Software Developer Consultant Rates by Industry, Specialization, and Location

Updated 27 May 2022

9 Min


Without tech expertise, companies are at risk of investing money in unneeded custom software that won't go along with their business objectives or solve tech problems. And when it comes to the IT industry, mistakes cost a lot.

That's why businesses hire IT consultants — to help them design, optimize, architect, and implement software and processes. Without wasting time and money.

IT consultants are always experienced, skilled, and thus expensive specialists. In some countries, they charge $250/hour and more.

So in this guide, we're discussing software engineering consulting rates. How much they charge by region, what their rates are made up of, and how to save on consulting services.

What’s IT Consulting?

Before we move to the software consulting rates, let’s discuss who are IT consultants and what they usually do.

In IT, consulting means providing expert knowledge to help companies or individuals solve a business problem through the right technical solution. For example, your company used to run on an old CRM that cannot cope with the current load. And now you want to make the CRM more scalable or add a couple of new features like custom invoicing or push notifications.

You have a few options:

  1. Modernize an old system by migrating to the cloud and adding new features, and so on.
  2. Reengineer the CRM entirely (from C# to JavaScript).
  3. Replace the software with a new suite.

An IT consultant's job is to study your requirements, budgets, and constraints and help you choose the best option.

Why does your company need IT consulting?

Reasons why new and established business may need consulting services

Although they're good at programming, IT consultants don't always write code. They instead advise on tech solutions like choosing between Angular or React.js for a web app or selecting the best cloud database for a corporate CRM.

Consultants are supposed to improve the business, not just develop some software.

Still, many software development companies provide IT consulting as a part of their services. They help clients find a solution to existing business problems through technology and then assemble a team to build it from the ground up.

In general, IT consulting may refer to:

  • Enterprise solutions
  • Application development
  • Migration and maintenance services
  • UI/UX design services
  • Application testing services
  • Software security services

Businesses often hire consultants to get a piece of advise on configuring a large application like SAP or Oracle.

Consultants don't usually work 8/5 as regular employees do. They're brought in to give advice (or consultancy) for as long as needed. After that, they move to the next project.

Consultants' salary or income fully depends on the software consulting hourly rate they or their employers set. And in some cases, these numbers are really high.

What You Need to Know About Software Engineer Consulting Rates

IT consulting requires certain skills, both business and technical. You can't just grab a junior developer and turn them into a consultant in a month.

Consultants are generally more experienced (at least 10 years working in the field) and usually have some area of expertise that might have been difficult to find on the market. That’s why some IT consultants charge typically $500-$1,000 and more per day for their expert services.

Software engineer consultant rates often depend on location, company size, type of employment, expertise, and many other factors.

Consulting Rates by Specialization

Сonsulting companies usually have deep domain expertise (in healthcare, banking, fintech, or even blockchain technology) and industry experience.

For example, Cleveroad consultants work with (but not limited to) the following industries:

Same thing with technologies IT consultants work with.

PayScale claims $79,826 to be an average software consultant salary in the USA. But these numbers differ depending on the qualification and stack of technologies the specialist works with.

According to ZipRecruiter, a US-based hiring platform, Java consultants get $123,695/year on average. That's $62 per hour or $496 per working day.

While .NET/C# consultants are offered $90,402 to $120,000 salary. That’s from $40 to $60 per hour on average.

Of course, software consultant rates also heavily depend on location.

Consulting Rates by Location

Naturally, a tech consultant in Boston, Massachusetts expects to earn a higher rate than an IT consultant in Louisville, Kentucky. Even if they have the same qualification.

Higher rates are often connected with higher office rent prices, parking fees, local salaries and taxes, and only then — consultants’ qualification. For instance, in Central Europe, a popular software outsourcing region, IT consulting rates are 3-4 times lower than in the USA. According to Clutch, it's $35-50/hour vs. $100-$150 per hour for US developers' services. So why pay high rates when you can get the same work done offshore for a quarter of the cost?

We’re going to review software developer consulting rates by region in the next section of the article.

Check our guide explaining the pros and cons of offshore software development and how profitable it may be

Rates by the Consulting Company Size

It's mostly enterprises that order IT consulting services. They make massive investments into software products to improve or hold their current market positions. And they're faster to adopt advanced technologies to keep up with the changing industry standards and market demands.

Software consulting market share in Europe

IT mostly large enterprises that order consulting services

As for the size of consulting companies themselves, it turns out they can be very different. These days companies of all sizes — from 2 to 20,000 employees — are engaged in software engineering and consulting.

Let’s get a closer look at the size / hourly rate ratio:

Enterprise-level companies

Average project cost: from $500,000 to $100 million, and up.

Enterprise-large companies have hundreds of software developers and consultants having deep expertise in a specific area. They work with governmental projects and Fortune-500-size companies that can afford their rates.

Software developer consultant rates range between $250-$850/h, depending on the consultant's experience level.

Large-size companies

Average project cost: $125,000 to $5+ million

They also work with large budgets but not as large as enterprise-level ones. Big-size companies have 100 to 1,000 developers and consultants, usually from a few offices around the world.

They aren't as expensive as previous companies, yet not cheap either — about $200-$300 per hour of IT consulting.

