The Cost of Hiring an App Developer: Global Salaries and Rates

Maryna Pasko
Market Researcher

Hiring a developer is an essential part of creating your app. After framing your vision and defining concrete features and functionalities, you'll move to the budget planning phase. The cost of hiring a professional developer will likely be a primary concern at this stage.

So, how much does it cost to hire an app developer?

To help you out, MadAppGang researched app developers' salaries and fees around the world. Below, we've highlighted key points and what you need to know.

Which Factors Affect an App Developer's Salary?

Imagine, there are around 26 million developers worldwide, and the number keeps growing! Among them are people with different backgrounds, knowledge, levels of ambition, and most importantly, different expectations when it comes to money.

Here are the top factors which impact an app developer's salary.

Experience

The app development job market is broad and dynamic. Plus, the industry keeps growing, so there's always a high demand for specialists. This demand means new app development companies and individual entrepreneurs appear on the scene regularly.

Experience plays a key role in a developer's salary. Hiring a senior developer with 10 or more years of experience costs a pretty penny whereas hiring a middle-tier or even junior specialist with 2 to 4 years of experience is significantly less expensive. According to Payscale, the annual salary for app developers starts at $59,000 for beginners and increases up to $92,000 for experts.

Source: PayScale

Skills

The developer's skill range also influences their paycheck size. Those who use an advanced tech stack and are aware of the industry’s newest trends charge more.

What else besides a developer’s toolkit defines their salary? A set of IT-related qualifications may also contribute. A real pro is devoted to upgrading their knowledge in such areas as cloud computing, database administration, networking, and relevant soft skills.

Location

App developer wages fluctuate worldwide, so take your time to explore the global market.

For example, did you know that developers based in North America often set $100 to $150 hourly rates, while a programmer from India or the Philippines could price the same job at only $15 to $25 per hour?

Wondering why such a gap exists? We'll find out later in the article, but for now, let's look at the differences in app development rates according to the operating system (OS).

Android App Developer Salaries vs. iOS App Developer Salaries

When it comes to mobile app development, you have to make a choice: launch a native app exclusively on Android or iOS or build an app that's supported by multiple platforms.

Based on this decision, you'll search for a developer with relevant skills and a tech stack. Before we get into details about the average salary of such a professional, let's clarify a few points regarding Android and iOS.

  • Android developers use Java and Kotlin as their primary programming languages and work with tools such as Android SDK, B4A, Fabric, and others.
  • The Android mobile operating system confidently holds the market share — almost 73 percent of users worldwide have an Android system on their mobile devices. Unlike iOS, which runs on Apple products only, Android is compatible with multiple gadgets and brands. This diversity and the variety of screens causes fragmentation and greater development complexity compared to iOS.
  • Widespread usage of the Android system results in constant demand for skilled developers. As of 2016, there were around 12 million mobile app developers worldwide (now it's even more). Nearly half of these developers focus on Google Android.
  • According to Indeed, the average annual salary of an Android developer in the United States is around $124,500.
  • Objective-C and Swift are the main programming languages for iOS developers. Their toolkit mostly consists of CocoaPods, Xcode, RxSwift, etc.
  • Statistically, the App Store has fewer downloads than Google Play, but its revenue is higher as there are more engaged users. In terms of app submission, the App Store has a set of specific requirements and review guidelines. Around 40 percent of submitted apps or updates are rejected by the App Review team, the company says.
  • Back in 2016, there were 2.8 million developers around the world concentrating on iOS. That's less than half the number of Android developers, by the way.
  • The annual income for an iOS app developer in the US is around $126,000.

Despite such a minor difference in income, the price of Android app development may differ from iOS app development cost, as we revealed in our previous research.

Wrapping up this topic, it's worth mentioning cross-platform app developers, who mostly work with React Native, Xamarin, and Flutter. Code reusability makes creating cross-platforms app faster and cheaper than native apps.

But does that mean cross-platform developers earn less than programmers who work on native apps? Well, not really.

A recent study conducted by the Open Flutter Project shows that Flutter app developer salaries worldwide are similar to Kotlin and Swift app developers. In countries as the USA, Russia, and India, cross-platform salaries are even higher than those of single-platform developers.

Who Should You Hire?

After you've decided on the platform, it's time to choose who will implement your idea and bring it to life. Again, you have several options here, should you hire an in-house developer, independent contractor (freelancer), or perhaps a team of experts within a development company?

