Average Drupal Developers salary

Remon's picture

Hello Canadian Drupal developers :),

I’m a senior Drupal developer, I have recently moved to Canada from Egypt. So, I’m not sure what salary should I be expecting or what is the average hourly rate to match my experience.

I’ve been doing Drupal development for almost 7 years and have no shortage of working with north american or european organizations, from UN to big Drupal shops.

I tried consulting websites that provide salary surveys such as SimplyHired or Indeed, however they are extremely polluted by recruitment/staffing firms ads.

I know that it varies a lot according to location, client, expertise and how you market yourself, but a ballpark figure will be quite helpful.

I'd really appreciate people commenting on this post rather than pm'ing me. Hopefully this could serve as a reference for other Drupal developers in the same boat.


I'm guessing that the range

dalin's picture

I'm guessing that the range of salaries for a full-time Drupal developer is huge. Perhaps 30,000 — 130,000

Dave Hansen-Lange
Technical Lead
Advomatic LLC
Great White North Office

i agree with #1, the range of

goatvirus's picture

i agree with #1, the range of values is pretty wide.

i myself am working as a consultant charging by the hour, rather than on salary and i have no idea what salary i would make if i was working for someone else (it's been years since i've done that). i charge $55-60 per hour as a consultant but that's only for "billable hours", so if you add in time i can't charge for (estimates, administration, time spent on projects on fixed quote that are already over budget) it probably comes to more like $35-45 per hour. and i don't work full-time either.

a lot is going to depend on your experience, and who you end up working for, and what kind of business they do... but if you have 7 years of Drupal experience, you should definitely be on the higher end of the scale. if you were working full-time i would say $55K per year at the very minimum, you are worth more than that! and i'm sure some people here would say my minimum is too low :-)

hope that helps.

Peter "Fish" Fisera

Thanks for sharing your own

Remon's picture

Thanks for sharing your own rate! that really helps :).

well, my rate is probably low

goatvirus's picture

well, my rate is probably low compared to what someone with my experience COULD be charging... but my clients are all nonprofits and small business and environmental organizations, as opposed to suckling at an earth-raping corporate teat like some people do ;-) see http://earthangelconsulting for more.

With seven years of

K.MacKenzie's picture

With seven years of experience you should definitely be making at least $55,000 per year as an in-house full-time developer in Canada. Of course your upward range can depend on your other skill sets, professionalism, communication skills, management skills, etc.

As a freelance consultant in Vancouver you should be able to get between $50/h and $90/h depending on how good you are at selling yourelf, and what other computer related expertise you can offer the client (for example, strong linux or database skills).

I agree. There are multiple

Remon's picture

I agree. There are multiple variables in the equation, not only Drupal :).

7 years experience? Living in

Chris Luckhardt's picture

7 years experience? Living in a major city like Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal?

Your baseline salary should start at $60,000/year. As a freelancer, you should be asking at least $75/hour up to $100/hour.

I know a well established boutique company (a duo with 8 years experience) in the Toronto area who (very successfully) charge $150/hour...just to check their email.

Hope that helps!

Amazing! thank you Chris for

Remon's picture

Amazing! thank you Chris for those figures.

@Remon, since you are new to

cleaver's picture

@Remon, since you are new to Canada you will probably get less money for your first job. In the past, I've hired a few developers who are new to Canada. A lot of companies won't hire you if you don't have experience in North America. Once you are established you can follow the guidelines posted above.

It will help to get out and participate in Drupal events... you'll make contacts hear about jobs. Be sure to have a business card and something online to show the sort of stuff you can do. Employers will be interested in your contributions on drupal.org and github.com.

Sad but true. :)

Remon's picture

Sad but true. :)

FWIW. . . .

jpw1116's picture

We have talked about offering a session/in-service on this same topic—the business side of Drupal for solo developers—at the pending spring 2014 mini-camp (probably in Ellicottville again).

As you know GTA members had a strong showing last time and all who can bordercross are always welcome.

Feel free to message us at the WNYDUG g.d.o page with wishlist items for the topic. A binational perspective would be great, especially if we can wrangle up a expert to provide other pointers.

Thank you.

Calculating Hourly Rates

design4effect's picture

For the year 2014, the statistics are:
days: 365
weekend days: 104
public holidays: 13
working days: 248
(At least in BC, Canada where I am)

Lets assume you're sick or need a holiday once every 2 months.
Then you have (248 - 6 = 242) working days this year (2014).

An 8-hour day is nice but let's face it; for designers, days can be as long as 16 hours.
Let's assume that you like some time to yourself and want to limit yourself to 10 hours a day for work.

Then you have 242*10 hours = 2420 hours to achieve your goal.

For a comfortable living you might consider $55,000/yr enough.

Then your billable hourly rate should be at least:

55000 / 2420 = $22

You can see that this is better than most prices people are suggesting and from what you say, you are capable of.

