According, the term “freelancer” dates back to the Middle Ages. No, that is not in the middle of the 1950’s-that is in the middle of Western European history, about AD 800-1300.

Two types of armies developed during this time: those in the employ of the king who were citizens of that nation (English soldiers working for the English king) and mercenaries who hired themselves out to fight for the king with the most coin. Because these mercenaries on horseback carried lances (no, not the handsome, chiseled chin fellow on your favorite soap opera but long straight pointy pikes), they were free to be hired by the highest bidder. They were called (wait for it):

Modern Freelancers

When we left our intrepid freelancers, they were battling for the duke with most dough in the Middle Ages. And so we continue…

Jump to 1937 when the newspaper business needs a term for those photographers who are not employed by one particular newspaper but sell their work to several. (Think of Peter Parker in the “Spider-Man” comics who sells his photos to any paper which will buy them.) Someone familiar with Medieval history decided to use the term “freelancers” to describe this new breed of photojournalist.

Now freelancers are ubiquitous. As the economic landscape changes and full-time jobs evaporate, more contracts are created to allow companies to hire the talent they need. While artists, musicians, web designers and programmers were fluent in gigonomics, what is interesting is the rise of contracts available for those who are in the high income brackets of finance, law, and human resources. According to a January 2009 article in Newsweek, about 30% of the workforce was freelancing from 1996-2005 with the capital of the freelancing world being New York City: about 2/3 of all the job opportunities created in 2008 were freelance gigs. As a result, there are big bucks available for the right accounting freelancer!

Should You Consider Freelancing?

What does the option of freelancing mean to you?

It means that you have choices. As a freelancer, you will probably get higher wage but you might not have benefits. As an employee, you get benefits but usually a lower per hour rate.

Enter the hybrid existence of working for a contracting house which assigns you projects. Like the Lone Ranger, you ride into town (OK, the company) to solve their problems and then ride out of town when your work is done. Unless they offer you another contract….

Working for a contracting house, your wage is probably not as high in comparison to negotiating the contract on your own but you didn’t spend the time seeking the contract either. As a contractor, you have the opportunity to audition in different corporate cultures. Some you may like, some you may not-but at least you get to leave.

Websites such as, ifreelance, and list accounting freelancing gigs. Freelancers enjoy the anticipation of a new project but are not overly worried about whether there will be another gig. If you are the type to worry, freelancing may not be a good avenue for you. You will probably do better as an employee, knowing that you are part of a company and assurance that brings.

How to Search for Accounting Freelancing Gigs

As mentioned previously, there are a number of accounting freelancing websites. Go to Google and enter “accounting freelance jobs” or “accounting freelance contracts.”

There are companies such as Nixon Williams Accountancy which hires and then places accountants in contracts to help client companies. Of course, you might have to move the UK to be in their employ.

On, there were many freelance jobs listed on February 8, 2010. The first job listed was with the United Nations as an IPSAS/IFRS Consultant If you would like to work for 3 months at the UN helping to set up their pension plan, this may be the gig for you! If not, keep opening the postings.

Everyone has different criteria for accepting a contract:

1. Do I have to move or will they pay to house me there temporarily? 2. Does the job use skills I possess and can enhance while there? 3. Will this contract allow me to learn new skills which make me even more employable? 4. Will this look good on my rsum? 5. How will this prepare me either for my next gig or to be hired by this firm as an employee?

Let Freelancing Build Your Career and Skill Set

The current economy with rampant unemployment creates many opportunities.

Why? Not only is there the opportunity to be hired by a company and become an employee, there are actually more freelancing contracts available than any time in history. Why? There are many companies which have decided that it is easier to pay the higher hourly rate of a contractor and not have to pay benefits or worry about an unemployment claim later.

Many companies want to hire a person to solve a problem: e.g., migrate a pension fund from one method of accounting to another. Once that problem is solved, the contractor can wander on down the road…unless the contractor finds the contractee so utterly marvelous that they cannot last another day without that contractee. Good: you just got hired. Companies will use contracts as a way of auditioning an employee before making an offer of permanent employment.

Read each contract posting carefully. Does this opportunity allow you to gain marketable skills you can use later? If so, you can then capitalize when you get your next contract-and get a higher hourly rate.

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