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The Developer Hourly Rate

Patrick Jones

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I've had a couple of conversations here with guys who are looking for a web developer. The one thing they all have in common: the hunt for a low hourly rate.

Which is not a good idea.

Much more important than the hourly rate is: how much do you pay in total and how much do you get out. If you get the feature you always wanted for €200, what do you care if it took a guy two hours at €100 or another ten hours at €20?

The thing is, there is an important difference between these two developers. The guy for €100 is actually the better deal.

There is a huge range when it comes to the skills of developers. Somebody with a decade of experience will pull off in half a day what takes a rookie fresh out of college all week. And our senior developer has seen a lot in his career. He knows the pitfalls and no-nos. The college grad doesn't.

For 20 bucks an hour the rookie will deliver a slow and insecure maintenance monster that will haunt you for years.

You wouldn't let a fresh graduate build your house. Why would you let one build the website that will be the foundation of your business?

To summarise the two most important points:

1. Developers with a high hourly rate might be cheaper in total, because they need considerably less time.

2. Developers with a high hourly rate are more likely to deliver quality work that pays for itself over time.
 

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404profound

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The influx of developers will continue to drive down rates, unfortunately. The ease of building an app is only going to increase, lower barriers to entry, etc. That's why after I finish my first app every subsequent thing I build will be built to sell. I'm not messing with negotiating peanuts. I'd rather build something valuable, grow a user base, then exit.
 

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I've had a couple of conversations here with guys who are looking for a web developer. The one thing they all have in common: the hunt for a low hourly rate.

Which is not a good idea.

Much more important than the hourly rate is: how much do you pay in total and how much do you get out. If you get the feature you always wanted for €200, what do you care if it took a guy two hours at €100 or another ten hours at €20?

The thing is, there is an important difference between these two developers. The guy for €100 is actually the better deal.

There is a huge range when it comes to the skills of developers. Somebody with a decade of experience will pull off in half a day what takes a rookie fresh out of college all week. And our senior developer has seen a lot in his career. He knows the pitfalls and no-nos. The college grad doesn't.

For 20 bucks an hour the rookie will deliver a slow and insecure maintenance monster that will haunt you for years.

You wouldn't let a fresh graduate build your house. Why would you let one build the website that will be the foundation of your business?

To summarise the two most important points:

1. Developers with a high hourly rate might be cheaper in total, because they need considerably less time.

2. Developers with a high hourly rate are more likely to deliver quality work that pays for itself over time.
The difference that a seniordeveloper asks $200 per hour and a rookie just $20 is a little exaggerated imo.

In my experience a senior developer asks for example a average of $65 a hour and a newbie will ask a little less, for example $40, cause he needs to build a portfolio.

The newbie won't ask much less cause he claims he has the same education as the senior developer has. He claims he knows just as much since he did the same course and read the same books.

Still you're right, hire a more expensive developer cause he knows a lot more and has more experience is the way to go.
 

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The difference that a seniordeveloper asks $200 per hour and a rookie just $20 is a little exaggerated imo.
It's not; that's consistent with what I've seen quoted.
One guy quoted $300, because he was getting that elsewhere (due to reputation / years of experience).

My guess is that us plebs just aren't capable of actually detecting what is a "junior" and a "senior" and other levels in between. It doesn't help though that developers usually can't communicate properly.

Yes "a good developer will produce better work" is all very well, but without clear explanation why, hirers without sufficient experience will look at both a senior developer's or a junior developer's work and say "they both look like websites, so I'll hire the cheaper option".

Developers say stuff like "this code is shit". Well... to laymen, all code looks like shit. It just doesn't cut it.

Until developers get better at, or take training at, accurately explaining things in a persuasive way, people will continue to engage in wishful thinking and getting burnt by hiring Bangladeshi online workers who deliver junk.
 
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Davejemmolly

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I’ve been quoted anywhere from $25hr (India) to $160hr (local).

As I’m not trying to build the next SpaceX, even if my Indian team takes 4x as many hours, I’m still well in front.

Plus, they have seemed far more committed to the opportunity than any of the local developers I interviewed
 

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In my experience a senior developer asks for example a average of $65 a hour and a newbie will ask a little less, for example $40, cause he needs to build a portfolio.

