How Upwork’s Talent Badges Help You Find the Best Talent

How Upwork’s Talent Badges Help You Find the Best Talent

Upwork Talent Badges represent earned recognition highlighting talent skills and experience. These small icons appear on talent profiles and in search results. They’re always located next to a professional’s Job Success Score (JSS), which is another useful indicator of talent performance.

While Talent Badges aren’t the only criteria to consider when evaluating qualified talent for your next project, they provide helpful insights.

When you understand the differences between each talent badge, you can get an at-a-glance overview of where an independent professional may be in their Upwork journey.

Let’s take a closer look at how Talent Badges work and what each badge means.

What are the different types of Talent Badges?

When you search for or view profiles, you may see four different Talent Badges:

  • Rising Talent
  • Top Rated
  • Top Rated Plus
  • Expert-Vetted

Here’s an example of how the different badges look when viewing profile previews in Upwork’s search results.

Talent badges in search

If you skip search and go directly to a talent profile page, that’s no problem — you can still see any relevant badges at the top of the page:

Profile badge example

Talent can’t add a badge to their profile themselves—only Upwork can do this.

When you see a badge, it means that we’ve identified that the talent has met all the necessary requirements to receive this indicator. Talent can receive a badge whether they offer hourly contract work, list services in Project CatalogTM, or prefer fixed-rate projects with milestones.

Rising Talent

Rising Talent badges are awarded to Upwork talent that exhibits great potential to deliver high-quality work. We establish this potential by looking at their recent Upwork activity, the work they’ve done on Upwork so far, and what they achieved with their prior work done off of the platform.

Even if they’re new to Upwork, they’re likely to have a strong background of professional success.

Rising Talent eligibility criteria

If you see a profile with the Rising Talent badge, you can be confident that this individual is exhibiting early success on Upwork. These independent professionals:

  • Have a 100% complete profile
  • Complete projects on time and as promised
  • Keep their availability status up to date
  • Adhere to the Upwork terms of service

Typically, someone with a Rising Talent badge has either joined Upwork in the past 30 days or has been active within the past 90 days. These individuals do not yet have a JSS; once they do, the Rising Talent badge goes away and they can begin working toward a Top Rated badge.

Professionals with the Rising Talent badge are actively submitting proposals to jobs that match their skill set, so you’ll probably see this badge popping up when reviewing messages from talent!

Top Rated

When you see the Top Rated badge on an Upwork profile, it means that person is considered to be in the top 10% of all Upwork users.

If you choose to work with a Top Rated professional, you can be confident that you’ve partnered with a professional that has a track record of providing great service to clients on Upwork.

Top Rated talent understands the platform, abides by the Upwork terms of service, and produces strong results.

Becoming Top Rated is the next step for many individuals and agencies that have achieved the Rising Talent badge.

Top Rated eligibility criteria

Getting a Top Rated badge isn’t a one-and-done process. Upwork talent has to meet specific criteria to obtain—and maintain—their Top Rated status.

To become Top Rated, an independent professional on Upwork must:

  • Have a 100% complete profile
  • Be at least 90 days out from their first Upwork project
  • Have a JSS of 90% or higher
  • Maintain Rising Talent status or a consistent Job Success Score of at least 90% for 13 of the past 16 weeks
  • Have 12-month earnings of at least $1,000
  • Keep their availability status up to date
  • Have an account in good standing
  • Be active on the platform in the past 90 days

All Top Rated talent must maintain these criteria, including a 90% JSS, in order to keep their badge.

Because Job Success Scores are calculated based on positive and negative client feedback, you’ll know that any Top Rated talent you work with has a proven record of doing great work for satisfied clients.

Top Rated Plus

Top Rated Plus is the next badge that Upwork talent can earn after achieving and maintaining Top Rated status.

While the requirements for the two badges are similar, Top Rated Plus indicates that the talent is experienced in working on larger projects, typically high-budget or long-term contracts.

Top Rated Plus eligibility criteria

In order to get a Top Rated Plus badge, Upwork talent must meet and maintain all of the Top Rated criteria, as well as the following:

  • 12-month total earnings of more than $10,000
  • Funds earned on a large contract in the past 12 months
  • No negative outcomes on the large contract

The definition of a large contract varies based on industry. For example, Upwork talent providing accounting and consulting or admin support services must have earned at least $10,000 for a contract to count as “large.” For customer support, this number goes up to $20,000, and for writers, it’s $5,000.

Regardless of the value that makes a contract “large,” all Top Rated Freelancers have earned more than $10,000 total in the past 12 months. And of course, they’re delivering high-quality work that routinely satisfies clients.


When you need talent that’s among some of the best in their field, look for the Expert-Vetted badge.

When you see this badge, it means you’re looking at someone who’s in the top 1% of all talent on Upwork—and they’ve passed specific skills tests.

The badge is currently available to approved talent providing services in:

  • Web, Mobile, and Software Development
  • Design and Creative
  • Sales and Marketing

(If you need talent at the top of their field in a different industry, Top Rated Plus is the highest badge you’ll see.)

Expert-Vetted eligibility criteria

The process to become Expert-Vetted starts with an invitation from the Upwork Team. If the talent accepts our invite, they’ll move through a pre-screening process that consists of:

  • Hard skills analysis with professional Talent Managers who can assess technical competence
  • Tests to check expertise in a specified service area
  • Soft skills assessments, including communication skills and reliability
  • Personal interviews

Talent Badges for agencies

Talent Badges are also available for agencies on Upwork.

  • Rising Talent agencies must have two or more team members and must have a 100% complete agency and owner profile. Other team members’ profiles must be, on average, 60% complete.
  • Top Rated agencies must have an agency (and owner) JSS of at least 90%, a complete profile, and 12-month agency earnings of at least $10,000 in addition to meeting the other Top Rated criteria.
  • Top Rated Plus agencies must have total agency earnings of over $20,000 and at least one large contract in the past 12 months. They also need to maintain at least 90% positive outcomes on those large contracts.
  • Expert-Vetted agencies are led by talent that’s personally been Expert-Vetted.

Using Upwork Talent Badges to make an informed hiring decision

When you search for talent on Upwork, you can use Talent Badge filters to learn more about the types of services offered by talent with these badges.

Talent badge search

You may find an individual professional with a Talent Badge, who offers specific services you need or has prior work history that aligns with your industry.

Remember, though, that Talent Badges are just one indicator of experience and expertise on Upwork. To get the full picture of what talent can offer, be sure to look at their profile, portfolio items, JSS, ratings, and availability.

You can always ask to set up an interview or pay for a consultation with talent, too. This is a great way to assess whether your needs and talent skill sets align correctly.

For more information on how to use Upwork to find the right talent for your projects, check out our complete guide to hiring on Upwork—create or log into your Upwork account to get started!

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Author Spotlight

How Upwork’s Talent Badges Help You Find the Best Talent
Emily Gertenbach
B2B SEO Content Writer & Consultant

Emily Gertenbach is a B2B writer who creates SEO content for humans, not just algorithms. As a former news correspondent, she loves digging into research and breaking down technical topics. She specializes in helping independent marketing professionals and martech SaaS companies connect with their ideal business clients through organic search.

Emily Gertenbach is a B2B writer who creates SEO content for humans, not just algorithms. She's a former news correspondent who loves research and reporting.

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