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How Much Does It Cost To Hire App Developers

If you want to release an app, you need to build it. To do that, most founders assemble a team of developers. And this brings the question —  what’s the cost of hiring app developers? Depending on who you ask, the figures often differ, and sometimes very drastically.

According to Clutch, most app developers charge between $25 - $150 per hour. The marketplace also stated the average cost of mobile development projects, ranging from $10,000 to $50,000. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your app’s cost will fall within that range.

The cost to hire an app developer varies and depends on several factors, including experience, location, and skill sets. And the fee you pay for building an app is also influenced by project requirements, complexities, collaboration methods, and more. So, before you start an app project, you need to look beyond the app developers’ hourly rate.

I’m Stan Burenko, Head of Business Development at Uptech. I’m aware that startups operate on a strict budget, and founders want to know how much they should pay before building an app. In this article, I’ll share:

  • Factors that affect app developer’s cost;
  • The average rate that app developers charge;
  • Hidden costs you need to be aware of;
  • And how to estimate the cost of developing an app.

Let's start!

How much does it cost to hire an app developer

Hiring an app developer can be expensive or cheap, as the cost is directly affected by these factors.

Experience Level

You will pay more when engaging an experienced developer than one who has just entered the workforce. For example, a junior app developer in the US charges as low as $27 per hour, but senior developers can charge more than $64 per hour. Meanwhile, US developers with mid-level experience cost an average of $49 per hour.

Junior Mid-level Senior
US app developers $27/hour $49/hour over $64/hour

While you pay more when hiring a senior developer, you benefit from the experience they offer. Developers who have been in the industry for years can help you avoid common technical challenges and solve problems faster. For example, a senior developer might take a couple of hours to solve a bug, while an entry-level developer might require days.

Besides considering seniority, the experience developers have working in a similar industry also matters. For example, if you want to build a healthcare app, a candidate who has built similar apps and has adequate knowledge of HIPAA may ask for a higher salary. They know that their industry experience will greatly shorten the development time.

Region

Depending on where the developer is based, their fee can vary drastically. Developers working in major economies command a higher fee than those living in more affordable cities. For example, the average salary of front-end developers in the US is $86,707 per year, but the same position in Ukraine takes home $37,200 annually.

For a better comparison, I list the average salaries of front-end developers in several countries below.

Country Annual Salary
United States $86,700
United Kingdom $54,300
Ukraine $37,200
China $20,000
Philippines $25,800
India $6,350
Brazil $6,290

Now, I know it’s tempting to hire developers from the most affordable countries. But before you do that, consider the language barrier, cultural fit, and time zone. If the developer can’t speak your language fluently, miscommunication might happen. Likewise, it’s difficult to work towards a common goal if both parties have different work ethics.

Platform

The cost of an app developer also differs according to the platform your mobile app is built for. Developing apps for different platforms require specific programming languages, frameworks and software technologies. For example, we use Kotlin, Coroutines, and the Clean Architecture to build Android apps while our iOS developers are skilled in Swift, MVVM, and Redux.

Check our service page for the full list of tech stack we use.

Meanwhile, developing cross-platform apps requires entirely different tech stacks, such as Flutter and React Native. Depending on the type of app you want to build, you might pay a higher or lower fee. The app developer price for iOS, Android, and cross-platform applications is also influenced by the supply and demand of different regions.

Let’s take a look at what developers of different platforms charge in the US.

iOS Android Cross Platform
$121,570 per year $111,710 per year $145,917 per year

While cross-platform developers cost more than iOS and Android developers, they are more cost-effective if you want to launch an MVP targeting both platforms. That said, you will need to hire iOS or Android developers if your app requires native capabilities of either platform.

how much does it cost to hire app developer

How do developers calculate their rates

Developers have their respective preference methods for billing their customers. Some are more flexible, while others help you anticipate how much you will spend.

Hourly Rates

Many freelance developers charge hourly. They bill for the time spent designing, coding, testing, or performing any tasks related to building the app. According to Upwork, most developers on the platform charge between $18 and $39 per hour.

The great thing about this billing method is that you can adjust the project requirements as you go. However, you can’t get a proper estimate of the final value until the developer completes the project.

So, choose the hourly rate model only if you’re working on a project with vague or evolving requirements.

Project-based rates

If you want more control over app development costs, look for developers who can work with a fixed price. Usually, they assess your requirements and propose a fee for you to consider. This way, you have clarity on the entire cost of the app before you build it.

