The 10 fastest-growing skills for freelancers in Q3

Looking for freelance work? These tech and other skills will help you land an in-demand job.

These are the top tech freelance jobs TechRepublic's Alison DeNisco Rayome enumerates the most in-demand skilled jobs for freelance tech workers.

The freelance job market continues to boom, as 56.7 million Americans representing 35% of the population perform some kind of freelance work, putting in an average of 1 billion hours of such work per week, according to Upwork. However, some skills are more likely to get you more work and higher pay rates than others, according to Upwork's Q3 2018 Skills Index, released Tuesday.

Upwork examined and ranked the fastest-growing skills out of more than 5,000 skills that freelancers offer on the platform. Here are the top 10 fastest-growing freelance skills for Q3 (you can compare them to their Q1 results and Q2 results as well):

SEE: IT Hiring Kit: Programmer (Tech Pro Research)

1. Dropbox API

Dropbox API skills are growing in demand as businesses seek out developers who can leverage the API to manage and control their content programmatically, including security, compliance, and administration solutions, and the development of new apps. Dropbox received more than 50 billion API calls per month;and more than 500,000 developers had registered and built apps on the platform as of 2017, according to Dropbox's IPO filing.

2. Equity research

Equity research involves analyzing a company's financial information, performing financial modeling, and making recommendations related to stocks. This role is key for businesses planning their financial futures.

3. Molecular biology

Molecular biologists are in demand in the freelance market likely due to the high skill level needed for these positions, and increasing research needs in the field.

4. iPhone UI design

User experience (UX) remains a top focus for global companies, as customers have twice as many brand interactions on mobile than anywhere else, the report noted. As the iOS market share rose by about 6% from June 2017 to June 2018, iPhone UI design specialists were in high demand last quarter.

5. Salesforce Marketing Cloud

As companies transition to customer-centric marketing strategies, Salesforce Marketing Cloud skills became higher in demand in Q3, with businesses looking to connect with customers in more meaningful ways, the report found.

6. Genetic algorithms

Deep learning has driven growth in genetic algorithms, which present a strong option for decreasing the complexity and cost of training deep neural networks, the report noted.

SEE: Job description: iOS developer (Tech Pro Research)

7. Vue.js framework

With the increase in mobile strategies and interactions, freelancers with skills in building user interfaces including Vue.js experienced high growth in Q3, the report found.

8. Kubernetes

By 2022, 28% of spending in enterprise IT markets will be cloud-based, Gartner predicted. Kubernetes, which lets users run and manage applications in hybrid environments, is one of the services that can help meet cloud goals, and saw high growth in Q3.

9. Social customer service

Social customer service skills saw soaring demand in Q3, as companies seek out new marketing strategies to focus on personalizing customer needs, the report said.

"Customer service used to be through closed mediums like phone and email with little visibility of opportunity for virality," Jamie Gilpin, CMO of Sprout Social, said in a press release. "However, with 47% of people using social media for customer service, the risk and reward of social customer care has never been higher. Therefore, businesses have a responsibility to hire people behind the handles that rise to the challenge and deliver attentive, responsible and thoughtful connections with their customers."

10. HR consulting

HR consultants are increasingly important in a tight labor market, as companies compete to find and develop top talent in high demand areas such as tech.

Freelance workers also place more value on skills training than traditional workers, the report found. Some 70% of full-time freelancers said they participated in skills training in the past six months, compared to 49% of full-time non-freelancers, Upwork research found.

Freelancers remain optimistic about the future of their work, Upwork also found: Nearly nine in 10 said they believe the freelance industry's best days are ahead.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Dropbox API is the fastest-growing freelance skill of Q3 2018. — Upwork, 2018
  • Other in-demand tech freelance skills in Q3 were iPhone UI design, Vue.js framework, and Kubernetes. — Upwork, 2018

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By Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.