I am trying to take on my first freelance job to develop an application for a retrofitting company.

They want me to build a web application that takes input of existing technology at the institution and suggest upgrades to the existing technology. They then want me to perform some calculations with the data and then export everything to a PDF document which will be emailed to the client.

This was my second meeting with them today. They did not broach the topic of compensation and instead handed me an NDA.

Here are my questions:

  • How do I ask them about the compensation and if they are willing to pay me, how much should I charge them?
  • Is receiving an NDA common? Is it standard procedure or just sketchy?

I am new to all of this, ideally I would've wanted to get a job working in a team as a software developer intern, since I am still in school, but this is what I have at the moment. I would be obliged if you could guide me in the right direction, maybe share your experiences with me.

  • I haven't signed the NDA yet. – coderMint Jun 23 '14 at 18:55
  • Wow, I'm surprised by that. Off the top of my head the only job/contract/whatever I didn't sign an NDA for was when I was a student working at a university or small projects helping family and friends. – Andrew Bartel Jun 24 '14 at 15:44
  • I would look at salary.com to see what other people in your field are making. – kleineg Jun 24 '14 at 15:48

Signing an NDA at a job interview is common. It may not be useful for either party - but they're basically reminding you that learning about their company and selling that information to their competitor wouldn't be very nice.

Whether it's legally binding really depends on your jurisdiction. If you are worried, show it to a lawyer - your school should be able to recommend one (or possibly has one for students).

Secondly, compensation. Again, this really depends on where you live. Here's what I'd suggest.

  • Take a look at local job adverts - see what people are offering.
  • Work out how much you think you need to live on.
  • Go to them with a figure ~20% higher than you want.
  • If they accept - hurrah!
  • If they don't, they'll let you know what they think you are worth.
  • Thank you Terence! Your answer has clarified my approach quite a bit! – coderMint Jun 24 '14 at 0:18
  • I would have gone with 20%-25% more than the average for your market not "what you need to live on" – Pepone Jun 24 '14 at 11:01

NDA is pretty common - VERY much more so since 2000, and in almost any industry anywhere near technology.

For how much to charge...that, I'm not sure about. I'm going to leave that question to others who are in the software development field. They can tell you what's market rate in your area. TerenceEden's question sounds good.

Also, check with your jurisdiction's tax authority, so that you know if you will be needing to pay any additional taxes yourself, if you're working on a 1099-basis. (Not doing that will come back to bite you, so figure that out now.) Also, if you have to essentially pay self-employment taxes, don't forget to figure that into how much you ask for.

  • Thank you Leigh! I will get on the tax authority check right away! – coderMint Jun 24 '14 at 0:20

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