IELTS Model Essay: Self Employment

Self Employed v Employed

This week’s IELTS model essay is one of my favourite tasks! It’s on the topic of self employment:

Nowadays many people choose to be self-employed, rather than to work for a company or organisation.

Why might this be the case?

What could be the disadvantages of being self-employed?

Cambridge IELTS Academic 14 Test 4

In effect, this is an ‘advantages – disadvantages’ essay in disguise! The first question ‘why might be the case’ is really asking you for the advantages of self-employment. People choose to be self-employed because there are advantages.

So I think the question could be worded like this:

Nowadays many people choose to be self-employed, rather than to work for a company or organisation.

What could be the advantages and disadvantages of being self-employed?

If you find it difficult to generate ideas for this task, you can simply search online for “advantages and disadvantages of self employment”. You will get lots of ideas! Here are some interesting articles:


It’s probably a good idea to include some comparisons between self-employment and working for a company, because the topic isn’t only about self-employment: it includes the phrase rather than to work for a company or organisation”. So some comparative language is useful, and will increase your range of vocabulary too.

My Plan

Reasons why (advantages)

Potentially higher earnings

  • salary of employed person controlled by boss
    • may only get a small annual pay increase
  • self-employment: working harder can mean big financial rewards


  • You are your own boss
    • don’t have to do what your boss tells you to do
    • e.g. make your own decisions
    • more flexibility with working hours / work


Greater risk

  • no guaranteed income in self employment
  • employed people get regular pay
  • many self-employed businesses go bust within a year or two
    • problem if you have mortgage

Long hours

  • difficult to take holidays, may have to work weekends / evenings
  • working for someone else usually has fixed hours, finish by 5pm

This essay is quite long, so I decided to split my essay into four body paragraphs. This will make it easier for my reader to see the structure of my essay.


There seems to be a growing trend of people around the world choosing to be self-employed rather than to work for a company. This essay will consider the reasons for this as well as the drawbacks of working for yourself.

One of the main attractions of self-employment is the opportunity for higher earnings than you might receive when working for a company. In the latter, salaries are determined by your boss and increases are often limited, regardless of how hard you work. If you work hard as a self-employed person, the financial rewards are potentially unlimited, especially with online businesses. For example, using social media advertising can allow a solopreneur to rapidly increase sales.

But money is, for many people, not the main incentive of working for oneself. Instead, it’s the sense of autonomy you receive. You no longer have to do what your line manager tells you to do; instead, you can make your own decisions. This allows you to enjoy greater flexibility over things like working hours and the kind of work you do.

However, there are drawbacks to self employment. Firstly, there might be considerable financial risk. There is no guarantee of income, unlike those who receive regular pay cheques from their boss, and it’s not unusual to see new small businesses fail due to a lack of money. This is quite daunting for people who have regular expenses such as a mortgage, and so many people prefer the safety afforded to them by working for someone else.

Additionally, working for yourself will usually entail working long hours, sometimes at weekends and in the evening, leaving little time for the kind of recreation time enjoyed by workers who simply stop work at around 5pm. Furthermore, it may be difficult to take holidays if you work for yourself, so the work-life balance for self-employed people can be a problem.

In short, self-employment isn’t for everyone. There are clear drawbacks related to money and time, but for many people, the attraction of greater success and satisfaction is worth the risk.

(341 words)

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About the author

Charlie is a former IELTS Examiner with 25 years' teaching experience all over the world. His courses, for both English language learners and teachers, have been taken by over 100,000 students in over 160 countries around the world.