The Complete Freelance Front End Developer Salary Guide
Whether you already are a freelance front end dev, or aspiring to become one, it’s important to consider your rate and ultimately your salary.
So what is the average salary? As always, it depends. But on average, the freelance front end developer salary is about $13,760, based on an average hourly rate of $80 while working 40 hours per week.
Of course, these are averages — and you have to take into account that this is revenue; in other words, you still have to pay taxes! So in this article we’ll dive deeper into the hourly rates, salaries and income of freelance front end devs. We’ll touch on the differences between junior, medior, and senior front end developers, and cover some of the salaries around the world. Check it out!
Front end development salaries
For freelancers, the word ‘salary’ tends to mean something different compared to what it means for full-time employees. Typically, for full-time employees, salary refers to the amount of money that they are entitled to receive from their employers each month. However, for freelancers, it doesn’t work that way.
While we already touched on the average monthly salary (i.e. revenue) of freelance front end developers, and while some freelancers work on a project-basis, the real standard for freelancers is the hourly rate.
For front-end developers, this rate ranges from about $40 to $150 or more, depending on e.g. the complexity of the project, your experience (are you a junior, medior or senior?), and location.
Freelance Junior front end developer salaries
Junior front end developers are entry-level employees who are responsible for improving websites’ appearances by collaborating with intermediate and senior developers. Some of the common tasks assigned to junior front end developers include:
- Writing code for enhancing website functionality and layout
- Adjusting background colors and image size
- Creating scrolling panels, buttons, and other visual elements
- Collaborating with development team for ensuring website viability
- Providing technical support to clients
Usually, freelancers are actually not juniors. When companies hire freelancers, they often need experts – so they don’t want to hire juniors as independent contractors.
However, from time to time it happens that companies hire junior devs on a freelance basis. From our database, we see that the typical junior front end developer salary is around $40 – $60 per hour.
Freelance rate of intermediate or medior front end developer
Intermediate or medior front end developers are expected to have deeper understanding and expertise. Important tasks that are commonly assigned to medior front end developers include:
- Writing code and maintaining it
- Executing and implementing benchmarks and (code) tests
- Analyzing the needs of the end users with QA testers and designers
- Designing and developing small websites
- Developing quality assurance procedures
- Documenting the development process
There are many freelancers who fall in the ‘medior’ category. Some smaller companies may hire a freelance medior front end developer to help build a new website or improve an existing one. But in the case of multinationals, you often work in larger design & development teams.
Generally, freelance medior front end developers typically earn in the range of $50 – $80 every hour.
Senior front end developer earnings
Most freelancers consider themselves senior. Usually they have a minimum of 5-10 years of work experience, and they really know how to finetune a website’s design. They communicate and work with full-stack and back-end development teams to ensure a great finished product.
Other responsibilities that a senior front end developer may have to shoulder include:
- Reviewing designs to make sure that they comply with usability standards and are functional
- Testing new features and participating in code review sessions to ensure compatibility with existing features
- Discussing objects and project goals through meetings with clients
The hourly rate of senior front end developers ranges from $80 to about $130. Certainly, there are outliers, but most freelancers will have a rate somewhere in between this range.
What do we mean with a ‘freelance salary’?
Before we dive further into freelance earnings, let’s first discuss what we actually mean with ‘salary’. We’ve used the word salary here to denote hourly rates, but that is a bit confusing.
Usually, freelancers have an hourly rate. But your salary actually depends on many things. Consider for instance:
- The amount of holidays you take,
- A potential number of sick days,
- The amount of hours you work per week,
- If you actually always have enough clients to fill your week,
- Your expenses,
- Your local taxes
With these factors, you can calculate your salary. So that’s why we mention the hourly rate, because as a freelancer, your salary is heavily dependent on your personal situation! But to give you an idea of what some freelancers earn, we’ll give you an example.
