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The Highest Paid Programming Languages for Freelance VS Employed Developers in 2020

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In 2020 we witnessed a boom in the freelance industry with an ever-increasing number of digitally-oriented specialists who prefer the flexibility of freelancing as compared to a 9-5 job. Moreover, the workforce shift caused by the COVID-19 crisis is resulting in more and more companies searching to work with independent professionals for the completion of technical projects. There are even suggestions that the remote trend could result in democratization of the tech jobs bubble and lead to a decrease in the salaries as companies are no longer tied to the talent in their respective geographies (read more in the interview with all remote founder Liam Martin). Are independent online contractors actually make more money than the hired specialists and is that the case? 

The leading freelance online platform Upwork announced on the 1st September 2020 the list of the 15 most lucrative programming languages based on the rate the independent web, mobile, and software developers on the platform receive. The database on which the analysis is built takes into account the average hourly rates that US freelancers have charged on contracts between January and June 30, 2020. According to the list, Objective-C, Golang, and Windows PowerShell represent the top well-paid opportunities for tech professionals with an average demand for around $66 per hour which translates to nearly $137K annual salary. On the other hand, the three top languages with the highest increase in year-over-year demand are Ruby (127%), Java (127%), and SQL (152%).

Which languages bring the biggest paychecks for employed programmers? 

The annual Developer Survey 2020 of Stack Overflow – the largest online community website for programming professionals, comes in handy to provide some numbers and answer this question. The results of the survey, which are based on the responses of nearly 90K developers, suggest that the most generously compensated programmers use Scala, Golang, and Objective-C. The comparison made between the two databases infers that there is not a significant difference in the amount of compensation that independent and employed professionals receive for the same service, although inhouse developers tend to receive slightly more money. The major difference between the two comes in that the programming language Scala, which tops the list of Stack Overflow with an average $150K average salary, does not even appear in the list of Upwork. 

The reason is that Scala is used at some of the most well-known and profitable companies such as Twitter, Apple, Airbnb, and Verizon, and there is perhaps a small demand for freelancers who are fluent in this language. 

If you are curious to dive deeper and see the numbers for yourself, have a look at the interactive comparison: 

This may also interest you:

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