How Much to Charge for Freelance VBA Development

$150 per hour. $120 per hour if the project is big enough that you won’t have to look for work for a while. $100 per hour if you’re really hungry.

I’m sick of reading blog posts about how much to charge. They don’t tell me anything I don’t already know. And they never tell you how much to charge. You’re welcome.

Someone reading this post is charging half that much. You are doubly welcome. You won’t make any more money but you’ll make the same doing half the work. Use that other time to improve your skills.

42 thoughts on “How Much to Charge for Freelance VBA Development

  1. LOL!

    That’s what I charge…well, it’s $125 rather than $120.

    But, a common response I get is “Well, I have a quote for beer-and-wings,” or in some instances, “Well, XYZ, who is also an MVP, will do it for beer-and-wings.”

    I’m not sure of the purpose of such an email. Does s/he really think I will write, “Well, I’ll do it just for the beer?” Or, maybe, just the wings? {grin}

    In any case, my response has always been “Please go ahead with the quote that you like because I do quality work and my fee is my fee.”

    I also don’t charge for rework that is clearly a product of my work or for “small” changes.

    While I keep busy, I definitely could do with more work.

    That leads me to the suspicion that the above is the wrong approach. I suspect I would make more money if I were to charge $80 or even $60. Then, (1) charge for the hours that someone with the commensurate experience would take, and (2) charge for *every* itsy-bitsy amount of work — no freebees.

    I wonder what others think.

  2. Tushar, my rate of 90 euro per hour is at current rates of exchange the same as your $125.
    Plus expenses at cost.
    The second approach of charging for everything is in effect what happens with contract staff. You pay them to work 40 hours and you get whatever they do in that time. Rates I have seen on jobserve.com vary from a low of $30 an hour for a general Excel/VBA/Access worker in the North of England to $150/hr in London for people with specific financial services experience. That latter may look good but that’s total earnings out of which you have to pay your own expenses, health insurance,pension contributions, etc.

  3. Ha! That is REALLY useful information. I have tried looking how much to charge per hour for my field of work (different then VBA development) but all discussions rarely give a actual amount to start from.

  4. I’m working on my first VBA project. Having come from electrical engineering to programming and self educated myself (and read a ton of books on Excel) I recently got my first job consulting for an Excel project. I charge $40/hour and I charge for everything, even when I research because I don’t know how to do it. I figure it is my internship and so I don’t charge too much. If I were to tell them my starting rate again I would probably say $45/hour but being a beginner I think I’m in the ball park of where I should be. Granted future projects I’ll ask for more.

    Is $45 a good amount for beginners like me?

  5. Looks like we are mostly in the same ball-park. My current rate is £750/day = $150/hour, + expenses + VAT.
    I only do project-based work from my office with a predefined deliverable end-product rather than contracting at a customers site.

  6. Hi guys,
    I worked for about 1.5 year as a freelance Excel VBA developer. from July 2007 to Dec 2008 with the same client in different projects.
    I charged my client for 9.0 USD/Hour.
    I’m experienced in Excel development.
    I thought this is the normal range of payment.
    I got the job from banagalore carigslists and noticed that most freelance excel jobs are with the same range in Indian carigslists.
    Does it differ if the developer is from India, Egypt, or another poor country comparing with if the developer from USA or Europe?
    Does it differ if the developer is from the same town of the client and they can meet from time to time comparing with if the developer is from another country and all their sessions are by Internet?

    Finally, I would like to ask my colleagues, where are the best sites to get Excel development freelance jobs?

  7. I dont’ do consulting projects any more, but when I did, that was pretty much my rate structure as well, although I approached it on an estimated number of hours to complete and quoted fixed price. (Naturally I didn’t always make the face rate.)

  8. So how much experience did you guys get before starting to charge your rates?

    Also, it would be interesting to know what type of projects people people usually work on. My first and only project is a heat map for stadiums. It’s been pretty fun, for the larger stadiums I’ve been hitting the limits of Excel. Although Excel wasn’t really meant for it it is a great product for cheap and the customers love it, they much prefer it over the outdated system they were working with before.

  9. I’m with Charles there on the “same ballpark” comment: I charge £450/day = £75/hour also plus expenses and VAT. I could probably repeat what he said word for word for how I work as well.

