How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Programmer

Qubit Labs
Qubit Labs Team

The labor market is at the rapid development stage, offering hiring managers to reach out to top-notch developers from any country. In this way, the businesses get new opportunities for making their products unique and uniting the world’s best talent under “one virtual roof.”

Nevertheless, companies still have many questions left. Namely, they can’t decide whether to opt for full-time employees or give priority to freelance programmers. This issue can be reviewed considering a handful of aspects, yet, Qubit Labs aims to focus on, probably, the decisive factor – costs. We will compare the expenses for cooperating with freelance programmers and the in-house or outsourced software engineer contractor rates.

How Much Does Software Development Cost?

In the means of human resources, calculating the cost of hiring full-time and freelance employees mainly differs on their basis, hourly or annual. The companies usually reach out to freelancers when they need developers to work on short-term projects. It’s not common to cooperate with freelance programmers full-time, so the businesses work with them on request. As for full-time software engineers, these are hired for long-term projects, and businesses are ensuring offices, social packages, and other additional perks, about which we’ll talk later.

We will present the software developers’ annual salaries of both employment bases to improve the comparison results. Yet, yearly freelance software developer rates might differ for each specific case because multiple factors affect the final numbers.

Annual Software Engineering Contract Rates

Annual Software Engineering Contractor Rates by Country

The more years of experience the programmer has, the higher one’s salary will be. However, the place of his/her residence also plays a significant role in this case. Below, you can see the average full-time developer contractor rates in different parts of the world:


USA $110,390
Canada $77,971
Australia $94,104
Asia $42,879
Eastern Europe $41,500
Western Europe $65,826


Thus, considering all the mentioned rates, the average cost of software engineering, that is, specialists’ wages, will be $75,112.

Freelance Software Developer Salary

Freelance Software Developer Salary by Country

As in the previous case, the software engineer freelance hourly rate highly depends on the country because each state has its economic level, affecting the software developers’ expectations. Let’s take a closer look at the freelance software development rates based on the region:


USA $70
Canada $65
Australia $55
Asia $30
Eastern Europe $25
Western Europe $60


  • In the USA, the average programmers’ hourly rate is $70;
  • Canada offers $65 per hour on average;
  • Freelance software developer rates in Australia are around $55 hourly;
  • In Asia, programmers can expect to be paid $30 per hour;
  • The software engineer freelance hourly rate in Eastern Europe is $25;
  • Western Europe pays $60 per hour to its programmers.

It’s quite challenging to say a certain number regarding freelance software development rates because it highly depends on the regions’ cities and countries. For example, the US’s average hourly rate is $70, but some developers might charge $40, and some $200 and more. We have considered the mid-level programmers to make a comparison more accurate.

The average annual freelance software developer salary is $107,360, in the view of the mentioned countries and regions.

What Is The Yearly Salary?

A full-time programmer receives $75,112, while a freelance software developer salary is $107,360. However, the freelancers’ wages are rather explicit, and that can’t be said about in-house employees’ costs.

Let’s take a peek at the additional expenses affecting software contracting rates, which we haven’t considered yet.

Software Engineering Contract Rates: Additional Costs

It’s little wonder that companies seeking to attract top-of-the-league software developers have to offer appealing benefits. These often include:

  • paid vacations and sick leaves;
  • coverage of professional courses and literature;
  • custom-made stationery and pieces of clothing;
  • festive gifts;
  • unlimited tea/coffee/cookies,
  • multitudes of other perks that depend on the company.

Besides, there are different bonuses:

  • performance bonuses;
  • overtime payments;
  • insurance;
  • social security.

You will also need to provide the employees with all the necessary equipment, including hardware and software. So, depending on the region, company’s size and status, and the economic level, the software engineering contract rates might rise multiple times, adding up to $5,000-$80,000 to the initial price.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Programmer: Expenses Comparison

Hiring a programmer: In-house vs Freelance

After including the additional offshore software development costs to the overall price, we will see that freelance software development rates might be lower than those of full-time programmers. The mentioned $75,112 can easily turn into $125,112. Yet, all the numbers are rough because you can opt for outsourcing and hire developers from, say, Eastern Europe and save a couple of thousands of dollars on their software contracting rates, compared to American software engineers’ salaries.

However, keep in mind that software engineering contract rates might significantly change if you hire junior or senior programmers. This applies to the freelance programmer salary as well because you can easily hire a senior-level specialist both for $50 and $200; it mainly depends on the region. What else is great about freelance developers is that you don’t have to spend time and money on onboarding. You can contact people who have already had the required experiences and can immerse themselves in the project right away.

In-house VS Freelance Software Developer: How to Choose?

If you have many small tasks, and the developer will work around 20 hours a week, it would be more cost-effective to hire a freelancer, paying immediately after receiving the finished assignments. Besides, it is easy to choose another person if you don’t like the programmer you are working with because you won’t have to deal with much paperwork. In general, the freelancer is less creative because he/she follows the instructions and is not aware of the projects’ details.

Freelance software developer salary does not include the expenses on:

  • equipment;
  • workstations;
  • sick leaves;
  • vacations.

Setting up the working place relies on the freelancer. Also, such remote employees always get paid for the results, so you won’t have to cover for their coffee-breaks and days off. However, they usually solve only narrow-profile tasks, while in-house employees can take on additional responsibilities.

In case you have large volumes of work and need a person who will focus only on your company’s projects and be aware of the company’s culture – opt for in-house programmers. Usually, one will be highly motivated and share corporate goals. If you can afford to rent an office and meet the costs associated with it, or can successfully coordinate the work of remote full-time developers and find software engineer contract rates applicable – go for regular employees.

Although freelance software engineer salary is lower, you might set up a virtual office and control all the processes remotely, working with full-time programmers in whose capacities and reliability you are confident. Remote teams are at their peak nowadays, so if you can’t choose between freelancers and in-house programmers, dedicated teams and outstaffing might be the middle ground.

Wrapping Up

So, how much does a programmer cost? It depends on the employment model; software engineering contract rates are around $75,112-$125,112, and freelance – $107,360. There are a plethora of aspects you need to consider when hiring regular or remote developers.

In case you can’t decide which option fits your project better, feel free to contact Qubit Labs and we will discuss everything in detail and come up with the most suitable solution.


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