Top freelance tech jobs for 2024
It’s no secret that the professional working world has evolved beyond recognition – and in tech, that evolution is probably faster-paced than any other industry on the planet.
As 2024 dawns, more and more people are ditching the traditional 9-5 grind in favour of freelance careers that typically offer more flexible hours and self-determined incomes.
And with technology continuing to dominate daily life, freelance careers with an IT core are becoming highly sought-after by organisations; incredibly lucrative and, fortunately if you’ve got the right soft and technical skills, this trend is showing no sign of slowing.
Here, exclusively for Free-Work, I want to explore what 2024 holds for contractor technologists, and highlight the top freelance tech jobs for 2024 -- those that have, among other offerings, the highest earning potential, writes Jake Tyson, senior consultant at Matchtech, a leading STEM recruitment partner,
Going back to pre-pandemic in tech working? It’s just not conceivable
But let’s first hear from someone else.
According to UK contractor trade body IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed), there are now 1.9 million freelancers operating in the UK.
Well, this number looks primed to grow in 2024. Unlike traditional full-time work, freelance work is characterised by project-based assignments, flexible hours, and remote work. All of those characteristics have been made more appealing since the covid-19 pandemic, and there’s no turning the clock back.
Before I get specific on top freelance tech jobs for 2024, a word or two -- if I may -- about what you’ll command on pay.
Top six factors determining your freelance tech pay rate
In terms of earning potential as an IT contractor, typically you will be responsible for negotiating your own worth; as per each contract you land. However, in order to set realistic financial goals, it is worth bearing in mind that the headline rate (or salary if you jump across to PAYE) depends on a few factors, including:
I. The field/sub-sector you are in;
II. Level of experience in that field;
III. How many tasks you can carry out, and past job-duration;
IV. Your portfolio and credentials or qualifications as an IT contractor;
V. How you find work; and
VI. Your location and sometimes, your end-client’s location or sector/industry.
With those freelancer pay rate influencers ticked off, let’s now get to those top freelance tech jobs for 2024.
1. UX/UI Designer (day rate - £700)
As user experience becomes a critical factor in the success of digital products, designers who can create intuitive and visually appealing user interfaces are highly sought-after. The nature of the role gives freelancing the edge, especially if you value diversity in your work.
For the uninitiated, UX/UI Designers specialise in creating user experience (UX) – and user experiences (plural) -- plus user interfaces (UI) for digital products, such as websites, mobile applications, and software.
While UX and UI are different in terms of design process, the two often overlap when it comes to ensuring that a digital product is both functional and user-friendly. As a talented designer of either, your future is extremely bright in 2024.
2. Blockchain Developer (day rate - £700+)
A blockchain is a type of database used to store and organise information.
Traditional databases arrange information into rows and columns to create tables, making stored information easy for computer technology to recognise. With blockchains, however, information is digitally formatted and collected into clusters or blocks which have a limited storage capacity.
A blockchain developer specialises in creating and implementing blockchain solutions that enable secure, transparent record-keeping across multiple systems. Increasingly freelance, they will also design protocols that govern how networks communicate and validate transactions.
As technology advances, we are starting to see a higher demand for blockchain developers who can also implement cryptographic techniques to secure transactions, prevent tampering, and protect the integrity of the blockchain network. So get trained up in these, if you’re a blockchain developer wondering where to upskill in 2024.
3. AR and VR Developers (day rate - £600-£800)
As 2024 gets underway, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) technologies are being adopted into more and more industries, notably gaming, healthcare, education and manufacturing – where they are helping to streamline daily processes.
Like their permanent counterparts, freelance AI developers focus on designing and implementing intelligent systems that can learn, adapt, and perform tasks without explicit programming. By developing specific algorithms, machine learning models, and neural networks, an AI developer enables computers to analyse data, make predictions, and solve complex problems.
VR developers, on the other hand, specialise in creating immersive digital environments that allow users to interact in a three-dimensional space. Typically, they use 3D modeling, game development engines, and specialised hardware to build virtual worlds and realistic simulations with interactive elements.
4. Cyber Security Consultant (day rate £600+)
Cyber-attacks can be devasting. The loss or breach of personal data and confidential company information can cause both reputational and financial damage, meaning security is paramount.
Today, with tech advancing so rapidly, businesses are finding themselves in need of dedicated cyber security consultants to safeguard digital change programmes, and technology implementation projects.
From Security Information, Event Management (SIEM) and Security Orchestration, to Automation and Response (SOAR) Professionals and Intelligence Consultants, cyber security experts are required on a freelance basis to identify potential breaches and implement processes to safeguard data systems.
Unsure if you should get trained up? Well, currently, the demand for talent far outweighs candidates in this field, meaning it is bursting with opportunity.
5. DevOps and Automation (day rate - £550-£650)
Like 2023, we predict that DevOps practices, including continuous integration (CI), continuous delivery (CD), and infrastructure as code (IaC), will remain essential in 2024, as efficient cloud operation continues to top organisations’ agendas.
Currently, automation is one of the most lucrative markets as technology from the 2020s starts to mature. Hand-in-hand with this maturing, we’re seeing a significant rise in applications that can be programmed to make correct decisions without human intervention, meaning professionals to develop and manage that software are in high demand, particularly on a contract basis.
6. Cloud Architects (day rate - £650-£800)
At the tail end of 2023 and even in this first working week of 2024, there’s a visible uptick in demand for professionals with knowledge of cloud architecture.
Cloud experts are proficient in designing, implementing, and managing overall infrastructure within various cloud models, including infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS), as well as public, private, hybrid, and multi-cloud deployment models.
Of course, cloud professionals also play a vital role in facilitating automation, meaning we are likely to see these roles overlap more as technology continues to take priority.
7. Robotics Engineer (day rate - £550-£650)
With advancements in robotics and automation, a shift towards more companies seeking engineers that specialise in robotics is underway.
At the time of writing, robots are being used to streamline processes within factories, and warehouses to improve productivity. With adaption firmly on this upwards trajectory, it’s inevitable that to stay in front of their tech-savvy rivals, more and more companies will seek trained engineers to help develop, maintain, and program robotics to work within their operations.
Technology skills in 2024? Get ready for the overlap
Tech is evolving faster than we can keep up with at present, which means the tech freelance industry is becoming more and more lucrative, brimming with opportunity for the well-trained, the well-positioned and the well-connected.
My prediction for 2024 -- and even beyond, is that the contractor roles within technology will start to overlap, meaning more opportunities for the most nimble and responsive professionals at the forefront of their field.
Senior Consultant at Matchtech
Jake Tyson is a seasoned senior consultant specialising in technical recruitment within the technology sector. Having worked for STEM talent specialist Matchtech for five years, Jake is recognised for his strategic leadership and proficiency in identifying top-tier talent for leading organisations in the technology industry. With a focus on building and guiding exceptional teams, Jake contributes significantly to the recruitment landscape, ensuring clients secure the best talent to drive innovation and success.