Two recent studies show that now is a good time to be a freelance IT professional. Enterprise demand for specific skillsets, a war for talent, and constantly shifting tech priorities are contributing to a thriving IT freelance culture.
There are pros and cons to choosing a freelance life over working fulltime. Among the plusses: As a freelancer, you can grow a broad base of interesting skills, pick your projects, and make good money -- if you know what you're doing. The minuses include: Balancing out your project workflow so that you're not overwhelmed by deadlines; not having a steady paycheck; constantly searching for your next project.
For the past 18 months, the plusses have appeared to outweigh the minuses, and there's little indication that this will change in the near future. in July, Freelance job search site Upwork (formerly known as Elance oDesk) surveyed 1,068 of its top-rated developers worldwide to learn more about why they got into freelancing, what they do, and how they do it. The respondents were selected because they have a job success rate on Upwork of 90% or higher, among other criteria. The Upwork survey provides insight into routines and motivations for freelance developers, and reveals how they go about getting work.
[ Stop! Don't take that new job until you get these questions answered. ]
To give you a snapshot of the current state of IT freelancing, we also looked at the Freelancing In America study, commissioned in 2014 by The Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk and conducted by independent research firm Edelman Berland. That study was based on a survey of 5,052 U.S. adults -- including but not limited to tech professionals -- who had done paid work (freelance or permanent) in the prior 12 months.
The Edelman Berland study finds that freelancers working in in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields are in greater demand than those working in other industries. In fact, 98% of respondents working in computing, computer peripherals, or other IT manufacturing said their skills are in demand, while 87% of respondents working in data science and analytics said their skills are in demand. Likewise, 81% of mobile/web programmers and 83% of those working in the broad "technology" field are seeing continued demand for their skill sets.
Do you hire or work with freelance developers or other IT service contractors in your organization? Are you an IT freelancer yourself? Let us know in the comments section below how your experiences stack up against the survey findings.