What’s the average WordPress developer salary — and are you being paid fairly?
If you're a WordPress developer or are looking to become one, we have some good news: Your skills are in high demand. In fact, over 400 million websites are powered by WordPress, which represents more than a third of all active websites.
WordPress development is a lucrative industry that attracts growing companies and independent freelancers. The field covers a broad scope of work — including both frontend and backend website development — and salaries for WordPress developers vary between roles.
Because it’s such a diverse field, there’s no standard market rate for a WordPress developer salary. But, there are multiple considerations you should account for to maximize your earnings.
In this post, we’ll review what the average WordPress developer makes, and look at what you can do to increase your salary over time. Ready to dive right in? Keep reading. Searching for a specific answer? Use the links below to find what you’re looking for.
- Why hire a WordPress Developer?
- Why compare WordPress developer salaries?
- WordPress developer salaries
- How to increase your salary as a WordPress developer
Why hire a WordPress developer?
With a 42% market share, WordPress is the world’s top content management system and a popular choice for those looking to build a website. But, building a website is a tall order, and not everyone has the knowledge, time, or patience to create a site on their own.
This is where WordPress developers come in. People hire WordPress developers to:
- improve the WordPress software
- create new products, usually themes and plugins
- build, customize, and manage a WordPress website
WordPress developers also perform specialized tasks such as migrating an existing website to the WordPress platform or building sitemaps and wireframes.
Depending on the needs of the client, WordPress developers can expect varying compensation for their work depending on what is asked of them. That’s why it’s important to keep track of WordPress developer salaries — so you can compare your offers against the standard rate in your industry.
Why compare WordPress developer salaries?
Because the type of work and industries being served vary, there is no standard for how much a WordPress developer makes.
The term “WordPress developer” is often used as a catchall phrase for professionals working on WordPress websites. This includes everything from building the site, to managing it on a day-to-day basis. Because of this discrepancy, the salary for one role may be vastly different from another, even though the job titles are similar.
Another reason to compare salaries is that many people find it uncomfortable to discuss salaries. According to a survey done by the compensation software management company Beqom, 41% of employees were uncomfortable talking about pay. However, knowing the salary range for WordPress developer jobs can help you maximize your earning potential.
Armed with the knowledge of industry-standard compensation, you can better negotiate during interviews to get paid a competitive rate.
WordPress Developer Salary
Entry-Level WordPress Developer Salary
The table above covers base salary estimates for WordPress developers at various stages of their careers.
Average annual salaries on the higher end of the list are for more experienced WordPress developers, while those on the lower end are for junior WordPress developers who have between zero years to two years of experience.
According to data from ZipRecruiter and Payscale, junior or entry-level WordPress developers’ salaries average $40,000. Specifically, ZipRecruiter says junior WordPress web developers get paid $40,574, while Payscale says they get paid $39,677 annually.
Freelance WordPress Developer Salary
Many WordPress developers are freelancers, meaning they aren't full-time employees. Pay estimates for freelancers vary more widely because freelance marketplaces consider global rates as they have freelancers from all over the world.
While some freelancers charge on a per-project basis, many use an hourly rate. For this example, let’s review the average salaries for two types of freelancers: general freelancers and specialists.
General Freelance Marketplaces
For this section, we looked at data from various general freelance marketplaces such as Upwork, Fiverr, and People per Hour.
According to Upwork, the average U.S. freelance WordPress developer charges an hourly rate of $70, with rates ranging between $30 to $175/hour. When you include freelancers from other countries, the average goes down to $15-28/hour.
People per Hour found that of the 3,281 freelance WordPress developers surveyed, the majority make below $35/hour.
Note: The data collected were from marketplaces with freelancers from all over the world. There is no vetting process — anyone can sign up and call themselves “WordPress developers.”
Specialized Freelance Marketplaces
If you live in a country with a higher cost of living, such as the United States, salaries for general freelancers may seem low. However, they increase significantly when you look at specialized freelance marketplaces.
Specialized freelance marketplaces — such as Codementor or Codeable — require freelancers to take tests to prove their skills before they can be hired for a job. Because of the vetting process, you're guaranteed to hire freelancers with more expertise. Thus the rate is at par with standard and average freelance WordPress developer rates.
Let’s look at Codementor’s rates. Codementor charges an average of $61-80/hour (worldwide). The average goes up to $81-100/hour when only North American freelancers are considered.
On the other hand, Codeable charges $70-120/hour, depending on the project’s complexity, scope, and urgency.
If you’re interested in freelancing, check out our complete guide here.
How to Increase Your Salary as a WordPress Developer
Now that you know the market rates, how does your salary measure up?
Knowing how much other people are getting paid is just the first step, but the knowledge isn't worth anything if you aren't using it. So, how can you increase your WordPress developer salary?
1. Charge higher rates.
Yes, let’s get this one out of the way. If you want to earn more as a freelance developer, it’s as easy as increasing your rates.
However, the thing about increasing your rates is it’s often easier said than done. The most common things holding developers back from higher salaries are (1) not knowing when they should increase their rates or (2) worrying they will lose clients if they do.
First things first — how do you know when to raise your rates?
If you feel constantly overworked, have an almost 100% close rate, or feel like your hourly rate is decreasing, then you may need to charge more.
