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Ask HN: Freelancer Rates in the US, Hacker News



You will not find a standard range of freelancer rates, just as You won’t find a standard range of developer salaries in the United States.
The $ 50 – hr job listing you shared will not attract any experienced Python developers. Experienced Python developers can easily secure jobs with $ 300 K / year salaries and benefits in any medium sized city. That job listing is searching for entry-level Python engineers who don’t yet understand their value in the marketplace. It is not representative of standard freelance rates. The job listing requests a good command of the English language, so it’s not even clear that they’re targeting only Americans with the listing.

Generally speaking, the best paid freelancers do not find jobs via public job listings. They use their reputation and network in combination with their unique skillsets to find contract jobs with companies who need them.

The best freelancers also negotiate their rates for each contract. Their rate can vary significantly depending on how many other opportunities that have, the difficulty of the work, and other factors.

Personally, I don’t know any full-time freelancers who charge less than $ (-) / hr. Below this hourly amount, it becomes more financially beneficial to find a full-time job.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find accurate information about freelance rates from the public internet. Smart companies will not post a high hourly rate on job listings because they could miss opportunities for candidates to negotiate lower rates. Smart freelancers will not advertise their typical rate because it will impact their opportunity to negotiate or change their rates in private conversations with new employers.

The optimal strategy is to constantly look for new contract jobs, raising your asking rate until companies are telling you “No” more than “Yes”. This is how you will find your market rate.



When I started freelancing, I did extremely cheap jobs because I didn ‘t have experience and did not know better. I did what you are currently doing, I went online to find answers. And the answer is, there are no fixed rate. The rate you are seeing, is perfectly reasonable for someone who charges this rate.

At some point, my fee was $ an hour. I freelanced through a 3rd party who found gigs for me, and took their cuts. One day, I found out that they charged these companies $ in some cases, while I was still only getting $ If that’s how much I was worth, then it would be perfectly reasonable for me to charge just as much.

If you want more details, here is the full story: https: // …



Like anything else you can find all ranges offered and all ranges accepted . I thought the exact opposite was the norm, with higher rates in US companies than UK / europe.

Senior level rates in US range from 240 – / hr. I know it’s a big range, but it comes down to speed, creativity, references, portfolio, fit for the project, availability.

As far as the half the money as a 9-5, it’s actually the other way around– as a freelancer, you need more money to compensate for things like insurance , taxes, risk that come with being an independent / freelancer. So they say to match a (k salary, you need approximately

/ hr.



Tl; dr: I charge a fair amount (effectively well into $ three digits / hr) and making what I have previously at a w2 is a real fight.

Presuming you meant $ 823 / hr: indeed, and if you’re freelancing, you almost certainly don’t have that high a proportion of billable time. Prospecting, marketing, deliberate learning, and other overhead are all necessary parts of the deal and can easily take half your available time. I tend to do all that in downtime between contracts, so it’ll look like (-) billable hours per week but with maybe – weeks / year utilization. Others just overlap everything; works well with longer contracts.



I’m wondering if it’s also not heavily dependent on the business structure that you set up for yourself, as a freelancer. It’s a one-man company (for the most successful), a self-employed job (for the majority, or so I hear). The former eventually makes “products”, while the latter may entertain a permanent rat race, wheel spin.

Difference in point: how much of what you do leads to higher value at fixed cost (notably in time, how long does it take you to deliver), or same value for lower cost (same idea).

I’d wager that, for the one-man company mindset, you tend to think not (task) (but) process , automating progressively etc . (need-to-basis optimization, ad hoc ‘frameworks’ that speed up your particular niche projects, heck just taking work from client A and refactoring it for client B and building an informal “product” eventually from there, that’s the story of all freelancers who’ve been at it for 5 years as I see it)

How much of the past work (self and tooling improvements) is factored in present value? Can we decorrelate X years of history of a company and estimate its cost / value production simply YOY? I think not. I think the greatest (companies, freelancers) incrementally raise the bar — making the threshold for competition much too high for a newcomer, hence commanding much higher value.

Doing the [work hours × $rate × utilization] equation only says so much about what actually goes into your rate (years of being more efficient at “it”, those things you do).

Say you begin at $ 160 in the US after a ramp up of 3-6 months to establish yourself on the market. You survive for 2 years like that, reach ~ $ . You realize it’s only $ real, and your newfound expertise is priced higher in the salary job market. So you either raise your rates or go get that money elsewhere. That’s why IMHO an “expert freelancer” market only makes sense north of $ 240 – (in the US (adapt numbers for any country, minus perhaps the “tech not sexy” effect eg in Europe where it’s not better paid that other intellectual activities).

Right now, you are worth much more than whatever you did this year, presumably (hopefully for market sanity) it shows in how much you earn.



Assuming you meant / hr …

Freelancers have costs that W2 employees do not, like self employment taxes and the full cost of health insurance.



Fixed typo, thanks. A good percentage of those costs is tax deductible along with expenses you will not have the luxary to deduct as an employee.




Expected? Yes. Normal? Yes. Only thing there is out there? No..

For every $ 70 / hr posting on the net, there is another one for $ . I also personally know of folks who are making $ 2019 with Django. It really depends on who you work for.

Although you will see a lot more of `build Uber for $ 5K` type of one off jobs, there are some reputable companies who need more capacity on new projects.

If I were you I would cast a wider net and sample the market more.


