Only 56% of Small Business Owners Have a College Degree, Down From Previous Years

Self-Employment Statistics

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Digital technology is disrupting almost everything, which includes education. According to the self employment statistics in FreshBooks’ 2019 Self-Employment in America Report, college education is becoming less of a prerequisite.

The percentage of self-employed professionals with college degrees has decreased considerably in the last couple years. In 2017 it was 64%, followed by 60% in 2018 and it now stands at 56% in 2019. This doesn’t mean people are not getting educated. The only thing that has changed is how they’re getting this education.

A fact which supports this point is how much those with and without college degrees earn. In the past the earning disparity between high school and college graduates was significant, this is no longer the case. The report reveals there is no difference in revenue between businesses founded in the last two years for both groups.

FreshBooks says 24 million Americans want to become self-employed by 2021.

In the press release for the report Mike McDerment, Co-founder and CEO at FreshBooks, explained the challenges and opportunities.

McDerment goes on to say, “Tens of millions of Americans have told us that their ‘dream job’ is to work for themselves.” Adding, “But this is a scary proposition for most because the world is in many ways not ready for them. The good news is that the payoffs—both financial and otherwise—are real.”

The biggest driver for the millions of people who want to go out on their own is to control their destiny. Here’s the latest self employment statistics.

Self Employment Statistics

The number one reason driving people to self-employment is to control their careers. The participants in this survey say they want the freedom, flexibility, and control self-employment provides.

Close to two thirds or 65% want to choose when they work. And another 56% also want the ability to choose how hard they work. This of course requires discipline, but the payoff is a work/life balance workers are looking for these days.

Other control measures include career development (48%) and where they work (47%). But as 1 in 3 or 31% responded, they just don’t want to report to others.

There is a group of people who are inherently independent, for them self-employment is worth the risks, rewards, and happiness it offers.

Self-Employed Americans are Happier

The respondents say self-employment makes them happier and healthier. And they have no desire to go back to a regular job anytime soon. This is true for 96% of the respondents, while 70% say they have a better work/life balance.

Additional benefits of self-employed individuals include less stress (55%), being healthier (54%), and spending more time outdoors and traveling (27%).

The Survey

In collaboration with Dynata, FreshBooks carried out a comprehensive study with the participation of 3,700 people across the U.S. online in November of 2018. The participants were full-time workers as traditional employees, independent professionals, or small business owners.

The samples reflect target populations such as age, gender and industry. This includes using data from the U.S. Census, U.S. Small Business Administration, the NAICS Association and other sources.


Michael Guta Michael Guta is the Assistant Editor at Small Business Trends and has been with the team for 9 years. He currently manages its East African editorial team. Michael brings with him many years of content experience in the digital ecosystem covering a wide range of industries. He holds a B.S. in Information Communication Technology, with an emphasis in Technology Management.