking work and want to better understand themselves so that they can put themselves across to an employer in an interview.   Knowing yourself and your ability is confidence.   Topics and links follow in order.  Most are FREE.

I've seen many people on this forum talking about being nearly destitute and need to find work  But I haven't seen too many threads that offer them some help getting on their feet.  

1)  The Nine Types of Intelligence

2) Jung Typology Test   (reveals personality type in a matrix of 16 types)

3) Live Career  (some of these are FREE some have a fee)

4)  DISC Personality Test (free)  Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance

5)  Holland Profile Test (free) sorts potential occupations

6) Work Values Test (free)

7) "Who Am I" (free) Test gives personal insights

Each link below follows the topic above.

It's one thing to have skills, training, certificates etc.....but to get the job you may have to sell
yourself  to those in HR with an online interview via webcam.  They may not be talking with you
as you answer the questions that they request you answer. Understanding your personal traits
(which these Test will help you realize)  will allow you to speak with confidence, and explain how
your best qualities may answer their companies needs.  (these are called soft skills and your trade
skills or education are known as hard skills)  Soft skills are gaining in importance now that so much
work is being done online.

9 Types of Intelligence Types Test Free Typology Test Free Types Explained Career group of test some free Personality Test Free Holland Profile Test (free) sorts potential occupations Values Test Free"Who Am I" (free) Test gives personal insights
Thanks for posting Crofter.  I was wondering if there was any interest in my further developing this thread.  And if anyone would have any suggestions or request  I see a lot of people have at least looked at it.
What seems daunting to me is the need for reliable equipment, and an internet connection that does not depend on my knockoff phone hotspot. 

What can you recomend? Is a large investment in equipment needed to succeed at remote working?
Crofter,  any kind of remote work or "telecommuting" as it was once called will rely on a high speed connection that is dependable.  Next to that is the type and quality of equipment you have to offer.
I would suggest the third element would be your "soft skills" or people skills as working remotely with others rely on communication to do your job.   Lastly your "hard skills" or tech ability with various software programs, skill sets,  and any other duties you would be assigned.  These will be the things an employer would want to assess in an interview with any candidate who approaches them for remote work.   If a person has what a "job offer" is requesting this could be like any other work at home job.

But, I would be prepared to discuss your computer equipment set up in the interview and best to have a digital photo of your equipment laid out on a table top. (I've set mine on a white table cloth with the back side held up above the equipment for the photo)  A description of what each of these are, and any software such as anti virus,  MS Office, Photoshop, or whatever should be ready on a list to offer.  In an interview you can discuss your experience with any and all of your experience with these.

This would be necessary if you are an employee of a business.  And yes, these expenses will be yours
so that you are ready, willing, and able to report to that job.   One of the disadvantages of remote working is the start up cost to be able to get the job.

Now, are there any ways around this I could suggest.   If you approach a job offer you may ask them if they would employ you for the job if you were an independent contractor?    If they say yes,  you could have the advantages of a small single proprietor business where your cost of computer equipment, internet phone connection, software you buy for the job, even fuel for your rig when used for work purposes will give you a "Tax Advantage". (meaning you can deduct this stuff each quarter when you would pay your taxes)   You will have to keep good records, all of your receipts, etc.

Your computer equipment & Cell/connection (even a generator or solar & batteries for it) will be "capital equipment" and you will get to deduct the cost of it in increments provided you buy it new.
Your wages/salary will go into your business as a contractor and as you incur expenses directly related to your job you will keep those receipts for each 3 month tax period. (or quarter) Then when you or your tax person prepares your quarterly taxes you will be allowed to get those expenses as a credit against your taxes and a percentage of the historic cost of your computer equipment the same way as capital equipment.  Even the cost of your Tax Person prepping your taxes is a deduction.