Go for $25/hr and know that you are making a good income.

  • Kent

Working 50 hours per week at

Chris Luckhardt's picture

Working 50 hours per week at $25/hour is playing life on hard mode. ;) I think even a beginning consultant/freelancer can (and should) ask for at least $35/hour in the North American market.

These numbers are a little off!

jegelstaff's picture

10 years ago I helped start a web development and consulting company. We use Drupal among other things. We now have 13 full time staff. I can tell you this math above is not right.

Besides that...understand there's a huge difference between being a competent developer, and being a competent consultant who can talk to people, understand their needs and put your neck on the line to deliver results. Not everyone is cut out for that.

A normal work year is around 2000 hours (50 weeks times 40 hours a week...a couple weeks off for vacation is the minimum).

But you cannot possibly bill for all that time. If a consultant gets enough billable hours to fill half that time, then you're doing a good job. As an independent, maybe you can push it up towards 70% if you're in demand, but that would be a stretch for most people. You have to spend time on marketing, sales and administration (finding people who might want to work with you, convincing them to work with you, and doing all the extra stuff, like invoicing, so that they can pay you). Frankly, if you bill 40% of your time, you're doing OK, and that's probably the max you should expect to bill, since conservative planning is always the way to go.

Lots of people only want to pay for what they consider "the work" too. So be prepared to not bill for all the meeting time you spend explaining and demoing things to them, or be prepared to push back on that and explain that when you're talking to them and not developing the website, it's still work that you wouldn't otherwise be doing, and it's for them to help them, so they should be paying for that.

So...if you bill for at least 1000 hours a year, that's awesome, and then multiply by your hourly rate to get your gross annual revenue...assuming that everyone pays you. Accounts receivable is another admin headache that independent developers have to deal with.

I know top of the line people who bill $150 or more per hour. Most people are charging between $50 and $100. We bill our clients, mostly non-profits, between $75 and $95 depending on various factors.

And since you may be wondering, we currently pay salary between $40,000 and $65,000 for developers, depending on experience and responsibility. We also provide extra time off at Christmas, on top of three weeks of vacation (not two) and we have a zero overtime policy, and flexible hours because everyone works from home. And a health and insurance benefits plan. Best of all for the developers...they don't have to deal with the sales, marketing, or admin. That is actually the number one reason most of our staff have joined us...they were independents who were sick of that stuff and didn't feel they did a good job at it.

Good luck!


Julian's explanation and

pkiff's picture

Julian's explanation and breakdown seems very helpful and accurate to me. In particular, I think it is important to think about how to incorporate getting paid for all the time you spend doing other things you do that a client won't want to see in your list of "billable" hours, if that is how you are billing. Marketing for new clients, setting aside extra money for retirement and to cover periods of illness, administrative work related to invoicing and managing files, is all "work" that you need to do. If you aren't getting paid for it directly, then you need to charge an hourly rate that is high enough so that you cover that extra time as well as the time you actually spend working on code.

That is the same thing that an employer does if they ever need to break down your work into an hourly cost to charge someone: they need to include not just your salary costs, but also your benefit package (RRSP, sick days, etc), and a percentage of their total overhead to cover accounting, front desk or phone reception, IT support, and management staff and all their associated expenses so that you can do your job and focus on code. For an organization, those additional costs can easily be equal to your salary costs, which means that the organization has to charge double what your salary costs are in order to meet the rest of their costs. And so it should not be surprising if those things end up meaning that a freelancer needs to double what they want their "real" hourly wage to be if they want to end up receiving that as their net wage after adding in all their unpaid time and other expenses.

For my independent business I started last year, I'm working on project based quoting: I quote an amount for the total project as one complete cost. I list hourly rates for any additional support or items not listed in my agreement with a client, but how many standard hours I spend on a project is my business, and my client will pay the same bulk project fee regardless. For support calls or scope creep (i.e. additional items a client requests that are not included in the project agreement), my current hourly rate is $75 for things I can hire someone else to do, and $100 for anything that I really need to do myself. Now what my actual hourly wage will turn out to be...well, it turns out that learning to quote for full projects correctly is a challenge and a learning process that I'm still working on!


Yes, quoting fixed price is hard!

jegelstaff's picture

We stopped quoting fixed prices years ago, because it's just a fact that in a web development project, you cannot nail down the unknowns all upfront. No one knows everything in the beginning, and people change their minds really easily once they see a working system in front of them.

But people still have only a fixed amount of money to spend in most cases. The only way we've been able to reconcile this is with agile project management principles, mainly Scrum-with-User-Stories.

We've written about that here: http://www.freeform.ca/en/agile-project-planning-chapters-and-stories (first of three articles about our project management process).

