The world of the freelance worker

I have given up at this point of finding an actual fulltime job in my field, which is instructional design. There are other titles for this job, such as e-learning, training, and many more. Basically to get into this field you need to have many computer skills that apparently aren’t that common. I know Flash, Dreamweaver, PhotoShop, Flash, Captivate and of course Microsoft Office. If I don’t know a skill I learn it. The good thing about this is that this job pays around $25 an hour, but the bad part is most companies don’t hire fulltime for this job anymore and the few positions are highly competitive. I know, I am often contacted for these jobs, and once I got to a third interview then nothing. The majority of the jobs I see though are freelance, often lasting a few months if that. Basically they bring in someone to design training programs (which are increasingly going online, and through platforms like social media, iPods, YouTube and websites, to name a few)and then the job is done. Only the big companies keep someone permanently. Some keep on people also to teach people various programs but once again only the biggest companies.

The thing is though I wouldn’t mind freelance if it paid enough for me to survive and buy insurance. However freelance can be hard to get and I might get a few jobs here and there but not enough to survive. I don’t see it getting better, I see it getting worse because this is a field that can be done almost entirely at home. Why would any employer hire me for $55,000+ when they can hire me for $25 an hour? I didn’t start in this field, I fell into it after struggling to find jobs in public relations/marketing, broadcasting, journalism and film. I never even had a desire to do this job, but finding a job in pr or radio at this point would be far worse.

I am definitely screwed and no idea how to get out of this. I want to go back to school for another field but can’t afford it, and besides what would I study? Many jobs are going freelance or part time, including nursing and other medical jobs. I wanted to teach but I know long time unemployed teachers. I considered going into speech therapy but I’d have to go to school for 4 years and once again this is another field going freelance. I know several who got into aerobics and pet trainers but, yep you guessed it freelance.

11 thoughts on “The world of the freelance worker”

  1. $25/hour freelance is equivalent to about $15/hour full-time when you consider so-called fully-burdened labor rates that include the cost of benefits. A prospective employer saves about $2 just on not having to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes at that level, so in the best of circumstances, $25/hour freelance is worth $23/hour full-time.

    I’m in the middle of reviewing a proposal to build and staff a training facility. It’s a cost-plus contract, and about 75% of the items get a 12% fee. This is after all labor has been marked up by 75% or so for overhead. The end result is that for the company to pay you $25/hour with benefits, they have to be able to sell your labor to a customer at $60/hour for them to make their profit because part of your salary goes to overhead.

    Jobs that are “overhead”, like admin jobs, have been taking it on the chin for decades. If a company can sell admin work done by an engineer for double the price, they will.

    Are there alternative methods to getting a teaching certificate in your state? This is a course that you might pursue if it exists. Usually you have to take somewhere around 20 semester hours of education credits while you are teaching, so you might as well go for a Maste of Arts in teaching or something similar. There is also a standardized trest that prospective teachers have to take.

    How bound are you to living in close proximity to your parents? Would they help you to relocate if you could get a job elsewhere? A lot of places just don’t have jobs. I have people knocking on my door wanting to mow my lawn or do odd jobs. I’m inclined to believe claims that the unemployment rate is closer to 20% than 8%.

  2. I would move if I could, but I don’t see jobs anywhere, at least in my field. I am close to Chicago so if I can’t find a job there I can’t many other places. They have that alternative teaching certificate here and I qualify but it’s a year program but after that no guarantee of a job because many teachers are unemployed. I am checking into the Catholic system though because many teaching jobs don’t require the certificate and others will help you find jobs.

  3. What might help you with the alternative teaching program is that you would be hired cheaply, as many school systems want cheaper help. The system that many districts put in place perhaps 15 years ago that rewarded advanced degrees by teachers tended to bite them in the butt, because colleges tailored masters degree programs that would let the teachers get their masters at night in about two years. Even so, the number oif teachers who didn’t get a masters degree is much larger than the number that did.

    If the alternative program is cheap or free, it might be worth a try. More years ago than I care to admit, the Catholic school that I attended offered me a job after two years of college, but I wanted to finish college. As lay people replaced the sisters, the schools tended to want the certificate, and this was 30 years ago. It might be different in your diocese. Pay tends to be a lot lower in private school than the public schools. The drawback of the alternative certification programs is that you will have the most success finding a job if you are looking to teach in shortage fields like math and science, and then you have to have a degree in that field.

    The reason that I ask about alternative certification programs is that you’d have to go to school for two years, at least half time, plus your practice teaching. The alternative program gets you out in a year. Does that include practice teaching time?

