Forum: Ruby on Rails Pay rates for Rails developers

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17a97e09a1b23bc733ae22880a961b59?d=identicon&s=25 Mike (Guest)
on 2006-01-18 15:16
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.
Abdf9626d4bdacbe16703056e37215d5?d=identicon&s=25 Jason Cartwright (Guest)
on 2006-01-18 16:11
(Received via mailing list)
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?
Ef3aa7f7e577ea8cd620462724ddf73b?d=identicon&s=25 Rob Biedenharn (Guest)
on 2006-01-18 16:17
(Received via mailing list)
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 ;-)

-Rob
82476266af9d460415d8f1fc16bb54ed?d=identicon&s=25 Jarkko Laine (jarkko)
on 2006-01-18 16:20
(Received via mailing list)
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
17a97e09a1b23bc733ae22880a961b59?d=identicon&s=25 Mike (Guest)
on 2006-01-18 17:01
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. ;)

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).
E694f7385e797af01c1b67366d5843a0?d=identicon&s=25 Thila Thila (thila)
on 2006-01-18 17:19
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.
71f1b6b2c3fd9af2e8c52618fb91caa6?d=identicon&s=25 Jules Jacobs (jules)
on 2006-01-18 17:28
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 ;-)

Rails does make things easier, so make sure you get paid per project,
and not per hour. :)
E694f7385e797af01c1b67366d5843a0?d=identicon&s=25 Thila Thila (thila)
on 2006-01-18 17:30
That was an excellent suggestion....-->

> Rails does make things easier, so make sure you get paid per project,
> and not per hour. :)
D61a2db96e73acf66b0b18688a39ecfb?d=identicon&s=25 Obie Fernandez (Guest)
on 2006-01-18 17:33
(Received via mailing list)
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
6993d6b4b6d882f421e1b45ac147f3e0?d=identicon&s=25 Scott Barron (Guest)
on 2006-01-18 19:03
(Received via mailing list)
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. :)

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 eas*ier* (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
D23f436b8e718e80f447712cdac67083?d=identicon&s=25 Amr Malik (Guest)
on 2006-01-18 20:45
Obie Fernandez 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
902654bac6dff9567f018bd2ed933151?d=identicon&s=25 Nicholas Van Weerdenburg (Guest)
on 2006-01-18 20:52
(Received via mailing list)
On 1/18/06, thila thila <isputnik_98@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Rails mailing list
> Rails@lists.rubyonrails.org
> 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.
6428d29c7496755e8ada0172c612b951?d=identicon&s=25 alex black (Guest)
on 2006-01-18 21:01
(Received via mailing list)
>
> -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.

:)

_a



--
alex black, founder
the turing studio, inc.

510.666.0074
root@turingstudio.com
http://www.turingstudio.com

2600 10th street, suite 635
berkeley, ca 94710
Ac31d0d6453b50ad6fdfe16742273424?d=identicon&s=25 John McGrath (Guest)
on 2006-01-18 21:13
(Received via mailing list)
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
:-)

_______________________________________________

John McGrath
http://fryolator.com
Ef0db53920b243d6758c2f6b1306df0d?d=identicon&s=25 Steve Ross (cwd)
on 2006-01-18 22:20
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 :)

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.
D4d28bd014f9e7324bad99dcc3b0d390?d=identicon&s=25 Rich Morin (Guest)
on 2006-01-18 22:44
(Received via mailing list)
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: rdm@cfcl.com, +1 650-873-7841
17a97e09a1b23bc733ae22880a961b59?d=identicon&s=25 Mike (Guest)
on 2006-01-18 22:58
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.
2dd904ec5981c31e7bb7a5743a53caf8?d=identicon&s=25 Bruce Balmer (brucebalmer)
on 2006-01-18 23:02
(Received via mailing list)
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.
648805ae18e92b7c71e46f3caa23ddc8?d=identicon&s=25 Ed C. (Guest)
on 2006-01-18 23:17
(Received via mailing list)
>>  I am British but live in Canada.  I have asked for and receive $100 /
hour

So would that be CAD$100/hr ?
59de94a56fd2c198f33d9515d1c05961?d=identicon&s=25 Tom Mornini (Guest)
on 2006-01-19 03:34
(Received via mailing list)
On Jan 18, 2006, at 4:25 PM, Bruce Balmer wrote:

> 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.

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. :-)

--
-- Tom Mornini
59de94a56fd2c198f33d9515d1c05961?d=identicon&s=25 Tom Mornini (Guest)
on 2006-01-19 03:37
(Received via mailing list)
On Jan 18, 2006, at 4:20 PM, Steve Ross wrote:

> 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

Absolutely!

> 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).

Mine too.

> 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.

Well, I'll say this. From my perspective a majority of people that are
looking for Rails programmers right now aren't willing to pay top
dollar.
It seems that the excitement of the quick development cycle has
magically
transformed itself into a "Rails is Cheaper" mentality right now.

> 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 :)

We're in total agreement. The key is getting the right client, rather
than having them find you...and isn't that really always the case?

