Work & Purpose

Why Being Self-Employed Can Be a Good Career Move

There are three reasons why you might want to be your own boss

In April 2014, the Career Advisory Board, established by DeVry University, partnered with MBO Partners, to conduct The Future of Work: Preparing for Independencea survey designed to identify the traits of successful contract workers in the United States. 
MBO Partners projects that, by 2020, 1 in 2 American workers will either move to independent work or spend at least part of their working hours as self-employed professionals. The study showed some very good reasons why more of us might want to ditch being employees and embrace becoming businesses-of-one.

(MORE: Are You Cut Out for Self-Employment?)

Here are three of them:

1. Independent contractors' average pay is $87,000+ per year. Granted, they must pay their own taxes and health benefits, but many of those surveyed also don't work full-time hours. Which means, the pay rate is better than their full-time employee counterparts.
2. Contract work is desirable. Career goals for contemporary professionals are changing and many are choosing self-employment in order to control the type of work assignments they pursue (67 percent), to have a greater sense of flexibility and work-life balance (64 percent) and to follow a passion (59 percent).
3. Seasoned workers can leverage their experience better. The majority of contract workers surveyed were 35+ and had taken the skills they built while working full-time to enable them to market them independently — and at a higher rate.
Tips for Becoming A Successful Independent Contractor
If you'd like to create more career opportunities and income potential as an independent contractor, here are several tips:
  • Make networking a priority. In the survey, 82 percent of respondents said that word-of-mouth was the main way they received work income. The women said 57 percent of their contract assignments came from former employers.
  • Have a specialty. A striking 90 percent of respondents said that having relevant technical skills and a specialty within the industry help them land more contracts.
  • Be very self-motivated. Over 90 percent of respondents said that in order to succeed as an independent contractor, you must be a self-starter, self-motivated and be able to cope with an unpredictable revenue stream. Many of them have been successful at it for 9+ years and said doing so gets easier with time.
P.S.: Looking for more help on building your skills so you can become a successful business-of-one? Visit the free website I founded called “CAREEREALISM,” and learn how to catapult your career in a time when EVERY job is temporary.


J.T. O'Donnell is a career and workplace expert who founded the top-ranked career advice site, CAREEREALISM.com. In 2009, she launched CareerHMO, the first on-line career care membership site which specializes in curing chronic career pain.

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