Contract programming rates?

Archives Forums/General Discussion/Contract programming rates?

JoshK(Posted 2005) [#1]
What is the going rate for programming services per hour, for contract work? This is an area where I have special expertise, and am probably the best person anywhere for the job. I am asking for real hourly rates that you would have to pay if your company looked in the newspaper, not free or "put-your-name-in-the-credits" type stuff.

Hambone(Posted 2005) [#2]
Rates vary wildly from region to region. Unfortunately for us Western geeks, the folk's looking for and able to pay contract programmers usually look to the Far east or India for such services as the rates are ridiculously low.

Halo, you are easily one of the most expert and prolific coders in the Blitz community and posess a lot of talent. I truly believe that if you directed your efforts at a more "upscale" product and audience you would achieve success more in line with your talent.

Just one mans opinion of course ...

WendellM(Posted 2005) [#3]
Interesting question. A superficial Google search led to which provided three quickie samples: a job offer ($25-40/hour), a group of programmers seeking work ($20/hour minimum, Master's with 4-6 years experience), and another programmer seeking work ($25/hour minimum, Ph.D. with 11 years experience). These are all in the database/web programming area and only a few samples, but it's a start.

Amanda Dearheart(Posted 2005) [#4]

While I too use> for contract work, another site where I've had more success is

WendellM quotes are pretty much accurate. I also read a book (two years old now) "your rights in the workplace" (I forget the publisher/author)which set prices at $35.00 an hour.

Another good place to look for rates are the Writers Guides. While it may not talk about programming directly, you can deduce your own rates from the website/? rates, magazine articles rates!

AdrianT(Posted 2005) [#5]
If you can back up your skills with evidence of good work being completed on time you can probably get $25 up to $55 an hour if you can prove your experience and worth witha portfolio of quality completed work.

The hardest part I have is guaging the client and what knd of budget and price they are looking for. They also tend to be quite vague and often don't know what they want themselves, or whats involved in developing their product so make sure you have these things in your mind and assume they havent a clue.

Having a professional web page with evidence of your work helps a lot too.

I had this come up just today, and it appears that the leadfoot web server is down :(

IPete2(Posted 2005) [#6]

For specialist programming - you have special talents, knowledge, experience and expertise - perhaps in a specialist field - this means the job should go smoother and in a more efficient manner than otherwise - and avoiding any serious problems or headaches. This should lead to an end result of the job timeline being adhered to and perhaps even the project going better than expected. A client should have confidence in your attitude and approach.

All this has to be paid for.

I charge 250 - 300 per day (whatever the hours but a minimum of 8).

I should add that some clients will want your soul if they think they are paying a higher rate...don't let them take it!

So upto 37.50 per hour.


AntonyWells(Posted 2005) [#7]
Most of the jobs on those places are for niche areas like sql/web development. You find very few general coder, game programming related jobs. Or at least I couldn't find them.
So you'd be better learning C#/sql etc if you havn't already than relying on game engine stuff.

Banshee(Posted 2005) [#8]
Back when people paid me to work for them in I.T. the most I ever charged was 10,000 for just over two weeks.

I don't charge hourly, most of the industry does it and frankly it rewards cowboys. I can get most jobs done in a shorter timescale than most engineers & programmers - and I believe the quality I offer for the work i've done in the past has been excellent, I therefor charge by the job.

Certainly a job could spiral out of control and end up loosing me money (relatively speeking) but that is what skill and experience is for, only a cowboy seeks reward from their own shortcomings.

I used to applaud anyone in I.T. who charged by the hour, it makes getting your contracts out from under you so much easier.

octothorpe(Posted 2005) [#9]
Certainly a job could spiral out of control and end up loosing me money (relatively speeking)

While I agree with your quoting practices, you must have some idea of what your time is worth to be able to say this. ;)

Having an hourly wage worked out with your client is great for unexpected and unrelated work such as fixing the database that they've screwed up, yelling at their hosting company for them, or letting them talk your ear off on the phone about the feasability of projects that they'll never start. Some clients are great at occupying huge amounts of your time with project-unrelated tasks.

Unfortunately, some people balk at high hourly rates even though the currently accepted wisdom is that a great programmer yields ten times the productivity of an average programmer.

What is the going rate for programming services per hour, for contract work?

In my experience, $40CDN/hr for web development contract programming.

This is an area where I have special expertise, and am probably the best person anywhere for the job.

Now you're bringing supply and demand into the equation. The answer is somewhere between "what you feel your time is worth" and "as much as you can get away with," depending on how much trouble you have sleeping at night.

In my experience, $100USD/hr for web development contract programming.

Grey Alien(Posted 2005) [#10]
I've been charging hourly for 3 years but am changing to fixed price contracts in December. I will still charge hourly for any planning/meetings etc unless they give me 100% complete plan made by a competent developer. I make my plans REALLY thorough and they take around 25% of the entire job, all the hard work is actually done in the planning stage the rest is just typing. This means I can give very accurate time estimates or quotes so I won't be doing myself (or the customer) out of money. Because I've been using Delphi and SQL for 9 years I pretty much know all the technical problems that might "hit" me. If you are less experienced with a language and platform it's easy to say, "yeah that'll take 10 hours" and actually it takes 20+ due to a hideous technical anomaly that needs google research to fix (but thank god for google, when i started we just had to figure the crap out for ourselves!). I charge 30 an hour, what's that around $50 or something? As a result I only need to work 3 days a week.

