CXO

The 10 highest-paying gig economy jobs are all in tech

As more workers turn to the gig economy, it's important to know what fields will help you land the highest freelance salary.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • The top paying gig economy jobs for 2018 are in artificial intelligence/deep learning, blockchain architecture, and robotics. — FitSmallBusiness.com, 2018
  • A freelance job in the AI/deep learning field on average pays more than four times the country's median household income. — FitSmallBusiness.com, 2018

Freelance work via the gig economy has exploded in the last five years, offering new nontraditional work opportunities across industries in the US. The more than 57 million Americans who work freelance jobs contribute nearly $1.4 trillion to the economy every year, according to a study from Upwork and the Freelancers Union.

To determine which gig economy jobs will net you the highest salary, FitSmallBusiness.com examined skills where client billings grew by 200% from 2016 to 2017, as well as the hourly rates of hundreds of freelancers in those skill areas from popular gig economy websites Upwork, Freelancer, People Per Hour, Hubstaff, and Guru.

Here are the 10 highest-paying gig economy jobs of 2018, according to FitSmallBusiness.com:

SEE: IT jobs 2018: Hiring priorities, growth areas, and strategies to fill open roles (Tech Pro Research)

1. Artificial intelligence (AI)/Deep learning

Average salary: $115.06/hour

Freelancers in the AI/deep learning field are experts in machine learning, according to the report. They develop algorithms using tools and programming languages, such as Tensorflow, Python, R, Java, Matlab, Perl, and C++.

2. Blockchain architecture

Average salary: $87.05/hour

Freelancers with blockchain skills are typically developers or architects who design and develop blockchain technology for a new cryptocurrency, or a new cryptocurrency exchange. They may also help businesses that want to accept bitcoin or other digital currencies as a form of payment for goods and services. Blockchain freelancers are well-versed in various programming languages including C++, Python, and Solidity, the report noted.

3. Robotics

Average salary: $77.46/hour

Robotics freelancers design the mechanical elements of robots. They also may create 3D models and animations using computer aided design (CAD). These freelancers often have a background in mechanical engineering, and are proficient in software such as SolidWorks Professional, Photoview 360, Simplify 3D, and eDrawings, according to the report.

4. Ethical hacking

Average salary: $66.33/hour

Ethical hackers, also known as penetration testers or white hat hackers, work to hack a client's system to find their security vulnerabilities. These freelancers are familiar with common attack vectors, mitigation techniques, and web application vulnerabilities, and they also know how to fix these vulnerabilities. The best freelancers in this area are certified information systems security professionals or certified ethical hackers, the report noted.

5. Cryptocurrency

Average salary: $65.37/hour

Cryptocurrency freelancers specializing in Bitcoin or other currencies build automated tools for trading on exchanges, market charts, and systems for integrating cryptocurrency payments on a client's app or website. These freelancers are often proficient in Python, Javascript (Node.JS), Ruby, PHP, and other programming languages, according to the report.

SEE: Research: Companies lack skills to implement and support AI and machine learning (Tech Pro Research)

6. Amazon Web Services (AWS) Lambda coding

Average salary: $51.00/hour

AWS Lambda allows users to run code without servers, and more AWS clients are using this system to save on costs. Freelancers in this area are typically developers proficient in Node.js, Python, Java, and C#, who write and load code onto Lambda.

7. Virtual reality (VR)

Average salary: $50.18/hour

Augmented reality (AR) and VR are becoming more of a business reality, used for employee training and other purposes in the enterprise. Freelancers seeking gig jobs in this area must have expertise in developing AR algorithms, and are usually fluent in C#, C, and C++. Many also have a background in 3D modelling and 3D scanning, the report said.

8. ReactJS developers

Average salary: $40.75/hour

React—an open-source JavaScript library used by front-end software developers—allows developers to more easily build user interfaces and make changes with large data sets. Many websites rely on React, including Airbnb, American Express, and Yahoo, the report said, and React freelancers develop web applications that can change data with no need to reload the page. Developers in this area are fluent in JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS.

9. Final Cut Pro editors

Average salary: $37.12/hour

Final Cut Pro X is Apple's professional-grade video editing software, used often by companies to create movies, advertisements, and music videos. Freelancers skilled in Final Cut Pro can cut video clips, use transitions, integrate background music, and edit scenes, the report said.

10. Instagram marketing

Average salary: $31.23/hour

An estimated 70% of US businesses have advertised their products on Instagram, according to the report, and the photo sharing platform generates a higher average order value than its competitors Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Freelance Instagram marketers promote a client's business on Instagram, including creating content, carrying the voice of the brand, using relevant and popular hashtags, and engaging users to grow a following. These marketers also analyze metrics to measure growth and performance.

"What's interesting to note is that the number one job on our list - Deep Learning - pays over four times the country's median household income," Eric Noe, editor-in-chief of FitSmallBusiness.com, said in a press release. "The average annual income for deep learning is $239,325, while the country's median household income is $59.039. But, even if you're a freelancer in the lowest paying gig economy job on our list - Instagram Marketing - you can make a good living with an average annual income of $64,958."

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/RyanKing999

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

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

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