Income for Independent Professionals Increases



Highest Paying Skills on Upwork

The number of independent workers in the U.S. is on a steady rise. According to a 2018 NPR/Marist poll, one in five American workers are contract workers. And increasingly the professionals in this segment are getting highly competitive wages.

The latest report from Upwork identifies the 20 highest-paying skills for independent professionals today. These skills cover a range of industries, with the top rate going all the way up to $255 per hour for legal entity structuring.

Even though the highest rates seem high, the freelance workforce offers great opportunities for small business owners. Whether it is legal entity structuring or food photography, small business owners can now access highly professional individuals because they don’t have to hire them permanently.

This means a small business can compete with large companies because of the available talent.  And this is what Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel, addressed in an emailed release.

Kasriel says, “The breadth of talent among the most highly-paid skills for independent professionals is really impressive and even broader than the range of skills you can find through any of the traditional staffing firms. This is a clear indication that there’s an incredible opportunity for this increasingly important segment of the workforce and that businesses are willing to pay top dollar for access to high-quality talent.”



A Diverse Workforce

The freelance workforce is no longer limited to web developers and graphic designers. The growth of digital technology now makes it possible for a wide range of industries to work online. This of course also means accessing talent from virtually anywhere.

Adam Ozimek, Upwork’s Chief Economist, says knowledge workers with specific skill sets are being leveraged by organizations around the world.

Ozimek goes on to say the top rates of highly skilled workers receive aren’t outliers. Adding, “One-third of U.S. freelancers on Upwork earn at least $50/hour, which would put them in the top 10% of U.S. wage earners overall.”

The top paid skills aren’t in just one industry. Tech, marketing, law, and finance professionals are earning these rates. The realization they can earn these rates is allowing professionals to achieve a work/life balance more people are looking for.

Highest Paying Skills on Upwork

Upwork sourced its database to determine the best rates. The data comes from the average hourly rates charged by U.S. freelancers from Jan 1, 2019 – June 30, 2019. The skills in question had a minimum of two contracts and 40 hours billed to ensure reliability. This is equal to one week of work and more than one project.



Skills and Hourly Rates

  1. Legal entity structuring – $255
  2. Blackline – $220
  3. Bitcoin – $215
  4. International Accounting Standards – $215
  5. Software licensing – $200
  6. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) – $195
  7. Behavioral design – $195
  8. Trade law – $185
  9. Image object recognition – $180
  10. Trademark consulting – $180
  11. Due diligence – $180
  12. Virtual machine – $175
  13. Property and equipment leases – $175
  14. SQR – $170
  15. S Corporation – $170
  16. Patents – $170
  17. IT strategy – $165
  18. C Corporation – $165
  19. Lucene search – $165
  20. Orcad – $165

Top Tech Skills

  1. Bitcoin – $215
  2. Image object recognition – $180
  3. Virtual machine – $175
  4. SQR – $170
  5. Lucene search – $165
  6. OrCAD – $165
  7. P-CAD – $165
  8. Clustering – $165
  9. DHTML – $150
  10. SAP CPI – $150
  11. Google Adsense API – $150
  12. Oracle Integration Cloud – $145
  13. Dell Boomi – $140
  14. Google Experiments – $140
  15. VWO – $140
  16. Virtualization – $135
  17. Backup administration – $135
  18. Open CV – $135
  19. Expression engine – $130
  20. Systems development – $125

Top Marketing Skills

  1. Behavioral design – $195
  2. Event photography – $150
  3. Lead magnet – $150
  4. Paid social – $145
  5. Hotjar – $130
  6. Scenario planning – $125
  7. Innovation strategy – $125
  8. Citrix / GoToMeeting – $125
  9. Pricing strategy consulting – $115
  10. Video processing – $110
  11. Executive coaching – $105
  12. DoubleClick Bid Manager – $105
  13. Pitch deck – $105
  14. Venture capital consulting – $100
  15. Social listening – $100
  16. Partnerships – $100
  17. Food photography – $95
  18. Facebook ads – $95
  19. DoubleClick for Publishers – $95
  20. Marketo – $90

Image: Depositphotos.com 2 Comments ▼


Michael Guta


Michael Guta Michael Guta is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends focusing on business systems, gadgets and other small business news. He has a background in information and communications technology coordination.

2 Reactions

  1. Aira Bongco

    The number of independent professionals increase as well. So it is important to invest in your skills.

  2. Interesting that paid social is $145/hr but Facebook ads are only $95. I guess it pays extra to know platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

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