Independent Contractors

The Rise of the 6-Figure Freelancer

The Rise of the 6-Figure Freelancer
Image credit: Roberto Westbrook | Getty Images
Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC
2 min read

An ever increasing number of independent contractors are making at least six figures.

There are going to be 3.8 million independent contractors by 2020 making more than $100,000 a year, according to estimates from the self-employed professional service provider, MBO Partners.

In 2015, 2.9 million full-time independent contractors were making more than $100,000. That is more than 16 percent of the 17.8 million full-time independent contractors in the U.S. in 2015, according to research from Herndon, Va.-based MBO Partners.

That means almost one in five full-time freelancers were turning six-figure salaries last year.  

The research was highlighted in MBO’s recent report, published in April, calling for a new federal worker classification for the burgeoning category of worker. It proposed the CSE, or Certified Self-Employed.

Related: We're Turning Into a Freelance Nation. Here's What That Looks Like.


Taken together, the independent contractor workforce in the U.S. includes 42.1 million people, including both part-time and full-time freelance workers. The freelance workforce generates $1.15 trillion in economic activity, according to MBO.

The rise of the freelancer economy has been a response in part to the proliferation of on-demand companies, such as Uber and Airbnb, which serve as a broker between people providing a service with people and companies demanding that service and the increasing preference of employees to be able to determine their own schedule.

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What You Need to Know Before Hiring Independent Contractors