The top 10 countries to hire freelancers in 2023. Engage contractors more efficiently and compliantly, no matter where they’re based, with Worksuite.
All across the globe, the traditional work model is undergoing a dramatic shift. Increased economic pressures, greater demand for work-life balance, and the shift toward fully-remote work have driven many to pursue more flexible work arrangements.
The result? A surging global freelance workforce. According to the World Bank, nearly 47% of workers worldwide freelance. From New York, to Barcelona, to Mumbai, talented professionals are finding that freelance work opportunities are indeed highly lucrative and satisfying.
Worksuite has looked at internal data on its user activity by locale and combed through recent stats on the global freelance market to come up with a list of ten top countries for hiring freelancers. The countries on this list have experienced strong growth in the number of contractors in recent years, and they’re home to many businesses that actively use the Worksuite freelance management platform.
Before diving into the list, let’s first explore the key benefits of expanding your freelance team globally.
Why Hire Freelancers Abroad?
If you’re located in the U.S., you probably know that there are millions of freelancers available for hire within the country. However, finding quality talent shouldn’t have to be restricted to your borders.
The recent growth of the international freelance workforce is great news for companies everywhere. Businesses that are looking to onboard new freelance hires are no longer restricted by geography — instead, they can focus first and foremost on finding reliable, hard-working individuals with highly-specialized skill sets.
Freelancers across the globe boast unique talents, impressive educational certificates and degrees, and diverse perspectives that are sure to benefit your company. Plus, many of these candidates charge lower rates than U.S. independent contractors, as they live in countries with lower costs of living.
Let’s take a look at some countries to consider when hiring foreign freelancers. For more detailed information on hiring laws in various countries, be sure to check out Worksuite’s Country Explorer.
Top Countries to Hire Freelancers
1. United States
The U.S. is the largest freelance market in the world — so whether or not you’re located in the U.S., you can be sure that American freelancers are a great option for your business. According to Upwork’s Freelance Forward 2022 survey, 60 million Americans performed freelance work over the previous 12 months — making up an incredible 39% of the U.S. workforce.
Popular freelance jobs in the U.S. include computer programming, writing, business consulting, marketing, and information technology. According to Upwork’s survey, over half of U.S. contractors in 2022 provided these types of knowledge services.
2. United Kingdom
The U.K. has at least 1.9 million freelancers, many of whom work in the artistic, literary, and media professions. A survey from MoneySuperMarket found that the most popular freelance jobs in the U.K. include business support, design, and writing.
The gaming development industry also has a stronghold in the U.K. The region was ranked as the number one emerging service market in the world for game development studios, according to the External Development Summit’s 2023 Insights on External Development for the Video Game Industry.
If you’re looking for a consultant or creative with skills like graphic design, copywriting, or software development, the U.K. should definitely be at the top of your list — particularly if you reside in an English-speaking country.
Although this Eastern European nation might not have been on your radar, it in fact has a steadily-growing freelance market — particularly in the IT industry. In 2022 alone, the number of Polish freelancers grew by 11.4%, many of whom are driven by the opportunity to earn additional income in the midst of high inflation. The Polish freelance workforce also has grown due to the war in Ukraine, with as many as 50,000 Ukrainian high-tech professionals having recently relocated to Poland.
A Polish freelancer could be a great option for your team if you’re looking to staff an IT position. A recent report from IT Landscape distinguished Poland as having “the most competitive IT sector of all 23 countries of Central and Eastern Europe.”
Other top jobs for Polish freelancers include copywriting, social media, and graphic design.
4. South Africa
Faced with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, South Africans are increasingly seeking to supplement their income with freelance work. The opportunity to earn foreign currency and access a digital network of job opportunities has enticed many natives of the country.
South African freelancers make up a diverse array of skill sets. According to recruiting firm Michael Page, the top roles for contract workers in Africa include IT specialists, change management, and finance project experts. Other popular freelance roles in South Africa include writers and editors as well as strategy consultants and project managers.