Essentially, the deal we make with clients is that if they want to spend X dollars, and X is a reasonable number (ie: we can imagine a way to deliver what they are asking about in that budget), then both parties will engage transparently in the agile project management process to keep the work focused on delivering the highest value items in priority order, so at the end of the budget, as much as is possible has been achieved.

Not everyone can live with that. Some people really have to know that they will get XYZ features for ABC dollars before they will sign any agreement. We feel that approach puts the success of the project at risk, and makes the client really hard to work with so we would rather say no and find people who want to partner more equally. It takes some explaining, and you have to be prepared to say no, but it comes down to knowing what process works for you. Some people do well with fixed prices, but I don't know many.

A relevant link about contract structures for agile projects: http://agilesoftwaredevelopment.com/blog/peterstev/10-agile-contracts

Also, a long essay I wrote about rfps and the not-for-profit sector, which focuses in part on the dilemma of fixed prices vs project scope: http://www.freeform.ca/en/we-dont-hate-rfps

Best book I know of as a starting point for using agile: http://www.amazon.ca/User-Stories-Applied-Software-Development/dp/032120...

Essentially, the non-technical aspects of web development consulting are the hardest parts. The technical parts are relatively easy. You master a certain language/software/technology, you use it to do something, and that thing you made will stay that way until you make a change. The non-technical parts involve people, which don't have parameters or documented APIs, so they are much harder to sort out for folks who are inclined to technical work.


Having a fixed budget is

dalin's picture

Having a fixed budget is fine. It just means that you need to stop at regular points during the build phase and review "You have this many hours (a.k.a. this much money) left, these are the things left that you want us to build, put them in a priority order so that if the money runs out you get the most important things done".

Of course it's not quite that easy, it means changing the way you do business entirely.

Dave Hansen-Lange
Technical Lead
Advomatic LLC
Great White North Office

Feature Creep

design4effect's picture

Feature Creep - "Cancer to the developer.. Websters V2.01 abridged edition"

The formula I've always heard

cleaver's picture

The formula I've always heard for self-employed consultants is simple: If you want to make, say $80,000, charge $80/hr. There's 2,000 work hours in a year, but you have to account for overhead (down time, selling, administration, etc.), so 50% is a good guess. If you have a big client who can commit to steady work, you can revise the rate a bit. Or you could always just be happy you're having a good year and put something away for when things are slower.

great man @design4effect on

asghar's picture

great man @design4effect on

Competitive Edge

design4effect's picture

I have to say, “I'm shocked at the rate of response after my post.” when I wrote it I noticed that the last post was in November and I was wondering if anyone would even notice it, or the thread had gone dead.

There is nothing wrong with the math, if you can get 2420 billable hours at $22 and get paid for it you will make $55,000.

If you are a one person show where you have to do your own business planning, marketing, lead building, web site design/maintenance, answering the phone, service calls, billing and accounting, and research and development; you are not a developer.. you are Superman. (Or at least a very smart person with less than 5 clients)

You aren't getting paid for that so subtract however many hours a day you spend doing it from your available billable hours and adjust accordingly. If you spend half the day doing this, increase your rate to $44 (which is more in line with other people are suggesting) and you still make your $55K.

If you can hire someone for $15/hr that doubles your capacity at $45 then you are still making $30/hr which is still over your base rate of $22.

Maybe ten years ago when the web was young and demand was there, a person could make a decent living from an hourly wage but it's not like that any more.

To check for yourself go to CraigsList and post a free job opening for a Drupal developer.
I tried this and although there was a fair bit of spam I was amazed at the talent available, and how little these people were willing to accept for their incredible talent.

That's what you are up against. It's a global economy and no-one cares if their web site was developed by MIT or a couple of Eskimos up north as long it makes them money.

Charge no more than what you have to... to get yourself in the door.

  • Kent

    P.S. @Julian - why would anyone who is competitive in the game, ever consider retirement!

Forgot to say thank you

thekenshow's picture

Kent, you forgot to say thank you for the thoughtful, intelligent responses offered by people much wiser. That's just not nice.

As for your opinions? I wouldn't have guessed you could slag this list, Drupal, your clients, the people you've (apparently) hired and the First Nations in a single thread. Assuming you're not just trolling - it's an achievement of sorts. Happy trails.

Less isn't more; just enough is more.
- Milton Glaser

You're Welcome

design4effect's picture

I guess I'm in for the long troll, I've been developing with Drupal since 4.8 and been a registered user for almost 7 years.

If you Google 'design4effect' you will see over 325,000 results, I must be doing something right!

  • Kent

Completely off topic, but

itkadmin's picture

Hi folks

Just to clarify, Inuit, not Eskimo, nor are Inuit First Nations. https://www.itk.ca/note-terminology-inuit-metis-first-nations-and-aborig...

I'm absolutely certain no offence was intended, It's part of my job to clarify these things, where ever I come across them.


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