The gig economy is taking over the enterprise, especially in the tech sector: 45% of tech jobs are projected to be freelance by 2028. Professionals of all ages are attracted to the freelancing lifestyle, with the freedom and flexibility of the new age working style causing 57 million Americans to join the movement.

SEE: The gig economy: An insider’s guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

A major negative connotation associated with freelancers is that they don’t earn enough money to support themselves; however, this assumption is a myth, according to Upwork’s recent data on the 20 Highest-paying Skills for Independent Professionals Right now.

“While wages for the most lucrative skills are high, they aren’t outliers. 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,” Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork, said in a press email. “This isn’t just about one lucrative field either; the top paid skills span categories, including tech, marketing, law and finance.”

Based on Upwork’s database of the hourly average rates charged by US freelancers this year, the report identified the following 20 highest paying skills for freelancers, and how much people with those skill earn per hour:

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

“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,” Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork, said in a press email. “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.”

For more, check out the 10 best cities for freelance workers on TechRepublic.

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Image: nortonrsx, Getty Images/iStockphoto