The monthly salary of a freelance medior front end developer [An Example]
Let’s suppose you work as a freelance medior front end dev, earning $80 per hour. We assume you work 40 hours a week and have plenty of clients. You will also take some holidays, and perhaps have a few weeks where you need to find a new client. So let’s say you work 42 weeks per year.
You also incur some expenses with your freelance business. You work from home, but still have to pay for design software, your laptop, networking events, and more. Let’s say the total is about $1000 per month, or $12k per year.
A standard full-time work week is 40 hours, so that leaves you with 40*$80*42 = $134400. Minus your expenses, you’re left with $122,400 in revenue annually. In the USA, you have to pay income tax (in different brackets), plus a self-employment tax of 15.3%. After these taxes, you’re left with about $85k which is your actual salary.
In other words, with an hourly rate of $80 and not too many expenses, your salary as a freelance front end dev would be about $7k per month. Hopefully this gives you a good idea of how to calculate your actual salary using the hourly rate as a starting point.
What exactly is front end development?
Although we’ve already talked about front end development, we haven’t actually defined it. So what is front end development?
Well, front end development refers to writing, implementing, and maintaining code that affects the appearance of websites and web applications. When you visit a website or open an application on your smartphone, you essentially see what the front end development team has worked on. The end goals of front end development is to enhance user experience by designing compelling, engaging, and interactive websites and applications.
So now that we have showed you what a typical freelance front end developer salary looks like, we will dive into exactly what skills you should possess — if you want to become a junior, medior or senior front end dev.
The skills you need as a junior front end developer
For junior front end developers, the following skills are crucial:
- Thorough understanding of basic programming languages such as CSS and HTML (a style language)
- Adept understanding of responsive web design rules
- Expertise in software version control platforms, which facilitate the tracking of changes in projects (e.g. Git)
- Soft skills such as teamwork, communication, and troubleshooting
The skills you need as a medior front end developer
In addition to the skills of a junior front end developer, the skills required to be a medior front end developer include:
- Good understanding of latest server tech such as Apache, IIS, and Nginx
- Expertise in NoSQL – a database for accessing, distributing, and storing data
- Some expertise in UI/UX design, including familiarity with the user discovery process
Skills that a senior front end developer should possess
Senior front end developers should possess all the skills that are considered mandatory for junior and medior front end developers. Additionally, a senior front end developer must have the following skills:
- Experience with Scrum and other agile ways of working
- Training skills for educating medior and junior front end developers on the job
This gives you some idea of when to call yourself a junior, medior or senior front end software engineer. However, in reality these roles are sometimes more complex. Specifically, you could say that there are actually two types of front end devs: more back-end focussed – and more design-focussed front end developers.
If that doesn’t make any sense, don’t worry. We’ll cover it in the next section.
Salaries Across the Great Divide
The fact that there are two different types of front end devs, has presented unique challenges for both employers and developers. Employers posting job vacancies with vague descriptions may be swarmed with applicants whose skillsets are different from what’s required. Similarly, developers are also at risk of evaluating new projects that are not meant for them at all.
CSS and HTML front end developers
The second group of front end developers is more focused on the design aspect. You could also call them UX developers, and they often work with WordPress themes, and a bit of jQuery.
You could say this group has less of a technical background, and is prioritized by clients who want a more design-oriented approach. The average hourly rate for these developers is a bit lower, around $60 – though of course this also depends on your experience and expertise.
Freelance Front End Developer Salaries Around the World
In this part of our freelance front end developer salary guide, we’ll take a look at how much front end developers earn in different parts of the world. This should help you compare your salary with that of similar developers elsewhere.
Because at the end of the day, geography does matter. For instance, as a freelancer working with clients in the USA, you can expect to earn more than a freelancer working with clients in Asia. For more specifics on the differences, read on.
Front end rates in Western Europe
Europe is brimming with opportunities for front end developers. In both Eastern and Western Europe (and any place in between), you’ll find thousands of front end developers working on all kinds of websites.
In Western Europe, you could say the average salary is kind of similar to their counterparts in the US. In some countries like the Netherlands or Germany, your salary would be more or less the same as mentioned before, but then in euros instead of dollars.
