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15 Hottest Job Fields for Freelance Workers in 2021

Best opportunities for flexible contract work, remote positions in the new year, FlexJobs predicts

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With the job market expected to be tough for the first part of 2021, more people may turn to freelance work as a way to make money. And, in some fields, talent will be in particularly high demand, according to the experts at FlexJobs.

The website — which specializes in helping people find jobs that offer options such as contract work, flexible schedules and work-from-home options — analyzed its database of postings from March 1 through October 31 to identify the 15 occupations with the most new postings. Those fields are projected to offer the most job opportunities in 2021, FlexJobs says. (Note that FlexJobs charges a subscription fee for full access to its job postings, currently priced at $29.95 for three months.)

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"What we've seen in the past is that freelance opportunities tend to rise during economic downturns, so we expect that freelance jobs will be strong in 2021 as the pandemic economy continues,” says Brie Reynolds, career development manager at FlexJobs. “Because remote work is more widely accepted by employers of all types now, we may see that employers that were previously hesitant to hire remote freelancers may do so."

Here are the 15 job fields that are expected to be most in-demand for freelancers in 2021. Click on the links to see postings on the AARP Job Board for open positions in these respective lines of work.

  1. Computer & IT
  2. Accounting & Finance
  3. Administrative
  4. Project Management
  5. Customer Service
  6. Health Care
  7. Writing & Editing
  8. Education & Training
  9. Marketing
  10. HR & Recruiting
  11. Bookkeeping
  12. Therapy
  13. Graphic Design
  14. Data Entry
  15. Mortgage & Real Estate

"There's such a huge range of freelance work available, so for people age 50 and over, they can likely find something that fits their needs,” says Reynolds. “For some it may be consulting or working on projects related to their overall career. For others it may be a chance to work on a career pivot or transition to a new field, or to stay professionally active without committing to a full-time, ongoing role."

How to switch to freelance work

The flood of layoffs resulting from the coronavirus pandemic is causing many people to make the switch to freelance work. In addition to providing a way to earn income when businesses are hesitant to hire full-time employees, many of these positions offer flexibility that is appealing even at the best of times.

"According to a study released by Upwork in September, 22 percent more people in America are freelancing today than in 2019,” says Mindy Feldbaum, vice president for workforce programs for AARP Foundation. “Whether you're looking to earn extra income or replace a paycheck from a lost job, freelancing can be just the thing to help you pay your bills or start a whole new career."

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AARP recently launched its Work for Yourself@50+ Freelancing Resource Center. The center offers articles that can help you think about what type of freelance work best fits your needs, how to set prices and how to manage your tax obligations, among other key issues. The resource center also can direct you to websites that offer the freelance opportunities that fit your skills.

AARP Foundation is also hosting a free webinar on “Intro to Freelancing” at 1 p.m. ET on Dec. 10, 2020. The webinar will cover topics including how to find work, how to build a competitive online profile, and how to bid for work with contracts and proposals.

"Freelance projects and clients can come and go, so part of your job will be to find new jobs on a regular basis,” says Reynolds.

She advises people considering freelance work to take time to evaluate their needs and goals first.

"Before you jump into freelancing or working side jobs, do a self-audit to determine how much time you truly have available for it,” Reynolds says. “Is it five hours a week? Ten? Twenty? A full 40 or more? This will help you avoid overscheduling yourself down the road."

"Think about what freelance work you'd want to do,” she adds. “Freelancing and side jobs are found in virtually every career field, so have a good idea of what you want, and what the market is looking for, before you decide to jump in. You don't want to wind up spending 10 hours every week working on a side gig that you don't like or that isn't the right fit professionally."

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