Going it alone is paying off for a growing number of workers, new research finds.
The number of freelance workers earning more than $100,000 a year has grown 45 percent over the last five years, making it the fastest-growing segment of the population of independent workers, according to a study from independent contractor solutions provider MBO Partners. In total, there are nearly 3 million freelance workers making at least $100,000 a year.
The research revealed that in addition to the number of high earners, another 17 percent are earning between $75,000 and $100,000 a year. Just 24 percent of freelance workers take in less than $25,000 a year.
Overall, there are close to 18 million independent workers earning a significant portion or all of their income outside of traditional employment, with another 12.5 million "side-giggers," who take on part-time freelance work.
The research shows that the independent workforce has grown by 12 percent over the past five years, which is nearly double that of overall employment gains. The growth is projected to continue, with 4 in 5 freelance workers planning to stay independent and 1 in 7 nonindependents expected to go out on their own in the coming years. [Attention Freelancers! 10 Great Websites for Finding Work ]
"The independent workforce is a rapidly growing population of high-income professionals," Gene Zaino, founder and CEO of MBO Partners, said in a statement. "Nearly 18 million Americans are independent workers, and with 79 percent saying they are happier working independently than in traditional jobs, we expect this trend to continue."
The study revealed that becoming a freelance worker wasn't a path most were forced into. The majority of independent workers said going solo was a choice they made on their own, with nearly two-thirds saying they have been very satisfied with their decision.
There are a variety of reasons why so many are choosing to become independent workers. Flexibility, ownership and earning potential are among the top draws. With revenue streams from an average of at least four clients, 40 percent of freelancers feel more secure working independently.
Tracking five-year growth, the MBO Partners State of Independence study is based on in-depth surveys of more than 14,000 independent workers since 2011.