The newbie won't ask much less cause he claims he has the same education as the senior developer has. He claims he knows just as much since he did the same course and read the same books.
Yes, there are people asking for much less than $40/hour. Just go have a look at Upwork or any cheap company/freelance out there. $20/hour and even less.

Also, the difference between a really good developer and a bad one is easily 10x. College education makes no difference here, so the fresh graduate's claims are irrelevant here. Experience and a lot of years comparing both sides are needed to realise and appreciate how massive the difference can be.

I wouldn't want to have heart surgery by a fresh grad just because he/she has a piece of paper on their wall.

EDIT: Typos.
 

AF77

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I spend over 100k a year on Upwork. The type of web developer (experience, skill set) is what changes it from 20 to 60 an hour. I wouldn’t ever pay more than $60; I pay senior talented Americans that much for heavily custom web development.

For e-commerce or Shopify sites I would go with the 20/hr guy all day. Just find a good one and pay him 20-40 hours.


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Patrick Jones

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Computer science has (one of) the biggest gap between the skills of juniors and seniors. That is in huge part because of the inability of the modern education system to teach programming. Programming means solving puzzles, means thinking for yourself, means teaching yourself new stuff.

About 99% of CompSci grads can't do that. This is a classic read on the issue:
Why Can't Programmers.. Program?

The HR people I talked to over the years (in medium sized German software companies) confirmed that, saying that easily 95% of applicants don't have an ounce of relevant skills.

The hourly rate is just an indicator for a developer's skills. Not everybody who charges a lot is good. And not everybody who is good charges a lot. However dirt cheap is rarely ever good. And if you want to tap in to the 1% of IT guys who actually know what they are doing, skip the dirt cheap.
 

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I definitely see people charging, and getting $200/hr here locally. It depends on what they're doing though. People who legitimately charge those rates are usually more than just developers - they can step into business analysis roles, they're polyglot programmers, or they can design, or they write code for specialized platforms.

People who prioritize low hourly rates probably don't have a lot of confidence that their projects will make money. Who cares if you spend $300,000 writing software if you can make $20mm per year? On the other hand, if you're not sure how to make $5,000 in a lifetime with the software you've designed, you're gonna look for a nephew you can pay $6/hr to program it in Scratch ;)
 

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I heard u should never pay hourly. Pay per milestone.
They will milk ur hourly agreement.
Agree, though most non-developers have a hard time being able to determine meaningful milestones.
 

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I've seen people charging £800-1000 per day on 3-6 months contracts. Even £500/day is sort of standard for contractors with good experience in cities like London. They wouldn't bother going to Upwork to hunt for sporadic $60/hour gigs that don't even fill 8 hours per day 5 days a week consistently (compared that with mid 3 figures per day, every day, no matter what), and you wouldn't get those good/great developers with such a low rate, even if you think they are "talented seniors".
 

AF77

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I've seen people charging £800-1000 per day on 3-6 months contracts. Even £500/day is sort of standard for contractors with good experience in cities like London. They wouldn't bother going to Upwork to hunt for sporadic $60/hour gigs that don't even fill 8 hours per day 5 days a week consistently (compared that with mid 3 figures per day, every day, no matter what), and you wouldn't get those good/great developers with such a low rate, even if you think they are "talented seniors".
I’m in the USA and lead a team of over 50 software engineers.

UK prices for developers are absurd because of the lack of talent per capita.

Microsoft and Google are both headquartered in the USA with phenomenal USA developers with most not making over £500 a day (720 usd). A lot make 2/3rds that.


I’m not really sure what your point was: you can’t hire developers from London on Upwork?
That’s... fine.
 

srodrigo

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I’m in the USA and lead a team of over 50 software engineers.

UK prices for developers are absurd because of the lack of talent per capita.

Microsoft and Google are both headquartered in the USA with phenomenal USA developers with most not making over £500 a day (720 usd). A lot make 2/3rds that.


I’m not really sure what your point was: you can’t hire developers from London on Upwork?
That’s... fine.
That makes a lot of sense, they actually lack of talent per square meter.

As you say, there are companies in the USA paying over £500 a day for top developers. My point was you can't hire top developers in the USA that would be working for the companies you mentioned at those rates. $720/day is $90 per hour (40 hours per week). That's already 50% more than $60, and that's taking into account that a freelance would hardly get 40 hours per week filled up without spending an extra good amount of time getting the deals, so even less money. My feeling is that really senior talented developers are on much greener pastures than Upwork.

