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Contractors 20 min

Which job functions are best to outsource to international contractors?

Written by
Alanna Brown

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Outsourcing certain responsibilities to contractors or freelancers has become an increasingly popular solution to many of the challenges today’s businesses face. With remote work more common than ever, companies can easily, quickly, and compliantly hire international contractors from all over the world.

Reduced costs, increased diversity, specialized technical expertise, local market insight, and new timezone coverage are just a few of the potential benefits of hiring contractors. When sourced with consideration and compliance in mind, the speed of using international freelancers and contractors can give companies a competitive edge. 

But which responsibilities and job roles are best suited to outsourcing? 

To investigate this question, we analyzed data from one of the world’s largest contractor marketplaces to reveal the most commonly outsourced job roles and how much you can expect to pay to hire contractor talent in these roles. 

We then compared the average hourly contractor rates to the average annual salary of a full-time employee, to reveal the best type of contractor or freelancer jobs to outsource for the best value return.

Rank

Job function

% of freelance projects posted for this job function

1

Marketing

32.80%

2

Web Design

10.65%

3

Web Development

8.73%

4

E-commerce Development

8.59%

5

Content Writing

8.18%

6

Customer Experience

8.18%

7

Digital Marketing

8.02%

8

Graphic Design

7.78%

9

Business Writing

6.81%

10

Mobile Development

6.43%

11

Architecture

6.14%

12

Audio Production

5.90%

13

Animation

4.99%

14

Illustration

4.89%

15

Translation

4.71%

16

Public Relations

4.29%

17

Photography

4.01%

18

3D Modeling

3.92%

19

Game Design

3.86%

20

Product Design

3.40%

According to our research, marketing is the top job function that businesses are looking to outsource internationally to contractors

Marketing is an important key to growth with many specialist areas, so it is no surprise businesses are looking outside of their full-time staff for contractor help. As a result, this job function makes up 33% of job adverts posted. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing globally, so hiring talent that specializes in your target market can help the success of your campaigns. 

This data demonstrates that a significant group of skilled marketing professionals are experienced in working as an independent contractor and many remote professionals around the world are open to working for an international employer. Forward-thinking employers should consider international hiring for hard-to-fill marketing roles to access this large pool of highly mobile talent.

Many other skilled roles such as web design, web development, and e-commerce development are also high in demand, accounting for 10.65%, 8.73%, and 8.59% of jobs posted.  There are many benefits to hiring an individual software engineer or app/web developer rather than engaging a large agency or firm. Apart from the obvious cost and time savings, employers can also expect cleaner and faster communication, increased flexibility, and the opportunity to convert this talent from a contractor to an employee over time.

link to When should you convert a contractor to an employee?
8 MIN

When should you convert a contractor to an employee?

While contractor designations may be appropriate for some business relationships, companies cannot simply pay people as contractors because it’s easier. Contractors and employees fulfill different roles and have distinct legal definitions. Converting a contractor to an employee can protect the employer from penalties, provide a better experience for the employee, and make it simpler for both parties to collaborate.

The most affordable job functions to outsource to freelancers and contractors 

Depending on experience, competition and demand, contractors and freelancers can adjust their hourly rate to reflect their expertise. 

To find out which contractor or freelancer job functions are typically the most affordable to hire, we analyzed up to the first 1,000 contractor profiles online for over 60 job functions to reveal the average hourly freelance rate for each role. 

The table below shows the top 10 most affordable freelancer and contractor roles ranked by their average hourly rates.

Rank

Job Function

Average cost per hour to hire a freelancer (USD)

Average cost per hour to hire a freelancer (GBP)

1

Data Entry & Transcription Services

$11.83

£10.61

2

Customer Experience & Tech Support

$11.91

£10.68

3

Market Research & Product Reviews

$13.20

£11.84

4

Virtual Assistance

$14.10

£12.65

5

Data Extraction/ETL

$17.66

£15.84

6

Accounting & Bookkeeping

$20.37

£18.27

7

3D Modeling & CAD

$23.38

£20.97

8

Physical Sciences

$23.50

£21.08

9

Translation & Localization Services

$24.36

£21.85

10

Contract Manufacturing

$26.04

£23.35

Data entry and transcription services prove to be the most affordable job functions to outsource to contractors or freelancers costing just $11.83 an hour on average. 

Customer experience and tech support follow in second place, costing businesses only $11.91 an hour. This is followed by market research and product reviewers which come in third place at $13.20 an hour on average. 

