There’s been a lot in the news about the gig economy in recent years. It seems to be taking the country by storm, but what exactly is it? The gig economy is a reflection of changing work environments in our technologically advanced society. Telecommuting and skillset changes began making traditional work environments obsolete. The United States, formerly an agricultural and industrial economy, transitioned into the information age and opened the door to a brand-new kind of work. The days of nine-to-five are coming to an end, as that classic industrial work structure has little place in a high-tech world. In this article, we’ll go over what the gig economy is and how you can join this revolutionary new workforce trend.
The word ‘gig’ is a slang term for ‘engagement.’ While its exact origin is unknown, many speculate that the word originated in the jazz scene of the 1920s where musicians played short engagements at multiple venues. Today, the music scene still retains the word to describe such performances, but it has taken on another meaning as well. Since the advent of the Internet, an increasing number of workers marketed and sold their skills online. As the economy shifted, people such as writers, graphic designers, and programmers learned that they could make a full-time income from one or more clients entirely from home. In a modern sense, the gig economy refers to the growing number of full-time freelancers working remotely.
Gig Economy Statistics
The growth of the gig economy is absolutely explosive. A 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics report revealed a whopping 35% of the U.S. workforce already participates in the gig economy. That’s over 55 million freelancers and independent contractors with marketable skills. The future trends are clear—the gig economy is likely to dominate the United States in just a few short years. The BLS study went on to predict a 7% increase by 2020, bringing the total percentage of gig workers in the United States to 43%. Remote work is the future, and it opens the door for a significant positive shift in the way humans live their lives.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Working Remotely
Working as an independent contractor is a great thing; there are many benefits and only a few drawbacks. It’s never been easier to be your own boss in this country, especially since industrialization. Now, it’s possible to improve your work-life balance entirely at your discretion with flexible hours and more client options. People suffering from physical or mental disabilities have a better chance of making a decent living, especially if their disability prevented them from commuting. You can set your own hours and work from wherever there’s an internet connection.
Obviously, the benefits sound incredibly appealing, but nothing in life comes without a downside. Income as a freelancer is sometimes unreliable, especially when you’re just starting out. You won’t have a boss breathing down your neck and holding you accountable for your work, so you have to be responsible and manage your time. Fortunately, over time, you’ll learn how to pick the best jobs and market yourself in this competitive new space. While the gig economy isn’t for everyone, it can be a massive improvement to many who aren’t satisfied in their current work environment.
Transitioning into the new gig economy presents a new set of challenges for education. Many people consider traditional schools to be a dinosaur from a long-replaced era of rigid factory work. Students leave high school (and even college) utterly unprepared for this economic trend. Writers, designers, and tech workers have excellent opportunities in this new economy, as they can market and use their skills remotely. People with programming skills also excel here, as there’s an ever-increasing supply of software development gigs available in the vast freelance market.
If you’re dreaming of a remote job in the gig economy, there’s a new type of education program you should consider. Fast-track programming schools, called coding bootcamps, popped up around the country in the last decade, and they prepare students to be professional coders in a matter of months. Tech companies sometimes work with coding bootcamps and recruit applicants directly after graduation. They range in length from three to eighteen months and can prepare you for a remote tech job as soon as you graduate. Coding bootcamps addressed a problem that traditional colleges failed to, and graduates are enormously successful in applying their new skills. Coders earn lucrative salaries all over the country, and the tech industry outpaces virtually all others in job growth.