You just need to make sure you can handle the job so you will have cash flow to cover all of these cost until everything is paid off, and written off.  Then your Cell plan will be your only reoccurring
expense if you aren't working. (and you would just have to pay for that yourself in that case)

I would also suggest that if it is possible to go into the office occasionally. (provided the firm you are working for is close by)  In this way you can buff the rapport with your coworkers. (again, the fuel for such trips is tax deductible)

If you do this I would suggest purchasing extended warranty on your computer equipment & Cell.
Second have a list of you anti virus (professional level & deductible) anti malware & spyware etc.
Employers may have concerns about the security regarding you working for them as an employee or a "contractor".  So these measures will have you standing in a better position with them.

Suggestion for the job performance.  #1,  if the company has a policy & expectation list for remote workers get that emailed to you and sit down and learn what is expected.  Very Important.
#2, You need let your employer/and employees know how to get in touch with you.  Cell Phone calls during business hours & text or voice mail after hours.  (even have a Zoom setup you can use if necessary) #3,  Very Important,  keep a log of your work flow from day one and have a two week back log where you can lay hands on it when you are working.  All too often questions will arise on something you did recently and having that for quick reference may keep things sane as well as have your employer seeing you as an asset. 

The Work Flow Log.  I'll write this as it is so important.  This log can be kept in a 3 ring notebook. (think back to school days) You log what you are doing, job reference number etc,  each day on a
sheet of paper with the date on top of that sheet.  Use dividers for each work week with the dates of that week on the tab.  I used to even record what the weather was like on each day and significant news stories as it was handy to help jog the memories of those inquiring.  So often it was someone
who wasn't working on the particular job like a Sales Manager who was trying to help a customer
while he was out in the field and didn't have access to office files.

This may be a bit more info than what "you" were wanting but I'm writing this overview so that anyone else can benefit from it.

For anyone interested in starting their own small business so that they can work as a sub contractor
or run their own business(es) as an entrepreneur I would direct them to the Score organization.
Everything that they do is free. They are a non profit and funded by the Government to aid and assist small business. They have a great educational website with tutorials and video tutorials and are located here.  In their navigation bar you will see "Browse The Library" where you will find a
navigation bar, "Narrow By" which will allow you to explore the Business Stage, Topic, Format,
Entrepreneur Type, Industry, and Language.  Score has chapters all over the USA and volunteer members who can meet with via Zoom, Skype, etc and mentor you.  They also have printed literature
that can help.

As a follow on regarding new computers for your own small business if you decide to go that way,  I'd suggest keeping your old computer/laptop for your personal computer.  Your employer may want remote access to your new computer or to have you networked in some way.

If you find a job that isn't that demanding of the computer you use and isn't that security sensitive,
you could buy a new big jump drive and install something on it like PortableApps com (free) which will
allow you to install apps & your data files on it and use that from any computer. BUT, keep it safe
and close as it is your work computer.  There are many of these "augmenter" devices out there to download.  When you plug it into any computers USB the jump drive will become the computer you are using. 

A computer on a USB Jump Drive
Thanks for all the information. I think my worst limiting factor is the internet connection. I found that my connection would go down for days in Quartzsite. I could get on with verizon, but my unlimited plan is with a knockoff company that gets bumped off the tower. 
In my area a lot of people go with Cricket which I believe is carried by AT&T.   It's hard for me to
speak to Cells used as hot spots as the USA has so many services offered.   On this forum I see a lot of discussion and some of the other forums regarding river maritime workers I notice their discussions.
(but they rarely know where they will be assigned to work thru the year)

Sat Phones are quite expensive and the mariners at sea use them out of necessity.

I'm in the southern tip of Ohio and what would work for me may not work elsewhere.
This guy says he runs his office from a 100 watt panel. Do you think that would work?  Is that enough power?  -crofter

Sorry I lost that link, here is someone with 60 watts

Here is another one
Crofter,  much will depend on the office/computer equipment you're using.  Laptop or Desktop, printer/scanner/copier/fax machine you are using.  Then any other peripherals you need to do your work.  I would suggest watts each of them require to construct the budget and see if
the 100 watt panel could take care of it. 

