Hire the Top 3% of Freelance PostgreSQL Developers
Toptal is a marketplace for top PostgreSQL developers, engineers, programmers, coders, architects, and consultants. Top companies and startups choose Toptal PostgreSQL freelancers for their mission-critical software projects.
Chris is a senior full-stack engineer with 7+ years of experience building web apps for early-stage startups and robust enterprise SaaS software. He specializes in Ruby on Rails, PostgreSQL, and MySQL, primarily focusing on back-end development, integrations, and API design. Chris is an expert in creating user-facing production web applications and internal tooling, and he is willing to embrace new challenges and help other businesses evolve and succeed.
Harsimran has been working as a technologist in startups and large-scale tech companies for around a decade. She helped build products from the ground up for companies that have grown to hundreds of employees. Working in multiple countries has given her a global perspective, a huge asset in developing new impactful products. Harsimran wants to take up high-impact work and help businesses succeed, as she believes that responsible companies build a better world.
Since 2012, Sebastian has been developing distributed systems for various platforms ranging from Solaris, IBM AIX, HP-UX to Linux and Windows. He's worked with various technologies such as Apache Spark, Elasticsearch, PostgreSQL, RabbitMQ, Django, and Celery to build data-intensive scalable software. Sebastian is passionate about delivering high-quality solutions and is extremely interested in big data challenges.
Anna is an experienced back-end engineer with over five years experience in top IT companies and a BBA in computer science from the American University of Armenia. She has extensive experience creating and maintaining RESTful microservice applications using Node.js and Nest.js and databases with mobile and web payment systems integration. Anna has developed applications that have served over 150 million monthly active users.
Rahul is a highly-skilled software development professional who brings more than eight years of experience in software design, development, and integration management to a project. He possesses expert knowledge of SQL, PL/SQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle E-Business Suite. He's also skilled at technical leadership, meaningful communication, and presentations.
Furkan is an experienced full-stack developer who has worked on various projects in a well-known airline company, including online payment solutions and fraud detection areas. His expertise is shaped around Spring Framework, PostgreSQL, Redis, MongoDB, and RabbitMQ. In his projects, he uses Heroku Cloud. He's co-founded a startup to discover talents from the open-source community. After one year, Furkan successfully exited his startup.
Jano is a full-stack developer and founder specializing in databases. Using PostgreSQL, he has worked on database services with government data, recommendation engines, and performance optimization projects and has experience with startups, consulting, and leading small teams. Jano has a master's degree (summa cum laude) in software engineering from the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava.
Luis has been working as a software developer and data engineer for the past three years after receiving his bachelor's degree in digital systems and robotics engineering specializing in software development and AI. His primary languages include Python for scripting and PostgreSQL for databases, with Django serving as his main back-end framework. Luis focuses on back-end services and API development in addition to data-related applications that include some deep learning projects.
Ivan is primarily a back-end developer with 18+ years of experience architecting and implementing server-side solutions, including distributed platforms, such as blockchains, chat servers, and game back-ends. He has handled DBA operations, developed modules for PostgreSQL, and has experience developing firmware for IoT devices. He helped establish the Toptal blockchain specialization, served as a tech screener, and lectured for Toptal Academy.
Trinidad and TobagoToptal Member Since September 22, 2014
PostgreSQL developers are skilled in creating systems for gathering, processing, and storing data. This guide to hiring PostgreSQL developers features interview questions and answers, as well as best practices that will help you identify the best candidates for your company.
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How to Hire PostgreSQL Developers through Toptal
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How much does it cost to hire a PostgreSQL engineer?
The cost of hiring a PostgreSQL engineer will vary across different use cases and regions. For example, Glassdoor reports the average total pay for a PostgreSQL developer in the United States to be $111,830 as of May 4, 2023. More specialized roles such as PostgreSQL Database Administrators (DBAs), however, report higher annual pay: Glassdoor lists $138,852, for comparison.
How do I hire PostgreSQL developers?
To successfully hire PostgreSQL developers, it is important to first match the required skills to your project needs. Next, refine your job description and prepare targeted interview questions and any relevant assessments. Based on their responses, evaluate each candidate’s mastery of standard PostgreSQL features and any complementary technology skills. All candidates should have strong SQL and relational database foundations, but complex projects may require PostgreSQL database optimization experts or other specialists.
Are PostgreSQL developers in demand?
