Survey Shows Rapid Evolution of Popular Freelance Skills in US

Upwork, the largest freelancing website, today released its newest quarterly index of the hottest skills in the U.S. freelance job market, which revealed how rapidly the freelance market is changing.

Skills Index

The Upwork Skills Index is compiled quarterly, ranking the site’s 20 fastest-growing skills to shed light on the new and emerging skills freelancers are providing.

“Freelancers realize how quickly the skills needed are evolving and are the most proactive members of the workforce, reskilling much more frequently than traditional employees,” said Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork and co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Council on the Future of Gender, Education and Work. “Because of this, they will play a major role in guiding the future of work — something we all have a responsibility to do.”

The 20 fastest-growing freelance skills in Q3 2017 all experienced more than 100% year-over-year growth, while the top ten grew more than 200% compared to Q3 last year.

The Top 20 Fastest-Growing Skills

The latest index showed that for Q3 2017, the top 20 fastest growing skills were:

  1. Robotics
  2. Blockchain
  3. Bitcoin
  4. Penetration testing
  5. React.js
  6. Amazon Web Services Lambda
  7. Augmented reality
  8. Deep learning
  9. Instagram marketing
  10. Final Cut Pro X
  11. Swift development
  12. AngularJS development
  13. Salesforce
  14. Vulnerability assessment
  15. Natural language processing
  16. HubSpot marketing
  17. Machine learning
  18. Objective-C development
  19. Learning Management System (LMS)
  20. jQuery development

A Rapidly Evolving Market

Robotics made the list for the first time, securing its spot as the No. 1 fastest-growing skill of the quarter – no surprise, as many large companies such as Amazon and Toyota Research Institute are developing robotics projects.

Blockchain and Bitcoin were also new entries to the Top 20. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and peer-to-peer digital payment system supported by Blockchain, a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) that verifies and records Bitcoin transactions.

Bitcoin’s recently supported successes and the obvious high demand for specialists indicates that the new currency may become more widely used, while Blockchain was included in Gartner’s 2017 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies – as was Augmented Reality, sitting at no.7 in the index.  Innovations such as Facebook’s Camera Effects Platform, Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore mean it’s likely to remain high in the index.

The burgeoning use of AR, used in so many areas already – from maximising Uber routes to machine learning systems used in m marketing – means that freelancers who specialise in AI are likely to find themselves in high demand for the foreseeable future too. As more businesses find ways to use AI, related skills such as deep learning, natural language processing and machine learning appear on this quarter’s list.

The increase in high-profile data breaches probably explains why security remains a valued and desirable skill for businesses. This means experts in penetration testing and vulnerability assessment are in high-demand.

Marketing skills account for 20% percent of the fastest-growing skills in Q3, with Salesforce, HubSpot marketing and Instagram marketing all making an appearance in the list. benefitting from companies surging investment in content marketing, also appeared in the Top 20, with related skills – like the use of video editing app Final Cut Pro X – seeing a soar in demand.

While this survey is US based, it’s likely that this emphasis on technology and marketing skills will be increasingly reflected around the world.