What Do WordPress Developers Get Paid?

In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Vivamus adipiscing fermentum quam volutpat aliquam. Integer et elit eget elit facilisis tristique. Nam vel iaculis mauris.

Whether you are a developer trying to figure out what you are worth or an employer trying to figure out what you should offer, there are a lot of answers to this question. A WordPress developer isn’t a static thing, existing at one price point for all experience levels and in all markets.

Searching for the answer online, you will be faced with several articles and tools, showing off a variety of answers. Let’s dig into all this and see if we can get any closer to a good answer.

First, let’s look at the variables that will affect the resulting number.

Variables of WordPress Salary

  1. Experience — A developer may have a lot of potential, but be very green in their skills. These junior developers need a chance to grow within an organization. They will be on the lower end of the salary spectrum. Senior developers are senior for a reason. They know what they are doing. They likely also know what they should be paid.
  2. Type of developer — There are different skill sets in WordPress. We like to call them Developers, Designers, and Themers. The difference comes down to how deep they are able to delve into the codebase and their sensibilities with regard to the front end. Those that do more work with page builders and existing plugins are not likely to get paid as much as the custom coding developer.
  3. Type of employment — Freelance developers, generally, cost less than full-time or part-time developers. There are also interns, remote workers, and temps. If you know what you want in a developer, you can start making wage decisions.
  4. Location — Different parts of the country have different costs of living. Accordingly, they also have different salary levels. What would count for a lot in Peoria would not do in NYC. Take where you are into account when expecting or setting a salary.

WordPress vs The World – A Side Note

An unfortunate reality (or fortunate, depending on where you’re standing) is that the average salary for a WordPress developer is considerably lower than that of a Joomla or Drupal developer. Based on averages from Glassdoor, Indeed, Payscale, and others, developers for Joomla and Drupal can make between 20 and 40 percent more than their WordPress counterparts.

This might be the case for a number of reasons laid out thoughtfully in a post by Tom McFarlin. Here are a few:

  1. Implementers vs developers — This essentially muddies the waters of what a WordPress developer actually is. Developers building custom plugins and themes are in the same pool as implementers that use existing plugins and themes to build a site. The skill gap between the two would warrant a delta in salary but this difference isn’t always known or understood by hiring managers. What “WordPress developers” are worth then gets driven down by this perceived homogeneity.
  2. WordPress sites can be built by anyone, right? — The fact that sites can be created simply on the WordPress platform by the non-technical using themes and plugins lends credence to the idea that WordPress is like Wix or Squarespace. The expansive capabilities of the platform aren’t well understood, therefore the skills required are undersold.
  3. Limitations of the competition — Joomla and Drupal are more specialized platforms with significantly fewer plugins and themes with which to throw together a unique site. This then requires developers that are able to do more custom work on those platforms, raising their profile as developers and winning them a larger paycheck.

The change required here is an educated hiring class that understands what they should pay when they need specialized skills. This is super important for those hiring too. If they don’t understand that they need a more specialized developer and end up with an implementer, it will cost them even more in lost time and an additional round of hiring.

How Much Do WordPress Freelancers Get Paid?

Freelance developers can be retained very cheaply when companies need little projects completed. This is not to say that cheap developers should be hired. As they say, you get what you pay for.

Job boards can differ greatly on how much developers cost. This is for the simple fact that being so globally connected, you’ll find a number of candidates from developing countries. The average cost of developer tanks when all candidates are pooled together.

Some boards, like Upwork and People Per Hour, don’t really have a vetting process for a developer’s skills. You’ll find hourly rates anywhere from an unbelievable $5 to upwards of $100, with most living in between $10 and $60 per hour.

On more specialized boards — like Codeable, Toptal, and Codementor — they require testing before they get listed. Only vetted candidates get through, giving them an initial vote of confidence to more accurately price their services. This, thankfully, pushes the average hourly rate up to between $60 and $90.

WP Engine has an extensive breakdown of average freelance rates in a long piece of research they undertook. They found that 60% of WordPress freelance jobs pay $30 or less. This number is only as true as the data available. The truth about freelancing is that many jobs are priced by the project, information that is meaningless in this context.

Freelancers can have difficulty with knowing how much to charge, but they should understand that they have expenses and taxes to manage that the person hiring won’t need to worry about. Build that into the total amount and be confident about your worth.

What Does a Full-Time WordPress Developer Cost?

When companies need developers in-house to manage ongoing WordPress work, they should involve themselves in the process and fully understand what they need. The average salary varies from site to site, but it gives a good idea of the baseline.

One issue that hampers accurate reporting on this is that salary isn’t always posted on job boards. If the data isn’t there to crunch, it doesn’t become part of the model. It may be that those that do not post salary information are paying more, but we don’t have the statistics.

Here are some number from some of the top job boards:

These all come to an average of $63,414/year.

But, again, there are many variables at play. If you need an implementer, you might be looking at a lower salary level. If you need custom coding solutions and programming problem solving, raise the salary you expect to pay. Are they junior or senior?

Cost of Picking the Wrong One

As an employer, you have to know that there is a chance that your eventual hire will not be up to the job you expect them to do. It happens to the best of us.

It is important, when thinking about salary, to also think about the cost of hiring the wrong person. They may even work for a few months before you understand that they need to go.

Taking into account the cost of job boards, the cost of time spent filtering and interviewing, the cost of time spent onboarding, the cost of salary and benefits, before you know it, you’ve spent 20-30k and ended up with nothing.

Then you must start the process over again, hoping you’ll get it right this time. This is a good reason not to set your salary bar too low. Further, finding the right way to assess the qualifications of candidates at the beginning of the process can save time, money, and the headache of repeating the process again.

VerifyWP can take your list of candidates and return to you a shortlist of the most talented in the bunch. Just like that. No need to wonder if they have the skills to do the job. You just have to figure out if they’ll fit in. We’ll leave that to you.