Which Tech Freelancing Skills Pay the Most Per Hour?

Take a seat and prepare yourself for some shocking news: tech freelancers can pull down a sizable amount of money per hour.

New data from Upwork (an online freelancing platform) suggests that tech skills such as network analysis, computer vision, Chef.io, and neural networks are worth anywhere from $140 to $200 per hour on the open market.

“The more specialized you are, the more premium you’re going to command,” Rich Pearson, Upwork’s Senior VP of Marketing, told Money magazine, which wrote up the analysis. “These are pretty unique skills in the marketplace.”

What other skills earned over $100 per hour? Firmware engineering and hardware prototyping hit $130 per hour, while cloud computing averaged $125. Spatial analysis and “Apple Watch” (presumably building iOS smartwatch apps) pulled down $110 per hour, as did NetSuite development. Algorithm development and software debugging were worth a cool $100 per hour.

Obviously, not all freelancers (and gigs) are created equal, and there’s no guarantee that someone with these skills will earn these amounts on the open market. That being said, there are some easily discernable trends behind these freelancer payouts; for example, the high rates paid to those specializing in computer vision suggests there’s a serious market for machine learning and artificial intelligence (A.I.), of which computer vision is a pretty significant building block.

In similar fashion, interest in spatial analysis suggests companies are exploring things such as mapping spaces—potentially vital for everything from self-driving cars to commerce.

But for those who don’t specialize in a cutting-edge skill, the good news is that more “standard issue” skills such as debugging and algorithm building can still earn tech pros quite a bit of cash.

While tech freelancing is potentially lucrative, it’s also hard work. Freelancers need to sell themselves, and focus on building up a stable roster of clients who offer repeat business. It’s not for everyone, especially those who dislike the prospect of unsteady income and (occasionally) annoying clients. But for anyone with the right skills and attitude, it can more than pay the bills.