SQL Server US Contracting Rates

  • Like2SQL

    SSCommitted

    Points: 1662

    Guys - as of 2014, what would you say is a fair hourly rate for someone with 5+ years of SQL Server experience ? I know it varies depending on experience, location, client etc. but just trying to get an idea of what is a REALISTIC range. For e.g. $20/hr is probably unrealistically low and $500/hr is unrealistically high. So just a range you think is fair, attainable and realistic. I'm only trying to get a general idea here.

    Thanks!

  • sgmunson

    SSC Guru

    Points: 110459

    If only this were a question easily answered... The problem is that no one is likely to be interested in sharing any actual rate information, as doing so impairs their ability to negotiate such rates. It's one of those situations where the first side to mention a rate is the loser, and even when it's not actually true, the perception that it IS true still takes over, because, it's such a simple piece of common sense that no one is willing to believe otherwise, no matter how sound the argument.

    As an example, I talk to recruiters on a regular basis, and far too often, they think the answer to my question of "What kind of rate are we talking about?", is "What rate are you looking for?". That will always turn me off, and it should turn you off too. Stop accepting that baloney and respond with "Ummm... excuse me, but... you didn't answer my question." Then stop talking. Don't give in to the temptation to fill the void. If they repeat their question, then your response is: "I'm sorry, but if you can't even answer a simple rate question, how can I possibly trust your company with anything else?". There's also no excuse for any of these recruiters not having full command of the English language, so if their accent is just too thick to understand, ask to speak to someone whose command of the English language is good enough to allow you to communicate, and if that agency doesn't have any such person, then go elsewhere.

    There's no good answer to your question anyway, as the rate you can get is almost always heavily dependent on the rate you are currently getting. It's going to have to be in the same ballpark. Recognize that just having experience isn't enough when it comes to database development work. I know of folks with 10 years of experience that still wouldn't know a CTE from a hole in the ground, and chances are, they should never get hired for such work, but they repeatedly get hired anyway.

    Also, the state you'd be getting hired in matters a lot. You can get rates in CA and in NY that just don't exist elsewhere, but good luck having those rates, after taxes, actually be equal to the same rate if offered in Michigan, or Indiana, for example. I won't work in either of those two states for that reason. I couldn't possibly get a rate I could live with after taxes.

    Does that help?

    Steve
    ‌(aka sgmunson)
    ‌:) 🙂 🙂
    Health & Nutrition

  • SQLRNNR

    SSC Guru

    Points: 281243

    sgmunson (8/18/2014)


    If only this were a question easily answered... The problem is that no one is likely to be interested in sharing any actual rate information, as doing so impairs their ability to negotiate such rates. It's one of those situations where the first side to mention a rate is the loser, and even when it's not actually true, the perception that it IS true still takes over, because, it's such a simple piece of common sense that no one is willing to believe otherwise, no matter how sound the argument.

    As an example, I talk to recruiters on a regular basis, and far too often, they think the answer to my question of "What kind of rate are we talking about?", is "What rate are you looking for?". That will always turn me off, and it should turn you off too. Stop accepting that baloney and respond with "Ummm... excuse me, but... you didn't answer my question." Then stop talking. Don't give in to the temptation to fill the void. If they repeat their question, then your response is: "I'm sorry, but if you can't even answer a simple rate question, how can I possibly trust your company with anything else?". There's also no excuse for any of these recruiters not having full command of the English language, so if their accent is just too thick to understand, ask to speak to someone whose command of the English language is good enough to allow you to communicate, and if that agency doesn't have any such person, then go elsewhere.

    Solid points.

    Jason...AKA CirqueDeSQLeil
    _______________________________________________
    I have given a name to my pain...MCM SQL Server, MVP
    SQL RNNR
    Posting Performance Based Questions - Gail Shaw[/url]
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  • Jack Corbett

    SSC Guru

    Points: 184381

    Good points thus far. Something I think you need to take into account is that you have asked for contracting rates, not consulting rates. Contracting rates will be much lower than consulting rates. I tend to think of a contractor as someone brought in to augment a team or perform a specific, pre-defined task. You don't usually need a senior person for this so you can expect a lot less. A consultant, on the other hand, is someone who has a wealth of experience that is being brought in to help identify and provide a solution to a problem that hasn't been defined yet, so I expect to pay more.