  4. Everything is shot in New Jersey:

    Teaching: everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon; there are many many teachers out of work. Unless of course, you know somebody…which is the way it goes, as always….

    Nursing: We have hospitals that are closing and nobody at all is hiring. There are also less beds being occupied, thanks to outpatient surgeries and the like.

    The guest visa program is still the way to go out here to hire nursing help. Our own grads cannot get hired. (This was a dead major, starting in about 1980, because women realized there waas more to a job/career than being just a nurse or a teacher — those wre the 2 biggies for majors for women)

    Same goes for every other allied health care job: shot to hell because of outpatient surgeries and the like.

    IT: Dead in the water. Everything is outsourced or offshored.

    And pet training now is requiring a cetificate. What utter bullshit. And in many cases, you need to pass a test to be certified.

    The only jobs I can think of:

    Welding is a lost art. there is still a big call for welders, at least out here.
    Culinary Arts: can’t be outsourced or offshored
    Automotive arts: same thing
    Funeral science/Mortuary science: not for everybody but think of the plusses: you’ll help families whose loved ones have died.

  5. A few years back, there were 2 colleges that got a grant from the dept of education to train teachers.

    You’d attend class from January through August and then in September, you got a guaranteed job…but here is the catch: there were in Newark, Paterson and Elizabeth. These are 3 towns that are rife with gang activity and violence and poor schools to begin with.

    I went to the seminar to learn more.

    There were so many attendees that they had to put us in 3 rooms and have 2 more sets of moderators to run the seminar in each room.

    When I got to “you need to apply to get in and we will interview you” that was it for me. And you can bet they were going to get THOUSANDS of applications to fill a 30 cohort program….they were only taking 90 cohorts, 30 in each year — the program ran from 2010 to 2012..

    One of the colleges where this program was headquartered has just lost their accredidation! What happens now to the cohorts in that group — and what happens to their grant and their program, albeit there is only a few months or so left for it to compete? One never knows what will happen.

  6. NWP:

    Do you know of anybody else out of work who you could possibly combine forces with — where the group of you could actually form your own company? (example: you’d have a CPA, a sales person, a graphic arts person, a business analyst and an admin) Offer one service, form a company and go from there.

    You could all telecommute; if you need to meet, you could do it by Skype or if you are all very local, meet at one of your homes or at the foodcourt of a mall, before the shopping crowd opens.

    You could meet with clients either at their place of business or at said foodcourt of a mall or a donut place.

    Just some examples of what you could do, if you could combine forces with at least 3 other people who are out of work.

  7. I know several people out of work but all are in unrelated fields. I know several unemployed teachers for example and unemployed medical people too. I’m putting all my skills together for my website and using my marketing to promote it as well. I know many of the small businesses here and most will allow me to advertise at their company but outside of that no idea.

  8. Why can’t the teachers band together and form an education related company?

    Maybe something student related, or perhaps they can collaborate and form a tutoring company — they’ll sure need publicity, public relations and a website; you could provide that for them.

  9. You would not be a freelancer if you offered a definite product and had very established customers. YOu’d be a company at that point.

    And maybe pretty soon you can hire actual employees to be in the company with you.

    I know of several people who are sole business owners and not freelancers.

  10. If that’s the case, you’re looking at becoming a (sub?) chapter S corporation. One can be a sole proprietorship, but I like the idea of becoming a limited liability corporation (LLC), because that protects your personal assets in case of lawsuits or other liabilities. However, I am an engineer, not a lawyer, and would advise anyone to get legal advice when starting a company, even a solo practice or frelance deal. Ignorance of the law is not a defense. Look into your local requirements for business licenses, and get what they require.

    The answer to why the teachers don’t band together is that working in a school district doesn’t foster a sense of enterpreneurship. You teach the district’s subjects and in a lot of cases “teach to the test” thanks to No Child Left Behind. One becomes a teacher in many cases because they want a secure job. The answer could be simpler still: they don’t feel like they have money to risk on a business venture.

    It’s hard to sell tutoring unless you’re living in a place that can afford it. Booking enough hours to make the endeavor worthwhile takes a long time and is best done as a side job, which for all that I know, is forbidden by the school district while you are in their employ. Suppose that you yeach high school but someone is willing to pay you to tutor a middle schooler. I’d think that you would be alllowed to take the money, even if you have to do it quietly, but I can understand the perspective of the district which would argue that it doesn’t look right.

  11. There is a flyspeck-sized dance school that operates out of the equally flyspeck sized basement of a very small church in our town.:)

    2 people own it and run it.

    They’ve been in business for over 25 years.:) Things are going reasonably well.

    I am guessing it’s the luck of the draw. Good for them.:)

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