Career Profile: Academic Freelancing

Woman at a computer on the phone

It may not be the first thing academics think about when investigating careers, but freelancing is a great option for academic researchers. There is a large demand for academic skills in many different industries, and academics can freelance as a full-time career or part-time next to their work for a university. 

The possibilities are endless when it comes to freelancing. You could serve as a consultant for a wide variety of companies that require scientific advice for their work. You could write, edit, and proofread reports, protocols, grants, white papers, and information brochures. You could provide mentoring for students in various situations, or provide statistical and data analysis for companies and individuals. But you could also help design scientific illustrations, presentations, and websites.

Keep in mind that, as a freelancer, you are not under contract as an employee, and this has consequences for your salary, benefits, and tax situation. Additionally, you will have billable and non-billable hours of work. Billable are those directly working on a client’s project, and non-billable is the time you spend pursuing clients, accounting, marketing, etc. You will have to define your rate yourself, and these are factors to take into account when doing so. 

Overall, freelancing offers great potential to do extra or full-time work for academics. Ready to investigate and start freelancing on the side to see if it is for you? Check out, a freelance site for academics, or have a look at our blog about side hustles.