I notice on TV that Google is advertising their free education now.  A lot of tech stuff that could translate into running a small business too.

It's Freee

Grow With Google starts here
eDJ_ said:
...I notice on TV that Google is advertising their free education now.  A lot of tech stuff that could translate into running a small business too.

It's Freee

Grow With Google starts here
Thanks for the link.  I am hoping that I might get into something that includes equipment, or at least some of it, in the job offer. Over the years several companies bought me tools, maybe that could happen again.    ~crofter
In the area where I live there are a lot of programs for women which teach them the various types of welding or tending computer operated machines in machine shops.  (these lead to good paying job)

A person can contact the local  Chamber of Commerce   (where ever they are) to get some leads on such free education programs and facilities. 

There may be something, whether it be free schooling or on the job training available in that area.

I understand that they like to hire women who enjoy sewing, knitting etc to train them to weld
as they usually have steady hands and patients with their work.  They start them out with stick welding
and move them on to (wire feed) MIG welding and eventually into TIG welding (Tungsten inert Gas)
often used with stainless steel and other difficult metals. (bigger pay)

In the trades the highest paid that I have read about follow:

Web Developer

Dental Hygenist



Licensed Practical Nurse


Crofter,   I meant to speak to the two video's you posted regarding a solar array being enough to power a SOHO (small office/home office) business while on the road. 

In the late 90's I was co-administrator of a Yahoo Club (later Yahoo Groups)  for webmasters.  Laptops were just becoming capable enough to create or update a website from the field. USB 1.0 was about all we had then and JazzDrives were the main peripheral for storage and backing things up.  The little 3 1/2" floppy wasn't enough and the CD was read only then with CD-R's just beginning to show up along with WIFI. Video was a novelty. (usually S video) I was running an IBM Think Pad.  Broadband ?  If you were  around a public library, a school or college, or at a larger business.
Cloud computing? What was that. There were some online storage sites (not cloud) like World Drive which I used until the Dot Com bubble popped.

One of our favorite discussions then was, "could we put a website together in the field" (without having to return home to use our more power computer, mine being a Mac G3 300 ziff with Wings "personality" card for A/V). 

Fast forward,  we now have solar, more and more capable batteries, and equipment that is not only far less expensive but much more energy efficient.  This has become the great enabler for "digital nomad's" with the skills to use what is now available.  A mobile SOHO if you will.   Today with the right solar "site" you get numerous sunlit days to charge batteries that can keep up with demands of your "trade".  If you are doing "Office" Excel, Word, Outlook or Access you may not need loads of power.  Downloading a chunk of work to process offline, then uploading your finished work
may not require as much as dealing with photos, video, audio, along with the big hungry software's and peripherals to accomplish those ends.

Since 2007 computers have been made to certify to "Energy Star" performance levels.  But you need to add up all of the watts you will need (plus some surplus) for a budget your power generating equipment can supply.

As technology advances all this stuff will become much easier.  I'm sure those making portable solar equipment are increasingly aware of the Van Nomad trend with the Digital/Remote Worker Nomads among them.

You can check some of them out here:  

Energy Star
Here is a listing of links to Freeware programs.  If you are doing professional work it is always best to use professional software.  But there are many handy "trinkets" to be found in these sites. 

One I once saw was to use a laptop as a "Teleprompter" for those doing Youtube Videos where the web cam in the lap top recorded while the Teleprompt was taking place. The speed of the scrolling was adjustable as well as the size of the type.  If you had a helper/producer, they could stop the scrolling with a click of the mouse and then resume it as needed which also keeps within time constraints.

There is a LOT of stuff here to look thru, and you might find some handy stuff.

