The 25 best careers for the self-employed

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By Samanda Dorger, The Street

These are challenging times for young people trying to make a career choice, or anyone thinking of striking out on their own.

However your economic future plays out, there are pros and cons to being self-employed. You might like the idea of being the one to call the shots, choosing who to work with, and not having to rely on an employer. You might be entrepreneurial, and brave enough to shoulder your own health insurance and self-employment taxes.

But not all occupations are suited to self-employment. To find the best occupations for people who want to be self-employed, personal finance site MagnifyMoney crunched the data on 579 occupations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, including:

  • Percent of workers who are self-employed
  • Estimated new jobs added 2018 to 2028
  • Estimated employment change 2018 to 2028 ( how fast an occupation is growing or contracting)
  • 2018 median earnings
  • Percent change in earnings 2017 to 2018

MagnifyMoney scored each metric, giving double weight to the self-employment rate, and ranked the occupations. Based on their study, these are the best careers if you want to be your own boss.


1. Food service managers 

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  • Percent self-employed: 37.6%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 10.8%
  • Annual job openings: 46,900
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 4.2%
  • 2018 wage: $54,240

Because some managers manage multiple locations, this may be why many of them are self-employed.


2. Construction managers

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  • Percent self-employed: 39.8%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 9.8%
  • Annual job openings: 40,200
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 2.2%
  • 2018 wage: $93,370

3. Real estate sales agents

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  • Percent self-employed: 56.4%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 6.9%
  • Annual job openings: 38,900
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 5.9%
  • 2018 wage: $48,690

4. Managers, all other

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  • Percent self-employed: 54.5%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 6.3%
  • Annual job openings: 91,300
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 1.8%
  • 2018 wage: $107,480

5. Massage therapists

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  • Percent self-employed: 33.0%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 22.2%
  • Annual job openings: 24,200
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 3.6%
  • 2018 wage: $41,420

6. Clinical, counseling and school psychologists

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  • Percent self-employed: 30.0%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 14.7%
  • Annual job openings: 14,600
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 2.5%
  • 2018 wage: $76,990

7. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs

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  • Percent self-employed: 42.8%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 19.5%
  • Annual job openings: 51,300
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 4.4%
  • 2018 wage: $25,980

8. Construction laborers

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  • Percent self-employed: 27.6%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 10.5%
  • Annual job openings: 179,300
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 3.7%
  • 2018 wage: $35,800

9. Management analysts

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  • Percent self-employed: 17.8%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 13.5%
  • Annual job openings: 99,900
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 1.4%
  • 2018 wage: $83,610

10. Carpenters

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  • Percent self-employed: 27.0%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 8%
  • Annual job openings: 116,300
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 3.1%
  • 2018 wage: $46,590

11. Interpreters and translators

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  • Percent self-employed: 22.1%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 19.2%
  • Annual job openings: 9,800
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 5.8%
  • 2018 wage: $49,930

12. Landscaping and groundskeeping workers

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  • Percent self-employed: 22.0%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 8.8%
  • Annual job openings: 173,600
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 4.8%
  • 2018 wage: $29,000

13. Veterinarians

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  • Percent self-employed: 13.8%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 18.4%
  • Annual job openings: 5,100
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 3.8%
  • 2018 wage: $93,830

14. Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters

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  • Percent self-employed: 9.4%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 13.6%
  • Annual job openings: 66,100
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 2.5%
  • 2018 wage: $53,910

15. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors

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  • Percent self-employed: 8.7%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 22.5%
  • Annual job openings: 41,500
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 3.1%
  • 2018 wage: $44,630

16. First-line supervisors of landscaping and groundskeeping workers

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  • Percent self-employed: 46.7%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 8.7%
  • Annual job openings: 24,300
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 2.5%
  • 2018 wage: $48,220

17. Nonfarm animal caretakers

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  • Percent self-employed: 26.6%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 16%
  • Annual job openings: 54,500
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 3.5%
  • 2018 wage: $23,760

18. Lawyers

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  • Percent self-employed: 20%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 6.1%
  • Annual job openings: 45,700
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 1.4%
  • 2018 wage: $120,910

19. Web developers

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  • Percent self-employed: 15.8%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 13%
  • Annual job openings: 15,100
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 2.1%
  • 2018 wage: $69,430

20. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers

TheStreet

  • Percent self-employed: 7.8%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 10.4%
  • Annual job openings: 79,400
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 1.8%
  • 2018 wage: $65,230

21. Coaches and scouts

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  • Percent self-employed: 10.7%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 10.5%
  • Annual job openings: 47,600
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 4.7%
  • 2018 wage: $33,780

22. Medical and health services managers

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  • Percent self-employed: 4.8%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 17.6%
  • Annual job openings: 42,200
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 1.4%
  • 2018 wage: $99,730

23. First-line supervisors of personal service workers

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  • Percent self-employed: 21.5%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 11.4%
  • Annual job openings: 34,400
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 2.5%
  • 2018 wage: $38,400

24. Financial managers

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  • Percent self-employed: 2%
  • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 16.0%
  • Annual job openings: 64,900
  • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 2.3%
  • 2018 wage: $127,990

25. Manicurists and pedicurists

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  • Percent self-employed: 28.4%
    • Projected employment increase over 10 years: 10.1%
    • Annual job openings: 20,300
    • 2017-18 median earnings growth: 4.7%
    • 2018 wage: $24,330

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