Recent Grads: Driving for Uber Might Pay Better Than an Entry-Level Job

Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures under Creative Commons

Are you a recent grad or early 20-something trying to get ahead in the workforce? Maybe it’s time to strike out on your own as an independent contractor. A recent study revealed that many young people are earning more money working for themselves than they might have earned in a traditional job.

The group Requests for Startups surveyed 1,330 people working independent contractor jobs, which they call the “1099 Economy,” reports Slate. The survey divided the respondents by age, and found some very interesting data in the group aged 18-24. Of these younger adults, 54.8% chose to join the growing number of freelancers in America because they could earn more as independent contractors than they could as traditional employees.

Who are These Young Adults Working For?

If you thought that the idea of earning more as a freelancer than as a traditional employee was surprising, wait until you hear which companies these 18-24-year-olds are contracting under. To quote Slate:

The authors analyzed the responses by dividing companies into four segments: ride-sharing (companies like Uber), manual labor (companies like HomeJoy, a house-cleaning service), delivery (companies like Postmates, a food delivery service), and passive income (companies like Airbnb).

Yes, that’s right: If you’re a 20-something, driving for Uber might pay more than other job options. (According to Uber, the average driver earns $19 an hour. More neutral sources offer a wide range of numbers, from $10 an hour to $50 or more.)

These younger workers also value the flexibility that contract work brings; the study shows that 82.1% elected to become independent contractors because of the flexible schedules.

What About Other Types of Freelance Jobs?

Don’t want to be an Uberpreneur? There are plenty of independent options out there. A recent Payoneer study indicated that the average freelancer earns $21 an hour, which means that independent contracts can be very lucrative for recent graduates who might have a hard time breaking into traditional entry-level jobs.

Also, if you’re a parent reading this, don’t worry — your kids are probably not going to be Uber drivers for life. The Requests for Startups survey also indicated that as young people move into their late 20s and 30s, they start looking for different kinds of work. In fact, 50.7% of survey respondents over 25 said they left their contracting jobs because they wanted something with even better pay.

Want to know more? Read the full story at Slate.

Your turn: Have you worked for Uber, Postmates or a similar company? Were you able to earn more as an independent contractor than you might have earned elsewhere?

Nicole Dieker is a freelance writer focusing on personal finance and personal stories. Her work has appeared in The Billfold, The Toast, Yearbook Office, The Write Life and Boing Boing.