Demand for freelance workers has skyrocketed in recent years, thanks to talent shortages faced by many enterprises and the rise of the gig economy. The majority of hiring managers (59%) are already tapping freelance talent, and of those, more than half (57%) said they expect to use even more of these workers in the next 10 years, according to a recent report from freelancing website Upwork.

On Tuesday, Upwork released its index of the fastest-growing skills in the US freelance job market for Q2 (you can compare it to their Q1 results here).

“As technological change and the knowledge economy continue advancing, so will work requiring more skills,” Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork and co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Council on the Future of Gender, Education and Work, said in a press release. “Many of today’s jobs will change as the world’s needs change and automation progresses, but shortages in local talent pools and the skills businesses need can be overcome with freelance talent, who are nearly twice as likely as traditional employees to proactively upgrade their skills.”

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

Certain skills–most of which are in tech–are more likely to net you a high-paying freelance job than others, the report found. The 20 fastest-growing freelance skills in Q2 experienced more than 150% year-over-year growth, the report found. Demand for the top 10 skills on the list grew more than 500% compared to the same time last year.

Here are the 20 fastest-growing skills for freelancers in Q2 2018.

1. Blockchain

Blockchain topped the list for the second consecutive quarter, the report found. Its year-over-year growth exceeded 2,000% for the past four quarters, and it experienced more than 3,500% year-over-year growth in Q2 alone.

“Blockchain (a decentralized way to record information digitally) shows huge potential for businesses, causing a spike in demand for experts familiar with the technology,” the report stated. A recent Deloitte report found that 74% of executives said they see a “compelling business case” for the use of blockchain.

2. Google Cloud Platform

New to the list this quarter, demand for Google Cloud Platform skills grew quickly, thanks in part to two factors, the report noted: GitLab shared plans to migrate its code repositories from Microsoft Azure to Google Cloud Platform, and Google announced support for distributed ledger technology frameworks on the platform.

3. Volusion

Skills in the e-commerce software platform Volusion also made the list for the first time this quarter. More than 180,000 businesses worldwide use Volusion today, according to its website.

4. Risk management

Risk management skills are crucial for project teams, as they help ensure that the team has identified potential risks and developed the best strategies to deal with those risks. (For tips on how to create an effective risk management plan, click here.)

5. Product photography

With the rise of e-commerce, more companies need attractive product photos for websites to boost sales, the report noted. (For tips on how to take professional photos with your smartphone, click here.)

6. Rapid prototyping

The rise of 3D printing technologies has allowed more design and other teams to perform rapid prototyping and create products in less time for less cost.

7. Google App Engine API

Google Cloud announced support for Node.js in its App Engine, leading to the API to see tremendous growth, the report noted.


SCORM–a set of technical standards for e-learning software products–saw a rise in demand, as e-learning itself continues to grow.

9. GitLab

GitLab saw a surge in demand in Q2, due to a number of reasons, the report noted. For one, Apple announced an Xcode integration with the tool. GitLab also imported more than 100,000 repositories from GitHub, following the latter’s impending acquisition by Microsoft.

10. Go development

Go–a programming language created by Google in 2009–made the list for the third consecutive quarter. It is the no. 1 language that developers said they plan to learn, according to HackerRank.

11. Apple UIKit

In June, Apple announced plans to bring its UIKit iOS interface framework to the Mac, which may have led to a popularity spike.

12. Enterprise architecture

Enterprise architecture refers to a blueprint that defines the structure and operation of an organization, and is meant to determine how that organization can most effectively reach its objectives.

13. Tensorflow

Google’s Tensorflow–which was no. 2 on the list last quarter–is being used in machine learning to solve challenging problems worldwide.

14. Atlassian Confluence

Atlassian Confluence is a collaboration software program, written in Java. It allows teams to create, share, and collaborate on projects all in one place, according to its website.

15. Apple Xcode

Xcode is an integrated development environment for macOS that helps people create apps for all Apple platforms, including macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Companies are seeking freelance developers with Xcode knowledge to build their apps, leading to increased demand for the skill during the same quarter Apple announced Xcode 10 at WWDC.

16. E-learning

As technology and automation begins to impact jobs, e-learning has become a key method for reskilling workers, the report noted.

17. Customer retention

Companies are seeking customer retention experts to keep customers returning to their products and services in a competitive market.

18. Articulate Storyline

Articulate Storyline is a software for creating interactive online courses. Its rise in popularity as a skill set comes with the increase in e-learning and SCORM as well.

19. Node.js

Developers with expertise in popular runtime environment Node.js are growing in demand this quarter, the report found.

20. Scala development

Scala development combines object-oriented and functional programming in one high-level language, and made the list for the second consecutive quarter. Scala developers in the US are among the highest-paid, according to Stack Overflow.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Blockchain, Google Cloud Platform, and Volusion are the fastest-growing freelance skills for Q2 2018. — Upwork, 2018
  • The 20 fastest-growing freelance skills in Q2 2018 experienced more than 150% year-over-year growth in demand. — Upwork, 2018