File Hippo com

Snap Files com

The Free Site com

Major Geeks com

Freeware Intrastar net

Only Freeware com

Freeware Files com
eDJ_ said: advances all this stuff will become much easier.  I'm sure those making portable solar equipment are increasingly aware of the Van Nomad trend with the Digital/Remote Worker Nomads among them.

You can check some of them out here:  

Energy Star
My laptop is a ways down the list at 11 watts. Plus I run a wifi device on top of that. Well that gives me an idea.
Excellent post, great resource!
Anther sight I've enjoyed, while not free, is They are e-classes by people knowledgeable in the field/topic. I've done a couple courses on Python and security.

As for internet, I wouldn't say it necessarily has to be fast but does need to be reliable. Luckily today, many retailers offer WIFI which often enough you can park close enough to get a good signal.
Also, some ISPs offer hotspot service in areas, although for this you'd need to be a customer, or know someone that is that will let you use their login info. My sister is with ComCast and will share hers with me.
Lastly cellphone hotspot, this can be good but will burn up some data.
Of course, all these options become less viable the further "out" you get.

While I'm currently not employed, once i get out on the road I'm hoping to find a good balance of work and exploring, with work in suburban areas and exploring in rural areas.

Thanks OP, great post!
Some more things to consider for Digital Nomad

A fast Internet Connection:

Newer cars often have built in Cellular Data Connections. 
With it you may have a WIFI connected car which will be
great for a Digital Nomad.  This isn't common yet but may
become a trend with future build outs.  In time commercial
type vehicles will have this as standard equipment.

Another important thing to look at is network availability,
which basically means where the provider has service
and where it doesn’t.   WIFI Finder app's at Google Play,
or App Store  can be helpful.

Some providers advertise very large networks, but the fastest
data speeds are only available in specific markets. Other
providers have relatively large high speed networks but have
huge holes where no service is available.

This is a big deal if you’re looking to add WIFI
to your car before a long road trip, or if you camp in a rural
area where some providers don’t have their high speed
networks established yet.

Older Cars/Vans may rely on Cell's with "hot spot" plans for
now.  Some may even install a WIFI modem in the car.

There are mobile hot spots available but only provide internet.
Of course smart phone hot spots or the mobile hot spot installed
in the vehicle will have cost associated with the hardware and
the plan for the amount data you may need to work remotely.
If you are a licensed business or a contractor this will be tax

Verizon offers a MIFI plan 15 GB/month allowance of 4G LTE / 5G
Nationwide1 data but more data would be available if needed.

AT&T offers their Nighthawk LTE  mobile hot spot, and Verizon offers
their Jetpack MIFI 7730L for $20 to $50 a month.  The batteries in them
last 20 or more hours before needing recharged.  

It is suggested that a minimum of 10 mbps download speed and 1
mbps upload speed per person working remotely would be OK. But a 52 mbps
download and 10 mbps upload speed would be a good remote working
speed.  As for Data an Unlimited Plan is best but at least 10 GB
per month. Everyone who works remotely will have different needs to
do their work and likely a different style of working, whether in camp for
some time or moving frequently.  You may be able to replicate what
someone else is doing or using but in the end you will need to figure
out what will work dependably for you. But the internet is full of
free resources that can help you figure these needs out. will test your connection speed for free. Takes a few

For a Digital Nomad a flexible work schedule may be best.  Some
remote jobs may require a rigid schedule that is specifically defined
and that may create demands your mobile office will struggle to
meet and be consistently reliable. Examples of teleconferencing thru
the day,  working with online customer service, or anything requiring
loads of data to perform. If you move frequently and know where you
are going next, you may want to look ahead to see what kind of connection
& speed is available. 

Apps are available for this.  www.wifi is a source.

