Are your rates in accordance with the services you are providing? Staying informed about the global and local rates, as well as fees depending on the industry, experience, education and other factors is crucial to keeping your business afloat. Consulting companies and freelancers alike should strive to be competitive and accessible to their target demographics while remaining profitable. Here is a list of average hourly rates for freelancers and consultants.
Keeping track of different variables
Many different factors impact global hourly rates, the most obvious ones being the industry you’re in and your location. However, these factors don’t exist in a vacuum. The impact each other as well. For example, labor-based (manual) work in general highly depends on available resources and the development of the country.
Knowledge-based positions will be more lucrative than labor-based ones in most cases (private contractors being an exception). A consultant’s hourly rate will always be higher than a factory worker’s wage. Yet, the hourly rates of a manual laborer in a developed country can come close to or even surpass the rates of a knowledge-based position in a less developed country. You can even observe these differences in different states or areas in the same country.
Education and skill level, as well as work experience also have an impact on hourly rates. Again, these variables impact one another and correlate to the previously mentioned ones. While education can help an individual get a boost at the start of their career, their further growth depends on the quality of the work they do (in other words, skill, and productivity level).
There is also the impact of gender. The idea of the pay gap between male and female employees seems like an outdated concept, and the general consensus in most workplaces is that it shouldn’t exist. However, employers pay male employees more, and higher positions in most companies are held by men as well.
Even though there are so many factors when it comes to working from home as a freelancer, many individuals decide that regulating their own billable hours and space of work, as well as profit margins they’ll make are more important than any hurdles they’ll face.
Variables not related to the employee
Our article wouldn’t be objective if we wouldn’t account for other factors. For example, you would need to pay attention to the difference between the nominal and real wages in any given country. This dissimilarity illustrates the impact of location as well as inflation on the financial state of employees. The nominal wage indicates the amount an employee earns, while the real wage shows what that pay can actually get them. in other words, the nominal wage can only stay the same if it reflects inflation.
If this doesn’t happen, and inflation diminishes the worth of the country’s currency, the prices will go up while the salaries remain the same. In other words, the worth of the currency is equally as important as the hourly wages.
Other, less prominent factors that impact average hourly rates include unemployment rates, IQ, race, academic track, family background, etc. The impact of these variables varies depending on the location.
Keeping this in mind, let us study the average hourly rates for freelancers and consultants on the global level.
Average hourly rates in the most popular industries for freelance work
As we have previously mentioned, the industry is one of the most important factors when it comes to fees (besides of the number of hours worked, of course). Since we are considering freelancers, we are going to focus on the most sought-after industries and professions that do freelance work. These are, in order of biggest to smallest average hourly rate:
- Law (average hourly rate is $45.30)
- Finances and accounting
- Medical field
- UI and design
- Marketing and sales
- Content writing and translating services
- Customer support and administration
Average hourly rate for legal freelancers
Freelancers in the legal field have the highest average hourly rates, ranging from $27 to $30. Tax lawyers have the highest fees, followed closely by legal consultants, legal contract managers, and paralegals. The lowest paying profession in this industry is fraud analyst. Yet, even their hourly rates ($27) are higher than the majority of highest-grossing professions in other fields. Finally, senior attorneys who opt for a freelancing career can earn up to $120 per hour in the US, attorneys can get their hourly fees up to £50 in the UK, and legal counselors make C$80.
Here are the average hourly rates for legal freelancers:
- Paralegal: $19.54
- Legal assistant: $16.86
- Associate attorney: $33.37
- General counsel: $52.40
- Attorney: $50.17
- Legal counsel: $45.32
- Law clerk: $16.15
- Staff attorney: $34.26
- Senior attorney: $120
- Corporate lawyer: $65
IT professionals are some of the most sought-after freelancers in the world. One of the most important reasons for their success is the fact that they can do all of their work from home, and companies have their choice of experts no matter their location. Lately, the intense competition and the high number of individuals willing to do more and get paid less (this is largely impacted by the freelancer’s location) have reduced the IT average hourly fees and made the job market more difficult to navigate. Yet, experienced software engineers, developers, and programmers still have an hourly fee of $58 and senior engineers make $63 per hour. Even the least paid professionals in the field – web developers and data managers make over $21 per hour.
The average hourly fees for IT experts:
- Software engineer: $36
- Senior software engineer: $63.29
- Software developer: $29.44
- Systems administrator: $24.23
- IT director: $29.79
- Software engineer (developer/programmer): $58
- Data scientist: $36.76
- Web developer: $21.50
- Software product manager: 38.50
- Network engineer: $30
- IT business analyst: $30.50
- Front end developer: $29
- IT specialist: $20.20
- IT consultant: $33
- Data engineer: $43.20
- Data manager: $21
- Java developer: $40.62
- Technical consultant: $34.75
Engineering average hourly rates
Engineering continues to be one of the most lucrative career options in the world. Freelancers in this field make $25 to $31 per hour depending on their specialty of work, with the highest hourly rates going up to $70. Telecommunications engineers have the highest average salary, while hardware engineers and product designers have somewhat lower hourly rates.