Companies that hire South African freelancers will also benefit from workers’ English proficiency and lower rates as the cost of living is much lower than in Western countries.
With an estimated 15 million contractors, India’s freelance market is one of the fastest growing in the world. The pandemic drastically increased India’s freelance population — between Q1 and Q2 of 2020, India’s freelance workforce grew by an astounding 46%.
India is a great country to consider if you’re looking for talented freelancers in software or gaming development. According to a report from PayPal, some of the most popular freelance jobs in India include web and mobile development, web design, internet research, and data entry. It’s significant to note that of the global software development freelance workforce, India contributes an incredible 50% of workers.
Besides their technical prowess, many Indian freelancers boast advanced degrees from top Indian institutes and have solid English proficiency — making them ideal candidates for U.S.-based businesses.
Take a stroll through Rome or Milan, and you’ll see that Italy has a robust network of smart cities with infrastructure that supports freelancers and digital nomads. Italy has one of the strongest freelance workforces in the European Union, with over 5.5 million people — or a quarter of the workforce — reporting as self-employed.
Italy’s freelance workforce largely constitutes the creative and design sector. Writing, journalism, graphic design, and software engineering are all top professions for Italian freelancers.
Ranked as one of the world’s most highly-educated workforces, Canada has a thriving segment of freelance professionals. There are 2.7 million self-employed individuals in Canada, and according to data from 2021, one in 10 Canadian adults are gig workers.
Canada is a great country to consider if you’re looking for tech freelancers. The country has more than 2.8 million STEM graduates, and it’s one of the world’s largest tech hubs. Other popular freelance industries in Canada include arts and entertainment as well as professional and technical services.
There are nearly 3 million freelancers, or autonomos, in Spain — and a sizable portion includes digital nomads from the U.S. and other countries. With its low cost of living and laidback lifestyle, freelancers from across the globe flock to Spain to open up shop.
Spain’s freelance workforce is made up of a diverse range of skills and areas of expertise, thanks in part due to the diversity of its freelancers. Some of the most in-demand freelance jobs in Spain include data analytics, software development, cybersecurity, and content writing.
9. The Philippines
The Philippines has one of the fastest-growing freelancing workforces in the world. Between 2019 and 2020, freelance revenue grew by an astounding 208% — the highest in all of Asia. This surge can be attributed to the Philippines’ large youth population as well as widespread demand for more flexible and higher-paying jobs.
According to research from Payoneer, the most popular freelance jobs for Filipinos are sales and marketing, customer service, and data entry/internet research. Other top freelance professions in the Philippines include virtual assistants and video editing.
In addition to their work talents, Filipinos are often proficient in English and are known for their strong work ethic.
Japan’s freelance workforce has grown rapidly since the onset of the pandemic. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of freelancers increased by over 5 million to reach 16.7 million freelancers.
The shift toward freelance work is particularly notable in Japan considering that traditionally, Japanese workers have stayed with one company their entire lives. Yet in recent years, more and more Japanese have pursued freelance opportunities as a way to grow their income and achieve a greater work-life balance.
Common freelance positions in Japan include consulting, web design, writing, engineering, translation, and sales and marketing.
Hire & Manage Remote Freelancers With Ease
It’s clear that there are a number of benefits to hiring foreign freelancers. However, it’s important to know the potential challenges of hiring foreign freelancers. You’ll have to juggle various time zones, languages, and cultural differences; pay your workers in local currencies; and stay on top of worker classification laws to ensure that you’re truly hiring an independent contractor rather than an employee.
Fortunately, it’s that much easier to do so with the help of a robust freelancer management platform like Worksuite. Our solution helps you comply with international laws of 190 countries, verify and classify contractors, and pay invoices in 120+ local currencies. To learn more, visit worksuite.com or book a dedicated call with one of our contingent workforce specialists below.
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