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How much should your developer be charging you?

This is a complex question to answer because the range is quite wide and there are many factors that contribute, such as location cost-of-living, skill level, how sharp the developer is and how busy his/her schedule is.

I’ll provide you with United States oriented research I’ve come-up with.

Highest end: Companies offering top-tier and emergency services charge at least $250/hr. I’ve come across this twice before at companies I’ve worked. It’s still cheaper than most lawyers 🙂

High end: A professional developer typically charges $150/hr. This is backed-up by the 3x approach where you should charge 3x a typical benefited salary hourly rate ($50/hr), multiplied to account for (1) being independently available without benefits, and (2) for not having the regularity of part-time or full-time work.

Average: I’ve found many agencies are offering $125/hr. You can see this on the Woo Experts site. Beware this can be deceiving as it’s unclear where their extended staff are located or the percentage of padding they insert into fixed-price projects. I’ve also seen full-time contractor developers charge $75/hr without benefits but while getting full-time work.

Low: Somebody in college or quite new in their career can do pro-bono work or charge low to build their experience and portfolio. More commonly you will hear $50/hr being referenced, and in markets like California one can eek out a living at this rate if they are just starting out, live rather modestly and are able to keep themselves mostly booked.

Lowest end: You can find offshore developers offering around $20/hr. These projects are always burdened by cultural, language, and time zone barriers, and they come with the legal risk of not being able to enforce the contracts. Many companies cheap out and use remote teams to scale fast and cheap, but they do so at a big cost. After much effort some have settled into a routine with their remote teams that kind-of works, maybe.

Finally, here’s some third-party research sites I found quite helpful: