Freelancers paid a third less for web development

Top freelancers in the sector might still command a premium, but average pay for web developers is 36 per cent lower than it was at the height of the dotcom bubble.

That means that, although there are exceptions, the typical freelance web developer now earns between £40 and £45 an hour, down from £60 per hour about a decade ago.

Back then, and notably after the explosion of Java in 1995, companies had to build e-commerce and web applications from scratch, said APSCo, which issued the figures.

But now, most of the web design solutions clients need come "off the shelf," meaning much less of a need for the numerous programmers who sprung up in the noughties.

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies reflected: "Huge numbers of developers jumped on the web development bandwagon just as the market nosedived.

"The skills shortages that existed back in 2000 are nowhere near as acute 10 years on, so rates have never really recovered."

However, Gerald Morgan, of recruitment firm ReadyPeople, said the "sky is still the limit" in terms of pay for developers who are both highly skilled and highly qualified.

APSCo agreed, saying freelancers with real-time Java expertise, flash development skills and a knowledge of open source frameworks, like iquery, were in huge demand.

That demand is being driven by social media dotcoms, enjoying prominence on the back of real-time technology, popularised by the iPhone, Facebook and Twitter.

Yet the dotcoms of today are different to those of a decade ago, reminded recruiters at Volt, as candidates must now be as sound commercially as they are technically.

“The emphasis is much more firmly on interactivity rather than plain information," said JMK Recruitment, pointing out what today's dotcoms want from freelancers.

"New roles such as ‘Information Architect’ and‘User Experience Specialist’ have been created as web design has become much more of a science in recent years.”

Mr Morgan added: "Many of these companies have plenty of venture capital backing and a lot of these are profitable within just a couple of years of forming.

"Compared with the ‘get-rich-quick, short-term contract mentality’ of the original dotcom boom - they now represent a real career choice".


6th May 2010

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