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Whether you’re already a freelancer, or want to become one — as a full-stack dev you need to know what you’re worth.
So what could you earn as a freelance dev? Well, a full stack developer hourly rate usually ranges between $75 and $130 per hour.
But the real answer is: it depends. It depends on the stack, your location, and much more. So in this article, we’ll dive into the different stacks (from MEAN to Ruby), different countries, and give you the hourly rates for each of these.
The Different Stacks of Full-Stack Development
We can’t really speak of ‘one’ type of full-stack developer; as the software and tools they use differ. So if we want to discuss the hourly rate of full-stack developers, we should first determine what types of full-stack development exist.
Just a reminder, a full-stack developer can be described as someone who can develop a website or application using front- AND back-end expertise. In other words, (s)he would be able to both work on how the application works (e.g. with the underlying database), and what it actually shows to the user.
Typically, a freelance full-stack developer will work in a specific ‘Stack’. These Stacks consist of a combination of technologies that allow you to work well on both the front- and the back-end. Currently, the most popular stacks are the MEAN, MERN, LAMP, Python, and Ruby stacks. Let’s take a look!
1. The MEAN Stack
- MongoDB serves as the database system;
- Node is a server-side execution environment.
2. The MERN Stack
- MongoDB as the database;
- Express as the web framework that runs on Node;
- Node, which is the web server.
A reason to choose React over Angular is that the former is generally easier to learn. React is actually a library rather than an actual framework, so you can start writing code in React rather quickly.
3. The LAMP Stack
LAMP is an acronym for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. As such, it’s entirely different from the stacks discussed before.
- Linux is an open-source OS (operating system);
- Apache works as the web server that serves web assets and processes requests;
- MySQL is a relational database that stores application data; and
- PHP is the actual programming language that is used with Apache.
4. The Python Stack
Python is one of the most popular programming languages available, which is particularly easy to start with. A Python stack often consists of:
- Python as your programming language;
- Django or Flask, which are both web frameworks that use Python; and
As such, this stack is Python-based but still contains other frameworks and languages you need to build your website. And whether you choose Flask or Django is up to your requirements and needs (more info here).
5. The Ruby Stack
Lastly, we want to mention the Ruby stack. If you use this stack, you generally use:
- Ruby as your programming language;
- Ruby on Rails, which is the web framework built using Ruby;
As such, the Ruby and Python stack are quite similar. Generally, Python is used more in other fields (like academia, data science), whereas Ruby is mostly used for web development. Both can however be very powerful, and it’s up to you and your project to choose.
Freelance Rates Per (Full) Stack
Now that we’ve introduced the 5 most common full-stacks, let’s dive into the actual freelance rates. Using our database, we have gathered the rates of many freelance developers. In other words, we can give you a good idea of what you could earn as a freelance full-stack developer.
MEAN Stack Developer Hourly Rates
Freelance MEAN stack developers are in quite high demand. As a freelance MEAN full-stack developer you could get between $75 and $100 per hour, having gained a bit of experience.
Truth is though, we see very broad ranges for full-stack developers. That means, that while you probably won’t earn much less than $70 per hour in the US (or €70 an hour in Western Europe), we see really good developers making more than $130 hourly. In other words, investing your time and resources in learning the MEAN Stack is worth considering.
Rates For MERN Stack Developers
The differences between MEAN (using Angular) and MERN (using React) are not so great when it comes to freelance rates. As mentioned, React is a bit easier to learn, which is why we sometimes see slightly lower rates for MERN devs.
However, there are many ways to set your freelance rate. As such, your rate will depend on your experience, location, and the way you negotiate with a future client. Nonetheless, as a freelance MERN dev, you could definitely earn $75-$100 per hour and higher rates are possible too.
Freelance LAMP Stack Developer Hourly Rates
LAMP is a very ‘old’ stack (in use since 1998), but we keep seeing demand for freelance LAMP developers too. If you’re specialized in the LAMP stack, rates start at about $60 and go up to $90 or more.
Generally though, we see an average of about €80 in Western Europe, which pretty much translates to $80 an hour in the US too.
Python Freelance Full-Stack Developer Rates
Hourly Rates For Ruby Full-Stack Developers
Ruby, and the Ruby on Rails framework, is still enjoying a considerable demand that will continue for some years. It is used by a wide variety of well-known companies, from Airbnb to Kickstarter.
Since it is a bit less common common than many of the stacks mentioned here, rates could be a bit higher. As such, freelance Ruby on Rail rates range from $80 to $100 on average.
Full-Stack Rates Across the World
So far, we’ve given you a range of rates that are common in the US and (Western) Europe. A general rule of thumb is: if you have a rate in USD ($), you can generally convert it to EUR (€) on a 1-on-1 basis.
In other words, an average rate of $65-$90 in the US for a full-stack developer, will more or less translate to a rate of about €65-€90 per hour in a country like the Netherlands or Germany.
Freelance full stack rates in the Netherlands and the UK
This rule does not always apply though, and it depends on the specific country you’re looking at. For example, the hourly rates in the Netherlands are relatively high – so the rule of thumb applies.
However, in the UK freelancers use daily rates, which are often a bit lower than their US (or Dutch) counterparts. For example, the average daily rate for a British full-stack dev is £565, or about £70 per hour if you work 8 hours. This is clearly a bit lower than the averages mentioned above.
Rates in India, China and beyond
We could take a further look at full-stack dev rates in other countries, such as India and China. Certainly, rates in these countries are much lower than the ones presented here.
For example, you could find freelance full-stack developers from India starting at about $30 an hour; though if you have more experience, an hourly rate of $50 is not out of the question.
This also applies to China for instance, where a lot of developers compete on freelance platforms like Upwork. But if you want to get a good look at what most developers earn in the US or Western Europe, check the Lancebase database.
What about other Stacks and Geographies?
So far, we’ve focused on 5 of the most common stacks:
- Python, and
- Ruby (on Rails).
Usually though, software development is flexible. That means that there are other stacks and generally other technologies that you may want to use as a freelance software engineer. Consider for instance stacks like MEVN (substituting Vue.js for React or Angular); Flutter; or even serverless stacks. Plus, as a full-stack developer you will use many other technologies and languages such as Typescript, RESTful APIs, and more.
Similarly, there are many other geographies that we did not touch upon yet. But there are millions of software developers across the world, from Nigeria to the Middle East, New Zealand, Brazil, you name it.
Hopefully though, this article gave you an idea of full stack developer hourly rates in the US and Europe. And if you want to know more, keep on reading on our blog!