I have been programming ROR for about a year now, and I think I am ready to start working on a project for someone else. The problem is that job postings for contractors don't really tell you which specific tasks you should be able to do at different experience levels (in rails and other technologies), so I don't know where to pitch myself. I think I am somewhere between junior and mid-level, but who knows? So my question is:

Which actual tasks should an junior programmer be able to do at, say, $35 an hour, which actual tasks should an intermediate programmer be able to do at, lets say, $75 an hour, and which actual tasks should an advanced programmer be able to do at, oh say, $140 an hour?

One or two examples should suffice.

  • 1
    great question.
    – Trip
    Nov 22, 2011 at 14:59
  • My best guess would be $35 => { Can manage a Rails application }, $75 => { Can build a Rails application from scratch with minimal reference and a impeccable perception of Time-to-completion. Writes tests. }, $140 => { Has a distinguished noteriety in the development community. Has contributed open-source plugins, can tackle complicated out-of-box ideas, writes tests. }.
    – Trip
    Nov 22, 2011 at 15:52
  • I wouldn't limit yourself to only applying for junior positions. Typically unless the project is a one-man show they should have some sort of technical resource there who has an idea of what needs to happen. As long as you are upfront about your experience and eagerness to learn you can learn what you need to progress from jr to intermediate to architect. Its less about what you can do and more about what you are willing to learn how to do. Everyone started somewhere. IMO $35/hr is super cheap, I have never seen anyone under $80 and our company bills me out at $170-220/hr.
    – DarkStar33
    Nov 22, 2011 at 22:56

2 Answers 2

  • 35$ developers can build up rails apps, not on high level.

  • 70$ developers do this with a test-driven approach, and can also build his own gems and work nice dry.

  • More than 70$ developers know something about performance, scability, and should always find the best solution. He also needs to do a perfect database design etc.

  • the way to find the price for a project (if a customer asks me): how many hours? how much many can i arn in this timeframe with my own projects?

  • also a hint: how much money do you need for your life monthly. how many hours of work do you need to reach this at 35, 50, 70 bucks. is it realistic to have enough work? i know some people who works for 20€ per hour. so maybe they have 80 hours of work, thats ~1600€ per month. sounds good, but he needs to pay healt-insurance (250€), business-costs (150€), so after these costs he only have a little of 1200€. (and for this he need to pay tax at the end of the year). i told him, he needs to increase the hourly, he tried with new customers, but they dont want to pay 35-40€. so its not easy to calculate your hourly.

  • and at least: i think its way easier to calculate $$$ in projects-sizes not based on hourlys. obvious i would do an hour easy work (as writing textes, cause the customer is lazy) for less then if i would making some tests.


There is an other way to think out your hourly (at least in my head):

under expenses come: what if i did an other job (difference) ? And costs in way of living, (10$ coffee per hour 0.10$ living in house)

under income come: How much would you pay to do the job (minus is possible to). Last thing calculates the hearthcosts.

this way you can make a table and figure out the best option or price you ask.

But as the pro above me said: Calculating in projectsizes is way easier

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