    And like most folks here, if not all, my clients expect me to provide a finished product that does what I say it will, and that’s what they’re paying for. More than once I’ve had to fix work for a client when they’ve either gone in-house or had it done cheaper elsewhere – and they pay the same rate for that as they do for my other work. Equally I don’t charge for rework (as opposed to scope change/creep), and if I can fix something or provide what they need in a few minutes then nor do I charge for that – I just give it a goodwill value in my head.

  10. I’ll keep this pop to show guys i always help working with excel or office in general ;-)
    even if of course i’m far from your expertise level ;-)

  11. We had a contractor recently who charged $250 per hour. That included VBA and SQL Server work. I feel it was over-priced…

  12. Scott that would depend what they did per hour. If they do the work 10 times faster and it is 10 times better then they are cheaper than someone charging $2.50 per hr.

    I dont bother much with short term stuff now, but for offsite work I would look for something around 800 gbp per day. But it depends very much on the client and the project.

  13. Patrick: Can’t give away the trade secrets. However, it was a very niche experience set we were looking for. Very advanced Excel and VBA, plus SQL Server, plus a comprehensive understanding of retail merchandise planning. It’s that last piece that drives up the price. And that was the contractor’s rate, not what we were offering. We could either contract at the rate or not, but it wasn’t up for negotiation.

    Simon: They did good work, no doubt. But nothing that was so impressive that I’d never seen anyting like it before, and that I’ll never see it’s like again. It’s nothing we could not have done in-house, had we the resources. We simply didn’t at the time.

  14. ” plus a comprehensive understanding of . It’s that last piece that drives up the price. “
    Yep. So if you did not have the resources, and it made business sense to do it, the contractor cost would be a small part of the payback? Not overpriced then; just good timing. (from my POV :-))

  15. “it made business sense to do it”

    Ah, but did it? It’s a temporary (six month) solution that will go away when a different system is implemented. It really ended up being very expense change management…

  16. If you are charging $75/EUR90/$125 per hour. How many hours are you billing in a week.

    I am on my first Excel VBA contract and the rate is £30ph which I thought was pretty reasonable for VBA. I am a very experienced business analyst, expert MSSQL developer and pretty good in Excel (OK in Access) and pretty good in SSRS and Crystal Reports.

    So far all of my contracts have been medium term (3-12months) fixed hours contracts. How do you make the leap into ‘proper’ hourly rates billed direct rather than through a recruitment agency.

    How do you keep track of the hours ‘worked’ rather than R&D/personal development. How do you classify activity such as googling for a specific piece of code to save you hours of manual work (e.g. I ened up on this board looking for REGEX solutions to avoid some messy string manipulation code)

  17. @Scott,
    how niche? I have built WSSI reports in Excel for mail order operations (different from standard retail becuase they have to be done as SKU level rather than range/product mix level). I know most parts of multi channel retailing from SOP through to warehouse management, EPOS integration, Demand planning, RFV segmentation, courier integration, returns management, Purchase order managment. I am an SQL expert and know Excel VBA as well as Progress, Reporting Services, Crystal Reports and a bit of UNIX and a bit of .net (WPF and webforms). I would love to be earning £150 per hour.

    Give me a call :)

  18. For those who have quoted freelance rates, what would (or have you) accepted for a full time in-house role?

    Is there a rule of thumb that equates to say 60% (as an example) of your normal hourly rate that takes into account job security, no time spent tendering for work, medical benefits, workplace and equipment provided by employer etc?

  19. That isn’t a fair comparison by a long shot. To compare rates between perm and self-employed, you must take everything into account, including benefits employees have, which contractors don’t, like pension plans. As a self-employed dev I have extra (expensive!) insurances and the like.

  20. Guys,

    US view:

    Your salary is only part of it. You have vacation, sick leave, holiday leave, health insurance, self-employed tax, social security tax, etc.

    I was once employed by one company through another company. The intermediate company charged my salary and charged another 105% for “general and administrative charges” on top of my salary to the people I was working for. Assuming one-third of that overhead was profit for the middleman, there was 75% of my salary going for the expenses above. Of course, I still had to pay my personal share of social security tax, income tax, health insurance, etc.

    You only have about 1600 actual working hours out of the 2087 hours in a 8 to 5, five day a week year. As a freelancer, you have to charge enough for those 1600 hours to pay the overhead expenses and give your self a salary.

    So to equate to a $120,000 USD annual salary, you need to charge at least $131 per hour. That’s assuming that you work full-time (1600 hours a year); if you have down-time without work, you will make less. If you want a cushion, charge about $150 per hour.

