Mary Yasensky Delivery Manager

    The Cost of a Mobile App Developer for Hire: Salaries, Hourly Rates, and Other Expenses

    The salary and hourly rate businesses pay to hire app developers depend on their location, the languages they use, their skills and experience, their project roles, and lots of other factors like the complexity of the created mobile app or even the type of application they’re working on. 


    How to find balance when picking the right developer, what can be the average cost to hire an app developer, what is a mobile expert’s hourly rate (depending on all these factors), and what can be a mobile app developer salary depending on the person (or people) you’ll choose?

    Surf has been on the global custom software development market since 2011, and our clients’ geography is wide. We have developed the first neobank in Pakistan, the first Flutter-powered bank in Europe, and worked with teams of KFC and Burger King. We are well-aware of regional requirements and expectations as well as of competition specific. Let’s dig deeper into the question and find the answers! 

    How often do you return to your vendor with a new project? And our clients do come to us again

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    An app developer salary range: the major factors that affect it

    Although there can be dozens of multiple factors affecting the salary of a mobile developer and their hourly rates, in this article, we’ll concentrate on the most significant ones:

    1. Location
    2. Languages/technologies applied
    3. Skills
    4. Experience and project role

    Of course, there can be more things that affect the matter like the complexity of the project or the type of the application built. We’ll touch upon them, too, to help you see the whole picture. Let’s start with the factor that causes the biggest differences in app developer salaries and hourly rates – the location.

    Cost of hiring an app developer depending on their location

    According to Business of Apps, an average US developer earns about $121k / year; an average Indian one earns $5k / year. 

    We’ve decided to consider different locations all over the world so that you notice the differences caused by the country’s level of development and average salaries. 

    The US

    The salaries and the hourly rates of US developers are some of the highest in the world. No wonder: we have a highly developed country and skilled well-educated specialists, so why should they underestimate themselves? 

    In fact, they don’t. An average salary of a US mobile app developer is about $99,840. While it may vary between the states from $115,013 in California to $84,722 in Texas. So if you decide to hire an in-house specialist, be ready to dip into your pocket. Do not not forget about paid leave, retirement and savings fund payments, taxes, and compensations.


    North America can’t “boast” of low salaries to highly qualified specialists, and Canada is no exception. After the USA, Canada is one of the most generous countries, with $84,741 of the average base salary of a mobile developer according to Indeed. At hourly rates, the average amount makes a bit more than $30.21 per hour. Still not on the cheap side, right? 


    Let’s leave North America now and check what’s going on in the sphere of developer salaries in other corners of the world. In Australia, it amounts on average $124,743. Speaking about an hourly rate, it’s about $52.55 per hour. 

    Costs to hire an app developer depending on the languages and technologies

    As we’ve stated before, the location is an important but not the only factor affecting their salaries. The gap between the lowest and the highest possible salary can be wide, as you may have already noticed; in fact, it can be even bigger in real life in the case of big companies.

    Of course, the languages and the technologies used by programmers can’t but influence their market value. The more modern, complicated, and widely-used these elements are, the more you’ll have to pay your potential employee. 

    Have a look at the table below, and you’ll see what we mean


    As you can see, the difference can be rather significant – an annual salary may vary from $32,986 to $95,000 for people with the same level of experience, living in the same country, but building apps in different languages. 

    Costs to hire an app developer depending on their skills

    You may have noticed before that people with similar backgrounds who occupy similar positions can get very different salaries. Why does it happen? Now, we’re coming to another equally important factor – skills. There are some hard skills that are different for iOS and Android programmers  and soft skills that might be the same for any coder.

    For an iOS developer, the hard skills their salary will depend upon include:

    • Ability to work with different iOS programming languages, including Swift and Python.
    • Ability to create apps for various devices.
    • Ability to work with the frequently used open-source APIs.
    • Ability to work on cross-platform frameworks like Flutter.

    For an Android developer, the hard skills are rather similar:

    • Ability to work with Android programming languages, including Java and Kotlin.
    • Ability to work in open-source libraries and ecosystems.
    • Ability to work on cross-platform frameworks like Flutter.

    Speaking of soft skills, there are some that the employers appreciate most, like an ability to work in a team, resourcefulness and creativity, critical thinking, or good time management skills. 

    Of course, it’s impossible to say which of the skills “cost” more or which one will turn out to be more valuable for a definite employer. However, programmers can be sure that the more of these skills they possess, the higher salary they can hope for. 

    And this is quite reasonable, as, for instance, empathy works well for good understanding between team members which means faster and more efficient problem-solving. We, at Surf, lay weight on soft skills as we deliver dedicated teams and team augmentation to our clients and teamwork abilities are key to success in most cases.

    Costs to hire an app developer depending on their experience and project role

    In this respect, software development is not different from any other professional sphere like medicine or education – the more experience and the more important positions coders have, the higher they are paid. 

