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5 in-demand tech skills for freelancers: Some can pay upwards of $120 an hour

Web design saw a 31% year-over-year growth in demand between 2020 and 2021.

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More than a third, 36%, of the U.S. workforce was freelancing in 2021, according to an Upwork survey of 6,000 U.S. workers. And the trend could grow: More than half, 56%, of non-freelancers say they are likely to do so in the future.

Among the most in-demand skills for freelancers are those in the tech world, like web development.

"There was a digital transformation going on before the pandemic hit, but it really took hold when the world went remote," says Margaret Lilani, vice president of talent solutions at Upwork. When it comes to their web presences, companies are "seeking to upgrade and grow and evolve with these ever changing times."

Upwork rounded up the most in-demand tech skills on its site from January 2021 to October 2021. Here are five of them and how much they pay.

Web design

Web designers create the aesthetic of a website, including its layout, key elements, and look. They often have a background in graphic design, user experience design, search engine optimization, and content creation like copywriting, including a bachelor's in a related field.

Web design was the most in-demand skill on the list: It experienced a 31% year-over-year growth in demand between 2020 and 2021.

Web designers on Upwork charge $16 to $100 per hour.

WordPress development

A free website creation platform with built-in customizable designs, WordPress "lets you build a website," says Lilani. Many companies are looking to use the platform for their own website creation, and anyone who knows their way around it is in high demand.

WordPress offers free tutorials on its site. Depending on the project and client, experts may not need to have a degree in a related field or a background in web programming to get hired.

Developers on Upwork charge between $16 and $120 per hour.

Web programming

Web programmers build and maintain websites, focusing on their functionality rather than their look and design. They are familiar with and use HTML, or code that structures a website, as well as web scripting languages like PHP and JavaScript. They often have a bachelor's degree in a related field.

Demand for web programming increased 43% year-over-year, says Lilani.

Web programmers on Upwork charge $10 to $135 per hour.

Shopify store building

Shopify is a popular e-commerce platform on which sellers can set up virtual shops for their items. "E-commerce wasn't uncommon before the pandemic, but it has skyrocketed over the past two years as people have become more accustomed to ordering goods online," says Andrew McCaskill, LinkedIn career expert.   

"As a result, companies are jumping to create the most user-friendly and engaging shopping experiences that they can," he says, adding that demand for the skills involved has jumped on LinkedIn as well.

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Shopify experts help clients build, customize, and optimize their online store so it's reaching the right customers and providing a streamlined shopping experience. Shopify offers tutorials on how to build its stores, for anyone curious to learn and pick up the skill.

Shopify experts on Upwork charge between $10 and $285 per hour.

Graphic design

Graphic designers create visual elements such as logos, layouts for websites and brochures, and illustrations for various media. They use software to come up with concepts and create the look their clients want.

Graphic design was also "frequently cited by companies like direct-to-consumer brands and e-commerce companies" as an in-demand skill on LinkedIn, says McCaskill.

Graphic designers on Upwork, who often have a bachelor's degree in a related field, charge between $12 and $130 per hour.

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