Since you’ve found this post, I’m guessing you have a broad understanding of Toptal. If not, checkout our Toptal review, where we cover both sides of the table – as a business and a freelancer.
Toptal differs from UpWork because there is no need to constantly look for clients. With UpWork, you could spend hours a day pitching for a chance at a project, which would effectively lower your hourly rate as a freelancer. And then there’s the time spent billing, marketing, etc. also lowering that rate. So Toptal’s rate is more encompassing than the ones for other platforms. This all means that a lower rate on Toptal might still be a better option because there are no other associated time drains. For developers who are perhaps tired of how most freelance work is done this might be a refreshing change. But it’s all subjective, right? Because a developer’s personal hourly rate could range anywhere from $20/hr to $200+/hr. What country people are based in certainly forms their thoughts about a reasonable rate. A developer from India is unlikely to ask the same rate as someone from California.
But let’s be clear, Toptal only accepts the top 3% of talent. And I’ve seen that first hand working with them. So for this post to be relevant, you’ll have to pass their interview process and tests, which we covered in the aforementioned review.
Rates on Toptal just like other platforms are truly variable because they are so individual. Also, the detailed mechanics of the pay rate and commission system for Toptal are not publicized. On average Toptal developers seem to earn between $800 to $3000 per week. This difference is mainly based on the number of hours worked. I know you might be more interested in hourly, but this data is very relevant. Because it shows how much the average active developer can earn on there.
The average salary of a Developer on Toptal as stated on the website Paysa is $83,970. This comes out to around $43/hour for a full-time worker. The 25 percentile salary data is $73,970 and the 75 percentile data is $90,893. This, of course, ignores any number of factors, however, is a decent data point double check. Another aggregator, the website _Hellobonsai_had some interesting data on the rates for Toptal. For example, developers with over ten years of experience have rates from around $100 to $180 and upwards in America. People with three to five years of experience had rates of $100 to $150 in America mainly.
I’m not sure how they collect their data, so I’d rather take personal anecdote and reviews from developers who are actually on the platform instead.
DEVELOPERS SHARE HOW MUCH DOES TOPTAL PAY?
From this Quora post on “How much do freelancers earn on Toptal?” we know this:
- There are 3 types of engagement – part-time, full-time and hourly.
- Freelancers may set their own rate.
Of the engagement models, Toptal states these average rates on how much it will cost for businesses:
Again, that is how much TopTal is charging, and of course they’ll make their cut too. And developers won’t know what Toptal is charging the client for your services. So if we know that freelancers may set their own rate, $50-85/hr might be your best bet (though there are a lot of other factors I’ll list below). Also with freelancing, it’s all supply and demand, so lowering your rate could lead to more jobs.
Anecdote from many developers on the internet tell us this:
- You can set your own rate, but to be in the $100/hr range you should really be the best of the best with a very specific skillset.
- The amount of projects you receive will depend on your set rate.
- You don’t have to spend hours pitching, and you’re not playing the $10/hr price war like many do on UpWork.
The truth is, there are a lot of factors that contribute to your hourly rate and Toptal, as a private company, does not have anything published. So in many ways, this is guesswork. Stories and experiences from other developer peers can be the best way to get clarity when a more encompassing view is unavailable.
We do know skill, experience, and location factor in your rate as well. And then of course Toptal (like any other platform) charges a commission on your personal rate as well. One developer said they charge $120 per hour on Toptal which is about four times the rate in their area. Another developer said that $50 or $60 per hour would be on the high end of an hourly rate in Europe.
The first main pay rate factor will be the language. Developers must communicate with their clients and be able to understand precisely what they are asking for. If someone wants to tap into the market in Australia or America they will need to be fluent in English. This is the biggest limiting factor and one reason why pricing is still localized in a digital world. The localization is actually language and culture based.
Your timezone can matter as well. If you live in diametrically opposed time zones it makes it harder to conference and confer unless one of you happens to be a dire night owl. It can particularly be a factor if you are intended to work on a group project with a team of people over a period of months. What might be sustainable for a week is less viable over several months. If you end up exhausted trying to do meetings at three in the morning for six months it will probably slow down your productivity in general. That is all disregarding personal stress levels when working with someone in a very different time zone.
Also, feedback from clients is quite essential. They can explain how you came across or any additional skills that would be helpful to have. Proper critique is invaluable and immensely useful so developers can continually improve until they reach an impressive standard of excellence. If there are any skill shortfalls you might have then a client could point it out. This would let you rectify the gap promptly and potentially enable you to get more or better-paying projects as you gradually improve.
All in all the mystery of Toptal rates is going nowhere. But it is rather like darts. Just because we can’t hit the center doesn’t mean we can’t get close. There are clear practical factors beyond marketing and presentation that play major roles in the pay rates for developers on Toptal.
it is rather like darts. Just because we can’t hit the center doesn’t mean we can’t get close.