The UK’s best paid freelance jobs

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15 August 2022
6 minute read

When weighing up the pros and cons of freelance work, one of the main considerations is pay. So how much do freelancers in your field earn? And which freelance jobs pay the best?

Average freelance day rates in the UK

Freelance management platform YunoJuno compared UK freelancers’ average day rates, focusing on 16 categories within marketing, tech and creative industries.

Across all categories, the average day rate was £368 – but this varied significantly across fields.

Field Average day rate
Market research £512
Strategy £492
Data £486
UX £468
QA and testing £425
Development £417
Project management £382
Creative £377
Film and motion £370
Photography £362
Client services £340
Design £336
PR £326
Marketing £318
Social media £307
Studio £281

Freelance market research day rates

Typical roles include: Market Research Analyst, Market Research Interviewer and Qualitative Research Assistant

Average day rate: £512

Lowest day rate: £155

Highest day rate: £1,479

Out of all 16 fields, market research roles have the highest average pay. But they also have the largest gap between the highest and lowest day rates – with those at the top end of the scale earning almost ten times as much as those at the lower end.

This shows that knowledge and experience are highly valued, and that more senior market researchers can set significantly higher rates than freelancers who are more junior.

Freelance strategy day rates

Typical roles include: Planner, Brand Strategist and Content Strategist

Average day rate: £492

Lowest day rate: £150

Highest day rate: £1,000

While their average day rates have dropped 6% since 2019, freelance strategists are still better paid than freelancers in most other fields, earning the second highest average day rate.

Freelance data day rates

Typical roles include: Data Scientist, BI Analyst and Data Engineer

Average day rate: £486

Lowest day rate: £250

Highest day rate: £750

Freelancers who work in data have been in increasingly high demand over the last few years, with their rates increasing by 31%. Even those at the lower end of the pay scale earn comparatively well – showing that even less experienced or skilled data freelancers are highly valued.

Freelance UX day rates

Typical roles include: UI Designer, UX Architect and UX Researcher

Average day rate: £468

Lowest day rate: £250

Highest day rate: £700

Within the field of UX, the average day rate sits right in the middle of the highest and lowest rates, which could suggest that there’s an even spread of hiring between junior and senior roles.

Freelance QA and testing day rates

Typical roles include: Quality Analyst, Test Architect and Test Engineer

Average day rate: £425

Lowest day rate: £250

Highest day rate: £850

Freelance development day rates

Typical roles include: Full-stack Developer, Mobile App Developer and JavaScript Developer

Average day rate: £417

Lowest day rate: £200

Highest day rate: £700

Freelance project management day rates

Typical roles include: Programme Manager, Project Manager and Resource Manager

Average day rate: £382

Lowest day rate: £210

Highest day rate: £800

Freelance creative day rates

Typical roles include: Art Director, Creative Director and Copywriter

Average day rate: £377

Lowest day rate: £200

Highest day rate: £613

Freelance film and motion day rates

Typical roles include: Motion Graphics, Videographer and Video Editor

Average day rate: £370

Lowest day rate: £250

Highest day rate: £650

Freelance photography day rates

Typical roles include: Photo Editor, Experiential Photographer and Event Photographer

Average day rate: £362

Lowest day rate: £150

Highest day rate: £1,130

As a whole, photography brings in slightly below average day rates – but the best paid photographers have the second highest day rates of any discipline. So if you’re thinking of becoming a freelance photographer, there’s a lot of scope to increase your rates as you build a portfolio, develop skills and gain experience.

Freelance client services day rates

Typical roles include: Account Director, Account Manager and Client Services Director

Average day rate: £340

Lowest day rate: £200

Highest day rate: £650

Freelance design day rates

Typical roles include: Digital Designer, Graphic Designer and Illustrator

Average day rate: £336

Lowest day rate: £290

Highest day rate: £500

While designers’ average day rate is lower than most other disciplines, their minimum day rate was the highest of all 16 areas. This could suggest that even less experienced designers have highly valued skills – although there’s limited opportunity to increase rates over time.

Freelance PR day rates

Typical roles include: PR Manager, PR Specialist and Relationship Manager

Average day rate: £326

Lowest day rate: £190

Highest day rate: £600

Freelance marketing day rates

Typical roles include: Digital Marketing Consultant, SEO Specialist and Performance Marketing Specialist

Average day rate: £318

Lowest day rate: £120

Highest day rate: £770

Freelance social media day rates

Typical roles include: Community Manager, Social Media Manager and Social Media Analyst

Average day rate: £307

Lowest day rate: £150

Highest day rate: £1,120

Social media has the second lowest average, but the third largest gap between highest and lowest day rates. This low average could imply that junior social media experts are hired more frequently than those who are more senior – but as someone in this field gains experience, they can up their day rate quite significantly.

Freelance studio day rates

Typical roles include: Artworker and Re-toucher

Average day rate: £281

Lowest day rate: £180

Highest day rate: £500

The bad news for studio freelancers? Their average day rate is the lowest of all 16 disciplines, with even the best paid freelancers earning comparatively less than top earners in other fields.

The good news? The average rate has remained roughly the same over the last few years, suggesting that studio work is less lucrative but more stable than other freelance opportunities.

The bigger picture of freelance pay

While day rates can give you some insight into the best paid freelance jobs, there are a few other factors to take into account.

Income vs expenses

Whereas in-house employees are usually provided with everything they need to do their job, freelancers often need to cover their own expenses, such as freelance insurance, equipment and software.

These expenses can vary a lot from discipline to discipline, and high costs could offset a high day rate. So to understand exactly which freelance jobs pay the best, you’ll need to weigh up income and expenses.

Non-working days

Freelancers often have time off between jobs. So while day rates can tell you how much a freelancer earns for the days they actually work, you can only find out their annual income if you also know how many days they work throughout the year.

There are many factors that could contribute to a freelancer’s number of non-working days. If a freelancer works in a high-demand field with a lot of potential jobs or is open to different kinds of work, they might find it easy to jump from job to job without much time off in between.

But freelancers might have more non-working days if they work in a field with fewer jobs, are very specific about the work they’ll accept, need to take sick days or simply want a bit more time off.

Long-term earnings

As we’ve seen above, freelancers in certain fields can significantly increase their rates as they refine their skills and gain experience – while others have less scope for upping their rates.

So when looking at which freelance jobs pay the best, it’s important to consider long-term earning potential, as well as the average pay and starting day rates.

The learning curve

If you’re new to freelancing, it can be difficult to know how much to charge, and undervaluing work is one of the most common mistakes made by freelancers. Learning how to effectively set day rates takes time, so it might be a while before a freelancer is able to maximise their earning potential.

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This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer.

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