Consultant hourly rate

My wife just got asked to act as a consultant for a biotech start up. She will work for them for at least 6 months, expected between 5-10 hours per week. My wife has a PhD in chemistry, and almost 20 years work experience, both in academia and industry.

Both her and me are at a loss what a reasonable hourly rate would be. Even considering the differences between various fields, would some IT-consultants have an idea what would be feasible?


From what I see in IT - Indian recruiters offer around 600-750 CHF daily rate, so I guess something like 900-1000 CHF should be feasible if there are no intermediaries ;). However, I’ve heard that in the good old times there were rates like 1400 CHF and probably even on this forum I saw someone mentioning +2kCHF for some really rare skills.


I can bring my experience as a contractor.

For the public domain and for some NPO’s, I know that a rate of 170-175.-/hr is the standard and considered a maximum.

In some consulting firms, especially for very specific work (e.g. creating a report to analyze why a strategic project did not succeed), I have seen amounts between 200.- and 250.-/h.
I can say that, on the side of my former employer, we brought a great importance to the reputation of the company we worked with. In no case did we work with the Big4 because they never responded to our calls for tender.

The last experience I had was a rate of 200/hr for a senior consultant with 25 years of experience. What I can also say is that this consultant was retired and probably charged below his pre-retirement hourly rate.


I would just use your current main job salary as a reference and multiply by 2.

For example, if you earn 200k per year, working for 1880h (47 week x 40h/week). Then hourly rate is 106/hr. Then I would charge 210/hr. Then maybe taking the market needs into the equation.


It’s hard to give an exact number, it depends on this industry and the length of the contract. Moreover, many contracts are based on a daily rate instead of an hourly rate.

You will also need to use a payroll company or your own company to bill the client.

Working as a freelance consultant or a consulting firm is not the same. The consulting company bills maybe 250.- but the consultants are paid way less than that.


OP, how is the contract going to be, do you have an intermediary payroll that acts as ‘employer’, or other form?
e.g. own company, direct employment with the client, etc.

Having worked as a consultant in the Life Sciences industry, I can confirm this.

It was easier 10-15 years ago, though. The rates have gone down in the meantime. But that’s where I’d start negotiations.

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As a good heuristic, 2x for fulltime-ish roles & 3x for short-term/urgent engagements works well too

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One thing to consider is also overtime. You can be paid on an hour basis with overtime paid or on a day basis without paid overtime. I m at 170 per hour with paid overtime as a freelancer.