So that means you could earn between ~€40 to €130 hourly, excluding VAT. However, your taxes would likely be higher than in the US, so you should take that into account.
Front end rates in Eastern Europe
In Eastern Europe, salaries are generally a bit lower than in Western Europe. That means that you hourly rates start at about €15, and go about to about €80 on average.
Of course, the cost of living is lower than in Western Europe or the United States. However, we would advise you to try to work for a company that is based in a more wealthy area of the world. As we’ve seen from the data of our database, it’s not just your own geography that matters — the location of your client matters too!
Front end rates in Asia
Asia has also emerged as a hotspot for front end development opportunities. Of course, the continent is incredibly big, but generally you could take Eastern European salaries as a starting point.
That means that hourly rates could start as low as $5 per hour (for a junior working in a more remote part of India for example), but also go up to $70 or more (e.g. for a Hong Kong-based software engineer). As always, it depends on different factors — and even on how you negotiate your rate.
Front End Salaries Compared with Other Software Devs
Obviously, front end developers primarily handle the front end of a website or application. But there are many other types of software developers — such as back-end development, full-stack development, data scientists, machine learning engineers, and more!
So we’ll end this article looking at: How do the salaries of front end developers compare to those of other developers?
Front end developer salary versus full-stack developer
Freelance full-stack developers tend to command higher hourly rates than those of front end devs. Specifically, the salary for full stack developers is on average between $75 and $100 per hour.
Generally, that means that full-stack developers start earning more as juniors compared to front end devs, but also that more senior full-stack devs could earn more. However, how much a freelancer earns depends on a variety of factors such as project complexity, experience, and more. For full-stack developers, the rate also depends on which stack is used.
Front end developer salary versus back-end developer
For back-end development freelancers, the average salary range is similar to what full-stack developers earn. The average is about $85 in the US, or similarly €85 in Western Europe.
However, the most experienced back-end developers may earn up to $200 per hour depending on how much clients can shell out and project complexity.
Front end developer salary versus data scientist
Data scientists generally have a different background than many other developers. In addition, the demand is high, so they get to increase their rates a little bit if compared to front end devs.
If we look at our database, we see most hourly rates falling in a bracket of about $80 to $120 per hour.
Again, that means that data scientists generally earn more than front end developers. However, it always depends. You can find data scientists earning just over $60 per hour, while certain expert front end developers may acquire a rate of $130.
Front end developer salary versus machine learning engineer
Similar to data scientists, machine learning engineers are in high demand — and there are even fewer of them. For that reason, freelance rates are even higher: ranging from $90 to $130 on average.
Does that mean that it’s better to become a machine learning engineer rather than a front end dev? No. We would always advise you to do what you like. The fact of the matter is: software developers are generally in high demand, so whatever you become an expert in, it’s always possible to acquire a worthy freelance salary.
Front end developer salary versus mobile developer
What about mobile or app developers? On average, mobile developers are slightly higher paid than front end developers.
For example, a medior freelance app developers’ salary is between $55 and $90, which is just a bit higher than that of medior front end devs. And if we zoom out, we see similar differences for junior and senior roles.
Front end developer salary versus web designer
Lastly, we wanted to mention the web designer. A web designer isn’t actually a developer, but they’re often confused with front end developers.
Web designers generally have a lower salary than front end devs, with a rate of anywhere between $30 and $80 for US-based freelancers.
However, it’s much more difficult for them to demand a very high rate such as $100 or more. This is because there are a LOT of designers out there, and their skills are not in as high demand as that of (front end) developers.
Making a career in front end development
So whether you are already freelancing as a front end dev, or are considering to do so, you’ll probably make a good choice. If you do well, the salaries are high – especially when you come to a more senior level.
And with this freelance front end development salary guide, you have a good understanding of what a typical salary could be.
The only thing left to do, is to compare your rate with others (e.g. using Lancebase), decide on your rate, and start finding your next client. Good luck!