Some employers will insist you be connected to the internet by wire access.
WIFI will not be acceptable. Such as a WIFI hot spot.  This would be
a job a Digital Nomad wouldn't truly be eligible for.  Example: something
having to do with the Medical Industry sensitive to record keeping.
Others may require a VPN (virtual private network) and not all mobile
plans offer this and other security requirements an employer may require.
Will you be required to have a static IP address? You will need to
be aware of these issues when you look for a job opportunity. So you may
have to have more than one Cell carrier/plan. You may also need Cell Boosters
or antennas to extend the reach of your equipment to be able to do your job if
you're in a very remote location.  You will need to have a plan to stay connected
and backup plans to go with that.

As for some of the best rated laptops for remote working, INC com rated the
Mac Book Air as best overall.  Next the Mac Book Pro for the power users,
and for Windows users the the Dell XPS.  As for a budget laptop for work
the HP Envy x360 would be the best available.

For security a Firewall.  Look to see if your WIFI Router has "Firewall" or "SIP
Firewall" listed and make sure it is enabled.  If it is listed but not set up
it may just be "dormant" and need to be turned on.  You can access your router
thru a browser and enter as an administrator to check & make changes then save
them and restart the browser.

Some browsers have VPN's built in.  The Opera browsers has it and is rated one of the

It will be important to have a comfortable computer chair and ergonomic equipment.
A wireless keyboard & mouse, adequate lighting, ventilation, and even food & drink

In the end Digital Nomads must understand that work is an action and not so much a place.
Working as a Nomad could interfere with your work,  but only as much as you let it.  If you have
a good supply of work it may be best not to be traveling a lot while you are working on your
allocation of work.  You could have a break down,  a wreck, have problems with your engine/transmission
etc.  You won't be able to do your work very well with your rig in the shop.
(but if you had to grab your laptop etc you could find a cheap motel with WIFI).

For some more details:

31 Useful Tools for Remote Workers
For those who are living in remote areas with no chance of having internet service there is a work around solution.  You will likely have to go to a City or Town to get supplies from time to time and while there use a Pubic Library or other facility with fast internet and powerful desk top computers. 

There are programs available where you can take a Jump Drive and format it just like a computer.  Then  programs can be installed on it just like with any other computer.   Then when you plug it into a USB port you can work and store your work assignments as well as processed work on this Jump Drive.  

These Jump Drives, once plugged into the USB port will become a computer to themselves. They can launch the Operating System and utilities at this point using the more powerful computer they are plugged into. (if the computer you have in your rig isn't that powerful...yet suitable enough to do the work you are assigned to do)  But this Jump Drive will work on any newer Windows computer you plug it into.

Jump Drives now come in up to 2 Tera Bytes so there will be plenty of space to have your OS, programs, and data.

This is also a way to back up all of your stuff from your regular computer.

This started with a program called Mojo Pac  which only worked on Windows XP and was free. But now there are other free programs to do this which will work on Windows 7, 8, or 10  and will let you use it like a PC of it's own. (Windows 10 won't allow you to format Flash Drives larger than 32 GB into some of the file systems)  But today SD memory cards,  USB portable hard drives, and jump drives can be set up this way)

If you are interested but don't know how to do this,  get with someone who does to help you to set one up and show you how to use it.  It can be a handy thing to have.

RogoSoft USB Flash Drive Format Tool 1.0 (freeware)
If you are curious about how to go about setting up a jump drive that works like a computer,  here is a tutorial for setting up a Windows 7 jump drive. (of course you'll have to have your own Windows 7 machine to do this)   But if you have a windows 8 or 10 it would work similarly using the RogoSoft program. (which will work both personal or professional)

But it may be handier than lugging around a laptop outfit anytime you go to town.  Plus, if you use a Public Library computer or other secure source you won't be using WIFI this way.  Those computers are "wired" at the Library and may be more powerful desk tops too. 

So you can go thru the steps in this video a few times to get an understanding of this.  (using this as an example)  This could also be concealed on your person if necessary.  (should your rig be broken into or hijacked you could have everything backed up on the jump drive as a worst case scenario)

Windows 7 Jump Drive