I'm a software developer. I have come across an opportunity for a short-term (less than a month) contract gig with a public university.

At my regular job I make around $35/hour plus a typical, complete benefits package.

The contract gig would only be for part-time work, around 10-15 hours a week, and would last for about two and a half weeks. This is my first time contracting and I have no good idea of what I should ask for in my proposal. I was thinking around $20-25 per hour. I talked to a friend who is also a software developer, who talked to a bunch of his co-workers, and they tried to convince me that I should ask for way more, like anything from $35-70 per hour.

Are there guidelines for this type of situation?

  • 1
    I see no reason to ask for less than your current rate. You are obviously worth it.
    – PM 77-1
    May 11, 2017 at 1:35
  • 1
    @PM77-1 OK I'm coming around to that, but I'm still getting answers that say charge twice my hourly rate, because I have to pay what the employer would pay for SS withholding (U.S.) and I'll get taxed at a much higher rate. May 11, 2017 at 1:36
  • 1
    Remember that your hourly rate has to factor in any PTO or sick leave and employer expenses. You will definitely need to increase it sufficiently to cover the overhead if you hope to have the same net income.
    – Jane S
    May 11, 2017 at 2:00
  • 1
    Remember that the benefits you get from your regular are part of your compensation. You are getting $35/hour + benefits. So you are actually worth much more than $35/hour. If the contract gig isn't paying benefits (I'm sure they aren't), they should pay a higher hourly wage comparable to what your skills are worth.
    – Seth R
    May 11, 2017 at 2:09
  • 6
    This really belongs on freelancing.stackexchange.com but a rough rule of thumb is that you charge per hour what you would expect to earn in thousands per year. So if you want an equivalent of $70k/year you charge $70/hour.
    – Peter M
    May 11, 2017 at 2:25

2 Answers 2


What you should charge depends on quite a few factors, the following immediately spring to mind:

  • The nature of the job (e.g. if you're a business consultant in your main job, don't expect to earn the same amount hacking out a bit of Python)
  • How much you want to do it (e.g. it might be a favour to a good friend)
  • What other benefits it will give you (e.g. learning a new skill)
  • What the potential client can bear (e.g. you might charge the local hospice less than you would charge your national government for the same work)
  • The "going rate" for the work to be done.
  • Whether it will interfere with your performance in your main job.

In short, there isn't a simple answer to your question other than find a figure that both you and the client are happy with.

Oh, and I forgot, never under-sell yourself. I recently advised a friend in a similar situation (he's a tree surgeon and this was his first big, for him, quote), he told me what he was thinking of charging, I discussed all his expenses and so on and recommended that he charge about 50% more than he was thinking of. He still got the work. I got a couple of bottles of nice wine out of that :-)


The rule of thumb for contract work in the UK is 3X what you would be paid as a fulltime employee , possibly a bit lower if its a 12 or 18 month contact.

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