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Where should IT contractors take their programming skills to land the best pay?

With IT coming to prominence across most industries (and triggering automation on a large scale) especially in the Financial Markets, IT professionals have a wealth of professional opportunities to choose from. The 'Gig Economy' was borne out of their independent working habits, and while it has expanded to other jobs, the IT contractor remains at the centre of this lifestyle shift.

However, the IT contractor market remains extremely inefficient when it comes to pay. We have launched Contractor Pay Reports to bring transparency to the IT sector and other contractors. Based on our existing data pool of contractor data, we have been able to point to the best paying sectors and IT languages and see how it compares to be a contractor versus a full time employee.

Best paying sectors for IT contractors:

SectorsContractor daily rateFull time daily rate
Banking & Financial Services650300
Media, Communication, Music, Gaming400190
Technology & Telecoms400190

Based on 49 Contractors UK Senior Developers and 622 UK Full-time Senior Developers


Across all industries, contractors' daily rates are two times higher than annual salaries for equivalent jobs. However, if hesitating between the two, it is key to factor in job security, visibility when it comes to projects, and employee benefits - to some extent, choosing a "gig" profession is also a lifestyle choice. While Media & Technology are the historical birthplaces of the contracting industry, banking now accounts for almost a third of all contractor positions. Under huge pressure by regulators and shareholders to streamline and automate as much of the banking activity as possible, especially on trading floors, banks have employed armies of IT contractors in order to build new systems both for support and front office functions. This is great news for all the contractors out there!

Beyond implementation, maintenance often ties contractors in for the long term: a hybrid position between freelancing and employee status? Perhaps it's possible to get the best of both worlds...

While we expected Banking & Financial Services to be the highest-paying sector for IT contractors, it was surprising to see how much of a gap exists between banking and the runner up media sector (62% gap).

How do years of experience impact pay?

Years of ExperienceDaily Rate

Based on 155 UK IT Consultants

Despite a lack of hierarchy in the contractor industry, experience does come into play when it comes to pay, due to reputations being built over time through word of mouth. An IT contractor's main challenge is to remain on top of new IT developments and trends in order to avoid becoming obsolete, but rest assured that if you stick at it you'll make it.

Top paying languages

Coding languageDaily Rate

Based on 49 UK Senior Developers

Both for contractors and full time employees, Java is the best paying language across all industries. Java Developers should definitely look for a job in finance as the average developer makes 45,000 annual salary with zero bonus on average, versus 56,000 with a 7,000 bonus in finance. However, it's a very different story for full-time developers, C++ is the best payer for finance developers, only just at 55,000 on average with Python coming in at 54,000, and Java at 51,000.


Emolument provides bonus and salary statistics based on data submitted directly by professionals like you. It is free, anonymous, and already a trusted tool for thousands of professionals worldwide. Are you paid enough? Click here to find out now.

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