Here are the average hourly rates for engineers:
- Project engineer: $29
- Electrical engineer: $31.6
- Manufacturing engineer: $26
- Design engineer: $27
- Architectural designer: $23.65
- Industrial engineer: $25.50
- Average engineering project manager: $37.75
- Mechanical engineer manager: $41.70
Management hourly rates
More and more companies are turning to remote and freelance management positions. Project managers have an average hourly rate of $28. On the other hand, positions in HR and business management make $19 and $20 respectively, making them the least lucrative in the industry.
The average hourly rates for HR and recruitment are:
- HR manager: $21.75
- HR director: $23.30
- HR coordinator: $19.62
- HR administrator: $19.50
- Recruiter: $18.75
- Training and development manager: $24.40
- Benefits specialist: $19.80
- Payroll and benefits administrator: $21.16
- Payroll and benefits manager: $24.20
- Staffing manager: $ 17.40
- Job developer: $17.30
- Staffing recruiter: $15.40
- Outreach specialist: $17.30
Financial average hourly rates
Professionals in the financial field are also some of the higher-earning freelancers. Accountants make $20 per hour on average, while a financial corporate controller, which is the highest paying job in this field can earn $35.5. Freelance finance directors make the most in the UK, while senior tax analysts learn the most in Canada (£25 and C$55 respectively).
The average hourly rates in the financial field go as follows:
- Accountant: $20.85
- Financial analyst: $23.50
- Financial controller: $28
- Accounting manager: $24
- Finance manager: $21.5
- Corporate controller: $35.5
- Finance director: $27.75
- Financial advisor: $19.25
- Auditor: $18.1
- Tax accountant: $23.70
- Senior tax analyst: $16.32
- Financial manager: $22.30
- Tax associate: $20
- Internal auditor: $20
Healthcare practitioners and technical jobs average hourly fees
There are many medical and dental private practices that rely on the internet for advertisement, tracking time and patients, and finding new clients. The most lucrative professions in this field are dentist and pharmacist, with average hourly rates of $74 and $57.50. meanwhile, to compare, a public health dentist makes $20 less an hour than their private practice counterparts.
The average hourly rates in this industry are:
- Registered nurse: $30.50
- Physical therapist: $39.40
- Pharmacy technician: $14.66
- Dental hygienist: $35.25
- Staff nurse: $32.40
- Practice manager: $23.50
- Pharmacist: $57.50
- Veterinarian: $49.33
- Nursing manager: $38.75
- Dentist: $74
Design ad User Experience hourly rates
Similar to IT, the importance of user experience and design is one of the most popular industries for freelancers. The possibility to hire a talented individual from anywhere in the world helps many clients find highly talented individuals with portfolios that suit all their needs. Multimedia producers’ average hourly rates are $25, illustrators make about $20, and graphic and web designers have an hourly fee of $19 on average.
Marketing and sales average hourly rates
This is another freelancer-friendly industry, as a huge amount of marketing is both conceived, conceptualized, and realized online or over the phone. Additionally, the internet and especially social media are some of the most successful marketing channels for most businesses. Freelance social media managers make $16 per hour, SEO analysts average hourly rate is $19 and sales representatives’ fees are $25 per hour on average.
Here are the average hourly salaries by the profession:
- Marketing manager: $20
- Marketing director: $19.50
- Marketing coordinator: $19
- Business development manager: $19.90
- Senior marketing manager: $33.92
- Digital marketing manager: $20.25
- Social media manager: $16.50
- Business development director: $26.60
- Communications manager: $21.80
- Product marketing manager: $23
- Business director: $20.20
- Brand manager: $20.10
- Marketing project manager: $24.60
- Account director: $24.60
- Product development director: $22.75
- Content marketing manager: $20.30
- Category manager: $25.30
- Associate marketing manager: $24.75
Content writing and translating average fees
Content has become one of the most important pillars for businesses that advertise online or even simply run a website. This is true because websites score lower on search engines if they don’t update their content regularly. Lists, articles, blogs, multimedia – all can be outsourced to freelancers. The translation is another important part of business expansion, as well as expanding to other markets. Translator average hourly fee is $20, content writing and management pay around $18.5 per hour, and sales content creation has an hourly rate of $16
Customer support and administration average hourly fees
Customer support and administration (data entry, virtual and administrative assistants) are also very suitable for freelancers and remote employees, and many companies decide to outsource these positions entirely. The average hourly rates range from $13 to $16 depending on the position.
