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.
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.
Average salary: $65.37/hour
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
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."
- Special report: How to implement AI and machine learning (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- No, AI won't eat your job, say tech chiefs, and here's why (ZDNet)
- Cheat sheet: How to become a data scientist (TechRepublic)
- Five tech jobs that AI and automation will make radically more efficient (ZDNet)
- The top 10 fastest-growing jobs in the US (TechRepublic)
- Report: Why women work in the gig economy (TechRepublic)