Anyway, I just took your example to point out why $60/hour is not a great rate for top developers, not as a way to attack or anything like that. Sorry if it looked like that ;)
 

AF77

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That makes a lot of sense, they actually lack of talent per square meter.

As you say, there are companies in the USA paying over £500 a day for top developers. My point was you can't hire top developers in the USA that would be working for the companies you mentioned at those rates. $720/day is $90 per hour (40 hours per week). That's already 50% more than $60, and that's taking into account that a freelance would hardly get 40 hours per week filled up without spending an extra good amount of time getting the deals, so even less money. My feeling is that really senior talented developers are on much greener pastures than Upwork.

Anyway, I just took your example to point out why $60/hour is not a great rate for top developers, not as a way to attack or anything like that. Sorry if it looked like that ;)
No it’s fine, you clearly weren’t attacking and my response was snippy.
It was also 3 a.m.
 

László Károlyi

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I work for 120EUR an hour, and only remotely. I've got two clients who already pay that, so it's not theoretic. I work remotely since
1: I worked for 20 years in various offices, never going to happen again
2: I've got the discipline of wanting to make progress with projects, and not just to be a couch potato
3: I don't need anybody to boss me around or having suspicious looks just for not constantly slaving myself on a project for someone else.
4: I often wake up at 1PM or later and often go to sleep at 4AM

It's just a question of experience. I'm in the IT business since 95. It's my hobby as well. I've built huge systems from the ground up alone.

Also mind you guys, ageism is real in this trade. You should rather not outsource your time to the extent of spending your energy only on clients, have private projects. If you get over 40 and don't want to get into management positions where you would have to put up with people's shit, suddenly you'll become 'overeducated'.
 

nishant_12

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I've had a couple of conversations here with guys who are looking for a web developer. The one thing they all have in common: the hunt for a low hourly rate.

Which is not a good idea.

Much more important than the hourly rate is: how much do you pay in total and how much do you get out. If you get the feature you always wanted for €200, what do you care if it took a guy two hours at €100 or another ten hours at €20?

The thing is, there is an important difference between these two developers. The guy for €100 is actually the better deal.

There is a huge range when it comes to the skills of developers. Somebody with a decade of experience will pull off in half a day what takes a rookie fresh out of college all week. And our senior developer has seen a lot in his career. He knows the pitfalls and no-nos. The college grad doesn't.

For 20 bucks an hour the rookie will deliver a slow and insecure maintenance monster that will haunt you for years.

You wouldn't let a fresh graduate build your house. Why would you let one build the website that will be the foundation of your business?

To summarise the two most important points:

1. Developers with a high hourly rate might be cheaper in total, because they need considerably less time.

2. Developers with a high hourly rate are more likely to deliver quality work that pays for itself over time.
Yes, I completely agree with you. However, there are some countries around the globe where the cost of living is less in comparison to your country. Though they have a low cost of living, the work delivered by the professionals is excellent. India, Malaysia, Philippines, and China are some of the best examples where you can outsource your software development & get the job done at less cost.
 

László Károlyi

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Yes, I completely agree with you. However, there are some countries around the globe where the cost of living is less in comparison to your country. Though they have a low cost of living, the work delivered by the professionals is excellent. India, Malaysia, Philippines, and China are some of the best examples where you can outsource your software development & get the job done at less cost.
Is this a thinly veiled advertisement for those countries? One of the likes I get daily on linkedin in connection requests?

If not, you probably haven't heard enough scary stories where outsourced development to these countries went catastrophic. These people are the cancer of IT. I have met people from these countries who are actually good, but they also moved away from there. They're not pajeet who is trying to make a business coding from home.

Recently, I even lost my faith in Ukrainians, about whom earlier I thought are good. I tried to outsource some stuff and 2 weeks and some hardly made decisions later, I had to stop them, and cut my losses. Then I've heard about others too that the outsource quality from Ukraine is declining as well. Also it came to light later that the guys wanted to cheat and put more working hours in than what they actually had.

There's a saying for a reason: if you think working with professionals is expensive, wait until you'll work with amateurs. Luckily, I can get all my stuff done for myself, and my high hourly rate ensures that cheap people don't find me.
 

nishant_12

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Is this a thinly veiled advertisement for those countries? One of the likes I get daily on linkedin in connection requests?

