How Much Do FileMaker Developers Make?

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How Much Do FileMaker Developers Make?

by Molly Connolly

I recruit and train FileMaker developers for custom software solutions and have extensive knowledge of compensation in our field. Here are some salary numbers that I put together to help you get an idea of what junior, mid-level, and senior FileMaker developers earn:

Technical Lead

A Technical Lead is currently the most sought after FileMaker position in the industry. A technical lead not only has great technical chops, but they are able to perform needs analysis, architect solutions, interact with customers and above all—manage other developers. This person helps you grow your business. This person already has a full-time job or is working for themselves and in order to lure them to work for you you’ll need to offer security, interesting projects, autonomy, flexibility and money. Technical Leads earn between $85-100/hour as a subcontractor. Technical Leads who are on their own typically have their own clients and are charging $100-150/hour.  They can expect to earn $95-125K (including a bonus of up as much as 10% of salary) as a full-time employee.

Senior Developer

A “senior” FileMaker developer is a person with strong project management skills and a good deal of experience behind them. A senior developer is someone you can trust to interact with your clients and deliver high-quality work on schedule. Some senior developers are able to work well and finish projects on their own but do not necessarily have the management experience (or aptitude) to lead a project team. A senior FileMaker developer can earn between $65-85/hour as a subcontractor or expect to earn $65-85K as an employee.

Mid-Level Developer

A “mid-level” person is a competent and experienced developer. They may be moving toward managing design and client relationships but aren’t quite there yet. A “mid-level” FileMaker developer may just need to gain experience interacting with clients or, in some cases; it may not be their personal forté. You’ll need to provide training, oversight and code review for a mid-level developer. A good mid-level FileMaker developer can bill about $35-50/hour as a subcontractor or expect to earn between $45-65K per year as an employee of a consultancy firm.

Junior Developer

A “junior” developer has little FileMaker experience and 2-3 years of work experience or is just out of college. With training (see our month-long “on board” training program here) junior FileMaker developers can provide programming and administrative support to more senior staff. A junior can bill at around $25/hour and should expect to earn about $30-45K a year as an employee.

How do these numbers look relative to your skills and earnings? Do they sound about right?

If you want to earn more, an investment in professional development can make a big difference to your checking account balance. We’re happy to point you towards some helpful training resources or give you some direction to help you meet your personal training goals. Just drop us a note via the website contact form!

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About Heidi Rettig
  • Crystal Smith Apr 10, 2014 at 16:12

    Great read Molly and Heidi. As always, I enjoy your content. Looking forward to your next post.

    Reply
  • Gary Apr 13, 2014 at 17:14

    My open rate is a little high in the Technical lead category, but most of my customers are on contract right in the $100-$150 range.

    I have about 17 years of full time experience with FileMaker and am a company of one.

    Thanks for this Molly!

    Reply
  • admin Apr 14, 2014 at 14:07

    I had quite a few comments on my last post about salary and I thought I’d just add a few notes to calm some people’s concerns.

    First–this is not an statistically significant survey. I’m basing this on a survey that about 100 developers responded to across the U.S. They consisted of in-house developers, consultants, independent developers (subs), and small business owners. I’m also basing it on recruiting work that I’ve done for a dozen companies over the past 5 years.

    Second–if you’re printing this pooch out and going to your boss saying you are a tech lead and think you deserve to make $125K/year I haven’t informed you well as $125 is RARE and most of those folks were stating that as their overall compensation (bonus included). While I agree with you that you probably DESERVE to be paid that much, the truth is given the roller-coaster nature of our business, very few FileMaker consultancies are in a position to pay that kind of salary. If you really are a rock star, keep in mind the business owner is taking all the risks of a project going over budget, times when you are twiddling your thumbs waiting for more work to come in. The bigger issue of course is overhead–marketing, sales, equipment, rent, insurance and on and on. When you’re not billing–your boss is still paying you and this is often more of a challenge than most employees realize.

    This is why in general I suggest to owners to try to set up situations where your great developers have an opportunity to be rewarded for great work. This includes vacation time (optimally well scheduled for when billable work is light), bonus structures based on individual performance, profit sharing based on the success of the overall company, good benefits, flexibility etc.

    What I tell consultants is to evaluate your overall package. What kind of benefits do you have? Do you get vacation (ranges from 1-4 weeks)? What kind of flexibility do you have? Do you have interesting challenging work? Do you have assistance when you need it or do you feel like you get hung out to dry?

    There is more to a career than your salary so make sure you think about the big picture in terms of your overall compensation.

    Reply
  • Taylor Sharpe May 6, 2014 at 15:24

    In Dallas my standard rate is $125 an hour, sometimes $95 an hour for long term customers or non-profits. If I don’t like to work for you, it is $200 an hour . But there are several developers asking quite a bit more and getting it. I would say the going rate in Dallas is about $150-175 an hour.

    The last couple of years were a lot tighter than 2014 is turning out to be. Dallas has a fairly booming economy and I have more work than I can do, so I can pick and choose. It is not like the late 1990’s IT boom, but things are very regular and stable. And in my market, I am one of the lower advertised rates.

    There is a developer in our area that I respect a lot, Kirk Bowman, of MightyData. His company doesn’t do hourly rates, only project rates based on the pre-determined value of the project. I really like the idea if I could get clients that would know ahead of time what all they want. Most of my clients are small to mid-sized companies (e.g., 10-75 employees) that have a moving target of what all they want. While I like big projects, 75% of my work is maintenance and improvements of already existing systems.

    Reply
  • Dennis Burnham May 7, 2014 at 00:10

    This is more or less an echo of what Taylor wrote. My experience is very similar, especially in terms of the last 2-3 years being much better than the downturn before them. I also observe some recent new business coming from business leads at Apple Stores where customers are looking for apps that can be developed nicely for FM-GO.

    Compensation is also something Taylor and I seem to have in common. Even in a small town like Dallas, we seldom bump into one another and I am confident it’s not because of rates. I often remind customers that hourly rates are a meaningless measure unless you can safely predict how much work someone can accomplish in an hour. When I remind clients that my rate may be double that of a junior geek, but I produce 3x as much in results, then they are way ahead of the curve.

    Something else I ask my clients to consider is the intangible value they get from a consultant with 40+ years of business experience. Very often, I am able to recommend things that a client never imagined could be done, with or without FMP. It underscores my value as a consultant, not merely a FileMaker developer. I am always willing to invest in the out-of-town travel that introduces me to clients distant from Dallas because it builds more long-term business security to have clients spread out around the USA and even abroad. A few hours of additional work pays that back as ROI every time, and being on-site always exposes me to things that can be done in FileMaker which nobody thought of asking for in their RFP or phone call.

    Taylormentioned Kir’s method of defining a price for the value of a project rather than hours. While I admire the concept, I have yet to encounter enough projects that would make that become my usual business model. Instead, I can determine the hourly rate that applies based on the complexity of the work and the predicted long-term volume.

    Let me also use this forum as a way to mention that I am at work on a business tool for FileMaker developers to help engage new clients, maintain those relationships, and avoid quarrels and misunderstandings. If anyone shares my interest in this topic, please comment.

    Reply
  • Bill Bennett May 7, 2014 at 06:18

    Thanks for posting this, Molly!

    Seeing some of these numbers written down helps me understand the market a little better. Bottom line is that there are solid rewards in the FM space if one can develop a well-rounded game with deep technical chops.

    That is an excellent promise, especially to young developers. Sky is the limit!

    Best,
    Bill

    Reply
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