Hourly contract rate for SQL in the UK?
November 23, 2013 8:29 AM   Subscribe

I'm an American in the UK and have been hired to do some freelance work for a tech company in Northern England. I'm not sure what to charge for my hourly rate. I am working in SQL, writing queries and turning them into data visualizations for the web (using Ruby and Javascript/HTML). I am very junior, although quite competent at SQL; I'm coming up (and quickly) in the other areas.

I am a senior graphic designer and extremely competent in the design/layout side of things, but those skills are not required here. I only mention it because I had been doing freelance work in the States for ~15 years and so there is some crossover with understanding workflows, computers, freelancing, etc. I just don't know how the rates and this new skill set I'm acquiring translate and add up to an appropriate hourly rate here. What is the range I should be thinking about? I want to make sure I'm not selling myself short, but also not asking for something overinflated and ridiculous for my competence level; I've done some internet searching but I can't seem to figure out where the upper and lower limits are. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (3 answers total)
I can't speak for hourly rates, but I know that annual salaries for developers in the Northeast of England are mind-bogglingly low, not only by US standards, but by London standards as well.

If the US rate for this were $100/hr (which I'm just making up, I've never worked contract), the equivalent, based on annual salaries, in my experience, for the Northeast would be about £30/hr.

Again, I'm pulling these figures out of my rear, and basing the math on what I know about annual salaries. I could be *way* off.
posted by colin_l at 8:50 AM on November 23, 2013

I think you'll find london salaries bear little resemblance to the rest of the country not just the north east. Cost of living is considerably lower outside of London.

Freelance rates vary massively, in all honesty, it really comes down to what your client is willing to pay. Depending on the type of company they may not want to pay more than £10 for a very junior person but I wouldn't take less than £15. £20-25 would be better. Upper limit could be in excess of £100 but that isn't typical and definitely not for someone inexperienced.
posted by missmagenta at 9:02 AM on November 23, 2013

Get a comprehensive understanding on what the deliverables will be when the project is "done" - are you going to get to a point to where you're relieved to feel that your work is complete and you've tidied up and polished all the loose ends on your task list, you present it to them, and they say "Where's the documentation?" (Depending on what they're expecting, documentation can easily take longer to produce than the actual development work does.) What kind of ongoing support will you be obligated to give them - will they be calling you three years from now when they upgrade their SQL server software and something in your application breaks, or it's hard to use with the CEO's latest version of Google Glass?

Their interest is to offload as much business risk onto you as possible by getting you to make open-ended promises that make every forseeable problem into your problem. Your interest, unless you're actually making enough money to live off of after paying expenses and taxes, etc., is to limit the scope of the project as far as you can (or maybe break it up into milestones and pieces that you can concentrate on and get paid for separately), properly set your client's expectations to what you're going to deliver, and generally arrange things so that you can know when you're done and can confidently move on to the next project while the client can feel there's a tangible value they've gotten from you.

Being able to plan like this and coordinate with your client is usually the most important skill for successful freelancing in my experience, even more important than technical skills. Even if you're just doing this to learn and develop your skills, you'll learn more if it doesn't snowball into a stress-inducing clusterfuck.

If you're committed to seeing the project through for your client and you have a shared understanding of what you'll be doing, your level of skill doesn't really matter that much. If you're new to freelancing and haven't seen how much money sloshes around when companies contract work out and don't have the HR costs and complexities involved in using their own employees to do something internally, the actual business value of your services - and the other things you're providing, like serving as a potential body to throw under the bus if something goes wrong, which can happen on their end even if you do your job well - is probably several multiples of even the most generous honest estimates you would make appraising your own skills.

Also, I'd personally say that if they really are willing to just send you a paycheck periodically based on an hourly rate and timesheets then you probably aren't charging enough by far, but even if that's the arrangement you shouldn't be calibrating it based on what a regular employee would make hourly - you're providing much more than a regular employee. You should charge at a minimum based on how much a temp agency would make for furnishing a worker on demand with the skills necessary to accomplish this task, which is going to be substantially more than the temp herself or himself would be paid hourly. (And there are often large fixed fees paid to the agencies you should account for.)
posted by XMLicious at 10:26 AM on November 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

« Older What to do with my life?   |   Advice for Massachusetts Road Test Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.