A growth in freelancing and remote working has opened up opportunities around the world. This sounds great, but the downside for freelancers in developed countries is that they can find themselves competing with freelancers for whom a payrate of $5 USD an hour is big bucks.

So, what are the going rates for freelancers from different countries and in different sectors? A new report from payments giant Payoneer, based on a survey of over 21,000 freelancers in 170 countries, reveals some interesting facts and figures.

The Average Freelancer

Millennials and late Gen-Xers represent the vast majority of the global freelance workforce. Over 50% of the freelancers surveyed were under 30 and nearly a quarter, under 25.

Worldwide, 6% of freelancers are over age 50. However, in the United States, over 33% of freelancers are at least 50 years old.

In Asia, men represent closer to 80% of the freelance economy, whereas in North America, there’s a fairly even split between men and women.

Average Hourly Rates

Hourly rates reported varied from $3 to $100. 57% of freelancers charge under $15 an hour for their work, while 14% of the respondents charge over $30, but the worldwide average hourly rate charged by freelancers is $19. This is well above the average hourly salary in most of the countries where the freelancers surveyed are based, but down from the $21 per hour rate revealed by Payoneer’s 2014-15 survey.

‘While this may initially sound like bad news, it needs to be considered in light of the emerging economies and evolving markets that have become such a significant part of the economy and are reflected in the population of the survey,’ the report notes.

Age: Freelancers over the age of 60 are earning nearly 60% more than their counterparts in their twenties.

Education: freelancers with advanced degrees earn more than those with high school and bachelor’s degrees.

Gender: Sadly, there is still a noticeable gender gap in pay. This is at its worst in IT & Programming, where women’s average hourly rate is 76% of the average men’s rate, and least noticeable in design and multimedia, where women earn 95% of what men do.

Sectors: Administrative & Customer Support came in at the bottom of the table with an average hourly rate of just $11. Here are the rest of the rates in ascending order:

Writing & Translation: $16

Sales & Marketing: $18

Finance & Management: $19

Design & Multimedia Average hourly rate: $20

IT & Programming, and Engineering & Manufacturing: $21

Freelancers providing Legal services charge more than any other service ($28 per hour) but work the fewest hours per week, which brings us to…

Working Hours

Almost half of the freelancers said their average working week is 30-50 hours, with just 10% saying they work 60 hours or more. Around 22% said they are working part-time (20 hours or fewer per week), which may indicate they are supplementing another income.

Freelancers in Finance, Management and HR work the most hours per week (39 on average), while those who provide legal services work the fewest (33.6 on average).

Where the Work Is

Regardless of their own location:

  • Most freelancers (more than two-thirds!) work for clients based in North America
  • Half of freelancers work for clients based in Europe.

Nearly 7% of freelancers worldwide work in Administrative & Customer Support, which includes work like data entry, call centre representation, virtual assistance and administrative services.

Working Practices

Over 80% of the professionals surveyed said they focus on 1 to 3 jobs at a time.

When asked about how they find work and promote their services, 73% of freelancers said they find their projects via online marketplaces with word-of-mouth the next best method at 33%. Their favourite social media platform for promotion was Facebook, used by 54% of respondents, followed by LinkedIn (40%), Google+ (21%) and Twitter (19%).

Freelance Wishlist

When asked what they would like to improve, the top four wishes from freelancer were:

  1. to make more money (68%)
  2. for there to be more methods for finding clients 952%)
  3. to work with more international clients (34%)
  4. to improve the efficiency of their own work (32%)


How do these results compare to your weekly working hours and hourly income? And what would be on your freelance wish list? Have you noticed a freelance gender pay gap in your sector? Let us know.


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