    For all countries:

    The other way is to feel your way through. Record your chargeable hours for a period. Then raise your rates buy 10% for the next period. If you make more money in the second period, raise your rates again, else lower your rates by 5%. Iterate until you reach equilibrium. If you have to turn away work, raise your rates immediately.

  21. I would like to know what planet everyone else is living on. I have an MBA, degree in MIS, and 15+ years developing VBA/VB6 and SQl Server projects. In midwest towns, I contract for 35-50/hour and in big cities I contract for $45-60/hour. Who is getting 100-250/hour an how???

  22. What you can charge will depend on your strategy to get work. If you have lots of opportunities, you can charge whatever will drive the demand down to a workable level. Lots of companies will pay >$100/hour. Some won’t pay more than $50. If you’re passive about drumming up business, you’ll have to charge less to get more business, although it’s not advisable to go too low and undermine your perceived value.

  23. Hey, I just recently took up a project in VBA. In my opinion, I thought it was pretty basic. I thought it was going to take 2 weeks, but it ended up being 4 weeks (since this is my first project). This assignment was more of a “learning assignment” than an actual job. I probably worked a total of 29 days, and about 5-6 hours a day with most of those hours being reading, researching, troubleshooting, and face-palming. leaving me with only 1-2 hours of actual coding (not that I liked what i coded and didn’t restart it the next day). My estimation of charge was between 10-12 per hour, but I don’t know if this is too much/little.

  24. Hi guys! i hope you don’t mind but I’m looking for a particular Job as a VBA programmer, for 4 years of experience in this language, I strongly consider my specialty in VBA at a Professional Developer, I hope anyone can help me get a job.

    Thanks

  25. Hi all, there are 52 weeks in the year. 3 Weeks for vacation. 1 Week for all the public holidays. 3 Weeks for sick leave. That give 45 Working weeks. 8 hours per working day.
    2 Hours per day for research and Skills upgrading. 2 Hours for evaluating the specifications. 4 hours actual coding.
    Take the yearly amount paid for a position that equal your skill as a starting point. Divide by the 45 working days. Then divide by the 8 hours. This should be your hourly rate.

    Regards.

  26. Hi All,

    We are bunch of people who are experts in Excel and Advance Excel,Dash-boarding.Please suggest me where we can get big projects on VBA,Dashbaording and Data Analysis.We love to work on challenging assignments because we enjoy it.Please mail me the details to vijayadvanz@gmail.com.

    Feel free to contact and waiting for your valuable replies.

  27. Hey everybody,

    After seeing a bunch of your rates, I’m wondering if I’ve been undercharging my clients. I’m currently working on a stock spreadsheet dashboard for $12.60/hr, as well as another spreadsheet for $16, doing not as complicated work. I’ve been working through Odesk and the stock sheet was my first gig on it.

    I guess what I’m asking is: Should I be charging $16/hr or closer to $60? I know I’m not in the $150/hr range yet, but I have been designing and developing spreadsheets for 6 years, along with programming in Java for about a year. Any thoughts?

  28. For me, the crucial answer here was posted by David:

    “David says:
    July 12, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    What you can charge will depend on your strategy to get work. If you have lots of opportunities, you can charge whatever will drive the demand down to a workable level. Lots of companies will pay >$100/hour. Some won’t pay more than $50. If you’re passive about drumming up business, you’ll have to charge less to get more business, although it’s not advisable to go too low and undermine your perceived value.”

    And that applies for every business you can imagine.
    Thanks.

  29. I think a lot of the information in this thread is outdated. Although, would love to hear anyone else’s take…

    In my experience there’s been downward pressure on VBA consulting rates because of freelance websites, increasing numbers of people that can code, increasing number of people looking for flexible work, and possibly a decrease in demand (other coding languages are preferred now).

    If you look on any job search website the upper range for VBA consulting jobs is $55-$60/hour. Of course the agency advertising needs to take a cut of your salary before paying you. Also, these are the easiest jobs to get. You just need a resume that has some VBA experience on it. As others have mentioned, the more active you are to drum up work, the more you can charge. At a bare minimum, you should set up a website with examples of Excel & VBA projects that you’ve done (ex. http://excelbootcamp.com/about-me ). People will pay more if you can demonstrate that you are actually an expert.

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