Freelancing Trends 2023: Top IT Skills, Hourly Rate And Remote Work [DACH Region]

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2022 was a challenging year for freelancers. Despite the horrendous shortage of skilled workers, companies have advertised fewer jobs over the past few months due to the inflation, which in turn has led to uncertainties and insecurities. Nevertheless, freelance experts can look to the future with optimism: Highly specialised IT talents in particular have opportunities to take on well-paid projects in companies. In this article, we show which skills are most sought after, how remote work is developing and forecast the average hourly rate for 2023.

In this article, over a million skills from projects published on freelancermap have been analysed – including programming languages and applications. The Y-O-Y comparison describes the percentage growth rate from 2021 to 2022 for the respective skills and applications. Let’s take a look at these rates and results.

In-demand programming languages in 2023 – Java, Python & Typescript

As it was in 2022, Java remains the most demanded skill among programming languages. In addition, demand for Scala (-28%) and PHP (-13%) fell. Instead, clients are increasingly looking for freelancers with TypeScript expertise. This programming language saw an increase of 44% compared to the previous year. 

Business-driven programming languages are gaining in importance.

According to Thomas Maas, CEO of freelancermap, the compatibility of JavaScript and TypeScript is one of the reasons for this boom. JavaScript has become an integral part of the Internet, the programming language is used almost everywhere. That’s because the scripting language is easy to learn compared to many others – which also increases the error rate. TypeScript is used to eliminate the shortcomings that have arisen in JavaScript. Clients are possibly increasingly looking for TypeScript specialists, because they are known to also master JavaScript.

The Oracle language PL/SQL and the graphical modelling language UML (Unified Modeling Language) are growing by more than 10 percent.

Top skills in 2023: Top programming languages and their Y-O-Y growth rate.
Top programming languages and their Y-O-Y growth rate.

Scala dropped by 28% in popularity, closely followed by Microsoft’s web application framework ASP .Net (-15%) and Apple Inc.’s multi-paradigmatic language Swift (-12%).

Due to the increasing demand for app development in all industries, more JavaScript-based programs such as TypeScript will be required in the future, causing PHP to experience a setback. Swift has already experienced an immense boom in recent years, which means that the number of inquiries is no longer soaring. It’s similar to Java. In general, it seems that business-driven programming languages in particular are gaining in importance, both now and in the future.

Top 20 applications: SAP dominates the business software market

freelancermap’s Freelancer Study has shown for years that SAP experts are in high demand: The hourly rate of the specialists has been over 100€ since 2017. Even during the challenging pandemic years, freelance rates in the field remained at a stable level (2020: 111€; 2021: 105€). So it’s not surprising that SAP is again in first place among the top 20 applications this year, with a growth of 39%. The database application SAP HANA gained significant growth as well (+27%). 

The company dominates the business software industry. On the one hand, this is due to the changeable source code, which enables experienced customers to incorporate their own requirements. On the other hand, with the in-memory database HANA, SAP has a forward-looking product that can be optimally embedded in the SAP software landscape.

Git (+10%) and GitLab (+12%) were also more frequently in demand than in 2021. More and more programmers have been using both applications and they are difficult to oust from the market.

Top skills 2023: in-demand applications in 2023 and their Y-O-Y growth rate.
Top applications in 2023 and their Y-O-Y growth rate.

The data warehouse solution SAP Business Intelligence (BI) loses importance with a loss of 41%. Other losers of the year are the web-based software system Jenkins, with a loss of 25%, and the cloud computing platform Azure (-21%) from Microsoft. Both the lower percentage of searches for Amazon Web Services and Angular are also noticeable. 

Looking for your next IT project?

Remote work – The new trend since 2020

In the past, it was mandatory for IT freelancers to work at the client’s site. Back in 2019, over 50% of surveyed freelancers stated that a potential favourite project should offer the opportunity to work from home – at that point only 2% of all projects listed on freelancermap were advertised as completely remote. This has changed dramatically since the Corona crisis in 2020, when projects had to be carried out 100% remotely.  

For 2023, almost a third of all advertised projects are expected to be offered exclusively remotely.

Within the past five years, the number of freelance projects published on freelancermap as 100% remote has increased significantly (over 100% annual growth rate). Today, 27% of all roles are fully remote and freelancers can look forward to working much more independently in the future. Projects that were not advertised as fully remote were not taken into account for this evaluation.

For 2023, almost a third of all advertised projects are expected to be offered exclusively remotely. Also, hybrid work opportunities also shot up with the beginning of the pandemic and this trend would also continue and increasingly establish itself as a standard in the professional world.

Freelancing trends: Remote work in 2023
For 2023, almost a third of all advertised projects are expected to be offered exclusively remotely.

Hourly rate forecast: Freelance earnings increase despite inflation

According to the Freelancer Kompass 2022, the freelance hourly rate increased again for the first time after two years of the pandemic to 96.24€ (2021 was 94.31€).

Due to this year’s crisis and inflation, it could be expected that freelancers have to lower their hourly rate in order to get enough projects. But this is not the case: According to the Bitkom industry association, German companies are currently lacking 137,000 IT experts. In particular, highly skilled talents are in a situation that allows them to increase their hourly rates. Furthermore, freelancers are forced to raise prices in order to maintain their earnings in these times. 

freelancermap predicts an increase in the average hourly rate in the D-A-CH area to around 98€ (calculated from historical data with the help of Predictive Analytics).

Freelancing trends: hourly rate forecast for 2023 in the D-A-CH region
freelancermap predicts an increase in the average hourly rate in the D-A-CH area to around 98€ in 2023.

No one knows how the economy will develop and recover in 2023 – or if it will even do so. For sure, remote and hybrid work will be the new employment models on the project market. Business-driven programming languages and applications are becoming more and more attractive for companies which are engaging more often in digitised processes. This is a great chance for freelancers to sharpen and deepen their skills accordingly. SAP skills in particular will continue to be in high demand and will be well remunerated. 

When it comes to HR, companies should adapt their hiring strategies to the challenging times and make their processes more flexible and agile in the coming year. Moreover, they should set up blended workforces (mixed teams of permanent and freelance employees) to benefit from external expertise and to withstand the shortage of skilled workers.


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Stefania Volpe

Stefania joined the international team at freelancermap in 2020. She loves marketing, the digital world, foreign languages and meeting different cultures. She moved from Italy to Germany thanks to an exchange program at the university and worked as marketing manager for several startups. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com.

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