Yes, PostgreSQL developers are in high demand. According to Gartner, the DBMS market has seen consistent growth (it approached $80 billion in 2021) that continues to accelerate. PostgreSQL is a top choice for database management (and the preferred database technology among professional developers). It is a versatile tool with advanced features and it supports relational databases while also offering NoSQL functionality. The need for PostgreSQL engineers continues to increase.
How should I choose the best PostgreSQL developers for my project?
The best PostgreSQL developers for your project should have a foundation in relational databases and SQL expertise. They should have prior PostgreSQL experience and understand its features as they relate to data, performance, and reliability. Developers should also possess certain complementary skills: proficiency with a procedural language (e.g., PL/pgSQL or PL/Python), familiarity with PostgreSQL’s specific JSON operators and functions (if NoSQL functionalities are required), and mastery of C-family languages (in cases where in-house PostgreSQL extensions need creation or maintenance). Finally, it’s crucial for every engineer to have debugging and problem-solving abilities.
How quickly can you hire with Toptal?
Typically, you can hire a PostgreSQL developer with Toptal in about 48 hours. Our talent matchers are experts in the same fields they’re matching in—they’re not recruiters or HR reps. They’ll work with you to understand your goals, technical needs, and team dynamics, and match you with ideal candidates from our vetted global talent network.
Once you select your PostgreSQL developer, you’ll have a no-risk trial period to ensure they’re the perfect fit. Our matching process has a 98% trial-to-hire rate, so you can rest assured that you’re getting the best fit every time.
Is PostgreSQL a good option for my project?
PostgreSQL is an open-source relational database that is currently the most popular of its kind. It offers many relevant extensions to the relational model, such as PostGIS geospatial support, ACID compliance, easy implementation of custom datatypes, custom functions, and the use of different programming languages without recompiling the engine. PostgreSQL is a very powerful database engine for a vast number of use cases. Extremely efficient and secure, with huge adoption, PostgreSQL is a solid choice when it comes to open-source databases for now and the foreseeable future.
Jano is a full-stack developer and founder specializing in databases. Using PostgreSQL, he has worked on database services with government data, recommendation engines, and performance optimization projects, and has experience with startups, consulting, and leading small teams. He has a master’s (summa cum laude) in software engineering from the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava.
The database management systems (DBMS) market is booming—it approached $80 billion in 2021, following a trend of consistent growth over the five preceding years. PostgreSQL, also known as Postgres, is a top choice for database management and is the preferred database technology among professional developers. As the DBMS market expands, the need for PostgreSQL engineers continues to increase.
Hiring PostgreSQL developers is not always straightforward: While other SQL engineers do have some skill overlap with PostgreSQL developers, only experienced PostgreSQL specialists know how to leverage PostgreSQL’s advanced features and how to be effective at performance tuning.
In this hiring guide, we outline the critical components of a PostgreSQL job description, interview questions, and assessments. We also define the difference between PostgreSQL and SQL developers from a hiring perspective and the complementary technical skills your role might require.
What attributes distinguish quality PostgreSQL Developers from others?
When looking to hire a PostgreSQL developer, it’s important to understand how PostgreSQL developers stand out in a broader context of database expertise (i.e., PostgreSQL versus SQL versus NoSQL skills). There are two basic types of databases:
Relational (RDBMS) or SQL databases use tables with rows and columns, which is ideal for structured data; these databases facilitate complex queries and help developers enforce data consistency. Examples include PostgreSQL, MySQL, and Microsoft (MS) SQL Server.
With all of them, developers use Structured Query Language (SQL) to create and find data—but PostgreSQL extends the language with advanced features and customizations.
Nonrelational or NoSQL databases use ad hoc, JSON-formatted “documents,” allowing for maximum flexibility amid changing requirements.
While most candidates should be savvy with relational databases, the best PostgreSQL developers will also identify which advanced PostgreSQL features are a good fit for your assignment.
You should require a high-level understanding of standard features and functionalities, such as:
Foreign keys; stored procedures; support for a variety of data types
Multiversion concurrency control (MVCC) and locking mechanisms; nested transactions; advanced query planner and optimizer
Secure access-control system; international character sets; support for a variety of languages; time stamps with time zones
To gauge a candidate’s depth of knowledge, ask them about specific PostgreSQL abilities and limitations, using its feature matrix for reference.
How can you identify the ideal PostgreSQL Developer for you?
