2013 Consultants Fee Survey: Rates Are Unchanged

By Helen Horwitz

Consultants had about the same amount of “jingle” in their pockets in 2013 as they did in 2012.

According to IEEE-USA’s 2013 Consultants Fee Survey, conducted in the spring, the median hourly rate was $135, remaining flat with the results from 2012. About one in five consultants (22%) charges $200 or more an hour. Median hourly rates correlate with the person’s years of consulting experience; those with less than 15 years charge $130, which increases to $140 an hour for those with 25-34 years of experience. Those who have consulted for 35 or more years charge an average of $150.

Education levels also affect how much the consultant charges. Those with Ph.D.’s enjoy the highest median hour rate–$185. An MBA is also an influencer, with rates at $150 an hour.

The executive summary of the 2013 Consultants Fee Survey characterizes the average respondent as a 60-year-old male, with 25 years of professional experience, and just less than 16 years as a consultant. Most (76.3%) work out of a home office, and 64.9% work solely as an independent consultant. For the majority (82.5%), repeat clients provide most of their business.

Sector also affects hourly rates; those who work in utilities charge $150; those in private industry and in defense charge $139–less than the utility industry, but still above the $135 median. Several lines of business had median rates above the group mean: Communications, $156; and both Education and Medical, $150.

Geographically speaking, consultants in the South Atlantic states have the highest median hourly fee, at $148; and those in the Middle Atlantic and the East South Central have the second highest average, at $140 each.


In early 2013, 14,098 IEEE-USA members who had been identified as consultants were invited by email to complete the 2013 Consultants Fee Survey. Some 1,355 participated–a 9.6% response–of which 848 were self-employed, with at least half of their consulting hours coming from working independently, with partners, or incorporated. IEEE Strategic Research, conducted the survey and prepared the report, based on the responses of those 848 consultants.

IEEE-USA has conducted compensation surveys of U.S. members since 1972. Separate surveys of consultants’ compensation began in 2002, and except for 2003 they have been conducted annually since then.

Helen Horwitz is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Albuquerque, N.M. She was with IEEE from 1991-2011, the first nine as Staff Director, IEEE Corporate Communications.

Helen Horwitz

Helen Horwitz was an award-winning freelance writer in Albuquerque, N.M. She was with IEEE from 1991 through 2011, the first nine as Staff Director, IEEE Corporate Communications.

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