Pay rates for Rails developers


#1

Does anyone have an idea of the rates being charged by Rails developers
(or salaries for FTEs)?

I’m curious to see whether rates will become comparable to those paid to
more experienced Java/.NET developer types, or if rates will be lowered
by the free/open source mentality, and the possible perception that
Rails makes Web development “easy.”

Sometimes rates are more dependent upon the client than the technology
(i.e., smaller clients typically can’t afford higher rates), but the
platform is also a factor.


#2

Mike <no@…> writes:

(i.e., smaller clients typically can’t afford higher rates), but the
platform is also a factor.

From my limited personal experience and from knowledge of a couple other railers
in the area, we’re seeing typical rates between $30-50/hr for
contracting here
in Central Florida. I don’t know about salaries. We have discussed some
of the
same concerns… fighting the open-source mentality and the notion that
rails is
“easy”. Rails is definitely more productive, but to me that means rails
is of
high value. I can offer better code, more features and easier
maintenance in
less time, so my actual value per hour should be higher, right?


#3

At 1/18/2006 09:33 AM, you wrote:

that rails is
“easy”. Rails is definitely more productive, but to me that means rails is of
high value. I can offer better code, more features and easier maintenance in
less time, so my actual value per hour should be higher, right?

I suppose you’ve all read this post:
http://www.relevancellc.com/blogs/?p=92

I have no problem quoting the same rate for Rails work as for any
other (but the client is getting more value/hr with Rails :wink:

-Rob


#4

On 18.1.2006, at 16.16, Mike wrote:

Does anyone have an idea of the rates being charged by Rails
developers
(or salaries for FTEs)?

I’m curious to see whether rates will become comparable to those
paid to
more experienced Java/.NET developer types,

I think if something the hourly rates should be higher. If the client
is paying by the hour and gets the same system made much sooner,
they’ll save both time and money, even if they pay, say, 25% higher
rates.

Being a Rails developer does not mean being an inexperienced
developer, quite the contrary. Most of the early Rails developers
have been using a wide set of tools and languages before and come to
Rails because they weren’t satisfied with what they had. That alone
shows a certain level of pragmatism that you would want to see in a
programmer you hire.

or if rates will be lowered
by the free/open source mentality, and the possible perception that
Rails makes Web development “easy.”

I think this is a very dangerous way of thinking. Being open source
doesn’t devalue the work done. Nothing can make web development
“easy”, because it is inherently a demanding and multifaceted task no
matter what framework/language combination is used. What Rails does
is it makes more of the work done contribute to the end product (as
opposed to circumvent language quirks), and gives more pleasure to
the programmer (totally subjective opinion). Therefore, an hour spent
on Rails is IMHO much more valuable to the client than an hour spent
on most other frameworks.

That said, I think the rate depends heavily on the level of the
programmer. If you want top-notch, be prepared to pay top salaries.
There is probably going to be shortage of good Rails developers as
it’s reaching the tipping point, and people aren’t going to work on
slave salaries anymore just to get to work on the framework they love.

The great thing about open source is that you can immediately check
what a given programmer has done for the product and the community.
Just check the patch lists, discussions and blogs.

//jarkko


#5

My 0.02 cents…

I think we are shooting ourselves in the foot with Ruby. This is a great
language, simplies development; we no longer need smart programmers (no
pun intended) to develop in Ruby as compared to c++ or J2EE. As history
shows, the easier the tool, the cost will be down since too many people
will jump on to the bandwagon. This is the reason that the VB
programmers are getting paid less than J2EE programmers.

-comments are welcome.


#6

Great replies. Thanks!

Jason: That rate doesn’t sound too bad for Central Florida (not like I
know the market or anything!).

Rob: Yeah, that’s a good link and I hope others will continue to write
about this topic. I plan to but I’m not there yet–my goal is to limit
or leave behind the other platforms.

Jarkko: I agree and hope the market will, too. :wink:

Higher rates usually come with bigger clients, who are slower to adopt
new technologies. So it seems like the projects out there right now are
more cutting-edge and with smaller companies who typically don’t pay as
well, partly because of size and partly because they can take advantage
of the fact that Rails is the cool, new technology (as Jarkko
mentioned).


#7

Conclusion:

Learn Haskell, and develop your applications with it. Really concise
programs that can be developed fast, and the non-smart programmers will
not be able to grok it :wink:

Rails does make things easier, so make sure you get paid per project,
and not per hour. :slight_smile:


#8

That was an excellent suggestion…–>

Rails does make things easier, so make sure you get paid per project,
and not per hour. :slight_smile:


#9

I wrote an article which fixed-bid work with Rails in order to best
leverage the time/value proposition. Clients have an expectation of
how long it will take to do a given amount of scope… charge them
based on that expectation then deliver early (and/or) overdeliver
based on the productivity benefits of working with Rails… Reap
massive profits.

