The gig economy is often mistaken for limited side hustling—part-time work that can only yield part-time (i.e., low) income. If you’re tech-savvy, now is the time to change your perspective. Professionals with the right skills have lucrative freelance options, according to a FitSmallBusiness.com study. Their research revealed the 10 disciplines with the highest hourly wage in 2018—and the job growth to match:
1. Deep Learning/Artificial Intelligence: $115.06 Per Hour
- Job Description: Deep learning is a fast-growing industry used to create self-teaching systems. Google, for instance, uses deep learning in their voice and image recognition algorithms, and streaming sites like Netflix use it to predict which titles you’re likely to watch. At its core, deep learning involves feeding computer systems massive amounts of data, and then “teaching” them to assess the data’s meaning in the same way a human brain breaks down information. When successful, the system will use the data to make future decisions.
- Background and Training: Most employers require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science, but you shouldn’t discount relevant work experience, including Java and C++ proficiencies.
- Where to Find Gigs: There currently are over 8,000 deep learning jobs posted on LinkedIn, so you’ll have no shortage of opportunity in this field. For telecommuting gigs, check out FlexJobs’s extensive list of opportunities.
2. Blockchain Architecture: $87.05 Per Hour
- Job Description: The internet was once run on servers, also known as cloud computing, in which users share data on third-party servers via Google and Microsoft. Blockchain architecture allows users to connect directly using a peer-to-peer system, which increases security and eliminates the need for a middle-man. Blockchain infrastructures are becoming increasingly popular in banking and cryptocurrency transactions, e.g., Bitcoin, and the possibilities are endless for other consumer businesses.
- Background and Training: Blockchain freelancers need a strong background in programming, including knowledge of C++, Solidarity, and Python, Ethereum, and Java to qualify for the average position. It’s also helpful to have previous experience helping clients set up cryptocurrency payments for their businesses.
- Where to Find Gigs: You’ll find long-term blockchain opportunities within FlexJobs’s database, and you’ll find one-time gigs on Upwork’s job board, many of which list their budgets at $1,000 or more.
3. Robotics: $77.46 Per Hour
- Job Description: Robotics engineers are responsible for conceptualizing, designing, and modeling the mechanical elements of robotic mechanisms. Robotics disciplines include mechanical and electrical engineering—and companies are expanding to develop devices in the medical and surgical fields as well.
- Background and training: Securing a robotics position usually requires a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, but a proven proficiency in 3D modeling using computer-aided design (CAD) might be considered. You’ll also need experience using eDrawing, Simplify 3D, SolidWorks Pro, and Photoview 360.
- Where to Find Gigs: FlexJobs and Upwork list a few robotics positions with the option to telecommute, and you may have additional success searching for “mechanical design engineer” or “robotics engineer.” A LinkedIn job search also found nearly 800 robotics engineering jobs with big names like Apple and Toyota in the mix.
4. Ethical Hacking: $66.63 Per Hour
- Job Description: Hacking is synonymous with data breaches and identity theft—unless you’re on the ethical side. Ethical hackers are paid to spot vulnerabilities in online systems before malicious hackers can take advantage. This usually involves reviewing installation processes, bypassing firewalls, cracking encryptions, and exploiting web servers to gain access to sensitive information.
- Background and Training: The best freelancers in this area are information systems security professionals or certified ethical hackers (CEH), who complete training and certification exams to qualify for top positions.
- Where to Find Gigs: The phrases, “ethical hacker” and “penetration tester” return one-time gig results in Upwork, and you’ll find hundreds of ongoing positions using the same terms in FlexJobs’s database.
5. Cryptocurrency: $65.37 Per Hour
- Job Description: Bitcoin has changed global commerce and fostered the growing need for blockchain technology. Freelance developers with the ability to build automated payment tools using altcoins are sought after, including those who understand how to integrate bitcoin payment technology into existing websites and apps.
