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Poll: How much do you bill per hour?
40 points by quellhorst 2877 days ago | hide | past | web | 47 comments | favorite
For those of you who consult or contract what do you charge per hour? Extra credit, how much demand are you seeing right now?
81 points
80 points
53 points
more than 150
52 points
37 points
29 points
19 points
10 points
less than 10
3 points

When I was a consultant (2003-2006), I billed at $60/hour. Three years ago, I launched a website that I had built in my free time to make some extra bucks. When it started eating up my time (and making more money per month than I had ever made consulting), I had to increased my rates to $90/hr. I informed them of why the increase, and they didn't even flinch (I was expecting them to negotiate), and all was well until (several months later) I simply didn't have time and went full-time to my "side project", which was now generating double what I was bringing it for consulting, and sucking up all my time.

Maybe once or twice a year I get a call from some of my former clients asking if I'm looking for work, and I always have to turn them down. Since quitting consulting, I've had a few meetings where I would possibly do some side-work for a potential new client, but they all wanted long-term commitments, and I simply couldn't commit to a long-term thing.

That's my consulting story. I don't actually know what it's like to be a consultant in "today's economy" and I'm sure that was the point of the question, but I thought I'd throw in my two cents.

If I may ask, what is your website and what does it do?

For the answer to these and other exciting questions, you can click on peoples' usernames to see their profile. Often they handily include links to, e.g., the MMORPG guild hosting website they manage.

[Edit for clarification: I'm getting modded down so I assume someone read the above as snarky. That was not my intention. It was intended to directly answer the question and provide him and other readers self-help via a non-obvious feature of this website that is only discoverable through verbal lore.]

Actually, it's also discoverable by experimentation - noticing that usernames are clickable, and clicking them...

I do some custom projects for cash flow. Business is up dramatically over what I was doing in 2007 and 2008. However, the kind of business has changed. In 2007 and 2008 I kept running into potential customers, who usually had a marketing day job and an idea, with no way to execute it. They typically wanted to spend a couple of their salary pay cheques building some niche social network that would take the better part of 6 months for a single developer to get up and running. So, it kind of sucked. This year, my typical client is a large company or government-backed organization that is cash rich and ready to spend on actual quality projects instead of some bebo clone. It's a nice change of pace.

Depending on what I'm working on, I charge different rates for consulting, so this is hard for me. I also do project-based and risk-based pricing on some projects. I did vote, however. Demand is about normal or up slightly, however time-to-collect has gone up slightly too, which can create cashflow issues occasionally.

This is meaningless unless people also list how many hours they work per month. I once made something crazy like $5000 for a job I finished in like 18 hours. I now have a steady consulting job(that may become a fulltime job soon), but I don't get paid anywhere near 250+ an hour.

Cheap histogram as of 4 hours after posting:


  Sample Size: 230

Here's a real histogram: http://blog.davidziegler.net/post/94464030/how-much-contract...

It uses a Dapper feed, so it should automatically update itself.

This data would be much useful if it were coupled with geographic information.

And adjusted for currency. I checked off an answer one bucket lower because I bill in Canadian dollars, but I don't think most Canadians would think of that.

Likely those developers in places like Zimbabwe would be thinking it's in octillions anyway.

Quick note to all you hackers out there: don't ever discuss rates in a way that can be googled back to your business.

Lots of reasons, but the top 3

1) Rates are always negotiable

2) Rates are always changing

3) You never want to have an "inside baseball" conversation in a public forum

I like the voting idea though.

I have a day job and I enjoy my free time, so I charge accordingly (76-100). I have very few takers.

I think I'd have to charge around half that to actually get enough business to make a living doing only freelance.

I think I'd have to charge around half that to actually get enough business to make a living doing only freelance.

Or you'd have to take it seriously enough to do the legwork you need to have enough clients at your current rate. I found that the more contract work I did, the more demand I had for my time. This, of course, assumes doing really good work for people that interact with other people that would need my particular skills.

You may be right. Like I said, I never really tried. Then again, I've had people show genuine interest until I quote a price. Maybe I'm just attracting cheapskates.

Half that may not be enough. Don't that you'll be in charge of all business expenses and more tax (if in the US, you'll have to pay an extra ~7 percent right off the bat to cover the half of social security your employer pays on your behalf).

Also, a lot more of your time will be taken up by non-billable hours.

Security researchers make significantly more than the high end of this survey; I'm sure database performance experts do too. It needs more options.

