I am self-employed and design and program various sizes of gadgets for a living.
Most are PIC or DSPIC based. Some are commercial, some are automotive, many are
industrial. I'm 43 years old, have been obsessed with microprocessors and
microcontrollers since discovering them over 25 years ago. I studied them in
college and have been obsessed with them ever since.
Every job is different; Rates and pay schedules vary depending on the nature of
the work and the client's ability to pay.
If I must work on-site, I require my employers to cover all of my travel
expenses, hotel, rental car, meals, etc. I live in western NY State USA and
work has taken me to Phoenix, Tulsa, Tampa, Cleveland, etc. I generally but not
always cover any extra costs and have my wife accompany me. My "work" generally
entails playing at a computer for 8 or 10 hours a day, then my wife and I have
the evening to explore a new city.
For a simple programming job for a automotive gadget that sells for $200.00 and
is being made by an individual: He had no money to pay me anything up-front,
and I was able to do all work for the project here at my office. We agreed and
he pays me $5.00 for each unit he sells. He has sold about 250 so far.
Another job was programming a relatively simple but necessary automotive gadget
that required me to fly to the far corner of the country to work on-site for two
weeks. Market was fewer than 100 of the device. The company paid my travel
expenses, I brought SWIMBO with, we stayed for an extra week and loved it. The
company paid me $500.00 for each gadget they sold, a total of over 75 were sold.
Jobs for big companies I've been working at $60.00/hour plus expenses. A couple
of places have told me I should charge them twice that.
Other jobs where market was questionable I've requested a flat fee for
completing the project. Price has ranged from $100.00 for a simple job to
$15,000.00 for a large one. For flat fee jobs, I require 1/3 pay before
starting, 1/3 at a "generally working OK" milestone, and the final 1/3 within 30
days of completing the project. This arrangement guarantees I get at least 2/3
of my pay; there are too many crooks out there with no qualms about failing to