It’s not just tech workers who are becoming Digital Nomads

A new study has identified the occupations where workers are most likely to quit their jobs and work abroad - and the majority don’t work in tech.

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If tasked with imagining a typical digital nomad, many of us would picture someone who works for a large tech company. But while nomads were previously a “tech” crowd, the lifestyle is now being embraced by a much broader range of jobs, as new research shows.

According to a study by IT service provider Redcentric, 45% of UK workers would consider changing careers for the opportunity to travel for work or work abroad.

Of those, accountants are the most likely to swap their suit-and-tie for swimwear this year. Almost two thirds of workers in the accounting profession say they want to leave their job or change careers for the opportunity to work abroad.

Who wants to be a digital nomad?

Digital nomadism has traditionally been a playground for tech workers. This is because most visa schemes mandate that applicants work for overseas employers; a privilege that was almost exclusively reserved for those based in tech roles who could work remotely.

The Czech Republic’s Nomad visa still asks for a degree in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subject, or three years’ IT experience, from applicants.

Post-COVID, however, the majority of office-based roles can now be done remotely. This quick change has accelerated demand for Digital Nomad visas, with countries such as Japan, Thailand, and Italy all unveiling their own version in the past year alone.

The Redcentric research identified the top occupations that want to swap the briefcase for a suitcase as accountants. In this profession, 61% of respondents said they would be likely to move abroad to work as a digital nomad.

The other, top five occupations in favour of switching to a digital nomad job are listed below:

Occupation% likely to work as a Digital Nomad
Accountants61%
IT technicians58%
Software engineers48%
Teachers45%
Call centre workers44%

Unsurprisingly, two of the top five are typically tech-based roles. More than half of IT technicians said the opportunity to work as a digital nomad appealed to them.

That said, teachers were almost as likely to want to move abroad. During COVID, many school lessons were held online using video conferencing. This exposed UK tutors to remote work; and the Redcentric data suggests that many have been won over by the perk.

Similarly, VoIP software has enabled more call centre workers to base themselves at home, rather than chained behind the desk. This could be why 44% of employees in these professions said they found the idea of working as a digital nomad attractive.

Young people fuel demand for digital nomad jobs

Working as a remote tutor, or starting a call centre, are also two of the most popular career pursuits for those wanting to be self-employed or freelance. This suggests that the rise in digital nomadism links to the growing number of people registering as a sole trader.

Research shows that young people are most likely to want to freelance. 71% of 16-25 year olds in the UK have said they want to be, or already are, self-employed.

Of these, 44% say that flexible working is the most enticing element of working as a freelancer, an employee benefit that would allow them to choose when and where they work.

Unsurprisingly, Redcentric also found that the appeal to work abroad is especially favoured amongst the younger generation. On average, 64% of respondents aged between 16-34 want to move jobs or careers for this opportunity.

Those who are unable to work as a digital nomad are instead quitting their jobs and taking an early career break.

Research by hiring platform, Applied shows that Gen Zers are four times more likely to take career gaps to travel, compared with workers aged between 45 and 54 years old. The trend has been labelled the ‘quarter-life gap year’.

Do you want to work abroad, but fear you’re not in the ‘right’ career? Learn about starting a remote dropshipping firm, an accessible entry into being a digital nomad.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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