How many tech workers are either independent contractors or freelancers? Roughly 1 million, according to new data from CompTIA (PDF).
Overall tech employment stood at 6.7 million in 2015, according to the firm, which represents a significant increase from 6.5 million employed in 2014. In total, that’s the equivalent of 5.7 percent of the total U.S. private-sector workforce.
(CompTIA draws its statistics on jobs, wages, and payroll from reports generated by Economic Modeling Specialists International, or EMSI, which is based on data produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
CompTIA’s data supports the theory that a large number of tech professionals have struck out on an independent track, rather than work as an employee at a corporation. In late 2015, a joint survey by research firm IDC and the Application Developers Alliance found that roughly a third of working developers were freelancers.
“We believe that mobile devices and the app economy are important factors contributing to this growth, though the rise of gaming, and the higher level of freelancing in the economy in general are also contributing factors,” read the note accompanying that data.
At least in the context of tech, however, not all professionals are rapidly jumping from job to job, with more than two-thirds of freelancers telling IDC and the Application Developers Alliance that they performed work for a specific company.
Freelancing offers numerous benefits for tech workers, including scheduling flexibility and the ability to work from anywhere. That being said, it also comes with some pressing insurance and legal concerns, depending on career path.
For those who decide to go the freelancing route, remember that you’ll need a solid mix of technical and “soft” skills if you want to make a go of it. In order to differentiate yourself from the competition, you’ll want to build your brand by disseminating your story through as many channels as possible, and adding a personal touch when dealing with clients.