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20 best skills for freelancers to have according to Upwork

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Jan 28, 2020

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  • Freelancing is a competitive field, and without face-to-face interactions, it can be disproportionately difficult to discern what employers want from you.
  • Upwork, the world’s largest freelancing site, compiled a list of the 20 fastest-growing skills in the freelance job market in 2018.
  • Below are the 20 top skills accompanied by online courses you can take to develop and demonstrate your ability.

Working as a freelancer can be exciting, liberating, and convenient, but getting a firm foothold in the space can be especially difficult. Without face-to-face contact and feedback, it can be increasingly hard to discern what employers are looking for in the slew of applications they receive. And as time is limited, no one wants to waste time padding their resume with skills they only believe to be relevant.

But a recent Future Workforce Report from the world’s largest freelancing site makes the process more transparent. Upwork recently released a quarterly Skills Index that highlights the top 20 fastest-growing skills in the US freelance job market as a way to highlight and anticipate trends. The company calculates year-over-year growth using freelancer billings.

While the application process may seem opaque, freelancers are correct to emphasize their demonstrable skills: in the report, 53% of surveyed hiring managers cite access to skills as their biggest hiring challenge.

“As skills become more specialized, companies either need to invest in reskilling to prepare workers for the jobs of tomorrow or leverage freelance professionals who are nearly twice as likely as traditional employees to proactively take reskilling upon themselves,” said Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork and co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Council on the Future of Gender, Education and Work.

The skills highlighted by Upwork experienced a significant boom — more than 130% year-over-year growth in demand. In fact, the top 10 skills experienced more than 400% growth in comparison to this time last year.

You can find the top 20 fastest-growing skills in the freelance job market below, alongside courses you can take (for free or for much less than the cost of a degree) to support claims of aptitude and separate yourself from the pack of applicants.

The online-learning options we included — LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, edX, and Coursera — are among the most popular and inexpensive.

Coursera allows you to take classes from the top universities in the world, nearly all of which are free to audit with a fee of $29 – $160 to add a verified certificate that you can include in your resume and LinkedIn profile. Udemy houses over 65,000 courses and 15 million students in areas such as programming, marketing, and data science most prominently and frequently discounts courses worth $200 by up to 90% off. LinkedIn Learning specializes in software, creatives, and business skills, and comes with a free one-month trial. After that, access is $29.99/month.

Below are the top 20 fastest-growing skills for Freelancers according to Upwork, the world’s largest freelancing site.

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