Don’t like being an office drone? Hate the corporate cubicle? Can’t stand pointy-haired bosses telling you what to do? Tired of the daily nine to five routine? Would rather be your own boss?
Well, join the club.
No, not the club of disgruntled and disillusioned corporate employees (though, you probably belong there too) ― but rather the club of self-employed professionals. Or, freelancers, as they are commonly called. In this post, we’ll have a look at the top 7 best careers for self-employment. If you don’t like working in the corporate world and have the skills to do any of those, you should really consider launching your own freelance business.
(Actually, if you’re good enough you could also make it work in many other self-employed jobs too, but those 7 are the hottest and most viable self-employment career opportunities available at the moment, at least in the western world).
So, let’s go over them, shall we?
A programmer? Aren’t those typically employed in the thousands by large corporations like Google and Facebook, or toil away churning in-house apps at their corporate cubicle?
Well, a lot of them are.
Increasingly many, however, are freelancing — setting up small custom programming shops, indie development businesses, and even working from home (or from some remote beach in the Pacific).
The latter is not an exaggeration: there’s a whole movement of so-called “Digital Nomads“, typically computer programmers that tout the freedom of working while traveling all over the globe. Even if that’s too much for you, working from the comfort of your own home, or small office, is totally achievable. The thing is, there’s a huge demand for qualified programmers, and if you’re any good at programming you’re almost guaranteed to be able to secure lots of good gigs on your terms.
As far as self-employment goes, this is one of the best self-employed businesses to start. Or you could start your own one-man (or one-woman) software business. Who do you think makes all those iOS and Android apps you download?
Ten or fifteen years ago, Web Designer would been the hottest freelancing profession. But then, suddenly the field was overflowing with graphic designers venturing into web design, and revenues took a race to the bottom. Don’t fret though: the 2010’s equivalent of a “Web Designer” would be the UX Designer (or UX Expert) job — that is, someone who’s not just good at designing web pages in Photoshop and HTML/CSS, but also understands all the subtleties that make for a good interaction design. (UX, by the way, stands for “User Experience”).
If you’re fluent in desktop, mobile, and other alternative user interfaces (wearables, VR, voice, etc.), you know your way around prototyping tools, and you have a sense for user interface design that goes beyond aesthetics, you should definitely consider starting your own UX Design consultancy business.
Graphic designers used to be all the rage in the late eighties to early nineties. Then the web happened, and everybody wanted to be a web designer. Then, that market got saturated too. And now?
Well, there are still too many web/graphic designers, but there’s also a lack of competent pure graphic designers that can perform well in all graphics-related tasks, from illustration and book design to product packaging.
If you have a distinctive style and know your way along with the many varieties of design work, you can still make it as a freelance graphic designer today. And if you manage to make a name for yourself in the advertising business, you’re golden.
Small children, motor-impaired people, the sick, the elderly — all of them, at some time or another, need the help of a care provider. So much so, that it’s a multi-billion dollar business in the US alone.
If you are a social person, enjoy helping and taking care of others, and have the skills it takes (e.g. are a registered nurse, took a nanny training course, etc.) it can be very rewarding, with many self-employment opportunities that pay well too.
And even if you don’t have the skills, there are several related care-providing opportunities that don’t require you to have any specific qualifications. Plus, getting those skills in the first place, is not that hard to achieve, with many schools and institutions providing related courses at very affordable rates.
If you know something in-depth, why not try teaching it to others? You don’t have to be a high school teacher to land teaching gigs. Heck, you don’t even need a university degree, as long as you know your stuff.
There’s no limit to what you could teach either: from language courses and music lessons, to business skills (using Excel, writing a business plan) and programming lessons, down to even more specialized courses, like motorcycle repair and ethnic cooking lessons.
And with the advent of online learning, and even Skype-based learning sessions, we have seen a huge increase in personal tutoring in all kinds of skills. Plus, with eLearning, you’re not constrained to offering your teaching services to people in your city anymore. Self-employed jobs are mostly location-independent.
Speaking of St. Petersburg, Russia, you’ve probably noticed that the Internet, cheap international travel, global trade, and mass immigration have made us more connected than at any time in history. Still, we don’t all speak the same language. And some languages, like Chinese and Arabic, very few of us speak, outside of their specific cultures. If you’re one of those people, you’re in luck.
See, while English and French might not be that easy to sell, working knowledge of more obscure but important business languages is a very marketable skill.
From book and business document translation services, to live translation during a business meeting, the skills of a good translator can be greatly appreciated and compensated. Just don’t forget to thank your parents that insisted on you taking those “useless” foreign language courses.
Sure, we live in the internet age, and most of us are “information workers” now. But that doesn’t mean it’s all ones and zeroes. We still like nice, tangible, things to hold. It’s just that fewer and fewer of us know how to make them. For those that do, however, the world of arts and crafts can be one of the most fun self-employment ideas.
If you’re any good with your hands, all your craft-making skills, from custom jewelry and clothing to hot rods and furniture, will be greatly compensated and literally fly off of eBay, Etsy, or any custom shop you maintain.
Of course, this is something that takes great skill and dedication (plus the right tools, and a lot of experience). But if you enjoy making those things, even in your spare time, why not turn them into a real business?
(Oh, and the improvements in 3D printing tools will make those a great self-employment career enabler too: instead of everybody owning their own 3D printer, they’d go to the 3D printing specialist around the block for all their needs — and that could be you).
So, here you have it — our roundup of 7 great self-employed jobs to help you kickstart your freelancing career. Sure, it’s a big jump, and it involves some uncertainty, but it’s not a pipe dream or that unique anymore either: there are millions of freelancers making a living out there, as the era of the steady company job is on its last legs. Especially if you’re just starting out (so you’re not quitting anything), or you really have the skill it takes, it sure beats a 9-5 office job. You can read more about the disadvantages and advantages of freelance work in this article.