Contract rate for junior+?

I was laid off due to Covid, I have a little over 2 years corporate experience and my main stack is React, Typescript, Node/Express, and PostgreSQL. I can code full stack web apps, my skillset is stronger on the front end though.

What is a fair rate to set for contract work? I’m interested in it for various reasons (PS: If you don’t like it that’s fine, but I hope we can stay on the topic of rates for people at the junior/junior+ level).

How much do you need to make to live on? That effectively gives you a minimum baseline, you cannot go below that. Note holiday pay, sick pay, insurance, payroll, equipment, office space, internet, etc costs have to be factored into that baseline (because it is likely those would all be your responsibility).

Note “contractor” implies that you can be dropped into a job and just carry it out – you cannot expect things like training or mentoring. “Junior contractor” implies working for a contracting agency that can support junior employees, otherwise a contractor is a contractor. If it is just you, logically you can’t be a junior because there is no-one senior, there is just you. “Junior” describes a position in an organisation where there are > 1 employees and a heirarchy, it doesn’t necessarily describe experience or skills (though they are implied by the title). Also note that contractors are normally hired to plug specific gaps in a company’s available pool of developer knowledge. As a result, they often need to be specialists in a number of areas, with a wide spread of more general knowedge. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t contract jobs you could fill, just that it may be difficult with the level of experience you have.

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This varies so dramatically by location, background, and industry that I doubt any of us can give you satisfying answers.

I think the question: “What is a fair rate?” and getting our personal answers can’t lead to a useful answer for you.

Why? Because there are a lot of bias involved.

For example I can give you an answer for my latest gig: I made $800/h.
But this is not at all a valuable answer for you. Because it was a high urgency gig on black friday. A friend of a friend had a server crash and his server guy was in hospital. Black friday is the day where he makes 99% of his revenue. The whole day creates ~50k for him. This fix was worth thousands of dollars. That’s why I sold my 30 minutes of work for $400. And he was happy to have me.

As you can see, it’s not about some random numbers we throw at you. There are a lot of factors.

It’s more about what value you bring to the table.

Can I trust you?
Can you solve my problems?
Can you execute very well?
Are you reliable?
Can you prove all of your yes answers?
Are you good at connecting to people who need your help?
In general, can you provide value to the business?

If you got a big yes for every question, you can make $100/h in Europe very easily. More in the USA.

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