Average hourly rates vs global minimum hourly wages
The sum of money a freelancer can receive for an hour of their work is highly dependant on the minimum wage in their country. Here are the highest and lowest minimum wages globally.
As you can see, with the average minimum hourly wage of $6.36, even the lowest paying average hourly rate for freelancers is either higher or almost at the level of the minimum wage on the global level. In other words, even the freelancers from all over the world (except for Luxembourg) in the lowest-paying fields can make more than the minimum income in their country. No wonder more and more computer-savvy professionals turn to freelance as an additional or even main source of income.
The impact of location on hourly rates
The second most important factor when it comes to freelancer average hourly rates is their location. As most companies seek freelancers fluent in English (no matter the company’s origin country), candidates from English-speaking countries tend to have the highest salaries. On the other hand, the freelancers from the global south continue to have lower average hourly fees. This especially impacts Eastern Europe, Latin America, South, and Southeast Asia, with Northern Africa taking the biggest impact.
An IT professional from Northern Africa makes half the average salary their North American counterpart would make.
Education vs skill level
There is a huge problem of underemployment on the global level. In other words, there have never been more college graduates, but the job market isn’t following this trend. Hence, recent graduates have to apply for jobs they are overqualified for. Additionally, the freelance job market is very specific, as portfolios and experience are more important than a degree. In many cases, freelancers with a high school degree have a higher average hourly rate than candidates with a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, candidates with a post-graduate degree tend to earn more than all other freelancers.
Most companies tend to seek out a younger and less experienced workforce when hiring. This has a lot to do with wage expectations, as individuals with more experience require more money for their services. Yet, when it comes to freelancing jobs, more experienced experts usually work on an occasional or one-time basis, and companies are more willing to hire them and pay them more for their services.
Younger people at the beginning of their professional careers are usually more computer-savvy, and, hence, more prone to working as freelancers. Almost 70% of freelancers are under 35, while over 20% are under 25 years old. However, they still make less money than their more experienced counterparts.
With the market being extremely competitive in all fields, getting your first job can be difficult in the beginning. Many beginners struggle in the first year and can’t afford to dedicate themselves exclusively to freelancing. Thus, they often have to balance their day jobs and freelancing careers. It takes a lot of time and effort to build a score on different freelancing sites. Candidates also have to have great communication skills and know what to charge based on their skill level, experience, and portfolio.
What is seniority?
Seniority in the business world doesn’t have to be proportional to age. It is determined by the time invested into a profession. Usually, an employee is considered a junior for the first two years of working a specific job. They are at an intermediate level for the next three years, and a senior five years after starting their career. There is also another way of calculating, which places juniors in the first year of their career, and intermediates in the next two. That is to say, a professional can become a senior after three years.
Wage difference examples
An attorney’s average hourly rate is around $50, while a senior attorney makes $120 per hour. We see a similar trend in the IT field, as a software engineer makes $36 per hour, and a senior software engineer’s average hourly rate is $63. Finally, a marketing manager earns $20 per hour and a senior marketing manager earns $34.
Gender and average hourly rates
Even though many people believe that the gender pay gap is a thing of the past, the statistics tell a different story. On a global level, women earn 64% of their male counterparts’ wages. Yet, interestingly enough, freelancing tends to even out the playing field to a certain degree.
There are even some fields where women have higher hourly rates, even though the difference is nowhere near as drastic. For example, the fields of marketing, graphic design, and multimedia production earn 17%, 4%, and 0.3% respectively.
The number of women vs men in certain occupations is similar – translators being the biggest example with an equal share of male and female freelancers. Other occupations that have a large number of female freelancers include administrative professionals (46%), customer support and content writing (both at 43%), and project management (36%).
Here is a fun fact about female freelancers: they tend to get paid according to their contracts more regularly than men, who
Additionally, more and more women are choosing to become freelancers, since they can determine their hours, and childcare and homemaking are still primarily left for women to handle.
The world of freelancing has grown immensely in the last five years. More and more people are seeing the potential and benefits of freelancing, whether as an additional or a main source of income.
The freelance job market is stabilizing, and more and more employers are looking for remote and freelance employees, especially due to the pandemic. Due to this stabilization and rise of the market, we can now see the average hourly rates for the most popular industries for freelancers.
Even though there are many different factors determining differences between the hourly rates in the freelancing world, most positions offer an opportunity to earn more than a minimum wage in most countries while working fewer hours.
The accessibility of remote work, as well as the fact that most freelancers can determine their working hours make this type of employment very attractive to the workforce. On the other hand, employers can choose from a virtually unlimited talent pool and find candidates with exactly the skills they are looking for. Hence, the average hourly rates can reach great heights, and allow experts to earn more no matter the wages in their country.
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