Who pays>
? I always hear about this but neither as freelancer or as employee who hires freelancers I have ever seen somebody making that much as freelancer. Sometimes consulting companies charge that much but the freelancers probably get paid only a fraction of that.



when I get my own clients directly, and I’m closer to that. When I’m subcontracted through someone else, it’s typically – $ 240. I consciously make that trade off sometimes because I’m effectively outsourcing some of the risk – negotiations, collections, etc. And it’s sometimes got me in to projects on teams whereas I’d normally be an independent, and the dynamics and range of engagements I’ve had has been a bit wider because of it. The $ / hr engagements I’ve had tended to be shorter engagements – (



Normal start-ups (ie not Valley Bubble) and small shops are almost never able to pay that much, but medium and large clients will easily pay that rate for established senior engineers WITH REPUTATIONS.
As much as we like to think technology is a meritocracy, at the end of the day, it always comes down to who you know. The charitable interpretation of that fact is that there aren’t a lot of ways to gauge reputation, so it’s mostly about who can vouch for you.

Source: I co-founded a software and design consultancy co-op (
( ).


Industries where money comes in by the bucket have no problem spending it With a shovel for specialized knowledge they don’t have.
If you’re a contractor, your best bet is to focus on an industry to understand the needs of that industry better. Rather being a Python developer, you can be a contractor who builds usable solutions that happen to use Python.

Industry knowledge, referrals, good prior work and marketing are important. These $ / / hr jobs won’t fall into your lap unless you put an effort to position your lap that way:)



I have a buddy who charges $ 2020 / h for JavaScript work in Oil & Gas. He works on-site, wears a suit, and makes bank in a cheap city. Never has issues getting work.




Most likely desperate very short term one off contracts. Almost meaningless to talk about hourly rate without also providing the length of the contract.



How much does somebody in this kind of field in the US pay in taxes? As for me (Germany) I have to basically give away half, such a posting would pay me basically like a very entry position after taxes.



In the US you would pay roughly (% to) % in taxes. However (in general), expenses incurred in the course of your business would not be taxable.

For example, if you earned $ 823, as a contractor, but you incurred $ , in expenses then you would have $ , in potentially taxable income.

The tax code is very, very complex, though, and there isn’t a simple answer to this question. There are a vast array of factors that would shift how much you pay in tax up or down, and this complexity is heavily exploited by lots of folks.



I would include health insurance premiums in the US as a tax when Comparing to other developed countries since they don’t have to pay those. Easily $ 5k / per family member per year plus $ k available in case of emergencies due to out of pocket maximums and $ (k to $ k per family member per year if you’re 80 .



I think if you do that it becomes really hard to compare a lot of things.

So health insurance is a cost … albeit not the same for everyone, at some companies you pay surprisingly little and that is compensation ON TOP OF your pay …

Other places not.
It’s really hard to get good 1: 1 comparisons.
Taxes and etc in the US are widely unevenly applied depending on the situation compared to what seem to be ‘more’ standardized and predictable numbers, services, in Europe.



This topic is concerning freelancer income, so it does not involve an employer paying for a portion of an employee’s health insurance premiums.

It’s also very easy to compare even if you are an employee, as health insurance premiums are shown in box 30 code DD of an employee’s W-2. And health insurance premiums don’t vary that much between and ACA complaint insurance that employers subsidize.

What is clear is that there exists a healthcare expense in life, and so if you are paying for it via taxes in one region, you would have to figure out how much it costs in the other region where it’s not included in taxes to make the comparison more accurate.
You can use this table from the state of NJ to reasonably guess how much healthcare will cost you in a moderately high CoL area in the US:

https: //…



Valid point, I lost track of the freelancer situation.
As for the differing costs of insurance outside of the freelancer world, I’ve found the costs in the US can vary wildly. Those tax boxes aren’t the only way / shouldn’t be the only comparison for US healthcare costs.



I don’t understand why they can’t be used to reasonably estimate healthcare costs. ACA compliant plans are pretty standardized, as well as the metal levels indicating expected healthcare costs.
Some plans will cover some providers and some won, and rural areas will have issues with even having providers at all, but for most major urban / suburban regions, it should be comparable, /- (%, even) (%.) Either way, you know that healthcare costs are in the thousands and $ k per ye en per family, which is a lower bound you can add to calculating US tax rates.



fwiw my current billing rate is $ 22855395 / hr. Full stack. Mostly web. years of experience. San Francisco. Clients all over the Bay Area.



Is that a high rate in SF? Can you bill a full month of it ( (hours) or are larger jobs at a different rate?




Since the project is long term, ($ -) $ per hour comes to around $ (k – $ k per year. This is a pretty good amount in the vast majority of the countries. The target audience is obviously not developers living in Silicon Valley. Probably looking for developers from Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa or South America. Also, there are a lot of countries that offer tax benefits when you are working as a freelancer.



In some countries say like India, a freelancer can register as a one person business / one person company and all income treated as business income. This way your tax payable becomes based on income-business expenses similar to an LLC or corp.



– k before taxes. I realize that taxes I’m the IS are much lower, but do you have any idea on a rough percentage?



In my experience, taxes in US are not lower if you include health insurance premiums and out of pocket healthcare costs.
The US is great if you’re in top 28% of incomes, but if you can’t afford to take advantage of the money tax exemptions and credits, then it’s not any better for the middle (% to) % of income earners who don’t make enough for government assistance, but also don’t make enough to take adv antage of the tax code.



As GP just said, this posting is probably not intended to be taken up by a US person. There are many markets around the world where that’s a very good salary.




No, that is a Russian site that uses English / USD ( maybe for easier international remote job seekers.)



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