The internet has revolutionized the way that we work. We no longer need to sit at a desk in an office to get our work done, and while more and more people in traditional jobs are being allowed to work from home, there’s also been a huge wave of people quitting their jobs completely to earn a living on their own.

In fact, you can get started as a freelancer even if you have no experience, and online marketplaces like Upwork and PeoplePerHour mean you can set up a profile and start selling straight away. This enables people to find new ways to monetize existing talents, so an artist could start earning money by painting portraits on demand while simultaneously picking up occasional bits of graphic design work.

For those who want to go freelance but who don’t have a marketable skill, the focus switches from monetising an existing skill to developing an entirely new one. When you’re looking for a new skill to learn, a number of factors need to go into the decision, but one of the most obvious is how much you’ll get paid to do it. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you and listed some of the highest paying freelance opportunities on the market.

1. Network analysis ($200/hour)

This skill came top of a 2018 list by Business Insider, and there’s a good reason for that. As our modern society continues to rely on computer networks to process and store information, network analysts are in high-demand. It’s their job to analyse computer networks and to make software and hardware recommendations to improve its performance. Part of the reason for the high hourly rate is the fact that network analysts often have to travel to a specific location to get their job done, although a certain amount of work can also be done remotely.

2. Software development ($150/hour)

The amount you’ll earn as a software developer largely depends upon how experienced you are. Still, Freelancing Hacks explains that once you have “solid skills in programming languages like iOS and WebGL, you could start charging somewhere around $150 per hour or more.” Put simply, everyone needs software, and more and more businesses are starting to see the value of developing their own bespoke software – or of hiring a freelancer to do it for them.

3. Neural networks ($140/hour)

This rapidly growing area of artificial intelligence and machine learning is all about teaching computers to “think” by imitating a human brain. This allows us to process data at a much larger scale and to draw advanced conclusions that we might not previously have had access to. As you can probably imagine with data as important as it in our modern times, freelancers with the ability to work with neural networks can often demand a premium.

4. Patent law ($110/hour)

According to one infographic based on data from Elance and oDesk, patent law is one of the highest paying freelance skills based on its hourly rate. This is perhaps unsurprising given the amount of education that’s required to make it out there in the legal field. Still, if time is no object and you’re willing to work hard to become an expert in patent law, you can earn well in excess of $100/hour in a field that’s sure to survive the ongoing technological revolution.

5. Voice acting ($95/hour)

This might not seem like an obvious choice, but one investigation by The Telegraph found that voice actors earned upwards of $95/hour when working from home. And while it’s true that voice acting used to be a niche field, it’s experienced something of a renaissance thanks to the rise of video marketing. In the same way that a generation of writers is earning a living by writing businesses’ blog posts and social media updates, a generation of voice actors is working on animations and voiceovers for corporate customers.

6. Natural language processing ($50 /hour)

Entrepreneur’s top skill was natural language processing (NLP), which is all about helping machines to better understand human beings and the way that we talk. Driven by the growth of virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, NLP specialists can easily earn upwards of $100,000 a year, and it’s likely that demand for them will continue to grow in the coming years.


Now that you know which jobs are paying well, the next step is to figure out where your talent and interests lie and to start learning new skills accordingly. Be prepared to invest some cash up front on training programmes and certifications because they’ll serve you in good stead in the long run.

In the meantime, use the jobs on this list as inspiration and start to familiarize yourself with the landscape. If you want to become a well-paid freelancer, you can become a well-paid freelancer. All it takes is a little dedication and a lot of hard work. Good luck.