If not, you probably haven't heard enough scary stories where outsourced development to these countries went catastrophic. These people are the cancer of IT. I have met people from these countries who are actually good, but they also moved away from there. They're not pajeet who is trying to make a business coding from home.

Recently, I even lost my faith in Ukrainians, about whom earlier I thought are good. I tried to outsource some stuff and 2 weeks and some hardly made decisions later, I had to stop them, and cut my losses. Then I've heard about others too that the outsource quality from Ukraine is declining as well. Also it came to light later that the guys wanted to cheat and put more working hours in than what they actually had.

There's a saying for a reason: if you think working with professionals is expensive, wait until you'll work with amateurs. Luckily, I can get all my stuff done for myself, and my high hourly rate ensures that cheap people don't find me.
I understand your point. I am not sure what exactly went wrong for you while outsourcing. But I have seen a lot of examples where outsourcing has helped companies boost their startups or small businesses.

I am not trying to offend you but from my observance, outsourcing is a good business strategy. Rest everything depends upon the team you are hiring to get your job done.
 

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I'll give my 2 cents as a developer myself with 15 years of professional experience.

For contracts, my rate is typically $100-125/hr.

There is another layer to this that isn't often talked about by non-developers as well. There is the quality you can see (how the app works, looks, bug-free, etc) but there is also a layer of quality you don't see and this is very important as well. Applications with poor architecture under the hood come with other costs, and these will often not manifest until well after the project is delivered.

Just some of these are:

1. Poorly written code is significantly more likely to result in bugs after any additional work is done on the application, even if the application is very stable on release. This has a cost of losing customers due to lack of confidence in the software.

2. Poorly written code takes WAY longer to do any additional development in. So let's play out an example. Say you save $5,000 going with a cheaper developer. The code is terrible, and as a result you are incurring a 15% (in most cases, this would be conservative) inefficiency for that developer (or even worse, other developers that have to deal with it, but more on that in a later point). Your app is worked on for the years to come, and 100s (or 1000s) of additional hours or being put into the application. That inefficiency compounds your cost for each hour spent working on the application, and in no time, that 15% inefficiency will well surpass the $5,000 in savings. Not only that, you incur opportunity cost as your development takes longer. This may be okay if your current code base has a short life cycle (ie: you're getting to market quick, and plan to re-write after you've validate the market), but if you plan for this to be used in the long term, it should be done right.

3. When things aren't written properly, it makes it way more costly to bring in other developers. Even when software is built properly, ramping up into existing software projects is costly and time consuming, even for experienced, competent developers. When they are not built properly, this issue compounds further. I've seen software that has been so poorly written that it takes strong developers months just to get up to a reasonable cadence of productivity.


I have worked on huge projects for big clients like American Express, and parts of the project were outsourced to India. We ended up having to re-write most of the work coming out of India anyways and the net cost of the project ended up being much higher. I have worked on other smaller scale projects outsourced to India, and the quality was ALWAYS poor and required more work on our end then if we had just written it ourselves. I am sure some people have had positive experiences, but YMMV.

There is a term for this in the industry and it is called technical debt. You're paying for short term reduction in cost/delivery time only to pay it repeatedly back (in time and money) until the technical debt is resolved. In a lot of cases, technical debt can be VERY expensive to resolve as it can require re-architecting the entire application, or even worse, require an entire re-write. Sometimes, incurring technical debt is appropriate, others it is not. It is important that when you are taking on technical debt, you're doing it with the full understanding of its implications and you're doing it consciously.
 
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Patrick Jones

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Though they have a low cost of living, the work delivered by the professionals is excellent. India, Malaysia, Philippines, and China are some of the best examples where you can outsource your software development & get the job done at less cost.
Haha, good one.

Oh you were being serious?

Boeing’s 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-28/boeing-s-737-max-software-outsourced-to-9-an-hour-engineers
 

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The influx of developers will continue to drive down rates, unfortunately. The ease of building an app is only going to increase, lower barriers to entry, etc. That's why after I finish my first app every subsequent thing I build will be built to sell. I'm not messing with negotiating peanuts. I'd rather build something valuable, grow a user base, then exit.
This is categorically untrue, because most of the new developers suck, and the need for quality devs keeps rising. My hourly rate is going up 15% each year at least. Wish i saw that level of appreciation from everything i did.
 

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I've had a couple of conversations here with guys who are looking for a web developer. The one thing they all have in common: the hunt for a low hourly rate.