These roles are all highly competitive with plenty of contractors to choose from. This has caused contractors to lower their costs in a saturated market. 

Despite attractive low hourly costs, it's important that employers must develop a fair global compensation strategy for their distributed workforces. This includes considering statutory minimum wages and endeavoring to pay fair and equitable local market rates. The benefits of implementing this strategy are significant, as commitment to fair global compensation develops a stronger internal culture, increased retention rates, and increased quality of work from contractors who are more motivated to produce a better result. 

To help you learn how to develop an equitable and scalable global compensation plan, watch Remote’s panel of global HR and recruitment specialists sharing practical advice and strategies in this calculating global compensation webinar.  

Download your 
Global Benefits Guide and attract top global talent

Remote's global HR experts share practical advice for building a locally relevant and globally compliant benefits program to help you attract and keep the world's best talent.

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The least affordable job functions to outsource to international freelancers and contractors 

The table below shows the top 10 least affordable freelancer and contractor roles ranked by their average hourly rate advertised.

Rank

Job Function

Average cost per hour to hire a freelancer (USD)

Average cost per hour to hire a freelancer (GBP)

1

International & Immigration Law

$87.80

£78.74

2

Photography

$87.41

£78.39

3

Public Relations

$74.10

£66.46

4

Community Management & Tagging

$73.23

£65.68

5

Marketing & Brand Strategy

$70.75

£63.45

6

Product Management

$63.30

£56.77

7

Information Security & Compliance

$61.85

£55.47

8

Management Consulting & Analysis

$60.48

£54.24

9

Sales & Marketing Copywriting

$58.91

£52.83

10

Public Law

$58.60

£51.09

International and immigration law is the least affordable job function to outsource to a contractor or freelancer. On average, individuals specializing in this highly skilled role charge $87.80 an hour. Remember that niche roles with dedicated expertise are often hard to fill with locally available talent, so the flexibility to source an international contractor for short term project work can be well worth the short term expense.

Photography and public relations also feature in the top five least affordable contractor functions to outsource at $87.41 and $74.10 respectively. This is due to the high demand for this skill, meaning freelancers can have the power to increase their rates to match the demand. 

What is the financial difference between hiring a full-time employee over a contractor or freelancer? 

For many projects, a short-term contractor may be a more sensible hire than a full-time, long-term employee. While engaging contractors over a long period of time can lead to serious misclassification issues, hiring short-term contractors can be a safe and speedy way to accelerate the completion of specific projects. 

But how does the cost of a full-time employee compare to the cost of a contractor? 

To investigate, we compared the average hourly rate of a freelancer to the average hourly rate of a full-time employee in the UK and US, based on salary alone, to reveal the best-value job functions to outsource to contractors or freelancers. 

To calculate the hourly rate of a full-time employee, we analyzed the average national salary for each job function and divided it by the average number of hours worked in each market. 

These are the best value job functions in the US to outsource to international contractors:

Rank

Job Function

Average cost per hour to hire a freelancer (USD)

Average cost per hour to hire a full-time employee (USD)

Saving per hour when hiring a freelancer

1

Data Mining & Management

$26.60

$71.78

$45.18

2

Corporate & Contract Law

$36.47

$64.31

$27.84

3

Database Management & Administration

$28.75

$54.33

$25.58

4

Electrical & Electronic Engineering

$42.86

$65.92

$23.06

5

Building & Landscape Architecture

$39.33

$62.29

$22.96

6

Mobile Development

$33.34

$55.61

$22.27

7

Market Research & Product Reviews

$13.20

$32.86

$19.66

8

Ecommerce Development

$33.24

$52.45

$19.21

9

Data Extraction/ETL

$17.66

$31.13

$13.47

10

Customer Experience & Tech Support

$11.91

$24.60

$12.69

Although contractors may be more affordable in certain circumstances, companies should not use this information to avoid hiring full-time employees. In most of these fields, the contract work performed is more affordable because it tends to be less specialized than the work that would be performed by a full-time professional. 

While it is good to use contractors to accelerate growth and fill in gaps, relying exclusively on contractors without the right full-time experts on your team can lead to problems.