    Here's how I'd look at a rate:

    1. Is it W2 or 1099 work? I can have a lower rate for W2 work because I'm not covering all the Social Security, etc...

    2. Are there any benefits provided? Am I covering all my own health insurance, vacation, holidays? All of these things need to be factored into the rate. If I can get paid for holidays if I work the day before and the day after, I can take a lower rate because I'm still getting paid when the office is closed.

    3. What are my expenses? If my bills add up to where I need to make a minimum of 1500/week regardless of vacations/holidays/sick days, then then my minimum rate is going to have to cover that much.

    As Steve mentioned, you know what you make now, and, I assume, you are paying all your bills at that salary/rate, so after factoring in taxes and benefits you need to be able to make that much minimum, and hopefully get more.

    Lastly, as Steve also mentioned, it isn't always about years of experience, it's about the problems you've solved and the technologies you've used. I haven't worked with clustering/log shipping in production, so I can't expect to get a high rate if that is what is needed. But, I have done performance tuning so I can likely get a better rate doing a performance tuning job.

    Jack Corbett
    Consultant - Straight Path Solutions
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  • lptech

    Hall of Fame

    Points: 3188

    Try looking on Indeed.com or Dice.com and see what rates companies are offering in their postings in your target area.

  • Brandie Tarvin

    SSC Guru

    Points: 172757

    lptech (8/18/2014)


    Try looking on Indeed.com or Dice.com and see what rates companies are offering in their postings in your target area.

    Usually those companies' websites lead back to salary.com for the generic (and free) salary ranges of different postings. So you might as well just go straight to source and look for DBA positions fitting your job description.

    They also offer a personalized salary report (based on individual experience and education) for a fee, but I've never bought one of them so I don't know how accurate they are.

    Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database AdministratorLiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/[/url]On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.Freelance Writer: ShadowrunLatchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.

  • Like2SQL

    SSCommitted

    Points: 1662

    Thanks for the responses guys. But the reason I asked for some numbers is because, as mentioned by some on this thread, the recruiters often try to get me to say a rate first. If I ask them before they ask me, they tell me it's "open". I have a feeling they are trying to get away with $10/hr if they can. Yes I could hang up, but then most of the positions require you to deal with recruiters like that. I'm a DBA not a hostage negotiator, sheesh! So I just wanted to get an idea of a "range".

    Seems like most people are uncomfortable mentioning even ranges. If you feel ok PM'ing me then please do so. Otherwise, I will work on my hostage negotiating skills.

  • Brandie Tarvin

    SSC Guru

    Points: 172757

    Look at Salary.com for ranges that are dependent on job description and location. Then figure out how comfortable you are with prices in that range.

    Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database AdministratorLiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/[/url]On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.Freelance Writer: ShadowrunLatchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.

  • sgmunson

    SSC Guru

    Points: 110459

    Like2SQL (8/19/2014)


    Thanks for the responses guys. But the reason I asked for some numbers is because, as mentioned by some on this thread, the recruiters often try to get me to say a rate first. If I ask them before they ask me, they tell me it's "open". I have a feeling they are trying to get away with $10/hr if they can. Yes I could hang up, but then most of the positions require you to deal with recruiters like that. I'm a DBA not a hostage negotiator, sheesh! So I just wanted to get an idea of a "range".

    Seems like most people are uncomfortable mentioning even ranges. If you feel ok PM'ing me then please do so. Otherwise, I will work on my hostage negotiating skills.