Medium-size agencies

Average project cost: $50,000 to $5+ million

Probably the best option in terms of value for money.

Mid-size companies have between 10 to 100 developers and usually work with small to medium businesses. You can expect them to charge $125 to $175 an hour for project consulting in the US. Cleveroad is also a mid-size outsourcing company but we work with $23-50/h rates.

Still, working with less-known companies could be risky. It's a good idea to contact some of their previous clients or check verified reviews on Upwork, Clutch, or GoodFirms.

Small companies

Average project cost: $10,000 to $500,000

These IT firms usually have between 5 to 10 employees, including the company owners, and mostly work with startups, small and medium-sized local businesses. Their rates range from $75 to $125/hour, making them the most affordable option from the list.

Since such companies are quite small, they may not have the expertise you’re looking for. It’s always a good idea to double-check if they can handle the project of your size and complexity.

Software development consulting rates, by company size

Company TypeNumber of employeesHourly RateProject cost (average)



$350 - $850

$200,000 - $100,000,000+


100 - 1,000

$200 - $300

$125,000 - $1,000,000+


25 - 100

$100 - $200

$50,000 - $750,000


5 - 10

$75 - $125

$10,000 - $500,000

Fee Structure

Fee structure refers to how the consulting services will be paid off. There are three popular options:

  • Hourly rate. An IT consultant gets paid for the number of hours they've spent working on your project. It's a common practice in projects where it's not simple to calculate a fixed timeline.

  • Project-based. The consultant needs to finish working on the project in a given time-frame, like a month or so.

  • KPI. Product owners assess the work done; the consultant gets paid based on its quality.

Software consulting rates is the most common option in this field. Still, some companies prefer to charge a fixed amount after the work is done.

Consulting services help businesses in different spheres. Learn more about it our other in-depth article about IT consulting rates and costs!

Software Consultant Rates by Region

According to the Grand View Research report, North America dominates and is expected to continue dominating the consulting market when it comes to revenue.

US-based companies invest lots of money in ERP, CRM, IoT, EAM, and big data software. Besides, businesses often need to digitize their legacy apps and systems.

That's why the USA holds the higher IT consulting rate — $100-$175 and up per hour.

US IT consulsting market size, 2014-2025

IT consulting market in the USA growth every year

The Asia Pacific consulting market will also grow over 2021-2025. That’s associated with the growth of the e-commerce sector in this region. As the number of online e-commerce companies grows, so does the need for mobile and web app development consultation.

We’ve compared IT consulting rates in different regions, including popular outsourcing destinations like Western and Central Europe. Rates are taken from UpWork, YouTeam, Clutch, and GoodFirms platforms.

Software engineer consultant hourly rates, by region

RegionHourly Wages (in US$/h)

Central Europe


Western Europe


United States










Why Choose Cleveroad as Your IT Consulting Company

Cleveroad is a skilled software development company headquartered in Central Europe, Estonia. For 10+ years, we've been assisting startups and organizations of all kinds in acquiring cutting-edge technology, improving workflow efficiency, and solving business issues, including:

  • Initial project estimates, with no hidden costs from our Sales Managers
  • A consultation with one of our Business Analysts about your project
  • A team rapidly adapting to project requirements, and easily fitting each flow
  • Proven in-depth software development experience in a variety of sectors
  • A full consultation on all aspects of your project from our Project Managers

Take a look at the projects we’ve helped to deliver in our portfolio, and let's start our communication! We're ready to consult you on all the business questions you need!

Need an IT consultant?

Tell us more about your project, and we’ll help you choose the best tech solution available.

Frequently Asked Questions

IT consulting stands for providing expert knowledge to solve a business problem through the right technical solution.

For example, a company used to run on an old CRM that cannot cope with the current load. Now owners want to scale it and hire a consultant to help them develop the right tech solution.

Software developer consulting rates depend on many factors, including specialization, location, and company type. In general, IT consultant rates start at $25/h and go to $250/h, and up.

Depends on their qualification, experience, country of residence, technologies they’re experts in, and fee structure.

For example, tech consultants charge $100-$250/h in the USA while in Central Europe, the prices are 4x lower — $35-$50/h.

Usually, it’s the consultant’s qualification, experience, country of residence, technologies they’re experts in, and fee structure that form consulting rates for software development.

In terms of cost-efficiency, Central Europe is probably the best destination. There are many outsourcing IT companies and thus lots of experienced developers and software architects that provide consulting services.

In comparison, software architect consulting rates don’t usually exceed $50+ per hour, depending on the project. The same consulting services cost 2x or 5x more— from $100 to $250 — in the USA.

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Jason Garrett
24.06.2021 at 01:24

I liked the explanaition, very informative and detailed. please keep it up!

Kerttu Tuomala
17.05.2021 at 11:51

The most informative guide out there but a bit short. Thanks for explaining everything step by step and sharing the info, though. I think I'd be really helpful for beginners to read this piece.

Thorvald Moen
21.04.2021 at 03:20

nice text :) thank you a lot

Albert Molina
25.02.2021 at 10:21

nice pictures! i have no doubts American market is the top #1 but they tend to charge too much. just like you said not many company can afford good consultants, what a shame!

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