Differences Between Freelancers & Contractors

Seeking a career that provides flexibility and independence? While the work environments and duties vary, discover why becoming a freelancer or a contractor might be the right choice for you.

Comparing Freelancers & Contractors

Oftentimes, those who are freelancers or contractors are considered to be self-employed. However, while they may work in similar formats, the nature of employment for freelancers and contractors can vary significantly. If you are considering self-employment as a career path, explore the major differences and similarities of each role.

Job Title Work Flexibility Work Environment Typical Wages Benefits
Freelancer Works on a per-project basis Works remotely Usually paid per project None
Contractor Typically works with one company for a set period of time Can work remotely; often works in an office Usually paid hourly Limited, sometimes none

Responsibilities of Freelancers vs Contractors

For those who desire something outside of a conventional, full-time position, becoming self-employed is a fantastic option for a variety of industries. Whether you are skilled at graphic design, editing, writing, computers, and beyond, there are positions for numerous skill sets for both contractors and freelancers. The real difference between these positions are the terms of their positions. Freelancers are 100% employer-independent, working for their own clients from the remote location of their choice. Contractors, however, are usually required to work a set number of hours for a pre-determined period of time.


As previously stated, a freelancer can specialize in any number of fields of work. Therefore, salaries and the number of hours worked vary significantly. Depending on their level of skill and education, the type of work they perform, and number of clients they have, freelancers may work part-time hours and earn a full-time income, while some individuals may have to work 40+ hours to earn their desired income. In general, freelancers are responsible for handling the business side of their client interactions. Not only do they have to attract work and fulfill client obligations, but they must also handle all of their own bookkeeping and taxes. Freelancers typically work remotely (rather than in an office), and have an extreme degree of freedom regarding when and where they work.

Duties of a freelancer can include the following:

  • Managing communication with their clients
  • Actively marketing their portfolio and skills to gain new client work
  • Ensuring all deadlines and project objectives are met
  • Sending invoices clients for completed projects


Among other self-employment options, the day-to-day duties of a contractor are quite stable and defined. Typically, contractors will be hired by a company through an agency to perform specific duties. As part of their contract, a contractor will agree to work for a set period of time (e.g. three months, six months), and may perform their duties during pre-determined hours in an office. While contractors are hired across a variety of industries, many contract positions are found in the tech industry. Depending on the nature of the contract offered, employees may have limited access to company benefits, and they may have the option to join the company full-time once their contract expires. Contractors are usually not responsible for keeping track of their taxes or expenses, as they typically receive earnings statements from the companies with which they hold contracts.

Duties of a contractor can include the following:

  • Performing specific daily tasks as outlined in signed contract
  • Working with other employees to achieve contract position objectives
  • Completing projects remotely if given the option
  • Seeking new contracts once contract duties have been fulfilled

Related Careers

Since there are many fields of work available for freelancers and contractors, there is an endless list of related careers. Being a teacher or content writer are two options for careers with similar flexibility and environments to that of many freelance and contractor positions.

Qualifications for Being a Teacher

What Is a Content Writer?

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