Evaluating Remote Tech Candidates / Remote Recruitment

Full-time vs Freelance Programmer: Which One to Hire

Gabriela Molina
- 3 min. to read

There are over 23 million developers worldwide. You would think that with this big number, finding developers is easy, yet, it’s quite the opposite. There is no such thing as a developer shortage; the problem is in finding talent. You need skills and energy to find the developer you are looking for, someone who, besides having the necessary abilities, also understands your company culture. In some cases, companies choose to hire freelancers to get tasks and projects done in a heartbeat. Yet, is this the best option? Choosing full-time vs freelance programmers becomes a fundamental decision for your team’s performance. 

We’ve crafted a small guide to help you learn everything you need to know regarding freelancers and full-time programmers.

Freelance versus Full-time Programming: What’s the difference?

When you are looking for online programmers for hire, you have several options to choose from: You can hire part-time programmers, full-time programmers, or freelance programmers.

If you are looking to hire full-time programmers, several strategies can help you find your ideal candidate. For example, you can start by writing job descriptions and post them through several online platforms. Or go for an easier option like getting the help of professional IT recruiters.

If it’s the other case and you prefer hiring a freelancer, tons of freelancing platforms, such as Upwork or Fiverr, help companies connect with thousands of freelancers seeking projects.

After defining your ‘ideal’ candidate, your next step is knowing the main differences between freelancers and full-time programmers. This way, you’ll know what’s best for your team.

To make this easier, we did the job for you. We compared 6 crucial aspects that highlight the main differences between these two categories.

1. Availability

Full-time programmers: When you hire full-time programmers, you’re hiring someone who will be fully committed to your company. Whether they’re remote programmers or on-site, they take full responsibility for their new role. They adjust to your specifications and requirements. For example, if you like having meetings once a week at certain (respectable) hours to discuss projects, you can easily set up an hour for everyone to meet. 

Freelancers: They don’t have as much availability as full-time programmers. Think of a freelancer as the pizza delivery guy. When you order a pizza, you order it in the app, and the app tells you what time your pizza will be ready. If everything goes well, in a couple of minutes, the delivery pizza guy will be ringing your bell and taking off to keep delivering the other pizzas. With a freelancer is the same. You ask them for a specific project, and on the determined due date, they deliver it and move on with other projects. They set their own pace of work, choose what to work on, and how they will do it. The only thing you have control over is what you ask them to do and the deadlines. 

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Full-time programmers: Hiring full-time developers mean that they will be part of your team and company. This way is easier to build a strong culture and to have an engaged team working towards a common goal. According to studies, engaged employees have a better performance than those not engaged. Companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable.

Freelancers: Freelancers usually work on more than one project; therefore, it’s pointless for them to waste their energies trying to understand your culture and how your company works. They only do what you ask them to and then move on with their other projects. This is not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing if you only need someone to fix a specific issue on your website, for example. 


Full-time programmers: Having full-time programmers is a must when you have a team of developers working on the same project. For example, if you’re developing software, you need someone who understands the project and cares about achieving the best results. Teams of developers usually support and encourage each other to think outside the box. They don’t work alone and are mesmerized in their own world. But, they understand that for projects and tasks to succeed, they need to work in sync. 

Freelancers:  Collaboration and freelancing don’t go together. Don’t get me wrong, not that freelancers are selfish employees.  But freelancers are working in their own things, so don’t expect them to integrate fully into your company and your team. They might talk from time to time with other employees to do a better job. But not because they are going to collaborate on something that’s outside their project/task. 


Full-time programmers: Hiring full-time programmers tend to be expensive, especially if you hire on-site. Although it depends on what country you’re in. For instance, a developer in the U.S. tends to cost twice (or more) than hiring a developer from eastern Europe. Yet, if you want to expand your horizons, hiring a full-time remote employee is the best of both worlds. If you are in the U.S. or in other countries where IT talent is expensive, you can have a fully integrated program across the world working for you. 

Freelancers: One of the reasons companies choose freelancers is because it’s cheaper than full-time programmers. Most freelancers charge lower prices because they have more projects or they want to build a strong portfolio.  Yet when it comes to IT-related projects and tasks, it’s crucial that HR teams and companies carefully review freelancers’ CVs to make sure they are adequate for the job. Cheap prices are sometimes equal to cheap results, so don’t go for this option only if you want to save expenses. 

Hiring Process

Full-time programmers: When you’re looking to hire full-time programmers, one of the biggest challenges, as stated previously, is finding them. The problem is not that there are no developers, but finding talented ones is like trying to find the infinity stones. You need a talented HR team with experience in IT recruitment. Also, hiring full-time programmers means that you need to take care of payroll costs, taxes, etc. 

Freelancers: Hiring freelancers is easier because there are thousands of freelancing platforms. This doesn’t mean that you’ll easily find a talented one, but at least it’s easier if you only need a programmer for a specific project. You only hire them for the project, and that’s it. After the project is finished, the freelancer moves to the next project, and all you need to do is pay them for their services. 

Freelance vs Full-time Developer: The Pros and Cons

In the videos below, we keep expanding on the differences between full-time programmers vs. freelancers. Here are their respective pros and cons: 

Full-time Developers: Pros and Cons 

Freelance Developers: Pros and Cons

Full-time vs Freelance Programmer: Who Wins? 

Deciding between freelancer vs. full-time programmer for hire is truly a personal choice, and on what type of employee you’re looking for.

If you need someone who delivers great value to your company by understanding your processes, culture, and works collaboratively with your team, your best option is a full-time programmer.

But if you need someone for a single project and don’t want to spend your time and energy making contracts and taking care of the legal aspects, freelance programmers might be the simpler solution.

However, at DistantJob, we truly believe that every company, from the smallest to the biggest ones, deserves the best IT talent. That’s why we are changing the game by bringing up to the table something new.

We can help you hire the best remote programmer who works as a full-time employee, understanding your company and your team perfectly. AND, we also take care of all the HR aspects such as payroll, recruitment, contracts & legal aspects, vacation & holidays, etc.  Ready for your ideal programmer? Contact us today!

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