10 Benefits of Freelancing for Allied Health ProfessionalsOct 24, 2023
In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the advantages of choosing to pursue freelance work as an Allied Health Professional. Whether you're already a freelancer or just considering your options, this exploration of the freelance landscape will help you make an informed decision.
In a world where traditional 9-to-5 careers are no longer the only path to success, an increasing number of professionals are venturing into the world of freelancing. Allied Health Professionals, which include Registered Dietitians, Speech-Language Pathologists, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, and Therapists, are no exception to this trend. The allure of freelance work in these fields is undeniable, offering a multitude of benefits that can significantly enhance one's professional life.
Here are the top 10 benefits:
1. Independence and Autonomy
One of the primary draws of freelancing in Allied Health is the level of independence it affords. Unlike traditional employment, freelancers have the freedom to set their schedules, choose their clients, and determine the direction of their careers. This autonomy allows you to tailor your work to your preferences and needs, giving you a sense of control that can be highly motivating.
In traditional healthcare settings, professionals often work within the walls of institutional policies and procedures. The freedom to make decisions about your practice and career direction is one of the most liberating aspects of freelancing. Your professional path is no longer dictated by superiors or organizational protocols, nor is your growth limited by a ceiling.
2. Flexibility in Work-Life Balance
The flexibility that freelancing provides is a game-changer for many professionals in the Allied Health field. The ability to balance work and personal life more effectively can lead to improved well-being and reduced burnout. You can schedule appointments, meetings, and work hours in a way that aligns with your lifestyle and responsibilities.
While many conventional healthcare jobs demand rigid schedules and may require you to be on-call, freelancers enjoy the freedom to define when, where, and how they work. This flexibility allows for a better work-life balance, which is particularly beneficial for healthcare professionals who value their personal lives and well-being or those who need to have a flexible schedule due to family obligations.
Take, for instance, an Allied Health Professional with young children. They may prefer working from home and setting their hours to align with their family's schedule. This was my own motivation for entering freelance work. I aimed to utilize my credentials as a RD while being present for my children. It turns out, I could achieve both, and the rest is history!
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3. Diverse Career Opportunities
As a freelance Allied Health professional, you're not confined to a single job or employer. You have the opportunity to work with a variety of clients and organizations, gaining exposure to diverse healthcare settings, patient populations, industries, and challenges. This variety can be enriching and help you build a versatile skill set.
In traditional healthcare roles, professionals often specialize in a specific area. However, as a freelancer, you can diversify by taking on projects in different healthcare settings or industries. The possibilities are endless! For example, you could offer speech-language therapy in a local school while also working as a dedicated writer for a company producing speech therapy tools. Embracing these diverse opportunities keeps your work dynamic and stimulating.
4. Increased Earning Potential
Freelancers often have greater control over their earning potential. You can set your rates and take on as much work as your schedule allows. In many cases, experienced freelance professionals can earn more than their salaried counterparts. In fact, according to Upwork’s 2021 Freelance Forward Economist Report, "44% of freelancers say they earned more freelancing than with a traditional job in 2021. This is up from 39% in 2020 and 32% in 2019."
In a typical 9-to-5 role, your salary is often determined by a fixed pay scale, and there may be limited opportunities for significant raises. However, as a freelancer, you can adjust your pricing based on the value you provide, demand for your services, and your experience. This flexibility can lead to increased earning potential, allowing you to reap the financial rewards of your hard work.
By setting my service rates, I doubled my hourly income in the first 3 months of freelancing. You possess the same potential, and remember, you should always determine your own worth! Your unique skills and experience are valuable, and don't be afraid to charge what you're truly worth.
5. Professional Growth and Skill Development
The freelance model encourages continuous learning and skill development. As you adapt to different clients and projects, you'll be exposed to new techniques, tools, and best practices. This ongoing professional growth can make you a more well-rounded and valuable practitioner.
Professional development opportunities may be limited to occasional training sessions or courses provided by your employer in your current role. As a freelancer, you have the autonomy to invest in your own professional growth. You can attend workshops, conferences, and online courses that align with your interests and goals. This commitment to continuous learning keeps you at the forefront of your field.
Upskilling is vital for freelancers. After selecting your niche service, enhance your value by acquiring complementary skills. For instance, as a Registered Dietitian specializing in recipe development, you can expand your expertise by mastering nutrient analysis software like ESHA. This enables you to offer clients an additional service—creating FDA-compliant nutrition fact panels for product labels.
6. Geographical Independence
Another remarkable advantage of freelancing in Allied Health is the ability to work from virtually anywhere. This geographic independence can be liberating, allowing you to choose your preferred location and adapt your work to your lifestyle. This can be especially appealing if you enjoy traveling or have personal reasons to relocate.
