When Jeff Frederick lost his architecture job back in 2008, he quickly made up for some of his lost income by finding freelance architecture projects on Elance.com, a website for online freelancers. His wife was already using the site to earn extra cash as a writer, and he found a steady stream of architecture-related projects. “I bid on some jobs there and started getting them, and it helped sustain us through the downtime,” says Frederick, who lives in Troy, Mich.
After once again finding full-time employment, he kept up his freelance work through the site to earn extra money and continue building his side business in the evenings and on weekends. Frederick designed a custom deck trellis for a homeowner as well as office space in Omaha. “I didn’t want it to lapse because down the road, I really want to run my own business and choose my own projects,” he says.
For certain fields, particularly creative ones where work can be completed anywhere with Internet access, the freelance economy is booming: Freelance websites such as Elance.com and Freelancer.com report rapid rates of growth for job postings, especially among Web design, information technology work, and online marketing. Among freelancers who also hold down full-time jobs, Freelancer.com reports that technical skills such as Web design, search engine optimization, html coding, and other types of Web development and software work are among the most popular categories.
“The runaway success of well-designed products like the iPad is driving companies to tap into the global pool of creative talent,” says Fabio Rosati, chief executive of Elance. Since companies of all sizes need to interact with their customers on computers, smartphones, and other mobile devices, “the demand for visual designers, content writers, and other creative talent is soaring,” he adds.
While multiple job-holding is relatively uncommon among workers as a whole—just 5 percent of workers hold more than one job—more educated workers are far more likely to pick up side gigs. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that almost 8 percent of women with advanced degrees hold multiple jobs, twice the rate for workers who hold only a high school degree.
Some part-time gigs are particularly lucrative: According to PayScale.com, these are the 25 highest-paying jobs for part-time, self-employed workers, along with the median hourly pay:
1. Attorney/Lawyer ($147.40)
2. Clinical Psychologist ($125.30)
3. Senior Copywriter ($85.00)
4. IT Security Consultant ($81.80)
5. Management Consultant ($75.00)
6. Senior Software Engineer ($75.00)
7. Human Resources (HR) Consultant ($72.20)
8. Life Coach ($70.00)
9. Information Technology Consultant ($69.00)
10. Certified Financial Planner ($61.40)
11. Speech-Language Pathologist ($60.80)
12. Senior Graphic Designer ($60.00)
13. Physical Therapist ($59.20)
14. Public Relations Consultant ($58.90)
15. Interior Designer ($57.70)
16. Education/Training Consultant ($56.30)
17. Real Estate Agent ($55.00)
18. Licensed Massage Therapist ($49.60)
19. Private Detective or Investigator ($49.60)
20. Marketing Consultant ($49.10)
21. Healthcare Consultant ($48.30)
22. Musician or Singer ($48.20)
23. Landscape Architect ($45.20)
24. General Contractor ($45.00)
25. Certified Public Accountant ($40.30)