The downside of project-based pricing is that the developer might take a long time to map down the entire process and provide a quote. Also, you can’t change the requirements after starting the job. Basically, you relinquish control to the developer when you contract them on a project basis.

So, it’s important to be specific and clear with your requirements before starting the job. Otherwise, the developer will have to revise the entire contract, causing further delays and opportunity costs. To get the most out of the fixed-price model, use it on smaller projects that are easier to plan ahead.

Check 3 most common IT outsourcing models and how each calculate the price.

Retainer Agreements

What if you want to hire developers for the long term and need a more balanced pricing model? I suggest offering the developer the opportunity to work on a retainer basis. You pay them a fixed amount each month in exchange for allocated hours to work on your app.

This approach is similar to hiring full-time employees, except that the contract is valid for a specific period. If you’re building a complex app that takes months to complete, offering them a retainer provides stability and control.  

Key factors that affect hiring app developer costs

The exact app developer price can vary greatly depending on several factors.

Technical Skills and Specializations

Building an app requires different skill sets, and some are more in demand than others. Most developers are proficient in commonly used tech stacks, such as Java, React, and Python. However, it’s harder to find developers skilled in emerging or niche technologies, such as AI, blockchain, and fintech.

So, be prepared to pay more when hiring talents that are in short supply. For example, the average salary of web developers in the US is $79,687 annually, but AI developers take home more than $114,662 per year. To complicate matters, startups need to compete with global enterprises for exceptional tech talents.

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Type of Application

Application cost also varies according to their type and complexity. A simple app with minimal features is cheaper because it takes less time to build. On the other hand, you will pay more to create an app with multiple pages, beautiful visuals, dozens of third-party integrations, and complex backend services.

For example, the developer might charge $25,000 to build a simple real estate app, but an on-demand delivery app might cost up to $900,000. Most apps with medium complexity fall within the range, averaging $70,000-$90,000.  

Rather than including all features in the app, I recommend building a minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP consists of the most important features to help you validate your idea. Also, it’s cheaper and faster to build.

Outsourcing vs. Local Hiring

Another factor that can reduce your hiring cost is to outsource instead of hiring locally. In-house hiring allows you to assemble your own team of developers but might stretch your financial capacities in the long run. On top of paying fixed salaries, you’ll also be paying for benefits, insurance, training, and workspace rental.

Meanwhile, outsourcing can greatly reduce the app developer cost and give you the flexibility to grow your business. Many global startups outsource to Eastern European countries like Ukraine because of the robust IT ecosystem and talent pool we have. Imagine paying $50/hour instead of $100/hour while enjoying similar work quality when you outsource to Ukrainian developers.

How to Estimate The Cost of Hiring an App Developer: 5 Key Steps

There are so many factors to consider when finding out how much it costs to hire someone to build an app.  Here’s a step-by-step guide that helps.  

1. Define your project scope

First, list the type of app you need. Do you need a real-estate app that lets customers make appointments with agents or an e-commerce app that sells apparel to women? Sometimes, founders hire a developer to revamp or support an existing app instead of building a new one.

Learn how much it costs to redesign a web app.

Different types of apps have distinct functionalities and require different tech stacks to build. Also, your choice of platforms, iOS, Android, or cross-platform, will decide the type of developer you need to hire.

2. Search for app developers

Then, search for app developers and compare their rates. You can find potential app development partners on marketplaces like Clutch and GoodFirms. These platforms, like you, filter software development agencies based on location, price, and specialization.

Alternatively, you can ask fellow founders in your network for referrals. Some might have worked with good developers and will gladly pass you their contacts. This is also how many of our clients found us.

3. Compare portfolios and reviews

Regardless of how you found your candidates, it’s important to vet their credentials. Look through their portfolio to ensure they have done similar projects in your industry. Otherwise, they might need more time to understand your requirements and complete the project.

Also, don’t forget to check the reviews left by their past clients. If you spot any red flags, such as communication issues, delayed deliveries, and failed launches — move on to the next candidate.

4. Choose a collaboration model

Once you’ve narrowed down the candidate list, decide on a collaboration model you’re comfortable with. For example, if you already have clear requirements, features, and a target release date for a simple app, you can opt for the fixed-price model.  

If you’re in doubt, you can always ask the developer for the best pricing model. At Uptech, we’re conscious of the founders' priority of saving cost and quickly releasing the product. That said, we can also augment your team with skilled developers for the long term.

