Beyond figuring out your lifestyle priorities, to be successful as a freelancer or gig economy worker, you've got to cultivate the right skills. Many of those skills revolve around technology. To pinpoint the most highly sought-after skills that companies look for in their contract workers, Fit Small Business analyzed data from freelancing websites, including Upwork, Freelancer, People Per Hour, Hubstaff and Guru to uncover the highest-paying gig economy jobs of 2018. Here are the top 10.
Deep learning jobs, $115.06
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With the rise of AI, it's no surprise that deep learning jobs take first place for the highest-paying gig economy jobs. Deep learning is a category of machine learning that entails the development of neural networks that are inspired by and similar to those of the human brain, without needing labeled or structured data to function. Freelancers in this area have job titles like data scientist (average hourly wage, $40.25), software engineer ($38.50) and machine learning engineer ($30.72), according to Indeed.com.The FitSmallBusiness report set their average per-hour higher: at $115.06.
These professionals have skills in algorithms and programming languages such as Tensorflow, Python, R, Java, Matlab, Perl and C++.
Blockchain jobs, $87.05/hour
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With the massive rise of cryptocurrency over the past few years, it's no surprise that blockchain jobs are the second highest paid category in the gig economy, with an average hourly rate of $87.05. Blockchain, the technology used to power cryptocurrencies, holds major opportunities for tech-savvy people. On top of the highly popular Bitcoin, Ethereum and Monero, more and more digital currencies are popping up every day. To join the cryptocurrency revolution, blockchain freelancers should have backgrounds as developers or digital architects. Their primary tasks typically consist of designing and developing blockchain technology for new cryptocurrencies, helping to build exchanges and helping businesses set up cryptocurrency transactions for customer purchases. Blockchain freelancers should be experts in C++, Python and Solidity.
Robotics jobs, $77.46/hour
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People often fear that a robot will come in and take their job -- and unfortunately, that fear might not be so far-fetched. More and more robotics and technology companies are revealing advanced robots and automated technologies to help streamline tasks and make operations more efficient. However, while robots might take some jobs, there is still a need for people to fill robotics jobs. That's why this area is the third-highest-paying gig economy job, with an average hourly rate of $77.46. Robotics freelancers are typically responsible for building and designing mechanical elements and machinery, and have skills in mechanical engineering software such as SolidWorks Professional, Photoview 360, Simplify3D and eDrawings.
Penetration testers, also known as "ethical hackers," are incredibly helpful to companies in checking their systems for potential security vulnerabilities and protecting them from criminal hackers. These freelancers typically have a strong background in coding and programming, are certified systems-security professionals and are familiar with common attack vectors, mitigation techniques and web application vulnerabilities. The average hourly pay for freelance penetration testers is $66.33.
Bitcoin jobs, $65.37/hour
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Amazon Web Services Lambda jobs, $51/hour
Unlike traditional servers that run all the time and charge for the space an application takes up even when not in use, Amazon Web Services Lambda only runs code when an event triggers it and only charges for the time that the code runs. This is becoming a popular area for freelancers because businesses are beginning to opt for AWS Lambda over traditional servers because of its low costs. Freelancers who specialize in AWS Lambda know how to write and load code for Lambda, and are proficient in Node.js, Python, Java and C#. The average hourly pay for freelance AWS Lambda jobs is $51 per hour, according to the FitSmallBusiness report.
Virtual reality jobs, $50.18/hour
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Virtual reality freelancing is the seventh-highest-paying gig economy job. With an average hourly rate of $50.18, virtual reality freelancers are typically responsible for developing algorithms and have backgrounds in 3D modeling and scanning. To excel in these roles, freelancers must also be fluent in C#, C and C++.
Final Cut Pro X jobs, $37.12/hour
Entertainment, production, marketing, advertising and other major industries rely on Apple's Final Cut Pro X for video editing. The software is incredibly helpful in creating and editing movies, videos and advertisements. Freelancers looking for Final Cut Pro X jobs must be able to cut video clips, use transitions, integrate background music, use cut and motion techniques to engage audiences and edit scenes using multiple angles. The average hourly pay for these types of freelancers is $37.12.
Instagram marketing jobs, $31.23/hour
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Instagram is one of the most popular social platforms, so it's no wonder Instagram marketing is one of the highest-paid freelance gigs of 2018. With 1 billion active users in June 2018 (and still rising) according to Statista, and a rising percentage of businesses using the platform to advertise (100 percent for auto, 98 percent for fashion, 78 percent for consumer electronics), Instagram marketing jobs are in high demand. To be a freelance Instagram marketer, you should understand the platform and its algorithms, be able to create engaging content, build a brand's voice, analyze growth and performance metrics and run paid Instagram campaigns. Instagram marketing freelancers typically make $31.23 an hour.
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