Programmers, software developers and software engineers are in high demand. You can find barely any company that doesn’t use software development, in one shape or form. But what does a developer actually charge per hour? Or put another way, what is a freelance developer hourly rate?
The short answer: it depends. Ultimately, each developer’s hourly rate depends on many factors, and some charge more than others. However, we have used our own database — which is full of hourly rates of real freelancers — to write this article. We’ve included the rates of all kinds of freelance developers, from WordPress developers to machine learning engineers. Plus, the article specifically focuses on Western Europe, as this is an area where our data comes from. So whether you are looking for a programmer to hire, or if you want to become a freelancer yourself and see what you could earn, read on!
Before we begin
Before we begin, we wanted to share a few comments. First, we cannot give you an exact rate for each type of freelancer. Each developer is different – and that also applies to the client company, and the negotiation that takes place before a contract is signed.
In other words, there are many different factors that go into determining an hourly rate, but we try to give you a clear picture. After reading this article, it should be clear what you can expect to pay (as a client) or earn (as a freelancer) if you are active in one of these niches – particularly in (West-) Europe.
In addition, we should mention that we are talking specifically about freelancers here. For example, if you hire a developer from a top IT consultancy that only works for multinational companies, you can easily do the hourly rates below times 2 or 3. A rate of €200+ per hour for a machine learning engineer would not be out of the question.
However, if you’re looking for more information on freelance developer rates, this is the place to be. We have based all the rates in this article on our freelance rates database, which only includes data from real freelancers with real rates. Specifically, this article will give you the details you need about the hourly rate of a:
- Front-end developer
- Back-end engineer
- App developer
- Full-stack developer
- Data scientist, or
- Machine learning engineer
Front-end developer rate
A front-end developer’s rate is often a bit lower than that of other developers. It is easier to start with HTML/CSS or WordPress and PHP than with cloud software like AWS. Most coding schools’ curriculums start with front-end development, so that the programmer-to-be gets a solid (and not too difficult) start.
If you look at any freelance platform (like Upwork or Fiverr), front-end developers make up the biggest group. Because of this, the average rate of a front-end dev is often slightly lower. For freelancers based in countries like the Netherlands, Germany or the UK, the lowest hourly rate in this group is around €40, and this can increase to around €80 to €90 per hour. For a low hourly rate you will find mainly developers who work with HTML/CSS and WordPress, and for a higher wage you can hire developers who develop larger and more intricate websites or web apps.
On average though, the rate of a freelance front-end developer will be between €50 and €70 per hour.
A back-end developer or back-end engineer (for convenience we will use the terms interchangeably) focuses on the back-end architecture of a software application.
This back-end consists of the logic, processes, servers and data that make it possible for an application to run. Often this means that a back-end engineer works with technologies like APIs, database systems like MySQL, and programming languages such as Python, C# or Ruby.
Freelance back-end developers often have several years of experience, and are instrumental in keeping applications running. For this reason, the rates for back-end engineers are usually higher. Back-end developers charge anywhere from €65 to €125 per hour, and in our experience, the average is around €85.
App developer (Android, iOS)
Just like back-end developers, App developers have specialized knowledge. They are particularly skilled in Java (Android) and/or Swift (iOS), while many also know about UX, UI and potentially back-end development.
So on average, freelance app developers charge about €55 to €95 per hour (in Western Europe). Obviously this is a wide range, and the rate you pay depends on the type of person you’re looking for – or how much experience you have if you want to start freelancing yourself!
Full-stack developers have experience with the entire ‘technology stack’. In other words, they are people that know of the various programming languages and software that an application consists of and runs on. This is a professional who has knowledge of both front-end and back-end development.
Therefore, full-stack developers are incredibly useful for any company, as they can easily oversee the different sides and technical angles of a piece of software. Note though: If you are looking to hire a freelance full-stack developer – or want to market yourself as an independent full-stack developer – you should look carefully to see if someone (or yourself) actually works ‘full stack’. It’s a bit of a buzz-word, and it is often used to make someone’s resume look or sound better than it actually is.
Compared to front-end developers, freelance full-stack developers have a slightly higher hourly rate. This often starts around €75 and goes up to €120 per hour.
Companies are generating more and more data, and to make sense of this, data scientists are key. Freelance data scientists work mainly with programming languages such as R, Python and the database language SQL, and they know a lot about statistics.
As such, data scientists really have a different range of knowledge than other developers. In fact, not everyone sees them as ‘developers’, because they usually do not create new functionalities for an application. Yet they are coding daily, and are incredibly important to high-tech companies based in Europe, like Booking.com, Spotify or others.
Given the high demand for data scientists, hourly rates for a freelancer here start around €80, and again run up to around €120 per hour.
Machine learning engineer
Lastly, we wanted to include a freelance machine learning engineer rate. Machine learning is a specific application of artificial intelligence and people active in this field work on how a self-learning system actually learns (more about that here).
Developing machine learning models is complicated work. To do this, you need a lot of data science knowledge – and more. Because the role is highly specialized, freelance machine learning engineers can often charge higher rates. The hourly rates here start at around €90 per hour, and reach up to €130 or more.
How to determine your hourly rate as a programmer
Hopefully, we’ve given you a good view of what a freelance developer hourly rate looks like, particularly in Europe. This will help you to either:
- Hire the right freelancer, for the right price, OR
- Compare your own rate with that of European freelance developers
As we indicated, all the rates mentioned in this article are based on real freelancers who have shared their most recent hourly rate with us. So if you’re interested in seeing our database, check out our homepage.
Nonetheless, determining your hourly rate is a challenge, and it’s more difficult than just comparing rates. Using our own research, we’ve written a comprehensive article on this — so read on if you want to know how to determine your hourly rate as a brand new developer.