The compensation rises to Rs 33,000 and Rs 46,000 per day as professionals move from the 10-20 to the 20 and above experience stage, after which the growth rate declines.
Freelancers have for long been considered a low-cost resource for employers. However, the perception will have to change sooner or later as even highly experienced professionals are now opting to freelance rather than have a full-time permanent job. Flexing It, a leading platform for flexible management talent in South & South East Asia, recently released a report titled ‘India’s Top Tier Freelancers- What They Earn’, according to which the average pay of a skilled freelancer with an experience of five to ten years can be around Rs 19,000 per day.
The survey revealed that the median pay for a skilled independent professional increases from INR 8,000 to INR 19,000 per day as they move from an experience range of 0–5 years to 5–10 years, with an interesting growth rate of 143 per cent. The compensation rises to INR 33,000 and INR 46,000 per day as professionals move from 10–20 to 20 and above experience stage, after which the growth rate declines.
The survey also showed that 73 per cent of all long-term projects were delivered by professionals with more than 10 years of experience, indicating that organisations prefer highly seasoned professionals for projects involving longer commitment periods. Finance, general management, strategy & consulting, human resources and sales are the skills that provide the highest compensation for professionals with more than 20 years of experience. Amongst these skills, the strategy and consulting professionals are the most sought-after by industries such as IT services, professional services, E-commerce and retail.
Chandrika Pasricha, founder & CEO, Flexing It, says, “There is an emergence of a segment of high calibre, independent consultants and professionals building their own brand and work portfolio based on their expertise.”
As per the survey report, women’s representation falls to 32 per cent in the experience range of 10–20 years and to an alarmingly low 10 per cent in the experience range of 20 and above. This lower participation of more experienced women in the workforce is not only limited to independent professionals, but also evident across the full-time workforce. Freelancing and project-based consulting assignments offer a unique opportunity for women to balance work and personal commitments, stay productive and add to their portfolio of work.
Speaking on the state of women freelancers and role of organisations in encouraging more women to keep working, Pasricha says, “We are now seeing the beginnings of larger enterprises also co-opting freelancers to retain flexibility, source very specific skills and push the envelope on their diversity initiatives to provide innovative engagement models to women professionals.”
Interestingly, the gender pay gap prevalent across sectors is also a concern amongst the freelancing community. The survey revealed that although men and women command similar compensation levels till 10 years of work experience, women consultants in the experience range of 10 and above earn 30 per cent less as compared to men in the same experience range.
While the representation of women professionals in the experience range of 20 and above falls to 10 per cent of all consultants, it is interesting to note that the small proportion of women who continue to stay engaged in the workforce beyond 20 years command better compensation levels than their male counterparts.
Coming back to the average pay for freelancers, the survey highlighted that across all career phases and skills, the daily fee received during longer projects is considerably higher than for short-term projects. Despite this, 72 per cent of the professionals choose short-term projects.
The survey analysed the data from 2,500 professionals from India who have worked on projects with varied organisations including MNCs, large Indian corporates, startups, not-for-profits, consulting firms and government-run enterprises. The data was collected over a period of six months from January, 2016 to June, 2016.