How to start a machine learning career on Upwork

How to start a machine learning career on Upwork

What does a machine learning engineer do?

Machine learning is a field of artificial intelligence that consists of the analysis of a big amount of data, in order to automate the nurture of a software/program that makes predictions. Machine learnings engineers work on the creation of the software and algorithms that make the analysis more accurate and efficient. Their purpose is to mimic the way humans learn, so the software they create is intelligent enough to perform advanced tasks.

Is working as a machine learning engineer worth it?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a Machine Learning is around $130,000 USD per year. That’s way above average overall US average salary ($55,000 USD). And also above salary for engineers in general ($73,000 USD per year).

Is there any difference when working as a freelancer?

According to the same source, the national average for freelance machine learning engineers is around $129,000 per year. That’s just a bit lower. However, the highest payment is around $215,000 for freelancers whereas for employees the maximum is $194,000. That means that you can earn much more working as a freelancer than working as part of a company. There are some other advantages you can get by working as a freelance machine learning engineer:

Financial independence

This is an obvious one. When you work as a freelancer you’ll be in total control of your income. You can decide if you want to invest in yourself as a business and how much you want to get paid.

Time management

The same as the money, you’ll be in full control of your time. You decide the days and times you want to work on. If you handle it properly, you’ll have a schedule flexible enough to have more time for yourself. Also, you have more flexibility when it comes to vacations.

Decision Freedom

You’ll have the full power of decision working as a freelancer. You decide which projects are the best for you, the type of clients you are more comfortable with, and where you want to work. Being a freelancer is like being in total control over your decisions.


When managing your time, money, and decisions properly you can enjoy a more healthy life than working inside a company. You’ll have more time for yourself which means you can spend more time taking care of your health. For example, you can fix a time for exercising, eating healthy, going for a walk, etc. You also won’t have the stress involved in working at an office with a demanding boss.

Is Upwork a good platform for working as a freelancer?

Upwork is one of the best platforms for working as a freelancer. Due to its large active user base and the quality of its tools, you are able to find jobs efficiently and work with the peace of mind that you’ll get paid. Here are some of the reasons why Upwork is one of the best places you can work as a freelancer:

Powerful job search bar

The searching for jobs is easy on Upwork. You can perform searches for jobs related to your skills and profile and narrow the results. You can filter by location, project budget, estimated duration of the project, and level of experience.

Great communication tools

The way you can contact clients is great inside Upwork. They have an instant messaging app that you can have on your mobile. It allows audio calls, video calls, and the scheduling of such calls. You are also able to share your screen. If you prefer it, you can use Zoom instead since Upwork has a native Zoom integration.

Payments protection

You can be sure that you’ll get paid on Upwork. As long as you deliver the agreed work on time, Upwork has some mechanisms that ensure the payment for it. For example, you agree on deliveries and the deadlines for them before starting the job. You can also track your working hours so you’ll have proof of your work.

Great support

Whether you need help to understand Upwork tools, or you have an issue or dispute with a project, Upwork will always be there to reply. It also has a very active community where you can submit your questions. When you do it, Upwork staff and other freelancer members will be there to answer your questions.

How to start your machine learning career on Upwork

To start your career as a machine learning specialist, the first thing you’ll need is to prepare your account to get your first job. When you are just starting, it’s going to be a little hard to get your first job as your account won’t have any qualifications inside the platform. Some of the freelancers you’ll be competing with will have some previous clients already. Probably they’ll have 5-stars reviews. That’s why you’ll have to put in an extra effort to be able to win your first job. Here are some things you need to keep in mind when starting your career as a machine learning engineer on Upwork:

1.- Show how good you are

By creating a strong profile. Try to display all of your qualifications as a machine learning expert: your degrees, certifications, and specializations. Also, mention your top achievements and the biggest clients you’ve worked with.

2.- Show off your skills

Use the portfolio as a medium to show off your machine learning skills. Take into account that regarding portfolios, design sells. Try showing your best projects in a visually appealing format. If you don’t have design skills, it’s worth investing in it. You could hire a freelance designer that make the job for you. Display study cases for your best projects, some of your machine learning programs in action, and concepts as well.

3.- Send great proposals

Planning well-written, efficient proposals is a good tactic for increasing your chances of winning your first job. Try your proposals to be as direct and concise as possible. Consider that clients won’t have the time to read long proposals, so it’s better to put the most relevant information in the least possible words.

A proposal template for machine learnings engineers

If you are not sure how to start writing your proposal for bidding for machine learning jobs, feel free to use this template. Edit the sentences in bold so they adapt to your situation. Remember not to send the same proposal for all projects, as this can make your proposals being automatically rejected.

Hello first name of the client,

My name is your name, a machine learning engineer with write here years experience (avoid years experience if no more than 1 year) years experience providing my services for researching, developing, and optimizing advanced learning models.

Three key aspects about my career:

🏆 First short relevant aspect of your career as a Machine Learning Engineer relevant to the particular job. Don’t include information already on your profile. You can include links to machine learning software you have developed.

🎯 Second short relevant aspect of your career as a Machine Learning Engineer relevant to the particular job. Don’t include information already on your profile. You can include links to machine learning software you have developed.

🧠 Third short relevant aspect of your career as a Machine Learning Engineer relevant to the particular job. Don’t include information already on your profile. You can include links to machine learning software you have developed.

Regarding your project, explain in a few words how to properly execute the project. I think we are perfectly on time to finish this by write here estimated work delivery. If they specify a deadline try it to be as nearest.

I invite you to take a look at my profile and portfolio to see my background as well as my certifications. If you are interested don’t hesitate to request an interview so we can discuss this proposal in more detail.

Kind regards, your name

Some tips for starting freelance machine learning career

1.- Get certified

Showing some certifications provided by prestigious universities or companies adds more value to your profile and proposals. Moreover, if you are just a beginner. Showing certifications could mean a client choosing you over a freelancer with more experience on the platform. Some worthy certifications are: Professional Certificate Program in Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence by the IMT, Machine Learning with TensorFlow on Google Cloud Specialization by Google Cloud, and Data Science: Machine Learning by Harvard University.

Display some websites

If you have some applications developed that are hosted on websites, use those websites as part of your portfolio. Explain details about the process you used on those projects, the time it took, and the languages to code them. It’s better if the program allows user interaction so the clients can test it.

Bid on low budget projects

When you are just starting your journey on Upwork, you better consider bidding on smaller projects, so you have more chances to compete for them. Although projects with a high budget can be very tempting at first, it’s very unlikely to get them with no previous jobs on the platform. It’s better to save the connects to spend them on smaller projects with less competition. Consider that this would be just for the beginning of your freelance career. Once you start winning more jobs, you can increase your hourly rate and bid for bigger jobs.

Get some training

If you are planning to become one of the best machine learning freelancers on the platforms, it’s a good idea to consider learning from the best. Our CEO and founder, Ross Jenkins is very keen to offer his expertise and experiences through a training program. Ross is one of the best freelancers on Upwork having been featured many times by them. He’s also one of the few expert-vetted freelancers and has earned more than 1 M dollars through the platform. If you are interested, click on the following button so Ross can schedule a personal call with you. Also, take a look at all the topics you can learn: from creating a strong profile, to launching your own agency and getting clients for it.