Read more at http://jroller.com/page/obie?entry=productivity_arbitrage

Obie


#10

On Wed, Jan 18, 2006 at 05:30:16PM +0100, thila thila wrote:

That was an excellent suggestion…–>

Rails does make things easier, so make sure you get paid per project,
and not per hour. :slight_smile:

I would disagree. In my experience fixed price contracts tend to be a
pain. If the project would take you X hours to do in Java and X/2 hours
to do in Rails then you need to adjust the hourly rate accordingly.
There is value in rapid delivery and if you can deliver a quality
product quickly then you should be compensated accordingly.

I also do not agree with the previous statement “we no longer need smart
programmers […] to develop in Ruby”. This is the part of the “rails
is easy!” spiel that I really dislike. I’m not aware of any tool that
will convert a non-programmer (or inexperienced programmer) into someone
able to pull down $100+/hr for a project. Overall experience is more
valuable than specific tool experience. To paraphrase something Jason
Fried said, it’s not easy, but Rails makes it easier (for experienced
developers). Sure you can find someone to throw together a PHP site for
$20/hr but in my experience those projects either fail or are eventually
replaced with something done by someone with more experience (and for a
lot more money).

As Jarkko indicated, top notch Rails developers are bringing in top
rates/salaries. I won’t post my rates on the list, but I can say that
the earlier stated $30-$50/hr is a bit low. There is certainly no
shortage of Rails work right now. It is exciting times. Good luck to
everyone endeavoring professionally in Rails!

-Scott


#11

Obie F. wrote:

I wrote an article which fixed-bid work with Rails in order to best
leverage the time/value proposition. Clients have an expectation of
how long it will take to do a given amount of scope… charge them
based on that expectation then deliver early (and/or) overdeliver
based on the productivity benefits of working with Rails… Reap
massive profits.

Read more at http://jroller.com/page/obie?entry=productivity_arbitrage

Obie

I haven’t done much Rails contracting,but as a general rule:

Know thyself: ie; your proficieny in the toolset
Know thy enemy: Scope creep is your enemy
Know thy friend: These would be Scope/Deliverables clauses in the
contract.

Its almost habitual for clients to demand more on a fixed bid contract
if you haven’t concretely defined deliverables and you deliver ‘early’
hoping you can take the ‘profits’ home.

Rails may make delivering projects easier, but ask yourself: Can I
deliver this project with this scope in this amount of time. Cover
your bases with concrete devliverables/scope clauses SIGNED by the
client project stake holders.

Doing fixed bid contracts is mastered by very few people/companies (I’m
not one of them, but I’ve been burned by deals other ppl did – read
sales team vs. delivery team in a big 5 consulting context).

It would be good if there was some kind of a rates list though, right
now it seems like nobody wants to share what they’re making and this may
cause some people to undersell their talent.

-Amr


#12

-comments are welcome.

You get what you pay for.

Code is language: Ruby is “easy” so it’s easier to sentence write
backwards understand so no one can. It’s also a good tool for writing
coherent, concise sentences.

J2EE ensures additional extraneous repetitive extra language
communication concepts utilizing ridiculously comically complex
language communications conventions in addition to (one times ten
times one hundred)s of java programming language lines statements of
configuration descriptions values.

So: should I underpay an idiot to write me unintelligible ruby with
simple constructs, or should I overpay an idiot to write
unintelligible J2EE with complex constructs?

Neither. I should pay good money to very smart people I respect to
write clear, functional, self documenting sentences in a language
that helps them do so: ruby. Good code will always cost money,
because you need smart people to write good code.

:slight_smile:

_a


alex black, founder
the turing studio, inc.

510.666.0074
removed_email_address@domain.invalid
http://www.turingstudio.com

2600 10th street, suite 635
berkeley, ca 94710


#13

excellent point. that’s been my biggest disappointment with ruby,
really. it
may be a smart language, but it doesn’t seem to have made me any smarter
:slight_smile:


John McGrath
http://fryolator.com


#14

On 1/18/06, thila thila removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

Rails mailing list
removed_email_address@domain.invalid
http://lists.rubyonrails.org/mailman/listinfo/rails

This is a really bad suggestion unless you’ve done several rails
projects,
are doing similar projects, have very clear requirements and a customer
that
isn’t adverse to change orders when they change the requirements.


#15

The problem of “scope creep” is just one of the problems
with fixed-price contracts. Unless the contract is bid
so high that minor variations can be ignored, the client
and developer will find themselves arguing over details
when they should be trying to find the best solution.

So, my personal practice is to (a) set a fixed hourly
rate and (b) make very frequent (e.g., weekly) progress
reports. This ensures that the project doesn’t spin off
into the weeds (on the client’s dime), but gives enough
freedom to select and implement the appropriate solution.

The use of Agile Development practices (IMHO) makes it
even more important to have this freedom.

-r

Technical editing and writing, programming, and web development:
http://www.cfcl.com/rdm/resume

Contact information: removed_email_address@domain.invalid, +1 650-873-7841


#16

I know to a certain extent the answer to my question is “whatever
clients will pay” or “whatever the market will bear.”