--
-- Tom Mornini
Ccaa63b09f5168501b194266b9a1e7cc?d=identicon&s=25 Scott Willson (Guest)
on 2006-01-19 04:10
(Received via mailing list)
On Jan 18, 2006, at 1:05 PM, Rich Morin wrote:

> freedom to select and implement the appropriate solution.
I agree. An even better (b) is: make very frequent progress -- end of
story. Deploy new, usable functionality to the client every few
weeks. Make it clear from the start of the project that the client
can walk away at any point with a working product. If a client sees
continual return on their investment, they will feel that they are in
control (they ARE in control) and be glad to continue to invest in
your work.

Scott
6661ef9d747db3af8896cd94959d717d?d=identicon&s=25 Paul Barry (Guest)
on 2006-01-19 04:13
(Received via mailing list)
Progress is good, but how can you tell if you are making enough progress
to
be ready to "go live" with the product by date X?
8dad1ec4d769734583f45fbbee5cd009?d=identicon&s=25 Jeff Pritchard (jeffpritchard)
on 2006-01-19 04:50
bruce balmer wrote:
> 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.

I find this thread fascinating, not so much because it is ruby flavored,
but because it has renewed my hope of returning to contract programming.
I was considering doing just that a few months back and looked at some
of the online contract bidding sites like Elance.com and was absolutely
appalled by what people were bidding for large projects.

It seemed from that small bit of research that people in developing
countries were flooding the market with bids that seem insanely low to
someone from the U.S.  I simply couldn't live on what people were
bidding for projects there.  Basically like $5/hr or even less!

Are there better places to look for projects that will pull "normal"
programmer rates?  I just figured that the world had changed (for the
worse) during the seven or eight years I was away from this game.  Where
would you go to look for people willing to pay a seasoned
programmer/engineer $50/hr or more for contract software work (rails or
otherwise)?

thanks,
jp
Ccaa63b09f5168501b194266b9a1e7cc?d=identicon&s=25 Scott Willson (Guest)
on 2006-01-19 04:58
(Received via mailing list)
Well, it's more art than science. If you've got the coding experience
to tackle the project, you have the experience to estimate it.

"Go live by date X." Say that's five months from now. From the
requirements and your experience, you should be able to say that it's
probably a one-, three-, six-, or twelve-month project.

Make your best guess. Spend your energy defining early deliverables
(creative thinking required here). Present your proposal and yourself
professionally. If you think the client's goals are unrealistic, tell
them why. Help them with alternatives.

Once you get started on the project -- unless it's different than
every other project I've worked on -- the product, the date, and the
user audience will change. This is a good thing. Better to find out
at the beginning and demonstrate your flexibility and skill, then to
find out two angry weeks before launch. It's very, very hard to
precisely estimate and plan long-term software projects. It's much
easier to tackle small parts of a big project and build a
relationship with the client.

Now, as I type all these nice generalities, I can think of many
specific problems. I am sure you can, too! At least with early
deliveries, you discover the problems early when they are cheaper to
fix.

Scott
2dd904ec5981c31e7bb7a5743a53caf8?d=identicon&s=25 Bruce Balmer (brucebalmer)
on 2006-01-19 07:26
(Received via mailing list)
Yes.
2dd904ec5981c31e7bb7a5743a53caf8?d=identicon&s=25 Bruce Balmer (brucebalmer)
on 2006-01-19 07:56
(Received via mailing list)
Let me just reply to the person who thinks I may be in the poor house
if I don't charge for learning time.

It was an exceptional event.

bruce
Af9447156f5c756806f1c0a0444c1ff6?d=identicon&s=25 Andrew Semprebon (Guest)
on 2006-01-19 14:50
(Received via mailing list)
Unfortunately, if you have to ask where to find those jobs, you probably
won't be able to get them. In my experience, clients are only willing to
pay
a good rate (lets say $80+ per hour) for people they actually know will
be
good. How do they know? From previous experiences, or recommendations
from
other contractors they know. That's how I've gotten all of my contract
positions.
17a97e09a1b23bc733ae22880a961b59?d=identicon&s=25 Mike (Guest)
on 2006-01-19 15:40
My answer is similar to Andrew's: my current rate using one of The Other
Technologies is in that range, but I'm working for an old co-worker who
founded his own company.

I think that's one benefit of working full-time--you get to know people
in your community and if they like working with you (talent is often of
lesser importance), sooner or later your phone's going to ring.

So I'm a subcontractor, and that's why I'm curious about subcontractor
rates. End-user clients may not care about the technology and your
earnings are largely based on what they can afford, but I believe the
situation is somewhat different in the subcontractor world because
you're dealing with clients who are themselves developers.

BTW I'm impressed with the polite tone of the posts here. Where are all
the angry people? I hope the Ruby community's as nice as it seems. ;)
38a8230ed3d5c685558b4f0aad3fc74b?d=identicon&s=25 Joe Van Dyk (Guest)
on 2006-01-19 17:27
(Received via mailing list)
On 1/19/06, Mike <no@spam.com> wrote:
>
> BTW I'm impressed with the polite tone of the posts here. Where are all
> the angry people? I hope the Ruby community's as nice as it seems. ;)

When you use Rails, you see butterflies and rainbows everywhere.  It's
hard to stay angry in that environment.
54077fb03c95861af85880218cf7aef2?d=identicon&s=25 Gokhan Arli (sylow)
on 2006-01-19 18:44
In netherlands hourly rate for any project starts from 40 euro = around
50USD per hour  (lots of tax and social security payments we have here)

I plan to increase my rate to 50 euro when market here grows a little
bit more for rails.


Gokhan Arli
www.sylow.net
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