How Much Developers Make Per City, and Tech Stacks (Infographic)

Manuel Medina · October 25, 2012

The infographic below was produced by Killer Infographics, a Seattle based infographic design studio. You can find them on twitter at @TopInfographics.

An illustration of three developers, referencing the infographicBack in August, we analyzed data from 3K developers and over 150 transactions submitted to the GroupTalent marketplace looking for patterns on pricing, type and location of projects, choice of tech-stack, and overall trends in the marketplace for software freelancing.

All developers considered on this analysis are based in the US and include a healthy mix of full-time contractors, freelancers, moonlighters, and devs in-between gigs. You can see a number of their developer and designer profiles here in our gallery.

Why do we do this?

We hope to give guidance to developers and project owners about prices, hourly rates, and tech stacks. Everyone looking to get software made and making software in the US benefits from knowing rough costs of hiring developers in their city and what kind of technology choices to expect.

We also hope to give developers another set of data points when coming up with estimates for projects and for employers to know what price ranges are appropriate.

A Few Surprises

New York - The cheapest place to hire a freelance developer, and has seen more growth in both projects looking for freelance devs and developers signing up for freelance work.

San Francisco - Has a larger distribution of junior and senior developers, and on average has cheaper developers than Seattle!

Los Angeles The most expensive locality to hire a developer from, which does not bode well for their nascent startup scene.

Edit: We have seen some confusion that the data below is representative of the industry as a whole, when in fact we meant it to be representative of the developers using GroupTalent as of July. The image below has been adjusted to remove some confusing data.

An infographic showing software developer rates per city and skill set

Other Observations

Tech Stacks - 1/3 of all projects are mobile. Ruby and PHP remain the main back-end platforms for development - Python is a distant third. Javascript as the dominant tech for front end web.

Salary - As a developer in US you would make an average salary of $93K per year. Annualizing your average hourly rate as junior freelancer that number goes up to $209K! Clearly not apples to apples, but still a staggering difference not accounted for benefits, etc.

Benefits - Employers benefit from having a freelancer by not having to carry someone FT for a year when all you need is an app that could easily be done for $20-40K (vs having that dev at $93K+ benefits etc.)

Seniority - Senior devs are much pricier but also are better at managing themselves and others and managing expectations with clients. They are not particularly better at estimating but they are rigorous about following a process to get to a number. Junior devs tend to come from senior dev positions at tech companies – very talented but not married to a process and with opportunity for improvement in managing expectations.


This work is by no means definitive and obviously skewed towards open source technical stacks by the nascent nature of GroupTalent as a marketplace. That said, based on our conversations with projects owners and developers transacting outside of GroupTalent, these observations are a reflection of the broader marketplace for freelance software development and new apps in general.

Finally, the aim of this report is not to stereotype but to illustrate trends based on transaction data and segmentations we believe employers and developers understand. The standard distribution in some of these assertions is sometimes quite broad and deeper dive is required to explain all cases.

The Future

We expect that more mobile projects and mobile devs and designers in the US will go up in price. At the moment there is a fair bit of mobile project outsourcing to cheaper countries – as mobile becomes the primary experience – the tide will return to getting mobile projects done in country (ie US). Dominance of JavaScript as a mobile web alternative and back-end with Node.js.

Agree/disagree? Let us know what you think below – or tell us what you would like to see on future analysis.

You can also follow the conversation on HackerNews or Reddit.

comments powered by Disqus

What We Do

GroupTalent is a platform that connects developers and designers with open positions that fit their skills, education and hiring criteria.