Job report: Freelance engineers in Denver paid among the least in U.S., but trade lower wage for lifestyle

Hired.com's State of Contract Work: Freelance engineers who work 40-hour weeks can make more cash than full-time workers in Denver. The tradeoff? No benefits.
Hired.com’s State of Contract Work: Freelance engineers who work 40-hour weeks can make more cash than full-time workers in Denver. The tradeoff? No benefits.

A new report out Wednesday by job site Hired found that freelance technology workers in Denver earn less than the other similar contract workers in major cities, though they do better per-hour than full-time workers.

In Denver, the average freelance engineer makes $67 an hour, or $139,360 a year if they work a 40-hour week. Traditional full-time software engineers in Denver make $112,350, according to Hired’s State of Contract Work report.

But that pay rate, as well as the $65 an hour for freelance designers, was “some of the lowest” in the analysis,  Hired CEO Mehul Patel said.

The lower pay rates in Denver are due to a lower cost of living than “the really expensive cities” like San Francisco, New York and Washington, Patel said. To live a lifestyle comparable to Denver, a Bay Area freelance worker must earn $227,816.

“Tech workers in Denver care deeply about working for a company where they believe in the mission and can take ownership of products and processes, but work-life balance is also extremely important to them,” Patel said. “That makes contract work especially appealing because it provides the flexibility to work when you want and prioritize your personal interests, whether that be raising a family or skiing in the middle of the week. Our candidates in Denver often tell us they want the best of both worlds, and freelancing can make that a reality.”

Engineers in Austin, Texas, make $72 per hour, while in Chicago, they’re getting paid $83 an hour. In San Francisco, freelance engineers average $108 per hour.

On the other end, freelance engineers in San Diego make less than those in Denver, or $64 an hour. But that rate is so low, that such workers live poorly making it one of the worst places to be a freelancer in the tech industry.

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