clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What contract tech workers get paid in cities around the country

It’s more than salaried workers.

Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, introduces the new macOS Sierra software at an Apple event at the Worldwide Developer's Conference on June 13, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Getty Images
Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Demand for contract tech workers is growing, according to data released today by Hired, a tech-job website. Some 13 percent of companies on the platform are interested in hiring contractors — an all-time high — up from 4 percent two years ago.

These workers also get paid more than their full-time counterparts.

Freelance tech workers in the U.S. who work 40-hour weeks get paid $24,918 more a year on average than full-time workers ($147,680 compared to $122,762 gross income), according to the report, which mined data from 175,000 interview requests and job offers that occurred on the site in the past year. Of course, contract workers forgo health insurance and other benefits associated with salaried employment in exchange for more flexible work.

Annual pay also varied heavily by a contractor’s skill set and location.

Nationally, engineering managers and mobile engineers are both the most in-demand skill sets and the most highly paid, making $245,440 and $205,920 a year respectively. Here are the other top-paying skill sets for freelance workers:

Unsurprisingly, annual pay for contract tech workers is highest in the Bay Area, where contract engineers make $224,000 a year on average, and contract designers make $183,000 (if they work 40-hour weeks all year). A tech worker’s salary, however, might go further in smaller cities.

In most cities, engineers (which can include Android or iOS developer, back-end engineer, Java software engineer, PHP software engineer and solution architect, among others) are paid more than designers (including jobs like UX designer, UI engineer, product designer and graphic designer). That’s flipped in Washington, D.C., Seattle and San Diego, likely because of labor shortages or increased demand.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.