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How to Become a Freelance Programmer

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Learning how to become a freelance programmer requires a lot of time and commitment. It also requires high levels of a variety of skills. Not everyone is capable of acquiring these skills.

The rewards can be worth it, though. Programmers around the world make very good money. Some who are employed by companies often freelance to earn additional money on the side. Many others work as freelance programmers full time.

You really need to know what you’re doing to earn income as a freelance programmer. If you have a background and experience in programming, it will be easier to earn money as a freelance programmer than if you try to start from scratch.

Here is some insight into how you can become a freelance programmer.

Get Started as a Freelance Programmer

Programmer Definition

Computer programmers write and test code which enables computer programs and applications to function. Programmers must analyze their clients’ needs and problems, then create technical solutions to meet those needs and solve those problems.

What exactly do freelance programmers do?

A freelance programmer handles not only the computer science part of the job that programmers employed by a company assign them; they must take care of business and administrative tasks as well. Here are just a few of the tasks that freelance programmers may handle.

  • coding and testing programs for software and mobile apps
  • troubleshooting errors effectively
  • editing and improving upon existing code
  • developing new software applications
  • fixing bugs in existing code
  • resolving user submitted problems and questions
  • keeping track of freelance income and expenses
  • handling online and offline marketing
  • potentially hiring freelancers to assist with programming, business or administrative tasks

What is a freelance programmer’s salary?

Most freelance programmers are paid by the hour. These hourly rates can vary significantly depending on the type of project, the programmer’s experience as well as the location of the programmer. Below are the average hourly rates that freelance programmers earn in six different countries, according to PayScale.

The United States – 26.36 U.S. dollars per hour

Australia – 30.00 Australian dollars per hour

India – 512.04 Rupees per hour

The United Kingdom – 10.11 British pounds per hour

Canada – 30.54 Canadian dollars per hour

The Philippines – 194.43 Philippine pesos per hour

What qualities does a successful freelance programmer need?

If you’re interested in earning money as a freelance programmer, you should:

  • enjoy coding
  • be self motivated
  • be a problem solver
  • possess patience
  • have a good memory
  • have good focus
  • be persistent
  • be detail oriented

What skills does a successful freelance programmer need?

Many successful programmers have formal university educations in computer science or a related field. You can learn many programming skills on your own or through a coding boot camp, but a formal education will help you acquire a solid foundation of knowledge on which you can build your entire career.

Programmers need:

  • education or training in computer programming or a related field
  • to know what programming language or languages they want to use
  • to be able to handle freelance responsibilities in addition to coding

How can I learn programming skills?

Many professional programmers have university degrees in computer science or a related field, but there are other ways to learn programming skills.

There are several places where you can find many online courses that will teach you various programming skills, such as:

  • Code Academy
  • Github
  • Udemy

You can also sign up for an intensive training coding boot camp, either online or in person, to learn programming skills, such as:

  • LeWagon

How can I find freelance programming jobs?

You can look for freelance programming jobs on job search sites like:

  • Fiverr
  • Freelancer
  • Upwork
  • Guru
  • Toptal

You can also create a profile on these job sites and let clients find you.

Conclusion to How to Become a Freelance Programmer

Programming is an excellent freelance career for people with the right skills. If you’re one of those people and you decide to pursue programming, you’re going to have a stable and lucrative freelance career.

Want to learn more about freelancing? Take my free mini-course here.

(This updated post was first published on August 3, 2020.)


Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur who created World of Freelancers to help others discover how to work for themselves online and live the freelance lifestyle. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including several years on and off of working online while traveling and living abroad.

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