Making Remote Work: Utah Extension creates opportunities

The ROI program is moving the needle: In the last four years, more than 300 rural residents across 21 counties have found work after completing the Master Remote Work Professional (MWRP) certificate course. The ROI team believes the program is on track to help another 400 MWRP graduates find work in 2022.

When adjusted for population size, 261 rural Utah jobs are similar to 17,335 jobs in urban Utah counties.

Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox calls ROI “one of the best rural economic development initiatives that we’ve done in the history of the state of Utah.” It’s also a prime example of what it looks like when Extension identifies a need in the community and works with public and private partners to address that need.

More Opportunity, More Money

The MRWP course has enrolled more than 1,800 people, and they come from a broad range of circumstances and for a variety of reasons. Marriah Birch enrolled because she had been laid off from her local job and needed a position that would allow her to stay home to help care for her grandson,

Empowering Rural Utah Through Remote Work Marriah Birch, Master Remote Worker Program course graduate


who was born with a critical heart condition. ROI trained and eventually led her to a position with a Heber City, Utah-based company —100 miles from Birch’s home in Carbon County, with one of the lowest median household incomes in the state — that helps people with disabilities find work. “It really was just a blessing and a miracle that it happ ened all at the right time,” Birch says .

Carolyn Lewis, who teaches online nursing courses, took the ROI course because she had worked remotely before but had found herself letting work take over her life. “Some days, I was working 20 hours straight without stopping,” she says. “I didn’t set any boundaries for myself. I even took my laptop with me to pre-op for my sinus surgery and worked all the way up until they put the medicine in my IV.”

“Remote Work Radio” (produced by the ROI program) ROI graduates talk about their remote work training and job experiences.


In the MWRP course, Lewis learned to set boundaries between her work and her personal life. She says she no longer takes her computer with her everywhere she goes and she’s getting the sleep she needs. “If my work’s not done, I still go to bed,” she says. “I’m trying to be more disciplined about those self- care things.” Not only are MWRP graduates like Birch and Lewis finding jobs, they’re finding better -paying jobs than they had before they took the course: the median salary of MWRP graduates has increased 88%, while total salaries across all participants who found remote work increased by 70%. Course participants also report that what they’ve learned has had a positive psychological effect: 86% say they now have a higher level of confidence in finding remote work opportunities.


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