Traditional healthcare jobs often tie you to a specific location, whether it's a hospital, clinic, or private practice. Freelancers, on the other hand, can work remotely, allowing them to live in the city, suburbs, or even travel while maintaining their careers. This flexibility can be a significant quality-of-life improvement for those who value geographical independence or who need to have that sort of flexibility in their life.
You might believe that photos of people working at the beach or by the pool are exaggerated - they're not! I experienced this firsthand. On a last-minute trip with my family, I chose to work a few hours while traveling. I enjoyed working by the pool for about 2 hours. When I finished, I put my laptop away and joined my kids in the water, seamlessly continuing our trip!
(Photo Source: Canva Pro)
7. Entrepreneurial Opportunities
Freelancing offers entrepreneurial possibilities. Think of it as a bridge to get you from your current job to being the CEO of your own company. You have the chance to build your own brand, market your services, and potentially expand your business. This entrepreneurial experience can be rewarding and open doors to various opportunities.
Whether you're looking to turn your freelance work into a full-time venture or prefer to keep it as a side gig, it's all good. Your freelancing journey is uniquely yours, and you can embrace your own path. The beauty of freelancing is its flexibility – you can let it evolve organically and see where it takes you.
One thing is certain: within a traditional job or established system, you may miss out on the chance to build your brand or explore entrepreneurial opportunities. So, trust in your journey, set your goals, and let your freelancing adventure unfold as you see fit.
8. Customized Work Environment
Freelancers have the freedom to create a work environment that suits them best. Whether you prefer working from home, a co-working space, or a coffee shop, you can design your workspace to maximize your productivity and comfort. Standing desk? Sure. Yoga ball? Yup. Or in my own case, an under-desk Cubii elliptical. You make it your own space!
In many traditional healthcare settings, your work environment is predetermined. You may be required to work in a hospital, clinic, or office space designated by your employer. As always seemed to be the case in my clinical jobs of the past, perhaps you're in an office with no windows (no thanks!). Freelancers have the flexibility to choose their work environment, ensuring it aligns with their personal preferences. This freedom allows you to create a space that inspires creativity, productivity, and any sensitivities you may have.
9. Reduced Commute and Overhead Costs
By working remotely or from a location of your choice, you can significantly reduce or eliminate daily commuting. This not only saves time but also reduces transportation costs and the environmental impact of your daily commute. Additionally, as a freelancer, you often have lower overhead costs than traditional businesses. If you have a laptop and a secure/fast internet connection, you can freelance without needing (literally) anything else.
The daily commute to a healthcare facility can be draining, both physically and mentally. Freelancers have the advantage of eliminating this daily stress. By working remotely, you can save money on transportation expenses, such as fuel, public transportation, and parking. Additionally, you'll contribute to a reduction in traffic congestion and lower your carbon footprint, contributing to a more sustainable future. Can we say “win-win”?!
10. Improved Work-Life Satisfaction
Ultimately, freelancing in Allied Health can lead to greater work-life satisfaction. With the ability to customize your career and lifestyle, you're more likely to find fulfillment in your work, resulting in improved job satisfaction and overall life contentment. It doesn’t stop there. When you get to prioritize your own health goals, such as healthy eating and exercise, you’re a better version of yourself.
Being a freelancer means you get to prioritize and set time aside for meal prep and physical activity. As Allied Health Professionals, we know the mounds of evidence that exist to support proper nutrition and exercise. Yet, we fall victim to time limitations as well. With a freelance career, the proper work-life balance can absolutely be achieved.
Traditional healthcare professionals may face limitations in their work that can impact their job satisfaction. The demands of adhering to strict institutional protocols, rigid schedules, and limited autonomy can lead to frustration and burnout. Freelancers can customize their careers to align with their passions and values, leading to higher job satisfaction. The ability to balance work and personal life effectively further contributes to improved well-being and contentment.
(Photo Source: Canva Pro)
Conclusion: Embrace the Freedom of Freelancing as an Allied Health Professional
The benefits of freelancing as an Allied Health Professional are abundant, making this career path an appealing option for Registered Dietitians, Speech-Language Pathologists, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, and Therapists. From the freedom to control your schedule and income to the opportunity for continuous learning and skill development, freelancing offers a path to a rewarding and fulfilling career.
If you're seeking a more autonomous, flexible, and diverse professional journey, freelance work in the Allied Health field may be the perfect fit for you. If you're ready to take the leap into freelancing, download our free essential guide HERE to get started with freelance work in 1 day. It's time to seize the opportunities, embrace the advantages, and create the career you've always dreamed of!
Written by: Jessica Panetta, MA, RD.
About the Author: I ventured into freelance work to achieve a remote and flexible work schedule as a Registered Dietitian. Little did I know that it would bring so much more! Within just three months of starting freelance work, I doubled my hourly rate, surpassing my previous role as Director of Clinical Nutrition. In my first year, I earned the Top-Rated Plus Badge, awarded to the top 3% of Upwork freelancers. My success has inspired me to share this world of limitless possibilities with fellow Allied Health Professionals.