Which is not a good idea.

Much more important than the hourly rate is: how much do you pay in total and how much do you get out. If you get the feature you always wanted for €200, what do you care if it took a guy two hours at €100 or another ten hours at €20?

The thing is, there is an important difference between these two developers. The guy for €100 is actually the better deal.

There is a huge range when it comes to the skills of developers. Somebody with a decade of experience will pull off in half a day what takes a rookie fresh out of college all week. And our senior developer has seen a lot in his career. He knows the pitfalls and no-nos. The college grad doesn't.

For 20 bucks an hour the rookie will deliver a slow and insecure maintenance monster that will haunt you for years.

You wouldn't let a fresh graduate build your house. Why would you let one build the website that will be the foundation of your business?

To summarise the two most important points:

1. Developers with a high hourly rate might be cheaper in total, because they need considerably less time.

2. Developers with a high hourly rate are more likely to deliver quality work that pays for itself over time.
My Python developer is $150 an hour. Worth every penny. Why? Because he's way smarter than me and takes my concepts and takes them to the next level every single time. Buy the best or end up like the rest.
 

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This is categorically untrue, because most of the new developers suck, and the need for quality devs keeps rising. My hourly rate is going up 15% each year at least. Wish i saw that level of appreciation from everything i did.
Just because most of the new developers suck doesn't mean there isn't a surplus of good talent. Even if only 1% or 2% of the hundreds of thousands of web noobs pan out as proficient, that's still tens of thousands willing to take a shit price because they have no college baggage. If you look at any software posting for python, javascript, PHP, etc, it's got 100s of applicants. That means employers can go bargain hunting. Now, if you know C++ or some other language that actually requires an understanding of computer science, you're all set because most people are too lazy to actually learn the tools their abusing. I'm guessing that's the category you fall into; someone with computer science fundamentals that can do more than make a button oscillate colors.
 

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Just because most of the new developers suck doesn't mean there isn't a surplus of good talent. Even if only 1% or 2% of the hundreds of thousands of web noobs pan out as proficient, that's still tens of thousands willing to take a shit price because they have no college baggage. If you look at any software posting for python, javascript, PHP, etc, it's got 100s of applicants. That means employers can go bargain hunting. Now, if you know C++ or some other language that actually requires an understanding of computer science, you're all set because most people are too lazy to actually learn the tools their abusing. I'm guessing that's the category you fall into; someone with computer science fundamentals that can do more than make a button oscillate colors.

Have you hired in this space?

I have, and from my experience conducting and participating in hundreds of developer interviews (from both sides of the table) we are far away from a surplus of good talent. There's a surplus of developers, but a deficit in talent.

As an employer, there's no bargain hunting with quality developers at the moment, and the situation is getting more dire every year, not better. In hundreds of interviews, I've only identified a handful of developers worth an offer.

I understand how someone who has never hired engineers/developers may believe what you believe, because it seems like there's so many new developers out there. But the way you describe it is not in line with reality.

There's definitely a surplus of people who can mock up a simple web page. But that's not being a developer. That's like calling someone who can change a flat tire a mechanic.
 

404profound

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Have you hired in this space?

I have, and from my experience conducting and participating in hundreds of developer interviews (from both sides of the table) we are far away from a surplus of good talent. There's a surplus of developers, but a deficit in talent.

As an employer, there's no bargain hunting with quality developers at the moment, and the situation is getting more dire every year, not better. In hundreds of interviews, I've only identified a handful of developers worth an offer.

I understand how someone who has never hired engineers/developers may believe what you believe, because it seems like there's so many new developers out there. But the way you describe it is not in line with reality.

There's definitely a surplus of people who can mock up a simple web page. But that's not being a developer. That's like calling someone who can change a flat tire a mechanic.
I don't do any hiring, I'll give you that. I'm curious how you define quality developer. To me that is someone who understands how to implement a REST or GraphQL API with adequate error handling / validation, at least basics of a specific database technology, an understanding of modularizing code, possibly understands how to implement caching, can at least write unit tests, and decent skills in one of the javascript libraries on the frontend. Does that differ than how you define it?
 

