There’s been plenty of talk about the “gig economy,” or lucrative side jobs that help people work independently for a decent amount of cash. While finding a clear definition of the term is challenging, the notion of self-employment on a project-by-project basis is slowly entering the lexicon of workers and traditional employers alike.
Anyone running a business should be aware of how the law and the market views the gig economy. Even entrepreneurs who are not currently participants in the gig economy may at some point hire independent workers and should understand their obligations. It also doesn’t hurt to know how much these jobs demand.
Here’s just a brief overview of some important issues, along with a quick-and-dirty list of some of the most in-demand and high-paying gig jobs.
Why the Gig Economy is Growing
According to some estimates, 41 million Americans see themselves as part of the gig economy, defined as an independent worker. In five years, about half of the U.S. workforce will be occupied in gig positions. There are a few reasons for this. As technology has advanced, it’s been easier for individuals to put their skills to good use on the open market.
The ability of technology to match people to temporary jobs is only expected to increase. As the idea of gig work becomes more pervasive, more and more people will give it a go, whether it’s renting out a room in the house to a temporary guest, acting as an on-call driver or completing deliveries.
How Courts are Responding
While the gig economy has its benefits, its unique structure poses a challenge to many traditional concepts of work. A recent court case in California has potentially made it more difficult for companies to call their workers independent contractors if the services they provide are part of the organization’s core business.
As a result, they may have to prepare for the possibility that contract workers may in fact be entitled to many of the benefits and obligations of employees. These changes are still in flux, however, and for many participants in the gig economy, the boundaries of the employer-employee, or independent contractor, relationship seem uncertain. For many independent workers, the terms and conditions of their arrangement may reduce their options to private arbitration for disputes without recourse to a more open, public legal process.
Where the Money Is
Despite the many unknowns and the sometimes precarious nature of jobs in the gig economy, there are some industries that pay top dollar for work. Some of these jobs require superior technical skill while others have no barriers to entry but are nonetheless in the highly competitive creative arts. Here are 10 examples of high paying gig economy jobs and what they entail.
1. Deep Learning
Artificial intelligence is no longer the domain of far-fetched science fiction programs. Deep learning, a subset of machine learning, is an area of development where programmers create nonhuman neural networks. This work isn’t for the beginning coder, but those with sufficient knowledge take home $115.06 an hour as freelancers.
2. Disc Jockey
Getting a club gig is likely a dream for many creative individuals. Doing this on a regular basis can also net a decent income. While DJs are typically only on the job for a few hours a week, they can make $65.70 an hour while doing so.
Those gorgeous wedding photographs that populate social media feeds have to come from somewhere. Typically, it’s not the bride, groom or some random guest taking the shots. Photographers make about $20.00 an hour on average, but actual rates can vary by a wide margin.
Bitcoin was only the first cryptocurrency to be based on blockchain. As this area continues to entice financial and nonfinancial types alike, programmers, developers and digital architects are demanding an average hourly rate of $87.05 (in fiat U.S. currency) to write the code. Freelancers working on the backend of Bitcoin and its related industries make an average of $65.37 an hour.
5. Fitness Coaching
This is another gig job whose pay varies wildly. Although the average rate for a fitness instructor may be $20.00 an hour, rates go up quickly for private sessions and in-home classes. The upper end of the pay scale is $75.00 to $100.00 an hour.
6. PSAT Tutor
Tutoring is a great online and offline gig. For the PSAT exam, one company is offering $20.00 to $40.00 per hour for online instruction.
7. Web Designer
Since the early days of the internet, freelancers have made money designing websites. Today, those creative people can make $20.00 to $150.00 per hour, even more if their side gigs are in association with a marketing firm.
8. Instagram Marketer
Harnessing the power of social media is great for brands and freelancers. Instagram marketers who understand this industry make $31.23 an hour.
Language skills are increasingly important in a global economy. While translators can make up to $55.00 per hour, it’s good to note that this is often highly skilled work requiring in-depth and accurate knowledge of both languages.
Building and maintaining robots, especially advanced machinery, earns freelancers $77.46 an hour. Typically, you’ll have to be a mechanical engineer to get in the door.
From the diversity of industries and skill levels on this list, it’s clear the gig economy has a place for almost anyone. It’s perhaps further indication on-demand, temporary or project-based roles aren’t going away. For many workers, it could mean a more flexible if unpredictable entrepreneurial future.