As an independent contractor, you have the freedom to work on a project-by-project basis, providing services to clients or businesses on a contractual basis rather than as a full-time employee. This arrangement allows for greater flexibility, autonomy, and the potential to earn a competitive income.
With the rise of digital connectivity and more remote work possibilities, location is no longer a barrier to effective collaboration. As an independent contractor based in Latin America (LatAm), you can leverage your skills and expertise to work with US businesses, potentially accessing high-paying opportunities.
This article gives you the average salary of LatAm-based independent contractors in the US. Additionally, we will walk you through the top-paid industries in the US and discuss the factors to consider when negotiating your independent contractor salary so you can make informed decisions and negotiate fair rates.
How Much Do LatAm-Based Independent Contractors Make?
The average compensation for the LatAm-based independent contractors we at Near have placed with companies is $2.5K per month. This figure represents the average earnings across all categories and roles. It serves as a general benchmark; it doesn’t reflect the full range of potential earnings.
In general, independent contractor salaries can vary significantly depending on factors such as industry, education, experience, location, task complexity, and the specific nature of the work.
What Are the Top-Paying Industries for Independent Contractors?
Below, we list the ten highest-paid industries in the US (in no particular order) where independent contractors from Latin America can earn lucrative rates:
1. Finance and accounting
The finance and accounting industry offers diverse opportunities for independent contractors, including roles such as financial analysts, accountants, tax specialists, and CFO consultants.
For example, offering outsourced CFO services is a particularly lucrative niche to explore. Statistics show that 60% of small business owners don’t have the necessary financial know-how and struggle with their financial affairs. Hence, they need strategic help to interpret and analyze their numbers and streamline their financial operations.
Since hiring a full-time CFO is costly, small businesses outsource their financial management to financial experts who offer hourly services to minimize costs.
2. Information technology (IT)
The IT market is worth around $1.6 trillion in the US alone and will continue to grow. Considering the demand for skilled professionals in this market, you can command competitive rates as an independent contractor by offering your expertise in exchange.
Some of the most in-demand roles are software developers, data scientists, cybersecurity experts, and IT consultants.
3. Professional consulting
Independent consultants who can provide valuable insights and guidance to organizations looking for external perspectives and specialized knowledge can thrive as independent contractors. These include management consultants, business strategists, and industry-specific experts.
4. Healthcare and telemedicine
Telemedicine has grown significantly since the start of the pandemic. Doctors, nurses, therapists, and medical consultants can leverage their expertise to offer telemedicine services or remote consultations to patients.
5. Engineering and architecture
Independent contractors in the engineering and architecture industry, such as civil engineers, mechanical engineers, or architects, can take on diverse remote projects and command attractive rates.
6. Legal services
Professionals who can help US businesses navigate complex legal issues and requirements—such as reviewing and drafting contracts, filing trademark registrations, and helping them stay compliant with applicable laws and regulations— can benefit from high earnings.
Some of the most in-demand legal services roles for independent contractors in the US are independent lawyers, legal consultants, intellectual property specialists, and paralegals.
7. Digital marketing and SEO
Hiring independent contractors for digital marketing and SEO services offers businesses flexibility and cost efficiency. Instead of maintaining a full-time in-house marketing team, they can engage independent contractors on a project-by-project basis. This way, they can scale their marketing efforts as needed and avoid the costs of hiring and maintaining permanent staff.
Some of the most in-demand roles are SEO consultants, content strategists, and social media experts.
8. E-commerce and online retail
Independent contractors specializing in this industry can capitalize on the growing online retail market, which in 2023 has reached a staggering $969 billion. They can offer services in e-commerce management, online retail operations, customer service, inventory management, and marketplace optimization.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the available e-commerce jobs will increase to 450,000 by the end of 2023.
9. Graphic design and creative services
Businesses rely heavily on graphic design and creative services to create compelling marketing materials, branding assets, web design, aesthetic layouts, and other multimedia content.
Many small businesses, in particular, don’t have enough work for a full-time creative professional, so they hire independent contractors with a strong portfolio, such as graphic designers, illustrators, or animators, who can work on a project basis.
10. Writing and content creation
With the positive effects of content marketing on customer conversion and retention, demand for high-quality content has skyrocketed. Contractor writers, editors, copywriters, and content creators who can demonstrate the effectiveness of their content in achieving tangible results and delivering a high return on investment for their clients can achieve attractive rates.
What Are the Things To Consider When Negotiating Salary as an Independent Contractor?
When negotiating salary as an independent contractor, you must consider several fundamental factors to secure a fair rate and maximize your earning potential. We outline them below:
1. Research market rates
Before entering into salary negotiations, research and understand the prevailing rates for similar services in your industry in the US. Consider industry reports, online salary databases, and professional networks. These will help you set realistic expectations, gather reliable data on market rates, provide a benchmark for determining fair compensation, and ensure you don’t undersell your services.
Although looking at average salaries in the US will provide you with a benchmark, because the living costs in LatAm are lower than in the US, you usually can’t expect to earn the same amount as US-based workers. Businesses will consider location and average living costs when considering what fair compensation would be.
2. Assess your value
Evaluate your skills, experience, and expertise to determine the unique value you bring to the table. Consider your industry know-how, certifications, past achievements, and client testimonials.
Additionally, set the minimum rate you are willing to accept for your work. This boundary will ensure you don’t end up feeling frustrated or discouraged that you have received less money than you deserve. It will also help you feel more confident and better hold your ground during the negotiation stage with a potential client.
3. Examine the project scope
Take a comprehensive look at the project scope, including its duration, complexity, and potential for future work. Long-term or high-impact projects that require significant time and expertise may warrant higher compensation. Additionally, communicate how your skills and experience align with the project’s demands to justify your rates.
4. Consider the client’s perspective
Understand the client’s needs, constraints, and budget limitations. Consider the size and financial standing of their business, as well as their expectations and priorities.
Tailor your negotiation strategy to highlight how your services can address their pain points and add value within their budget constraints. After all, finding a mutually beneficial agreement increases the likelihood of successful negotiation and collaboration.
5. Look at perks and benefits
In addition to your base compensation, consider the perks and benefits that might be offered. For instance, even when engaging your services on a contract basis, some clients might offer commissions or performance-based bonuses, healthcare coverage, professional development opportunities, flexible work arrangements, or equipment reimbursement, while others won’t. These can be a deciding factor in accepting an offer.
Read our article on benefits for independent contractors and remote workers to see some of the benefits you could receive (keeping in mind that as an independent contractor, you aren’t necessarily entitled to benefits in the way an employee would be).
Pursuing a career path as a remote independent contractor can be preferable to being a traditional employee. Some of the most significant perks are flexibility and autonomy, the ability to choose the projects you work on, and the possibility of a higher income.
To thrive in this type of employment, you should usually have at least two years of experience in your field, plus a successful track record and tangible results to show. You should also know your industry and market rates inside and out to successfully negotiate your compensation and pursue the kind of work that can be done on a contract basis.