These are the best value job functions in the UK to outsource to international contractors:

Rank

Job Function

Average cost per hour to hire a freelancer (GBP)

Average cost per hour to hire a full-time employee (GBP)

Saving per hour when hiring a freelancer

1

Web Development

£27.50

£39.22

£11.71

2

Market Research & Product Reviews

£11.71

£19.12

£7.40

3

Data Mining & Management

£23.61

£30.16

£6.56

4

Customer Experience & Tech Support

£10.57

£14.91

£4.34

5

Data Extraction/ETL

£15.67

£18.48

£2.81

6

Corporate & Contract Law

£32.37

£34.75

£2.39

7

Data Entry & Transcription Services

£10.50

£12.68

£2.18

8

Building & Landscape Architecture

£34.90

£36.75

£1.85

9

Virtual Assistance

£12.51

£14.01

£1.50

10

Accounting & Bookkeeping

£18.08

£19.29

£1.21

Many of the same job functions appear on the list for the UK. Here, contract web development shows the biggest gap between full-time and contract workers, but again, use caution and do not mistake a contractor for a full-time employee.

The OECD countries with the most freelancers available for work

Remote and flexible working policies mean employers and hiring managers are no longer bound by geographical constraints when seeking out freelance support, so they can more easily hire contractors who are based in different countries or time zones. 

This has drastically widened the talent pool and means they can bypass any local skills shortages by simply extending their search for talent to new locations.

With this in mind, we looked at the countries with the highest number of freelance and contract workers available amongst the 38 OECD nations. 

Rank

OECD Country

% of OECD freelancers in this country

Most common freelancer job function available in this country

Second most common freelancer job function available in this country

Third most common freelancer job function available in this country

1

United States

22.09%

Writing / Editing

Art / Creative

Design

2

Turkey

13.55%

Design

Web Development

Art / Creative

3

Colombia

9.54%

Art / Creative

Design

Writing / Editing

4

Mexico

8.53%

Design

Art / Creative

Writing / Editing

5

United Kingdom

6.35%

Design

Business Development

Project Management

6

Spain

5.30%

Art / Creative

Design

Web Development

7

Italy

4.94%

Art / Creative

Design

Writing / Editing

8

Canada

4.67%

Design

Data Analyst

Business Development

9

Australia

3.05%

Business Development

Design

Data Analyst

10

Germany

2.98%

Design

Web Development

Business Development

11

Portugal

2.43%

Design

Art / Creative

Writing / Editing

12

France

2.13%

Design

Web Development

Art / Creative

13

Poland

1.96%

Design

Web Development

Art / Creative

14

Chile

1.81%

Art / Creative

Design

Writing / Editing

15

Greece

1.25%

Design

Art / Creative

Project Management

16

Netherlands

0.96%

Design

Web Development

Business Development

17

Costa Rica

0.91%

Art / Creative

Writing / Editing

Design

18

Hungary

0.80%

Design

Web Development

Data Analyst

19

Israel

0.67%

Design

Web Development

Business Development

20

Japan

0.64%

Data Analyst

Web Development

Business Development

The United States came out on top with almost a quarter (22.09%) of all the freelancers in OECD countries being based here. In the states, writing or editing is the most popular job function for freelancers.

After that, Turkey is home to the second highest proportion of OECD freelancers with 13.55%. After design, web development and art/creative are the next most common job functions taken on by Turkey’s freelancers. 

Colombia follows in third place with 9.54% of all OECD freelancers, where design and creative roles are most common.  

The OECD country with the fewest freelancers is Iceland with 0.02%. On this basis, Iceland is the least suitable option for finding international freelancers at scale.

The benefits of hiring international contractors and freelancers

Hiring contractors or freelancers can help an organization reach a number of business development goals.

Finding and hiring top freelancer talent can be a much more efficient way to add new skills to your team quickly. A freelance contractor can be found in a matter of days, especially because many of the top contractors actively advertise their services. Avoiding delays can make all the difference when it comes to meeting deadlines or releasing products to market ahead of competitors. 

Freelancers who are specialists in their fields can bring a lot of value to a project. Whether it’s years of experience using a specific tool, the know-how to solve problems that arise, or even industry connections, the business can benefit from that expertise.

The simplest way to scale contractor management

Remote’s contractor management platform helps organizations by simplifying the process for onboarding, managing, and paying contractors around the world. Every part of the contracting process can be managed on our dedicated platform, from creating localized contracts that comply with local tax and labor laws, to approving and paying invoices. 

Download our Guide to International Contractor Management to learn more about the best practices for hiring and paying contractors abroad. 

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Methodology & Sources