Secondly, if you're worried that charging higher rates would drive clients away, remember that there will always be people willing to pay for your service. The best-fit clients are usually willing to pay more and are easier to work with.
If you're uncomfortable raising your rates, here are some quick tips:
- Start raising your rates a bit for every new client that comes in.
- Tell existing clients you’ll raise your rates and give them enough time to adjust. They may have already had their budgets approved long before you approached them with the rate increase. You can also provide long-term clients with a lower increased rate to show appreciation for their continued business.
- Keep raising your rates until you find the sweet spot.
If you charge an hourly rate, Fred Meyer of WPShout suggests not taking anything less than $50/hour for U.S. WordPress developers. He suggests $50-60/hour as a good starting rate, but it should increase to $75/hour within a year and $100/hour within two years.
There are different pricing models freelance WordPress developers can use. Whether you choose to charge hourly or per project, remember to highlight the value you bring to a project.
2. Specialize in a WordPress area.
As a WordPress developer, you will never have to worry about work because you can get into fields such as plugin or theme development, designing the website’s front end, managing the back end, and more.
However, one way to earn more is to serve a smaller, more specialized market. It may seem counterintuitive to eliminate 90% of your potential customers, but when you establish yourself as an expert in a specific field and limit your client base, you can command higher rates because you provide a unique service.
For example, you could choose only to serve WooCommerce business owners.
WordPress developers have three choices to specialize in — core software, plugins, or themes. You may work on all of these areas, but you'd likely reap more benefits by becoming an expert in one.
Let’s see what each area covers:
- Core Development: WordPress developers involved in core development create, edit, and work with the WordPress core. While WordPress co-founder, Matt Mullenweg, leads an official WordPress core team, anyone can review and contribute code. Core developers are often responsible for new WordPress features and releases such as “Full Site Editing.”
- Theme Development: WordPress developers engaged in theme development can create and release free themes for the WordPress theme directory. They can also create a customized theme for a client or sell it on a third-party marketplace.
- Plugin Development: Plugin developers are similar to theme developers but create plugins instead of themes.
3. Improve your WordPress development skills.
Along with choosing a niche, improving your skill set can also help you earn a higher WordPress developer salary.
You can also read up on WordPress-specific resources, such as:
- WordPress Developer resources, which include references and handbooks for handling WordPress APIs, themes, plugins, and the block editor.
- WordPress Codex, the official manual written by WordPress developers. It covers everything from the basics to the most technical aspects of WordPress.
- WordPress Stack Exchange, where you can ask and answer questions about WordPress development with fellow developers.
4. Strengthen your soft skills.
Besides beefing up your technical skills, you can also benefit from developing your soft skills. Also known as core skills, soft skills relate to how you conduct yourself in professional environments.
As a freelancer, besides doing the technical scope of work, you’re also responsible for everything that goes into the business aspect, such as looking for clients, brokering deals, or deciding your rates — all of which require soft skills.
Some soft skills that all freelance developers should have are:
- Communication: Having good communication skills ensures that you and your client are on the same page. It helps set expectations and allows you to explain the project scope in terms the client can understand.
- Negotiation: Negotiation is a crucial part of your communication skills. Everyone needs to learn how to negotiate. Negotiation sets the tone for a client relationship and formalizes deliverables, expectations, and rates. Negotiation is a skill that people rarely master, but it makes a world of difference once they do. According to a Salary.com study, failing to negotiate your WordPress developer salary can cost you upwards of $1 million over the lifetime of your career.
- Time Management: As a freelance WordPress developer, you are your own boss. You get to decide which projects to work on and when. No one will tell you when to work on them or how much time to allot to each of them. If you charge on a per-project basis, managing your time and finishing quickly would be more advantageous because it translates into a higher hourly rate.
- Organization Skills: Successful freelancers treat their profession as a business. They create systems for repeatable processes to save time and ensure a certain standard of work. Clients like organized freelancers because they come off as professionals.
When you come off as a professional, clients are more willing to agree to increased rates because they find you more reliable and capable of producing results.
5. Expand your freelancer toolset.
Freelancers are nothing without a toolset that makes their jobs easier. Freelancers should have software for:
- Accounting and invoicing
- Contract creation
You don't necessarily need to have all of these, nor should you choose the most expensive tools. Instead, choose freelancer tools that automate the less desirable aspects of running a business.
6. Become an affiliate marketer.
As a WordPress developer, you will have clients asking you to build them websites.
Besides web hosting, building websites will often require products such as form builders, page builders, or backup and migration solutions. Some clients will have their preferred solutions, while others will ask for your recommendations.
Since you’ll be suggesting solutions anyway, why not earn passive income from those recommendations?
This is called affiliate marketing, wherein you get a percentage commission for every sale a customer makes using your affiliate link. Check out HubSpot’s affiliate program as an example.
WordPress Developer Salary: Are you getting paid enough?
WordPress development is a very profitable field, especially at a time when businesses need websites to compete in their industry.
If you want to get into WordPress development, knowing the average WordPress developer salary is a crucial step to helping you maximize your earnings. Then, use the tips above to make sure you’re getting paid what you’re worth at every step of your WordPress developer career path.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2022 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.