What Education Do You Need To Become A Freelancer? [Interesting]

This article was published by Forbes and curated by Closer Spot. Be sure to check out other Closer Spot news and advice to help you win more business.

For many, working as a freelancer is a great path to self-employment. Freelancers often enjoy the autonomy and other benefits of entrepreneurship. At the same time, they don’t have all of the overhead and concerns of other business owners. For example, freelancers don’t have to woo investors or search for an office.

Freelancing has become so popular that in 2016 35% of workers were freelancers and they collectively earned more that one trillion dollars. By 2020, the number is expected to rise to 43% in the US.  It’s safe to say that freelancing now seems to be a very attractive career path for the upcoming generations.

The gig economy has already redefined the traditional notion of work and it seems like the education space is up to be questioned next. More and more young professionals today, who plan to freelance are trying to decide whether or not they need to pursue a formal education. Some point to wildly successful entrepreneurs who never finished college, while others point out that when it comes to earnings and unemployment rates, the college educated fare much better according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

So should all freelancers pursue a degree?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. Ultimately, someone wishing to become a freelancer has to take a few different things into consideration. These are as follows:
  • Formal education and training requirements they must meet;
  • Skills they need to develop to succeed as a freelancer;
  • Their own feelings about higher education;
  • Any alternative paths to developing the skills they need.
The tips below should help you decide whether you should pursue formal education or opt for the alternative option.

Determine educational requirements for your niche
For some freelancers, the choice to pursue a degree or other formal education is made for them. If professional licensing or certification requirements demand a degree or other training, that’s simply unavoidable. Obviously those who are already in their fields will have the required education. However, those looking to start as freelancers will need to research what education they will be required to receive.

Another consideration is market demand. Simply put, if your potential clients want assurance that you’ve earned a degree of some sort, you’re likely going to struggle if you don’t.

Consider entrepreneurship education for freelancers
More colleges and universities are now offering undergraduate and graduate programs in entrepreneurship. In fact, Entrepreneur Magazine and the Princeton Review studied more than 300 schools now offering these programs and gave an overall positive rating to most programs. Apart from helping the students develop entrepreneurial skills, many programs also include mentorship programs, business plan contests, and other enrichment opportunities.

Consider the personal value of education
The value of higher education isn’t solely wrapped up in earnings power or career success. For some, obtaining a college degree represents an important life goal and accomplishment. It’s a matter of personal pride and often a matter of family pride.

Then there’s the fact that educated people have better critical thinking skills, and make better decisions. They tend to be able to discuss complex subjects in depth in an intelligent manner. This can be important when presenting oneself to potential clients. It’s also important to remember the intrinsic value of higher education.

Consider alternative paths to getting an education
For many freelancers the struggle isn’t in deciding whether or not they need to pursue an education, it’s finding a way to do so. For some, the difficulty is financial. After all, Babson college listed as the top entrepreneurial school in the United States charges 49K in tuition each year. That’s a pretty significant sum of money.

As an alternative to this, students might consider community college and continuing education programs for freelancers that are designed to help  them become prepared for the challenges of working for themselves. There are also free online education options for freelancers. These programs, often created in partnership with very reputable colleges, are offered through websites such as Coursera.

Adults who are working or preparing to work as freelancers may not have the time in their schedules to attend on campus classes in spite of needing to pursue degrees. Fortunately, there are flexible options. For example Aston’s online MBA program is designed for working adults. Options like this make it possible for freelancers to get the education they need while building their businesses.

Ultimately, there is no simple answer to the question I’ve posed in the title of this piece. That depends on a variety of factors. Freelancers must determine the professional requirements they must meet, any alternatives to reaching their goals, and whether or not they need help developing skills that are unique to becoming a freelancer. These in addition to the freelancer’s personal views on higher education will lead each individual to their own decision on this important matter.