How Many Freelance Developers Are There in the US?

How many freelance developers are there in the US? There’s no official and precise answer. However, based on three credible sources—Upwork, Freelancer Union, McKinsey—I calculated an estimation stemming from each source.

Here are our estimations for the number of freelancers based on three independent data sources:

  • Upwork Data: 12,500,000 freelance developers in the IT sector.
  • Freelancer Union Data: 1,740,000 freelance developers in the IT sector.
  • McKinsey Data: 5,400,000 freelance developers in the IT sector.

The median of these three data points—Upwork, Freelancer Union, McKinsey—is 5,400,000 freelance developers working in an IT related field and the average is 6,560,000 freelance developers. Thus, the number of freelance developers is between 5 and 7 million.

Methodology

To come up with an exact answer on how many freelance developers there are in the US, I decided to use several independent data sources and aggregate the results. Here are the different sources used to estimate the number of freelancers in the United States.

  • Upwork: Upwork is the largest freelancing marketplace in the world.
  • Freelancer Union Report: “Freelancers Union is a non-profit organization in the United States of America. The organization provides advocacy, programming and curated insurance benefits for freelancers through partnerships.” (source)
  • McKinsey Report “Independent Work”: McKinsey funded a large-scale report about the state of the independent work sector.

Results

Upwork

  • Upwork has 18,000,000 registered freelancers in 2020. (source)
  • About 30% of the revenue is generated by US-based freelancers. (source)
  • Based on these data points, there are approximately 18,000,000 * 30% = 5,000,000 Upwork freelancers in the US.
  • There are 12 categories on Upwork—three of which are “freelance developing”: (1) IT&Networking, (2) Data Science & Analytics, (3) Web, Mobile, & Software Development.
  • Assuming an approximately equal distribution of freelancers in broad categories, the percentage of freelance developers is 3/12 = 25%.
  • Based on this, the total number of freelancers in the US on Upwork is 25% * 5,000,000 = 1,250,000.
  • The total market of freelancing is $1 trillion USD in 2020. (source)
  • Gross services volume (GSV) increased by 28% year-over-year to $1.76 billion for the full year. (source)
  • Upwork represents only a small fraction of the marketplace (although many freelance developers will have an account).
  • Assuming only 10% of all freelance developers use Upwork, the total number of freelancers in the US can be estimated as 12,500,000.

Freelancer Union Report

  • There are 58,000,000 freelancers in the US. (source)
  • 3% of all workers, freelancers or employees, are in the IT sector. (source)
  • Based on these two data points, there are at least 58,000,000 * 3% = 1,740,000 freelancers. This is very conservative estimation because the IT sector will be larger within the freelancer space than outside it.

McKinsey Report “Independent Work”

  • There are 54,000,000 million freelancers in the US. (source)
  • Approximately 10% of the income earned is done by computer and technology professions. (source)
  • As a result, there are 5,400,000 freelance developers in the US.

Summary

Here are our estimations for the number of freelancers based on three independent data sources:

  • Upwork Data: 12,500,000 freelance developers in the IT sector.
  • Freelancer Union Data: 1,740,000 freelance developers in the IT sector.
  • McKinsey Data: 5,400,000 freelance developers in the IT sector.

The median of these three data points is 5,400,000 freelance developers working in an IT related field.

The average of these three data points is 6,560,000 freelance developers working in an IT related field.

Do you want to become one of them? As it turns out, freelance developing is a profitable niche where average workers earn six figures and beyond! Check out the following resources:

Where to Go From Here?

Enough theory, let’s get some practice!

To become successful in coding, you need to get out there and solve real problems for real people. That’s how you can become a six-figure earner easily. And that’s how you polish the skills you really need in practice. After all, what’s the use of learning theory that nobody ever needs?

Practice projects is how you sharpen your saw in coding!

Do you want to become a code master by focusing on practical code projects that actually earn you money and solve problems for people?

Then become a Python freelance developer! It’s the best way of approaching the task of improving your Python skills—even if you are a complete beginner.

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