New Report: For Freelance Engineers or Designers, San Francisco Offers Highest Compensation

Viacheslav Iakobchuk/Adobe Stock

If you’re an engineer or designer thinking about going freelance, San Francisco is the place to be, with average hourly rates of $105 and $85 respectively, according to a recent report from Hired, a San Francisco-based tech-centric talent platform.

For this report, Hired looked at its own data on contractor workers in the U.S. and the U.K. who used the talent platform. In 2016, this translated to more than 175,000 interview requests and job offers. San Francisco aside, Washington D.C. and Seattle also offer excellent average hourly rates for engineers, and Los Angeles and Boston for designers. You can see statistics for more cities in the chart below:

Source: Hired

It’s perhaps not surprising that engineering skills are in high demand both in the U.S. and the U.K. In the U.S., engineering managers command an hourly rate of $118. Hourly rates for mobile, full stack and backend engineers are in the $90-$100 range. In the U.K., hourly earnings for data, backend and full stack engineers are the $70–$80 range.

Spend Matters has covered the topic of contract (or contingent) work at length in the last few years, as more companies try to figure out a strategy regarding contingent labor and more workers themselves seek out freelance work.

This past summer, Spend Matters research director Andrew Karpie argued that strategic planning for contingent workforce and services procurement is now imperative. He wrote: “Digital technologies — and, more important, the solutions they make possible — are moving [contingent workforce and services] procurement into a future where the established paradigm, structure and processes will be changing in significant ways — at least for some organizations, which will then likely be regarded as best-in-class.”

The trend toward contract work overwhelmingly rewards those who can command a higher fee, such as tech workers. Hired noted that many full-time tech employees work overtime without extra compensation, whereas they would get paid for every hour if they worked on a contractor basis.

Source: Hired

On Hired’s platform, 1099 contractors working 40-hour weeks are paid $147,680 a year on average, compared with $122,762 for W-2 employees. Naturally, some would prefer the stability and traditional benefits of a full-time job, but for high-paid professionals who don’t mind being on the lookout for the next gig, the financial rewards can be impressive.

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