How much am I worth?
June 28, 2006 12:06 AM   Subscribe

Please help me figure out how much to charge for two potential jobs! (Both are database related)

I have just finished my MBA, and have a bachelors in Psychology. I discovered in grad school that I have a knack for and a nerdy interest in databases but have no relevant work experience in the area. I live in New Orleans and the job market here is...umm...crappy, so I'm still a "professional babysitter" for the forseeable future.

That said, I have two potential (unrelated) projects coming up, and I was hoping that the Hive Mind could help me determine appropriate compensation.

The first is a one-time project for a professor, taking existing Excel data and turning it into a relational database. Also creating appropriate forms and reports. Probably MySQL/PHP, but potentially Oracle/Access depending on the client's specific needs and the available servers. FWIW, the data has something to do with informatoin on 300 or so power plants in the state. Aparently the budget for the entire project is about $50k but most of that is being used for research. How the heck much do I charge? Should I charge a flat fee or hourly?

The second is a job that I'm applying for that asks to supply "salary requirements." Basicly the job is coordinating the data collection and entry for an existing database. It appears to be part managerial, part PR, part nerdwork. What the heck is an appropriate salary for this type of job?
posted by radioamy to Work & Money (8 answers total)
For the mysql/php: charge hourly, minimallly 25$ per hour. Professors are NOTORIOUS for changing their minds 100x during the project.
posted by beerbajay at 1:33 AM on June 28, 2006

I do a mix of commercial database dev work and academic database work. I charge a nominal Australian $60 per hour for commercial one off db work. I could charge more I suspect, but it's not my main source of income., I get salary or union negotiated casual rates (depending on the nature of the contract) for the academic work, which is a lot less but a lot more regular.

posted by singingfish at 2:50 AM on June 28, 2006

No relevant experience? Then, whatever they'll pay you. Personal/private experience with the various tools is always good (you can break more on a personal system and thus learn more when you have to fix it), but it's no substitute for practical experience in a production environment. I were desperate, read: all of the DBAs in the world had suddenly disappeared, I might pay you minimum wage, but only after significant testing of your skillz.

I know, I'm being cruel, but the fact is there's more than enough amateurs in the IT field these days trying to pass themselves off as professionals. We don't need anymore. Ask yourself this: I have a knack for and a nerdly interest in Psychology, what would you pay me to be your counselor?
posted by Spoonman at 6:13 AM on June 28, 2006

A better analogy would be: I have a knack for and a nerdy interest in carpentry, would you pay me to remodel your bathroom.
posted by malp at 8:36 AM on June 28, 2006

whatever they'll pay you
Well the guy asked me how much I'd charge...

I realize I'm not going to be commanding top-dollar here, I just am trying to get an idea of what is appropriate.

Oh and FWIW the salaried position is with a local weekly ad-supported music magazine.
posted by radioamy at 9:46 AM on June 28, 2006

Do you really have the knowledge necessary to normalize a flat file properly?

You don't seem to have enough facts (or likely the personal experience) to be able to quote a fixed rate for this job. 'Excel data' might mean 1 huge spreadsheet, a workbook with hundreds of pages or hundreds of Excel files. "Something to do with informatoin on 300 or so power plants in the state" could mean anything.

$25 a hour - as proposed above - is insanely low. Contract work requires you to pay all the SSI withholding yourself, provides no benefits and no continuing employment past the second you're done. You should be charging 2x - at minimum - what a salaried employee would be paid for work like this. Even in the university system that would be 40k annual, so a pro would be asking $80 an hour.

Which, by the way, is why they're talking to you.

All that said, spoonman is right. No experience and need work? Take what they will give you. If you quote a flat rate for a week's work and it turns into 3, will that be catastrophic for you? If not, and you're interested in going in this direction professionally and this might turn into more referals/work, be willing to take a salary equal to what you'd have to do alternately (say, temping).
posted by phearlez at 10:17 AM on June 28, 2006

Yeah, I agree with phearlez. If you know what the Boyce-Codd Normal Form is, then I'd charge $50hr+ and then ask them if they know what it is if they balk.

If not, charge $20/hr and be happy to get it.
posted by ChasFile at 1:59 PM on June 28, 2006

I've never been a DBA or anything but I took a pretty intense database class and I know all about the different normal forms and how to normalize and all that. I've seen the data, it's one spreadsheet with 300 rows and maybe 50 columns, and it looks manageable, the only reason I was a little vague on the actual content of it is that I am not very familiar with the energy industry.
posted by radioamy at 5:22 PM on June 28, 2006

« Older Can I get in trouble for reporting security issues...   |   TB? To test or not? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.