    I'm not going to suggest you work on hostage negotiator skills, but you DO need to defend your own value. The hard part is determining what that value is. That said, there's an EASY response to a recruiter that say's it's "Open". That just means they want to play cagey with the numbers, and it means it's time for another question that will make them look bad if they don't answer it. Just say "Ummm.... Sorry, but that doesn't help. Do you have any idea what range of rates the client is considering? Even just a maximum rate would be helpful..." Then wait for an answer. If they insist on playing cagey, either walk away, or suggest they are just not being helpful and respectfully request to speak to a manager. If you can't get either a range or a maximum, it's usually best to walk away from these idiots, as the only alternative is to let them win. Unless your mortgage payment is going to depend on talking to that recruiter, then walking away is a necessity if you ever want the world of recruiters to improve themselves. They've no incentive to do it by themselves until we ALL start requiring it.

    Steve
    ‌(aka sgmunson)
    ‌:) 🙂 🙂
    Health & Nutrition

  • ZZartin

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 30414

    A decent rule of thumb is to take what you would be expecting to make as a salaried employee given your experience, convert it to hourly assuming a 40 hour work week with 2-3 vacation weeks per year add a little(or a lot) as negotiating room and work from there.

    Also something to consider is whether the job is contract to permanent work or whether it's strictly on a temporary basis and how you feel about that.

  • Jack Corbett

    SSC Guru

    Points: 184381

    Like2SQL (8/19/2014)


    Thanks for the responses guys. But the reason I asked for some numbers is because, as mentioned by some on this thread, the recruiters often try to get me to say a rate first. If I ask them before they ask me, they tell me it's "open". I have a feeling they are trying to get away with $10/hr if they can. Yes I could hang up, but then most of the positions require you to deal with recruiters like that. I'm a DBA not a hostage negotiator, sheesh! So I just wanted to get an idea of a "range".

    Seems like most people are uncomfortable mentioning even ranges. If you feel ok PM'ing me then please do so. Otherwise, I will work on my hostage negotiating skills.

    It's just really hard to give a range to someone because of the variables in play which include region, experience (technologies as well as years), type of company, and W2 vs 1099. Just in the small state in which I live (NH) the rates vary greatly by area of the state. In some areas a contract job through a recruiter can get you up to $75/hr, but in other areas the rate tops out at $50 and both of those are really hard to find and often those top end ones are 1099 so you have more expenses involved.

    As I said in my earlier post, I figure out what my minimum livable rate is including thinking about taxes and benefits and start there. I'll only take less than that if I have no options and then I'm still looking.

    This quote from Steve is very true:

    Unless your mortgage payment is going to depend on talking to that recruiter, then walking away is a necessity if you ever want the world of recruiters to improve themselves. They've no incentive to do it by themselves until we ALL start requiring it.

    Jack Corbett
    Consultant - Straight Path Solutions
    Check out these links on how to get faster and more accurate answers:
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  • MMartin1

    One Orange Chip

    Points: 27502

    Salary.com has some good information that will give you an indication of where the salaries are in your area. So it is a start.

    You can mention what you think is a high figure and see if the company walks away from you. As more opportunities approach, assuming they will, lower your ask a bit until you get the other person not immediately hanging up on you. The point is if you dont hear a no, you may not be defending yourself well. This applies to things like buying a car as well. Good luck.

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  • Brandie Tarvin

    SSC Guru

    Points: 172757

    MMartin1 (8/20/2014)


    This applies to things like buying a car as well. Good luck.

    Except when buying a car, I have no intention of offering the highest possible price first. @=)

    Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database AdministratorLiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/[/url]On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.Freelance Writer: ShadowrunLatchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.

  • Perry Whittle

    SSC Guru

    Points: 233859

    it depends completely on demand. If the recruiter can afford to wait they'll try to offer a much lower rate. If they need someone quick and the client likes the person they interviewed you have more room for negotiation.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Ya can't make an omelette without breaking just a few eggs" 😉

  • MMartin1

    One Orange Chip

    Points: 27502

    Brandie Tarvin (8/21/2014)


    MMartin1 (8/20/2014)


    This applies to things like buying a car as well. Good luck.

    Except when buying a car, I have no intention of offering the highest possible price first. @=)

    LOL, good one. I meant to refer to the part of hearing the word no 🙂

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