THE BLOG
09/26/2014 03:25 pm ET Updated Nov 26, 2014

5 Surprising Facts About Freelance Jobs Today

Over one third of the U.S. workforce are now freelancers, according to a recent survey. Think about that--34 percent of people working in America right now are freelancing, working contract positions for one or more clients. What we used to think of as typical freelance jobs are still in the mix--writing, graphic design, business consulting--but it turns out there is a huge variety of freelance work to be had. My team recently dug into the data to find some pretty interesting facts about freelance jobs.

After analyzing freelance job postings over the last year on FlexJobs.com, we determined which companies are offering the most freelance jobs, the industries freelance jobs come from, and who's working them. Based on our research, here are five surprising facts about freelance jobs today.

1. There's a lot of variety in the top industries for freelance jobs.

The top industries for freelance jobs are education, writing, translation, graphic design, consulting, computer and IT, accounting and finance, web development, entertainment, healthcare, and sales and marketing. Of course, this list includes long-time freelance favorites like writing and graphic design, but industries with less history in freelancing like education and healthcare also also dominating the job market.

2. Lesser-known companies offer the most freelance jobs.

The final list we developed of the 55 top companies hiring for freelance jobs included some well-known names, such as GoPro, Time Warner Cable, Bloomberg, Expedia, Nintendo, and Ancestry.com. But the most surprising thing we found was that the vast majority of companies hiring freelancers are less well-known businesses and organizations. The 10 companies that hired the most freelancers over the last year are: US-Reports, About.com, K12, Razorfish, Overland Solutions, LanguageLine Solutions, CompuCom Systems, Carolinas HealthCare System, Appen, and Judge Group.

3. Many of today's freelance jobs didn't exist 10 years ago.

What's a Web Search Evaluator? It's a freelance job we see offered quite a lot now, where people are hired to conduct extensive internet searches to determine if the company's search results are useful and accurate, but it didn't exist a decade ago. Online Community Managers are often freelancers hired to help online gaming and social communities thrive by moderating commentary, engaging with customers, and troubleshooting issues. Virtual Teachers can now teach a huge variety of courses online--math, science, languages, psychology, history, even physical education. The rise in opportunities, largely thanks to technology, make it a very exciting time to be a freelancer.

4. Most freelancers earn the same or more than they did in a regular job.

According to the most recent large survey of freelancers, "Nearly eight in ten (77 percent) freelancers said they make the same or more money than they did before they started freelancing--indicating that freelancing can be an even more lucrative career path than traditional jobs." For people thinking of starting a freelance career of their own, this is very good news.

5. Almost half of freelancers also hold "traditional" jobs.

More good news if you've been nervous about making the leap into freelancing--there's no need to jump in full-time because testing the waters is the norm! Out of the 53 million freelancers in the U.S., 14.3 million of them are classified as "Moonlighters" because they have a traditional full-time job and do freelance projects on the side. And 9.3 million are classified as "Diversified Workers" because they juggle a mix of freelance and part-time traditional jobs.

Freelance jobs and the number of people freelancing is expected to continue growing. Freelancing is a very different career opportunity than it used to be, and for anyone who's starting to freelance or even thinking about it, we're hosting a free campaign over the next few months called 100 Days on Freelance Jobs. Be sure to check it out for more on the latest freelance jobs, companies hiring, and how to set yourself up to be a successful freelancer.