5. Request for a quote

Finding out the cost for app developers requires some effort to search and compare. If you want an immediate estimate, try our app development cost calculator. Follow the steps and select the options to find out how much it costs to build your app.

Hidden Costs of Hiring App Developers

Some startups hire an in-house team, hoping that the move helps them to save costs. On the surface, paying a salary might seem more economical than outsourcing to an app development company. However, there are hidden costs in hiring that you should be aware of.

Onboarding expenses

Each developer you bring to your team requires training and onboarding sessions. They will also need time to assimilate with your existing team members to contribute productively. All these result in long-term expenses that founders must bear.

Equipment costs

Unlike collaborating with an outsourcing partner, you need to provide your developers with a computer, workspace, infrastructure, and software development tools. This could mean purchasing software licenses or subscribing to third-party services, which will result in substantial operating expenses.

Project management costs

With an in-house team, you’re responsible for ensuring they collaborate efficiently. To do that, you’ll need to invest in project management tools, communication platforms, and documentation software. This includes hiring supporting staff to strengthen data security, manage internal documents, and more.

Tips for Hiring App Developers at a Good Cost

I want to stress that cost isn’t the sole consideration when hiring a developer. However, with all things being equal, it's better to keep costs at a minimum, and here’s how to do it.

Choose the Right Hiring Model

Apart from in-house hiring, you can opt for freelancers and outsourcing app development agencies. Freelance app developers' costs are generally cheaper than those of agencies, but they might deliver poor quality results. Also, a freelancer might need to juggle several projects, which jeopardize their outcomes.

On the other hand, contracting a reliable app development agency frees you from long-term financial commitment. You also don’t need to manage and lead the developers on your own. This way, you can spend more time on marketing, branding, sales, and other activities to grow your business.

Negotiate the Best Rates

When comparing quotes, some might strike you as more expensive than others. Chances are, there is room for negotiation. For example, a developer might quote a higher rate to cater to uncertainties in the project scope. If that’s the case, clarifying your project requirements can potentially reduce the fee.

You can also try negotiating different payment terms to see which gives you a better price. For example, some developers might offer a lower fee if you are willing to commit to a larger downpayment. What’s more important is to base your negotiation on the market rate.

To learn what most developers are charging, you can check out sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and Payscale.

Ensure Quality Within Your Budget

It’s tempting to choose the developer with the lowest rate, but before you do that, make sure that they can deliver what you want. Look out for red flags that might cause problems later in the collaboration. For example, developers in some Asian countries charge a very low rate, but most struggle to communicate in English.

Another concern is whether they include all the necessities to launch and support your app successfully. Some developers omit post-release support in the quote, only to charge you an expensive sum later on. As I mentioned, scrutinizing the developer’s portfolio and review can root out questionable candidates.

Conclusion

It’s almost impossible to provide a definite rate to build an app, as developers charge differently for various reasons. However, you can get a better estimate by specifying your project scope, collaboration model, and hiring method.

Generally, in-house hiring provides more control, but founders must commit more resources in the long run. Meanwhile, outsourcing is a flexible alternative that pairs you with skilled developers.

So, weigh all factors carefully before hiring an app developer. I’ve shown how you can estimate app developer costs and the average market rates. To accelerate your decision, try our interactive app development cost calculator.

FAQs

How much does it cost to hire a developer to create an app?

The cost to hire a developer for creating an app varies widely and depends on several factors, including experience, location, and skill sets. It can range from $10,000 to $50,000 and more.

What is the average cost to hire an app developer?

The average cost to hire an app developer can be around $25 to $49 per hour for a freelance developer, while agencies and outsourcing companies may charge $50 to $250 or more per hour.

How to calculate application cost?

To calculate the approximate application cost, you should follow these 5 steps:

  1. Define your project scope
  2. Search for app developers
  3. Choose a collaboration model
  4. Estimate the time required for the development
  5. Multiply the time by the hourly rate of the developer

Are there any hidden costs when hiring app developers?

Hidden costs when hiring app developers may include fees for onboarding, equipment when you hire in-house. If you outsource developers, you may also pay for third-party tools, post-launch support, updates, and server expenses. Clear communication and a detailed contract can help minimize surprises.

How can I reduce the cost of hiring an app developer without compromising quality?

To reduce the cost of hiring an app developer without compromising quality, consider IT outsourcing to regions with lower labor costs, using hybrid development frameworks, prioritizing essential features, and negotiating fixed-price contracts. Also, thorough planning and clear project requirements can streamline development, reducing the need for revisions and extra expenses.

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