Also I read that the hourly wage of a contractor should be the anually salary of a normal employee developer divided by 1000 e.g. $50,000 gives $50 per hour. This might seem high but employees are paid holiday, sickness, pension and the company pays around 10% extra Tax on top (in the U.K.). Also they *may* not be as motivated or skilled as a contrctor. And you need to buy employees all the equipment and pay light/heat/phone etc. Shall I go on?

octothorpe is so correct about other programmers taking ages. Once I raced this guy to do some code, me 30 mins, him 20+ hours (and it was bugged) no sh*t. This is just one example. Also pros have less bugs, test properly, think up cool little extras but don't actually code them, they tell the client and charge more for them etc.

Craig Watson(Posted 2005) [#11]
For your average programmer (say 3-5 years experience) in Australian Dollars, between $35/hr and $55/hr is typical. Lower ranges generally apply to the smaller cities. In Sydney or Melbourne it's easier to get better rates.

My rates there don't include agents fees, who generally charge another $10/hr on top of what you get, so if you don't have an agent you can probably get more.

More experience can net you better rates but generally after 5 years you should start considering branching out into more analysis work, which is generally better paid than the programming itself.

(tu) ENAY(Posted 2005) [#12]
If you do find a job make sure you keep your elitism under wraps.

Leon Brown(Posted 2005) [#13]
lol @ Enay

JoshK(Posted 2005) [#14]
Thanks, that was pretty much what I had in mind. It's not a big company, and it was something I was going to do anyways, so I will be on the low-mid end of those estimates.

AdrianT(Posted 2005) [#15]
Hi Halo, there's a blog on Garage games about professional freelance/contract artist pricing which has a lot of useful info and gives a pretty realistic rundown of pricing and expenses.

It's got an artist focus, but much applies to programmers too.

one of the posts I'll paste below, but there is a lot of good discussion there on that thread.

Let me give a quick summary of the costs that a freelance artist will have to make to be in business and how I try to calculate my rates.

As an example, to fully support my family I need at least 2,200 a month and that is a minimum. Now here in the Netherlands for a salary like that I would have to pay 42% tax (this is probably more than in other countries but it is what I have to calculate with) a part from that I will have to pay some other small costs for social security. So to get me 2,200 net I would have to charge 4,400 a month at least.

Just to keep things simple lets keep a month on 4 weeks, with 20 working days of 8 hours making a total of 160 hours. So 4,400 divided by 160 hours makes 27.50/hour.

Now keeping in mind unproductive hours like hours spent on administration, talking to people before and after taking a job, travelling to what ever location you have to be (IGC for me not so long ago) to meet with people and get your name out there, stuff like that. Also keep in mind that there might come a time that you are out of a job for a certain period you have to build up reserves for that to. For all this kind of stuff Ill take an other 20% on top of my hour rate so 27.20 x 120% = 33.00/hour. (Also dont forget your days off for holidays and vacation, some might need more than others but everyone needs some of them every now and than, to keep up working to their full capability)

Now me living in the Netherlands using the Euro and most of my contacts are in the USA paying in USD. I have to make the conversion to actually be able use my earned money. At the moment de conversion rate is 1 Euro for 1.25 USD.

So my rate in USD would be 33.00 x 1.25 = $ 41.25/hour

This rate does not include overhead yet. Here are some of the costs that you have to take in account to get accurate hour rate.

3DS MAX $ 3,500.00 write of in 5 years $ 700.00/year
3DS MAX subscription around $ 500.00/year
Photoshop $ 600.00 write of in 2 years $ 300.00/year
Other needed software $ 300.00/year
Hardware $ 3,000.00 write of in 3 years $ 1,000.00/year
Internet connection and server space $ 1,000.00/year
Accountant service $ 300.00/year
Bank costs $ 100.00/year

Total $ 4,200.00/year

I didnt include my IGC trip, insurance, legal costs and other costs like that because they can vary quite a bit. They would only bring the estimate up though, so an estimate of $ 4,200.00 is probably whish full thinking. You should be able to make your own accurate estimate fairy easy Im just trying to give an example here.

I can not speak for others but I do my freelancing jobs next to my day time job so it would not be accurate to calculate with full year to estimate my hourly overhead rate. For next year Im estimating that I will be working on freelance jobs for a minimum of 75 working days x 8 hours = 600 hours.

Now I take my overhead costs and divide it by my estimated working hours.
$ 4,200.00 : 600 = $ 7.00/hour

So $ 41.25 + $ 7.00 = $ 48.25/hour

At the moment Im using rates between $ 40.00 and $ 50.00 which fit with the calculation I just made.

Im sure you can find people who can and will do it for a much lower price and Im not just talking about the enthusiastic amateurs. There are countries where you pay less tax and the costs for maintaining a good living standard are lower, this can effect the hour rate in a major way.

xlsior(Posted 2005) [#16]
Locally here the going rate for 'professional' web/sql contractors is around $50/hr.

AdrianT(Posted 2005) [#17]
The blox contract that were currently negotiating works out at $55 per hour each.

Banshee(Posted 2005) [#18]
While I agree with your quoting practices, you must have some idea of what your time is worth to be able to say this. ;)

Yes. More than halo, which is why i'm unemployed... :) hehe

Your only worth what you can get, and that varies upon what the customer can afford and how hard they are prepared to look for it. A customer who puts a lot of effort into pre-contractual meetings will never pay as much.

There's also the counter-pricing elements: My desire to do the job, and whether I like the client or his son. :)

Kevin_(Posted 2005) [#19]
Wow! This place sure is spooky! Yet again one my posts has been erased from existance :)