The Web Price Index rate card

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The WPI Rate Card
Java/Shockwave $200
Strategy $175
CGI Scripting $150
Design $150
Copy Writing $115
Basic HTML $110
Database and Java programming continue to be the most expensive Web tasks per hour -- probably not a surprise to anyone involved in creating Web sites.

According to NetMarketing's latest Web Price Index, hourly rates for database programming have increased in the past year, from $170 to $200, while Java programming costs climbed from $150 to $200.

"Everybody wants Java -- still," said Bonnie Halper, executive director of recruitment company, New York.

Most of the costs for other services showed slight to moderate increases, while design remained unchanged. Strategy costs remain high as clients place a premium on finding ways to make their Web sites work within the context of their overall business model. Basic HTML coding and copywriting remain the least expensive tasks per hour.

Job openings abound

While rates for the high-end jobs increase, the human resources nightmare of keeping desks filled in programming departments gets worse. Programming positions have "led in terms of opens, which isn't a surprise in the [Silicon] Valley," said Joy Drake, manager of staffing services at Organic Online, San Francisco.

Not only are the positions hard to keep filled, but as Web sites continue to increase in back-end complexity, many Web companies such as Organic are finding that most of the openings are new jobs across all layers of the Web development process.

Competition is fierce, and qualified candidates can find themselves in high demand. "Everybody is hiring everybody," Ms. Halper said.

Ms. Drake, who declined to reveal much about Organic's recruitment strategy, did say that "while the number of resumes is staggering," the percentage of applicants she interviews is in the low single digits.

If hiring for a Web shop or an internal team at a marketer, recruiters advise quick action when you find a good candidate. Some companies "think they can wait a month to make an offer," said Ms. Halper. "I placed a COO on the spot."

Grave expectations

Of course, a good job market can lead to unreal expectations on the part of job hunters. Mostly gone are the days when a 21-year-old who built a simple Web page in class can drop out of school and take a job for $60,000, but expectations seem to increase as people get experience.

"Some develop an attitude rather quickly," said Ms. Halper. "I see people who have been a producer for two or three years and feel that the next position should be in senior management in a large company."

For more tech-oriented positions, developers like Organic face competition not just from the Web world. In its New York office, Organic finds that investment banks are the biggest rivals in the hiring pool.

That's because bank corporations have large intranets and lots of back-end technology, plus money to support it all. And that means salaries must be competitive.

But Web shops have one big thing in their favor: "A lot of people don't want to wear a tie," Ms. Drake said.

Ms. Halper noted that another hot job open now is in marketing for Web companies. In the past, when asked if they were hiring marketers, developers would say, "What for?" or, "We're already getting a lot of press," but now they actively open positions.

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