Is there the same volume of work though? Being paid $400/hr is good, but if you can only get 20 hours a week, it's not so good...

Exactly where do you live that $8000/week is "not so good"?

Not so good as it first sounded ;)

I'm not going to answer all of this question, but I think Matasano is pretty representative of high-end security research firms, and we're slammed. High multiples of that 20-hours-a-week quote.

Again, I'm sure there are other fields that get similar premiums and are in similar demand.

and more cowbell.

I charge what I need to cover paying for a family in Silicon Valley. So my rates now start at $175/hour for version control (Subversion, CVS, Mercurial), build systems (SCons mainly), bug trackers (JIRA) and anything else by Atlassian. Business ranges from steady to brisk. And it's certainly varied.

I'm in school right now so I'm artificially cutting back my demand, but I've spoken to people in Pittsburgh who says that they've seen a significant rise in demand for dev (not sure exactly which, I suspect webdev). Not really sure why, but they've all been swamped.

Strange, I fall on the lower quartile of the scale here. That said, I live in Florida where taxes are low and cost of living is low as well (not near what it is in SF). I charge based on what sort of work and who/what the work is for. If the client is exceptionally patient, straightforward, and easy to work with then their rate is lower. If the work is a royal pain, I'll ask for more. I guess the difference is that I don't do what I do primarily for the money, but rather because I just enjoy it. My day job takes care of the bills as it is.

If I went 100% freelance consulting I'd probably charge between 50 and 75, as that appears to be a sweet spot at the moment. Maybe higher as demand increased.

Still being rung a couple of times a month. Handing work off to mates. So not too bad.

I have a friend who does upwards of $100-$200 and he is constantly in demand. He's really good. One of the best coders and best designers I've ever worked with (in my limited career, which is only 2 funded startups).

I run a small service business, providing custom db programming/minor website design on the side. Expanded the service business a little too far back in early 2000's, which means my slow times are still thankfully good and the busy times get hairy.

Slowing a little, now keeping one guy busy part-time, and I and my wife work part-time (work together). Feeling VERY lucky.

If it slows more, I may finally get back to my last web-app idea I haven't finished :)

I'm in a small niche, but demand is through the roof. If I had 10 clones, I could have them all on contracts within two days.

Which niche? The demand for quality devs will always be high imo just due to the wide spread use of computers in businesses everywhere.

ATG (www.atg.com). It's very expensive eCommerce software, J2EE based, with their own IOC container, data access layer, etc... At the moment the demand for good ATG devs and architects far exceeds the supply.

Ditto - what niche? I'm out of work and could use a few tips.

I'm assuming from the guy's profile he works on ATG (ecommerce for Java)

Why aren't you multiplying yourself, then?

I am a Java programmer in Chicago. I do corp-to-corp contracts. I am currently getting $58/hr for subcontracting with a Chicago consulting firm for a six-month gig. I was getting $67/hr at my previous gig. I wish I were making much, much more like some of the folks here. I have been programming professionally since 2002.

Don't take this the wrong way, but either:

A) You aren't very good (or at least aren't as skilled/productive as other folks with 7 years of experience)


B) You really need to learn how to negotiate better

For a senior Java dev with 7 years of experience in Chicago, you should get much more than that for corp-to-corp.

Regarding "B," are you thinking of direct contracting or subcontracting?

If you're subcontracting and getting paid corp-to-corp they shouldn't be skimming much off the top. I'm just pretty sure that the market rate for a senior Java dev or team lead with 7+ years of experience is a lot higher than the pre-tax corp-to-corp numbers mentioned, even in Chicago. I have front end dev friends who make much more than that, just doing CSS/HTML work.

I guess they are skimming. I have negotiated, and they don't accept my desired rate. My current contract used the recession as an excuse to lower my rate. And, I was out of work in Jan and Feb due to hardly any contracts in Chicago and no one accepting my rate. May I send you my resume for you to quickly glance at it?

Absolutely: devon@digitalsanctuary.com I also know a few decent recruiters in Chicago I could put you in touch with if you like.

These rates are lower than I would have guessed.

We only work on projects that result in the construction of features that we were going to build anyway for our web apps.

Length of contract is quite relevant here, is anyone charging over 150 when working 8 hours a day for several months?

I don't mean to nitpick, and I'm not trying to brag, but I'd add another catagory of 300+.

$80-120/hr and flat-out.

I'm trying to figure out which answer would hurt competition most...maybe I should make the people who are overcharging feel one vote more comfortable (don't worry, haven't voted).

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