- Background and Training: Blockchain architecture and cryptocurrency development go hand-in-hand, which means that most positions require similar experience, including C++, Solidarity, and Python, Ethereum, and Java proficiency. You’ll also get bonus points if you’ve set up cryptocurrency payment systems in the past.
- Where to Find Gigs: Guru has dozens of freelance listings for cryptocurrency developers, with a few that offer more than $100 per hour. FlexJobs and Upwork are also reliable sources for your gig search, and you can also apply to Toptal, a staffing service that connects freelancers to businesses in search of skilled professionals.
6. Amazon Web Services, Lambda Coding: $51 Per Hour
- Job Description: Amazon Web Services’ Lambda technology enables trigger-based code execution. In layman’s terms, it allows you to minimize server space by running code only when a pre-set trigger event exists. For example, if a user completes an order form, the Lambda system might trigger the information to be loaded into another database as a one-time action, rather than taking up space when no actions are in progress.
- Background and Training: In addition to a degree in computer science, lambda freelancers are generally skilled users of Node.js, Java, C#, and Python. They also understand how to design triggers and load code onto Lambda.
- Where to Find Gigs: Amazon’s Jobs page lists hundreds of Lambda-related positions all over the country, but only a few are work-from-home. If you’d rather stick to freelancing, check out Upwork’s job listings using the search phrase, “AWS Lambda.”
7. Virtual Reality: $50.18 Per Hour
- Job Description: If you’ve ever entered the worlds of Pokemon Go or Geocaching, you’ve experienced virtual reality. App designers create digital content that combines visual and audio to create an interactive world in a user’s environment.
- Background and Training: Freelancers looking for gig jobs in this area must have expertise in developing augmented reality algorithms and fluency in C#, C, and C++. Most also have a background in 3D modeling and 3D scanning.
- Where to Find Gigs: Industry leaders like Microsoft, Facebook (Oculus), and Google are looking for virtual reality developers right now via Indeed.com, and many of them offer telecommuting and flexible schedule options. If you prefer freelance work, you’ll find temporary and telecommuting gigs through FlexJobs, Upwork, and Guru.
8. ReactJS Developers: $40.75 Per Hour
- Where to Find Gigs: FlexJobs has hundred of active listings seeking React developers for freelance and full-time telecommuting jobs.
9. Final Cut Pro Editor: $37.12 Per Hour
- Job Description: Visual communication is crucial in our culture, and the ability to edit material with Apple’s software is a marketable skill. This professional-grade software allows you to cut video clips, alter pace, integrate music, edit scenes, insert transitions, and more. As an editing freelancer, you can find work in almost every professional field.
- Background and Training: Software proficiency is key in this job description. While some employers might require a bachelor’s degree, you’re likely to stand out with a convincing portfolio of past work.
- Where to Find Gigs: You’ll find one-time gigs through Upwork by searching for “Final Cut Pro,” and “video editor,” many of which advertise rates of $350 or more. FlexJobs also lists more than 750 telecommuting opportunities ranging from freelance to full-time.
10. Instagram Marketing: $31.23 Per Hour
- Job Description: Instagram is home to 800 million monthly active users, many of which sell products through their personal feeds. As a marketer and influencer, you’ll connect with brands and advertise their products through your photos for an agreed-upon fee.
- Background and Training: Little professional training is needed to qualify as an Instagram marketer; your followers are credential enough. That said, brands are more likely to work with influencers with a larger following, and it’s a good idea to use the tools at your disposal. Entrepreneur Magazine suggests using the platform’s built-in analytics to track and improve your promotion strategies. It’s also wise to cross-promote your posts across multiple social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
- Where to Find Gigs: While some brands seek out Instagrammers, be prepared to pursue them yourself if you don’t yet have a large following. You can join influencer networks like Influencer Bay and Tribe to connect with brands, submit campaigns, and begin earning cash.
With gigs like these, it’s clear that freelancing isn’t a small-time pursuit. Use your tech skills to take advantage of the changing landscape of remote employment. You might find a future that involves working less—and earning much more.