That’s true when dealing with end clients. I wonder what subcontractors
are making, since some of the consumers of Rails development services
are part of the community here.


#17

I don’t believe I’m being paid for the lines of code I write. I’m being
paid to:

  1. Design the best solution that most closely fits the client’s needs
  2. Create robust, extensible, testable systems that perform to the
    client’s specs
  3. Do so in a timely manner

My clients don’t care if I code in assembly language. They trust me to
pick the best combination of platform and technology, development tools,
and related technologies (i.e. source code control, deployment).

Does anyone really feel they are being paid less because they are using
Ruby or Rails? I find I am implementing more and cooler features and
having more fun with it. I have happier clients. They are having fun
with it. Happier clients tell other people who then become happy
clients.

I agree with the poster who said charge your usual rates. What you bring
to the table is your intellect, your design skill, and your unique
knowledge of the available technologies. You use these to do far more
than cut code.

Anyhow, if you finish early, sign up the next client :slight_smile:

Just my $.02

Mike wrote:

Does anyone have an idea of the rates being charged by Rails developers
(or salaries for FTEs)?

I’m curious to see whether rates will become comparable to those paid to
more experienced Java/.NET developer types, or if rates will be lowered
by the free/open source mentality, and the possible perception that
Rails makes Web development “easy.”

Sometimes rates are more dependent upon the client than the technology
(i.e., smaller clients typically can’t afford higher rates), but the
platform is also a factor.


#18

Alright, I’ll open the bidding, by saying what I am charging. I am
British but live in Canada. I have asked for and receive $100 / hour
for my coding. That said, two factors and one additional piece of
information.

  1. I am a smart person (well, my mother assures me this is so). So I
    am comfortable charging reasonably for my skills. I don’t feel I am
    smart until I bump into other people, usually MBAs talking junk, then
    I am reminded that I am. So each time someone gets an MBA it helps my
    income. I think that is cute.

  2. I have good programming skills but am still at the beginning of my
    ruby skills. I expect to increase my rate as my skills grow.

  3. The other factor is that I don’t charge for my learning time. The
    other day I got stuck 3 times in six hours. Truthfully I got one hour
    of work done and spent 5 on my education. And being truthful I
    charged for one hour. Now that sucks. But whose fault is my
    incompetence? The Clients? I think not. So I charge for coding time
    not learning time. I think that is fair and the only decent thing to
    do.

  4. I believe fixed charge contracts are a very good idea but I have
    seen “scope creep”. I think fixed charge contracts are like playing
    Golf. If you suck at Golf you aren’t going to have a lot of fun.
    Fixed cost contract negotiations are a skill. Try not to execute
    things that require more skill than you have.

That is my two cents worth.

Bruce

PS. I think people sometimes miss the point about clients. There are
MANY things clients want and need from programmers. Code is only one
of them. There is honesty, of course, there is ideas, there is human
interface skills, there is a joyful interaction between human
beings. I think a person who sells him/herself as a coder is selling
him/herself short. You are there to provide a solution. I recently
had an accountant try to overcharge me 4x for his work. Another
accountant who deliberately did not disclose to me her rate of $350 /
hour when she knew I had made the assumption it was less. I had a
programmer a couple of years ago tell me three times that three
different projects would take one quarter of the time they did. My
philosophy on life is simple, be honest, be wonderful then when you
charge what you are worth, you’ll be happy with the paycheck.


#19

I am British but live in Canada. I have asked for and receive $100 /
hour

So would that be CAD$100/hr ?


#20

On Jan 18, 2006, at 4:25 PM, Bruce B. wrote:

  1. The other factor is that I don’t charge for my learning time.
    The other day I got stuck 3 times in six hours. Truthfully I got
    one hour of work done and spent 5 on my education. And being
    truthful I charged for one hour. Now that sucks. But whose fault
    is my incompetence? The Clients? I think not. So I charge for
    coding time not learning time. I think that is fair and the only
    decent thing to do.

This is a very decent thing to do, but I think it might lead you to
the poor house.

The problem with your model is that it assumes that you’ll someday
reach a level where you know it all, and can charge for everything
you do. Of course, if your effective rate for the 6 hour span you
discuss above ($16.67/hr) covers your needs, then everything is OK.

That said, the real problem with not charging for your education is
that more and more (and I mean literally day by day) it’s clear that
there’s new stuff to learn EVERY DAY.

This is particularly rough right now in Rails, as the core team is
moving quickly, and the framework is not yet mature (not a derogatory
remark!). Because of this, it would be easy to say that things will
get better. However, having recently read Ray Kurzweil’s excellent
“The Singularity is Near”, and looking over my shoulder at the last
few years, I’m pretty clear that the prime challenge of the next 20
years will be keeping up with the fantastic rate of change that is
inevitable.

IMHO, we’d better learn to charge for learning new stuff, or we’ll
all be paupers. :slight_smile:


– Tom M.