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Best sites for finding out appropriate rates to pay contractors? (comparables?)

I'm thinking about hiring a contractor - he's a great JS dev with 8 years of experience. I want to be sure I'm paying him fairly. I know there are a lot of sites out there for checking comps for salaried employees, but what about contractors?

If anyone wants to share ranges for what they pay their hourly workers, I'd love to know...

15 Replies

Jonathan Barronville
3
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Jonathan Barronville Entrepreneur
Software Engineer at npm, Inc.
$100 - $150 per hour is generally the range you wanna be in.

When I've done contracting, I usually dislike working strictly per hour, so I usually work on a weekly basis and I have a simple formula I use that has worked well for me.

- Jonathan
Jonathan Barronville
0
0
Jonathan Barronville Entrepreneur
Software Engineer at npm, Inc.
BTW, some developers charge much higher than $150/hour. I'm just telling you the general range I've observed.

- Jonathan
Luis De Avila
0
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Luis De Avila Entrepreneur
Owner/Fullstack Architect at IdeaNerd LLC
What ever rate you and the developer agree to. That is the fair market rate.
Jonathan Barronville
0
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Jonathan Barronville Entrepreneur
Software Engineer at npm, Inc.
@Luis De Avila:

I agree, but I think it's a really good idea to find out what the actual market rates are, and agree to something in that range. One thing you don't want is a developer who gets excited about your product, starts helping you build it, finds out they're being underpaid and their peers are making much more than them, and decides to quit. It's good to at least try to get it right beforehand ... which is of course what @Renee DiResta is doing here. For example, just because you and your potential developer agree on $30/hour, that doesn't mean it's alright ... it just means the developer is somewhat ignorant of their market and will someday find out and leave.

- Jonathan
Jake Carlson
1
1
Jake Carlson Entrepreneur • Advisor
Software Development Manager at Oracle
Geography and demand definitely influence it. $150/hr full time is $300k per year, which IMO is far too much even for a contractor in any part of the country for someone with only 8 years of experience.

See a salary tool such as http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=javascript+engineer&l1=san+francisco%2C+ca&tm=1 for a general sense of how much salaried folks are making. My general rule of thumb is up to 1.5x the salaried rate for full-time contractors, maybe more if it's a part-time or short-term gig.

There is a difference between contracting with an individual vs an agency. Individuals should cost less because they don't have the overhead but of course you may lose the benefits of working with an agency (e.g., redundancy in case the guy goes AWOL).
Brian Ross
2
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Brian Ross Entrepreneur • Advisor
Engineering Lead at Haven, Inc.
In the Bay Area expect to pay 30%-50% more than anywhere else based on cost of living. $85 - $120/hr is the range you should consider, but 8 yrs experience should fall around $100/hr. Even though $150 an hour is $300k annually as pointed out, the higher per hour fee is for the increased risk of not having a full time gig and no provided bennies.

There are a bunch of variables to consider as well; for example I'm willing to lower my hourly rate for shared code ownership (or the ability to open source reusable parts that aren't considered core IP).
Marcus Matos
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Marcus Matos Entrepreneur
Software Development & Information Technology Professional
Generally a contractor will tell you what his rate is. The only times I've ever seen a contractor leave it up to the client is when they were novices or hungry for any work they could get.

Additionally, the contractor should be billing you on a periodic basis unless it's some sort of retainer agreement. Be wary of crossing the contractor/employee line - if you are defining working environment, hours, rate of pay, etc - you're crossing that line (I've seen people hire on "contractors" as an attempt to get around the need to provide employee benefits - but with employee type expectations). Here's some information on that.

Finally, I assume you meant "JavaScript" or "Front End" developer. In my opinion, $100+ an hour is basically in rock star territory but I'm not too familiar with the market you're in. Years of experience is a small part of this formula - I want to see successfully delivered projects with consistent, high quality code. This is what would help me decide whether the rate they are asking for is reasonable.

Good luck!
Renee DiResta
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Renee DiResta Entrepreneur • Advisor
Vice President of Business Development at Haven
Sorry, I misspoke. He actually has three years of experience, not eight.

By JS dev I mean a JavaScript developer (node and/or client-side app), not front end developer. Comparable salaried positions seemto be around $90-150k in the Bay Area.

Per this guy:

http://www.users.on.net/~wallala/Calculators/salary_rate.htm

... that'd be $60-100/hr.
Jake Carlson
0
0
Jake Carlson Entrepreneur • Advisor
Software Development Manager at Oracle
3 years is not much really, still in Jr level unless he's ridiculously good. There are things that only come with experience no matter how good you are. Also, I think the distinction between 'frontend developer' and 'client-side app' developer is tenuous at best. Be sure to move past the jargon and actually figure out what he's done and how good he is at doing it.
Vadim Oss
1
0
Vadim Oss Entrepreneur • Advisor
Co-founder at Rentini
@Renee , it's a tough call. You will find an incredibly wide range of salaries. Everything depends on the location of the contractor and the experience.
As already mentioned here, 3 years of experience is not enough to really pass the Junior/Intermediate threshold. If you need to build things from scratch you may want someone senior, unless you're building a very basic prototype that you can dump later and rebuild.
By the way, higher rate doesn't necessarily bring you quality and experience. You really need to look at someones background to evaluate how much it's relevant. If you have a friend developer with experience asked him/her to check the code of this new candidate and their source code profile, such as github.
If you are willing to work with someone remotely you can do things very economically. You just need to find a right person. Developers can ask for $15 - $50/hour on sites like odesk or freelancer or elancer etc... There are some good people out there, but unfortunately the best are super busy.
Oh, one more thing. Don't settle on a hire because you think it's a good price - only if it's a good fit. Cheap may cost you much more than you think, expensive may not meet your expectations.
I would be happy to chat if you want. Good luck.
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