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Topic: Labor rates (Read 2593 times) previous topic - next topic


Just wondering what some of you charge your customers when doing Arduino-related work. I end up making a lot of "custom" changes to the regular airsoft props that I sell, and I really have no idea what the going rate is. The changes I make range from the trivial (adding a couple more blinking LEDs, relays, buttons, etc), to more complex rewriting of code to work with different hardware (going from a serial LCD to a 7 segment display, integrating into existing hardware, incorporating extra shields, etc.). The problem is, even the trivial changes require laying out and cutting an add-on PCB.

I'm trying to find a midpoint somewhere between ripping off my customers and ripping off myself.


Feb 27, 2013, 10:50 am Last Edit: Feb 27, 2013, 10:52 am by rockwallaby Reason: 1
This can be a really difficult question to answer as it can be so variable.
It will be interesting to hear what other peoples ideas are and what they charge.

I can tell you for a couple of artistic jobs I have been involved with, it was just for the love of it.
They pay for the parts, I do the design, construction, programming, installation and and looking after.
I don't have thoughts of being ripped off, the fun and involvement has been all that I needed.

Then I was asked to mentor an artist in a high school situation to do with wearable art using Arduino, for the 14 hours of my time I invoiced for AUS$800. Again, it was a lot of fun for me and the kids. They even taught me a thing or two!

If someone from a commercial enterprise came to me and asked me if I would be interested in being involved in a more of a 'meaty' project, more akin to the industrial automation engineering I sometimes do, then I would propose a rate based on the rates normally expected in that industry and dependant on the complexity of the project itself. I like to leave a lot of room for movement on the way I like to be paid for my time. Mostly I try to provide a good estimate of the effort involved and attach a monetary value to that. I really like to see the end user happy and comfortable with the whole deal.

To give you an idea, for my industrial engineering, my hourly rate may be AUS$50/hr to AUS$150/hr, typically falling at AUS$90/hr for project work that spans a longer time. I have a lower rate of course for any travelling to site that may be needed.

If an individual hobbyist was seeking assistance with say for example an Ardiuno project, I seem to provide it free of charge, just as so many do on this forum. I guess it harks back to my days as a radio amateur where we did and still do that, helping our like minded folk.

I don't know if I would be interested in small project jobs, especially if they, the customer, is hoping for a super cheap deal. If I did that, then I may feel somewhat irritated with thoughts of having ripped myself off. There are other things in life to do as well, sometimes doing nothing is beneficial.

Paul - VK7KPA


Look and see what local businesses charge. Maybe you want to pitch it at the private tutoring rate.

My wife charges £35 an hour for this and that is also my rate for hourly based work. If you look that is the sort of rate a car mechanic would charge. ( I know the word mechanic means something else in the U.S. but in the UK he is a man who mends your car ).
She often tells parents would you want to pay less for some one to fix your child's head than your car?

Rates for whole projects are often less than the pro-rata hourly rate. Depending the amount of equipment you bring to the party you could charge between £150 and £300 a day.


It depends on the job but these days I think $50/hr is reasonable, although 20 years ago I got twice that.

That said I'm doing a job now for a Brazilian company for a LOT less for reasons I won't go into but what I am charging is apparently a lot for them. Yeah I know, not my problem eh? But it's a fun design and to be fair I'm also learning things as I go.

Caveat: I don't have to work, so don't use this value if you need to support 5 kids :)

Rob Gray aka the GRAYnomad www.robgray.com


ball park is to charge enough that the customer thinks it's too much and you think it's not enough!
I usually reckon £150 to £250 a day
longer projects tend to get the lower rate
a good wheeze is to offer discount for prompt payment
I always offer 5% discount for payment within 15 days
never happens!
such an easy way for them to save money
there are only 10 types of people
them that understands binary
and them that doesn't


Thanks for the replies. I havn't had any consistent numbers to go on. I usually pick a number that seems reasonable for the project, and then work within that (which also lets me discount long term projects).


The highest your market will bear... considering any competition you have (if any).

The problem is, even the trivial changes require laying out and cutting an add-on PCB.

If I were you, I'd charge per hour (and materials) if this is a custom one-off job.
Once you know the total, offer to give them a discount but with the condition the custom job they hired you to do, you can re-sell to others.


If I'm performing the work at my home of hours of my choice I charged $55/Hr for technical writing projects as an independent contractor. This was just part time stuff I started doing after I retired about 6 years ago. Haven't worked any hours in well over a year now but you never know when the firm I worked with/for will land a new contract.



The old rule from the Army - Depends on the terrain and the circumstances.

If you reside in some places on the globe then you will have to charge low rates as that is what the local market can bear. In other places the rates seem astronomical, but the costs there are much higher. Rates here in South Texas are rather low, but there is little demand. In Southern California the costs are much higher so the rates are much higher. You also have to look at whether you are clearing any money at the end of these jobs. Enough to cover costs? or are you really doing it as a hobby?

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