Freelance workers without a bachelor’s degree earn more than their peers who graduated with a bachelor’s degree, and slightly less than those with a postgraduate degree. This is according to a recent global study of freelance workers.
Freelancers who only graduated high school earn an average hourly rate of $22, while those with a bachelor’s degrees earn $19 and those with a master’s or PhD degree earn $24. This is despite that majority of freelancers – about 1 in 2 – are bachelor’s degree holders, while only about 1 in 5 freelancers are secondary or high school graduates.
Whether you hold a bachelor’s degree or not, there are very important lessons you need to take away from this. Before we go on to examine why freelance workers with less academic qualifications generally perform better than their peers, I’ll like to invite you to subscribe to After School TV and click the notification bell to be notified when we publish a new insightful video like this.
This video has two parts; the first is about why nondegree holders earn more than bachelor degree holders in the freelance market. The second part is about the three important lessons to learn from this revelation.
Competence Over Qualification
The number one reason people with less academic qualification tend to outperform bachelor degree holders is that most jobs in the freelance market depend less on academic qualification. Businesses hire freelancers to get things done. And when people want something done, they don’t care about your academic qualification; they just want to be assured that you have the skill and ability to get it done.
When it comes to hiring a freelance writer, software developer, or multimedia producer — as opposed to salaried, full-time employees — clients pay closer attention to experience, portfolio, and what previous clients had to say about the freelancer. Proof of ability to deliver results speaks louder than a qualification in the freelance market.
While someone without a bachelor’s degree relies on proving themselves with what they can do, the bachelor degree holder lays emphasis on his academic qualification. He believes his education should give him some advantage. But it doesn’t work like that.
Unlike the typical job market that still favors academic qualification, the freelance market favors those who can demonstrate their competence. And the process of demonstrating competence often involves street-smarts than book-smart. For example, building an effective online presence, competing for jobs, developing marketing and sales skills mostly requires being street-smart; which does not come with the degree.
This is not to say that holding a bachelor’s degree automatically means you get to earn less as a freelancer; and that you get to earn more for not going to school. That is not what I am saying. The point is that ability to get things done is the rule of the trade. If you want to succeed in the freelance market, you have to look beyond your academic qualification to have a fair chance in the market.
Years of Experience
Another possible reason non-degree holders earn more than their peers with bachelor’s degrees is that the former tend to have gathered longer years of hands-on experience. You wouldn’t expect the same skill level for someone who has been practicing software development for four years as someone who studied a bachelor’s degree in computer science and started learning to code 12 months ago. In other words, time in the market is another reason why the non-degree holder could be earning more.
The Presence of Second Option
Another possible reason non-degree holder averagely earns more than their peers could be what we would call the presence of a second option. A typical bachelor’s degree holder may be going into freelancing as an option to earn income while looking for a job, or while maintaining a job. They may not be fully committed to their freelance job since they have a second option in their certificate.
However, someone without a college or university degree would approach their freelancing job as their only option; and therefore put in more work and time. This is not to say that bachelor’s degree holders don’t fully commit to freelancing. There are graduates that are fully committed to freelance work; even building their own business. However, you will find that majority of bachelor’s degree holders are still looking out for opportunities to put their certificates to use.
The point is not that it’s better to not hold a bachelor’s degree than to hold one. There are three important things you need to take away from this video.
- Not holding a bachelors degree is not a disadvantage
When it comes to getting a regular job, it may be currently challenging for graduates out there to get a job, but it is even harder without a degree. University graduates are facing more employment challenges than before, but it’s even more difficult for those who didn’t graduate from university.
However, outside the regular job market, it’s not as bad as you may think. Not having a degree is not a disadvantage. There are lots of opportunities out there for you, especially in the freelance market. If you would develop skills that are in demand, your income can rival the degree holder’s and even exceed it. The freelance market gives you a level playing field. You just need to develop the right skills and have the confidence to put yourself and your work out there.
- If you hold a degree, it may be holding you back
Many young people have been sold the dream of ‘go to school, get good grades and get a good job’. So they have grown to believe that getting a degree grants them a pass in life. Wherever they find themselves, they expect their academic qualification to give them some steps ahead. Unfortunately, this attitude only limits their ability to be curious enough to unlearn and relearn what is necessary.
The world is moving fast. With the effect and lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, the freelance market is growing even faster, as many businesses are rethinking the model of employing expensive full-time employees. Businesses are rapidly embracing remote freelance workers. If you are going to survive in the freelance market, you need to look beyond certificates and look towards building practical skills.
- The earlier you start developing practical skills the better
The third point I want you to take away from this is that time in the market matters. You cannot afford to continue procrastinating learning that new skill. It could be multimedia production, software development, or marketing. You just have to start now. Those who have been in the market for a long, tend to earn more than new comers. A secondary school graduate that starts learning and selling a skill today will be more valuable than a graduate who joins the same field in four year time.
Now let me say this
We’ve all heard stories of students dropping out of school to pursue their ambitions. It’s trendy for people to advise against going to school. They say things like, “Bill Gates dropped out of school, you should too.” These stories lead people to conclude that higher education is just a waste of time. That all you really need to succeed is grit, grind, and street smarts. While there are obvious truths to this, the only problem is that most people are not Bill Gates. Most people still need to go to school.
The key message here is that you don’t need a college or university degree to work and succeed in the freelance market or in business for that matter. I just want the guy who didn’t have the opportunity to go for high education, or the guy who is convinced that school isn’t for him, to know that you can actually succeed without it. And that you can rival your peers without a degree in the freelance market. Whether you have a degree or not, just stay smart and keep learning. If you found this video helpful, like and share it with someone. If you are yet to subscribe to After School TV, now is a good time to hit the subscribe button. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS!