Charging by coding hour


I was wondering and am having trouble finding... ballpark figures for what people charge by the coding hour (the market rate). I understand that there are many factors that come into play here that can raise the coding hour rate, but what is a good base?

Is there additional information required to determine this?

Finance Website Code Billing

asked Apr 27 '13 at 03:23
Random Us1r
123 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

2 Answers


If you're looking for the "industry standard" you can check out sites like to see salaries and hourly rates, but this information is moot when it comes to freelancers.

Freelance programmers rates change depending on too many factors for anyone to give a "proper" answer:

• Skill level

• Years of Experience

• Work history/Jobs accomplished (does the freelancer have a proven history of delivering?)

• Company association (ex: an ex-microsoft employee will charge more)

• Time constraints (how soon do you need project finished?)

• Existing code (if a previous programmer worked on the project it adds to total time needed for the new guy)

It's not fun to admit it but at this point your best option is to put out feelers. Reach out to several coders (or directories) with the general requirements of your project. Let them quote you their rate to give you a better idea of what specific skill-levels of developers charge.

Note: Hourly rates and salaries are extremely subjective. You may find that it takes a $100/hr coder 30 minutes to finish a project that a $10/hr coder would spend a week on.

answered Apr 27 '13 at 03:51
133 points
  • I'm 7 years in, carry a sr. job description in a coding field & have a very high success rate. I'm more interested in what the market will bear. I've heard the 3x rule mentioned a lot, but am wondering what the current trends are. – Random Us1r 8 years ago
  • @RandomUs1r if you are just looking for how much YOU should charge then the answer is up to you. You can charge 3x your hourly rate, yes, but what do you think you are WORTH? If you're positive you are worth 7x-10x then charge that much. You might not get as much work, but when you do it more than makes up for it. Honestly, if you are 7 yrs into your career I don't see how you CAN'T charge premium for your services. – Pblock 8 years ago
  • Ya that makes sense, with the added benefit of having more free time. The general consensus I've gotten from this is to put out some local feelers (might be a good time to see what kind of coders are interested in some of MY ideas and how much). Thanks. – Random Us1r 8 years ago


Well it depends on a whole range of things that basically boil down to "what the market will stand" which means ask a sample of them and see what they come back with.

If your going to ask around then have a "smallish" unit of work (something under 1 month) for them to all quote on ... if your not a techie then this is 4-8 screens / pages. Get each one to give you a dollar figure and a time estimate and use a sample size more than 10.

The more you sample the more you will see

  • wildly optimistic. eg. A few days. Unless they are coding gods with the latest code generators then they are most likely not taking into account all the "background" work that has to happen, they are looking at the "happy path" only.
  • wildly pessimistic. Conversely they will think of every possible thing and factor a percentage for "unknown unknowns".
  • Range of good middle ground answers. Now you have the useful subset to work with in order to work out your best choice.

When your evaluating your choices the following is a guide for thinking about who they are and why they are quoting what they do.

As pblock says

  • Skill and experience. These two combined can have between a 3x and 10x effect on the result and is very hard to describe. Basically getting it right the first time is worth heaps.
  • job history. Have they done similar stuff, have they done harder stuff? again knowing to avoid traps is a major advantage.

I would extend the list with:

  • Which country and currency are they working in? I like earning GBP when I'm living in AUS because the exchange rate is favorable and I can look competitive to the locals.
  • Do you want local? Country, language, cultural background and understanding (this makes a huge of difference when your trying to communicate over a bunch of abstract concepts).
  • Are they independent or part of a team? Part of a team has backing, people they can ask, bounce ideas off and have all the "other stuff" taken care of... we charge out team members at a much higher rate because your getting a network benefit.
  • How long is the job for? If i'm doing a few hours to a few weeks I charge a lot but if a client is going to offer a 6 to 12 month or ongoing then I don't have to run around finding more work to fill the gap when the contract finishes so I'm prepared to be more reasonable on the rate.
Other personal motivators. Indicators the candidate is good are the other motivations they have for working besides money.

  • What are they looking for? is it experience, interesting project, chance to prove themselves, chance to work on something new / cool ... I have several friends who will raise the rate for a boring project in order to make something worth their while ... but the employer pays the higher rate because they are worth it.
  • What is the client like? If your good to work for, have a clear objective and are realistic, flexible and sensible when it comes time to change something then some may lower their rates (or conversely raise them to compensate for the extra aggravation of a bad, fussy or clueless client)
  • What is the team like? If they are working with others, are those others good at what they do and engaged with the project? nothing worse than having a useless team that you have to carry OR having a dictator / micro manager whos idea of managing is yelling and making you feel bad ... these factors may influence a rate change at the earliest opportunity AKA "Courtesy Fee " / ahole tax
  • Additional courses, seminars etc they have attended. I have one friend in particular who is great, every time he finishes a contract he will go and choose a 2 day to 1 week course to attend in a field he is looking to get into.

Or go for the one you think you can work with the best, as long term this is a much better ROI than what ever your paying them upfront.

answered Apr 30 '13 at 15:51
Robin Vessey
8,394 points
  • Thanks for providing the team dynamic factor, it is definitely something I'm going to look into once I've gotten a better feel for what I'm doing. – Random Us1r 8 years ago

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