    The differences between the project roles are basically the following: 

    • Junior: from zero to 2 years of experience. Juniors come with no or little experience and have to learn a lot during the working process so that they can utilize their knowledge in real life. 
    • Middle: from 2 to 5 years of experience. They have good knowledge in the sphere but still have a lot to learn. 
    • Senior: 5+ years of experience. They know all common patterns and anti-patterns, have a masterful command of languages, understand the standard application protocols, and are wonderful mentors. 
    • Principal/Architect: most preferably, 10+ years of experience. These specialists are usually responsible for the technical control of the apps and manage the whole development process. 

    This goes without saying, that the difference between the sums paid to various software developer roles vary a lot. And your expenses will depend on your project needs in skills and complexity.


    An in-house app developer, a freelancer, or an outsource company? 

    If you think of how much it may cost to hire a mobile developer, there is one more thing you must be worrying about: which type of hiring to choose? 

    In most cases, employers consider 3 types of cooperation with application developers: hiring  in-house employees, finding a freelancer to perform a certain task, and resorting to an outsource software development company for a turnkey project. 

    Expenses on an in-house app developer

    The first variant is the most expensive one and is suitable only for the companies that are going to build mobile apps continuously. In this case, you will need your own development team that will consist of four to six people

    Expenses on a freelancer

    This option is the cheapest one for an employer as you’ll only have to pay hourly rates to your employees. In this case, you avoid all the expenses connected to insurances, pensions, paid leaves, etc. On the other hand, this type of cooperation works the best only for short or very simple projects. Otherwise, the number of communication challenges you’ll face and a lack of a competent and well-knit team will give you too much trouble.

    Expenses on an outsource software development company

    The idea of hiring not separate application developers, but a professional team of developers who will build a product for you for a set price and require no further expenses seems like a middle ground. Here’s why:

    • Normally, it takes about 3 to 8 months for a team to build one application. If you decide to hire a team only to create one product for your company, these people will have no work after the task is completed. By hiring an outsource company to create the single product for you, you avoid the necessity of hiring a team of high-paid specialists for completing a single task. 
    • When you hire an in-house team, you should be ready to bear lots of expenses like paid leaves, insurances, benefits, annual payments to retirement funds, etc. When resorting to an outsource company, you only pay for a particular service. When the service is rendered and paid for, no extra expenses fall upon you.;
    • When hiring a team of specialists or a freelancer, it’s not only money you have to worry about. People can get ill, have some personal problems or excuses that prevent them from completing the task you’ve given to them. If your hire an outsource company, you won’t face such problems; you only pay for your application and will have it ready for you by the previously set date.;
    • You save a lot of money and still get a very high-quality product, as a software development company values its reputation. The better projects they produce, the higher their chances of finding more clients are. They will do their best to create a high-quality product for you as this product will be proof of the company’s solid reputation.

    If you decide to hire  a development company, check platforms like Clutch, DesignRush, or G2. They offer brief descriptions and facts about the companies, with client reviews. Most development agencies choose to keep an active profile on such platforms. For instance, we at Surf maintain a visible presence on Clutch, DesignRush. There you can find experts for projects of any complexity level.


    The costs to hire a mobile app developer: conclusions

    As you can see, it’s hardly possible to say how much hiring a mobile programmer will cost you as there are lots of factors influencing it:

    1. Location. A US developer will cost much more than a Canadian one, while a Canadian developer will cost more than an Indian one. 
    2. Languages/technologies applied. Although the salaries don’t differ greatly, still a Dart specialist will cost you less than a Swift  or Java programmer.
    3. Skills. The more required hard and soft skills an application developer has, the higher their salary can be. 
    4. Experience and project role. Like in any other sphere, the more you work and learn, the more skills you get, the higher salary you can count on. An architect can cost you twice as much as a Junior.
    5. Hiring separate specialists, a development team, a freelancer, or an app development company like Surf. Each variant has its pluses and minuses and an employer has to think carefully before choosing the best option. 

    Still, the salary ranges are more or less clear, and the sums are never low. Give a good thought to an idea of avoiding all the extra expenses and paying for your product only. Here, you will need to hire an experienced technology partner with relevant skills and projects in their portfolio and elaborated approaches and practices.

    Thus, based on our experience with Flutter cross-platform framework, we offer it to our clients for fintech apps as the SDK has already proven to be efficient in terms of performance, functionality, UI possibilities, and scalability,  on the one hand. And on the other hand, the cross-platform approach allows for 40% economy as compared to native apps development due to a single code base used for both platforms, Android and iOS.

    Or, we suggest to our ecommerce clients a template-based approach to creating mobile apps, that provides for faster development due to applying customizable templates for a basic app version.

    If you are interested to hire the team that worked on the KFC project, contact us

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