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I don't do any hiring, I'll give you that. I'm curious how you define quality developer. To me that is someone who understands how to implement a REST or GraphQL API with adequate error handling / validation, at least basics of a specific database technology, an understanding of modularizing code, possibly understands how to implement caching, can at least write unit tests, and decent skills in one of the javascript libraries on the frontend. Does that differ than how you define it?
What it means to be a "quality developer" will vary based on what we need. For example, knowing React/Vue is useless if we need someone to do data manipulations or manage our back end infra.

Your thought process is highlighting a common problem in this industry. The industry tends to think about hard skills (like what someone knows in a given stack) to establish whether or not they are a good developer. That's not what makes a quality dev.

The most overlapping features I seek in a quality dev are:
  1. An ability to create a technical solution based on high level business needs.
  2. Understanding good architecture, but also having the wisdom to know when it's OK to forfeit the "right" solution for the "right now" solution that's less costly.
  3. Good communication skills to get to the heart of those needs, and communicate the benefits and drawbacks of the possible/proposed solutions with empathy and respect.
  4. The ability to learn whatever is necessary to complete the job (e.g. completing a bootcamp so you know how HTML works doesn't mean you can learn how Vue works, or CSS transitions, or how to create a DB schema; but you may need to figure those things out along the way. Good devs are able to learn anything very fast.)
  5. Ambition to be the best version of yourself (not just work in a high paying industry)
 
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Desert of Desertion
What it means to be a "quality developer" will vary based on what we need. For example, knowing React/Vue is useless if we need someone to do data manipulations or manage our back end infra.

Your thought process is highlighting a common problem in this industry. The industry tends to think about hard skills (like what someone knows in a given stack) to establish whether or not they are a good developer. That's not what makes a quality dev.

The most overlapping features I seek in a quality dev are:
  1. An ability to create a technical solution based on high level business needs.
  2. Understanding good architecture, but also having the wisdom to know when it's OK to forfeit the "right" solution for the "right now" solution that's less costly.
  3. Good communication skills to get to the heart of those needs, and communicate the benefits and drawbacks of the possible/proposed solutions with empathy and respect.
  4. The ability to learn whatever is necessary to complete the job (e.g. completing a bootcamp so you know how HTML works doesn't mean you can learn how Vue works, or CSS transitions, or how to create a DB schema; but you may need to figure those things out along the way. Good devs are able to learn anything very fast.)
  5. Ambition to be the best version of yourself (not just work in a high paying industry)
I see, that makes sense. With those criteria it would make more sense why there aren't a ton of qualified people.
 

astr0

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Recently, I even lost my faith in Ukrainians, about whom earlier I thought are good. I tried to outsource some stuff and 2 weeks and some hardly made decisions later, I had to stop them, and cut my losses. Then I've heard about others too that the outsource quality from Ukraine is declining as well. Also it came to light later that the guys wanted to cheat and put more working hours in than what they actually had.
Yes, and the reason is that the number of people occupied in IT tripled here over the last 3-5 years. A lot of students started working from second to the third year in university and many guys without computer science education self-learned programming and got a job in months. Also, around 70% of good developers I knew are all over the world now. Not the best ones, but definitely from the top 15%. So the "level" shifted a lot. Those who were middles and seniors are now tech leads, architects and top managers. Those who were barely middle are now called seniors.
I recently interviewed candidates to replace me on 9-5 and only one of like 5 candidates were, I would call, strong middle, close to senior. I would've called others juniors 5 years ago. 10+ resumes were discarded instantly.
That, by the way, was the final nail for service business idea vs switching into products.

The most overlapping features I seek in a quality dev are:
  1. An ability to create a technical solution based on high level business needs.
  2. Understanding good architecture, but also having the wisdom to know when it's OK to forfeit the "right" solution for the "right now" solution that's less costly.
  3. Good communication skills to get to the heart of those needs, and communicate the benefits and drawbacks of the possible/proposed solutions with empathy and respect.
  4. The ability to learn whatever is necessary to complete the job (e.g. completing a bootcamp so you know how HTML works doesn't mean you can learn how Vue works, or CSS transitions, or how to create a DB schema; but you may need to figure those things out along the way. Good devs are able to learn anything very fast.)
  5. Ambition to be the best version of yourself (not just work in a high paying industry)
100% agree. I would also add some sort of tech-related hobby and interest to learn/understanding of how everything works on lower-level. Obsessed are the best and under-the-hood knowledge necessary for better thinking/problem-solving skills if there's no library/StackOverflow for what he's doing (copy-paste "programming" got popular nowadays...).
 

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