A new Upwork report also lists in-demand skills for freelancers in marketing, customer service, accounting, consulting, and design and creative categories.
Full-stack development is the most highly sought tech skill among freelance talent, according to Upwork’s just-released list of the most in-demand skills for freelance professionals in 2023. Among Upwork’s list of most in-demand skills for independent talent, those with the highest year-over-year growth on the Upwork platform are sales & business development (54%), data entry (47%), accounting (45%) and 3D animation (44%).
Below, we list the most in-demand skills for freelance professionals based on what businesses are also looking for in tech, marketing, customer service, accounting and consulting, and design and creative categories.
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Top 10 most in-demand tech skills for 2023
- Full-stack development.
- Front-end development.
- Back-end development.
- Mobile app development.
- Web design.
- E-commerce website development.
- UX/UI design.
- Content management systems development.
- Manual testing.
- Scripting and automation.
Top 10 most in-demand marketing skills for 2023
- Search engine optimization.
- Social media marketing.
- Other digital marketing.
- Lead generation.
- Sales and business development.
- Search engine marketing.
- Email marketing.
- Marketing strategy.
- Marketing automation.
Top 10 most in-demand customer service and admin support skills for 2023
- Email, phone and chat support.
- General virtual assistance.
- Data entry.
- Digital project management.
- General research services.
- Tech support.
- Dropshipping and order processing.
- Community management.
- Market research.
Top 10 most in-demand accounting and consulting skills for 2023
- Recruiting and talent sourcing.
- Financial analysis and modeling.
- Management consulting.
- Instructional design.
- HR administration.
- Business analysis and strategy.
- Tax preparation.
- Financial management.
Top 10 most in-demand design and creative skills for 2023
- Graphic design.
- Video editing.
- 3D animation.
- Presentation design.
- Image editing.
- Cartoons and comics.
- Product and industrial design.
- 2D animation.
- Video production.
Why is freelance work so popular now?
Even during economic uncertainty and with many professionals reevaluating their work priorities, companies continue to face a persistent talent shortage. Recent Upwork data indicates 60 million Americans performed freelance work in the past 12 months, representing 39% of the U.S. workforce, an all-time high.
“Amid tech sector layoffs, we’re seeing organizations [that] still need to get work done increasingly embrace remote work and experimenting with new talent models and sources,” said Margaret Lilani, vice president of talent solutions at Upwork. “At the same time, this economic volatility is providing an opportunity for millions of professionals to reevaluate their priorities, explore new ways of working and redefine what it means to have a fulfilling career.”
Liliani cited the flexibility and control that skilled freelancing offers as contributing to its popularity.
“We are experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime, tectonic shift in the notion of work, where skilled professionals are rethinking what they want from their careers and are gravitating toward the flexibility, autonomy and benefits of freelancing,” she said.
This is an ideal time for freelancers to expand their skillsets or break into a new career while companies seek independent talent across a broader range and at a higher rate than ever before, Lilani added. She doesn’t anticipate the popularity of freelancing declining.
At the same time, getting started as a freelance profession requires commitment, Lilani noted, but the autonomy and control it provides are key drivers in why so many professionals are exploring freelancing.
“Independent professionals want to control the work they do, who they do it for and when they do it,” Lilani said. “Skilled freelancing is a clear benefit in that regard … especially in times of economic uncertainty.”
Kevin Campbell, a full-stack web developer with over $1 million in earnings on Upwork, similarly extolled the benefits of freelancing in a prepared statement.
“As we enter a new year during uncertain economic times, professional freelancing is a great way to leverage your talents, build new skills, and diversify and protect your income,” he said. “Businesses are always searching for skilled independent talent, especially now. Not only is the demand for my services at an all-time high, but I’m in complete control of how I want to design my career.”
Methodology of the Upwork survey
Skills data was sourced from the Upwork database and is based on U.S. freelancer earnings from Jan. 1, 2022 to Oct. 31, 2022, Upwork said. Each skill had a minimum of 500 projects with active work during the period. Year-over-year growth was estimated by comparing the freelancer earnings in 2022 to freelancer earnings in the same period in 2021.