Faced with these options, how much should you expect to pay in each case?

App Development Company

Entrusting your project to the experts is the most optimal solution. App development companies comprise a complete team of professionals and possess a cutting-edge tech stack.

Besides a responsible, knowledgeable approach to the technical side of things, development agencies know the importance of communication and have professionals in place to keep communication channels between you and the development team open and clear.

One benefit is that you can fully concentrate on your business but keep track of the whole process via a dedicated project manager, for example.

When it comes to price, it's hard to generalize as each company has different rates. But the final costs will depend on the app's complexity and basic features. To learn more, read our article covering the difference between $5,000 and $5,000,000 apps.

If you hire an app development company (which is the best option if you ask us), they will probably consider your budget before giving you a quote.

Disclaimer: We’re an app development company. If you want to know how much your project might cost, send us an email with a brief description of what you want to build. We can provide you with a rough estimate once we know your requirements.

In-house Developer

Many companies prefer to build in-house mobile apps. It enables deep involvement in the development process and guarantees corporate data security. The in-house team has access to the business strategy and target audience, while the business owner communicates with developers closely and monitors the process.

To build a successful business-driven app, you need a whole team of professionals including developers, designers, project managers, analysts, quality assurance engineers, and team leads. Recruitment and training of this staff will likely be costly for small and medium-sized enterprises. Is there any chance to cut the expenses? Well, there is. You can hire a smaller team or even a single full-stack developer to build your application. But remember that lack of expertise in different areas can result in poor app performance — and ultimately waste your time and money.

Freelancer

Hiring a freelancer to develop your app is another option. If you have a small-scale project with a limited budget it may work. But don't rush into sealing the deal because there are a few pitfalls worth considering.

The app development process requires a complex approach. Expert knowledge in fields like development, design, and management must be present. In a development team, roles are assigned accordingly to multiple professionals, but a freelancer working solo on a project must shoulder all these responsibilities alone.

When only one person covers such a diverse and broad range of tasks – from planning and designing up to quality assurance before deployment — how many mistakes do you think can occur?

Apart from that, communication with a freelance developer can turn out complicated and unclear. The potential for misinterpretations could result in a deep dissatisfaction with the final product.

As for the price, freelancers likely to set an hourly rate for their work. On such resources as Upwork.com, the bids vary from $10 up to $150 per hour.

App Developer Rates Around The World

As you explore the global market, you will notice how geographic location impacts developer salaries. Due to the state of the world economy, wages and rates vary widely. So besides choosing who to hire, you should consider where you'll hire.

Below are some of the least and most expensive countries to hire a mobile app developer.

North America, Western Europe, and Australia

New tech hubs keep appearing worldwide, but Silicon Valley holds its position as a global center for technology. This core of innovation holds industry giants such as Facebook, Apple, Nvidia, Cisco, and understandably attracts the best talent from all over the world. No wonder app developers in the United States earn more than their colleagues in other nations.

Indeed estimates the average salary of a developer in the United States at $107,000, much higher than a developer's income in Australia, Canada, the UK, and Germany.

Source: Indeed

Eastern Europe and South America

Countries in Latin America and Eastern Europe keep gaining popularity for both IT investment and outsourced labor. The quality of education in both regions results in highly skilled professionals. According to Hackerrank, Poland has the best Java programmers, Russia is ranked number one for algorithms, and developers in Ukraine are on top when it comes to security.

Due to economic factors, the average salary of a mobile app developer in these countries is noticeably lower than in North America and Western Europe. For instance, an app developer from Poland earns an average of $22,000 per year, as estimated by Salary Explorer.

India and Asia-Pacific

Asia-Pacific and India are currently booming with talented developers. Hiring well-qualified staff for low wages seems rational from the point of cost optimization. Broad possibilities for outsourcing (in which India, by the way, is currently prospering) attracts investors from all over the world.

The average salary of a mobile app developer in India is roughly $6,000, according to Payscale, it's nearly the same in Indonesia, while developers in the Philippines collect around $9,000 annually.

Before hiring an app developer, it's essential to research the market. It's also good to know which factors influence the cost of hiring and why.

You should have a clear vision of your project too, as this will help you decide who can best bring your idea to fruition and really make it shine.

If you have more cost-related questions, check out our in-depth article, How much does it cost to develop an app?

08 December 2020 app developer salary