Unless you are hiring junior-level engineers and have the flexibility for additional onboarding and training time, you should focus your efforts on finding developers with significant hands-on experience with PostgreSQL. When reviewing résumés, be wary of candidates who list only experience with SQL: SQL generalists will likely need to unlearn some habits specific to other SQL systems lest they risk implementing antipatterns that may cost your company—even before your app scales.
Ideally, candidates will have plenty of experience with the PostgreSQL subfeatures that are crucial to your project (e.g., JSON datatypes and functions for an app using a hybrid table/document architecture).
The mastery of PostgreSQL requires several complementary skills, but not all of them may be relevant to a given project.
Procedural languages allow PostgreSQL developers to reuse SQL-related code from directly within the database for performance and data consistency. There are four procedural languages in PostgreSQL’s core distribution:
If your project already relies heavily on one or more of these, you may need to hire a developer with Python, Perl, or Tcl skills. However, that list has little to do with how developers interface with PostgreSQL from an app’s code. For example, if your app (or its back end) is written in Java, a Java developer will use PostgreSQL’s client libraries to run queries; a PostgreSQL developer can collaborate with them better if they also know Java, depending on team size and role overlap.
Certain database projects may also benefit from JSON-proficient developers. As mentioned, PostgreSQL is primarily a relational database, but PostgreSQL engineers can still harness the power of NoSQL functionality. Look to hire someone with strong JSON SQL experience and mastery of JSON datatype operators if you are considering a combined document/relational database model.
Finally, in rare cases, familiarity with C-family languages (C or C++) may be needed when hiring developers so they can create and maintain custom PostgreSQL extensions. However, many extensions exist as open-source projects and can be leveraged as is without C or C++ skills.
How to Write a PostgreSQL Job Description for Your Project
The next step in hiring a PostgreSQL developer is to customize role requirements based on your data and specific needs:
You are just getting started with PostgreSQL and searching for application developers.
Junior- or mid-level engineer
Look for candidates who are generally familiar with SQL. It may not make sense to have a hard requirement on PostgreSQL experience for all engineers, as this could limit your choices. Excellent application developers familiar with any relational database can learn PostgreSQL’s features relatively easily. It is helpful, however, for at least one person on the team to know advanced PostgreSQL features to ease the learning curve for other developers. In particular, a complex new product would benefit from having a PostgreSQL-savvy database architect available to shape the project during its infancy.
You are already using PostgreSQL and hope to enhance your project’s performance.
Senior data engineer
Look for a PostgreSQL database expert with advanced SQL knowledge. Such a specialist can provide you with performance optimization suggestions and monitoring techniques, and guide the team’s best practices. Search for candidates with advanced knowledge of performance tuning and the ability to assess an application’s bottlenecks, as well as leadership experience in coaching more junior engineers on team standards.
Regardless of their level of expertise in PostgreSQL, a solid candidate should have sufficient experience with databases and advanced knowledge of the SQL syntax as a foundation for additional PostgreSQL skills.
What are the most important PostgreSQL interview questions?
Effective interview questions are a critical piece in the hiring puzzle—and your ticket to top developers. You might ask standard SQL interview questions on topics like JOIN clauses and subqueries or more advanced questions on topics like window functions, CTEs, and recursive queries. The best interviews tailor questions based on project-specific factors.
After standard SQL questions, continue with more specific PostgreSQL interview questions, such as:
How would you handle deploying a database model change (e.g., an important column rename) with minimal downtime?
PostgreSQL supports transactional DDL, but even renaming a column can block a full table for reads and writes. This can cause downtime and deadlocks at the database level and may need nontrivial synchronization when deploying new application code that can work with both versions of the table. Splitting a model change into multiple steps that are safe to run at any time is the correct approach. Example action items might include:
Notifying key stakeholders that production deployment may include possible downtime.
Creating a backup copy of the table for later restoration, if required (i.e., when performing structural changes or bulk data updates in an important table).
Running the column rename and subsequent possible data manipulation in the column.
Committing changes (or rolling them back if unexpected issues occur).
Verifying with stakeholders that the application works as expected after finishing deployment.
You should also test each candidate’s understanding of complex PostgreSQL features that are relevant to your project. For example:
When would you consider using a partial index?
Partial indexes are suitable for tables and queries in cases in which you are interested only in a subset of the data. A good example is indexing a status column that filters out most rows. This case might occur in the real world for a table that contains processed and unprocessed job data, where a business is only interested in quickly fetching unprocessed data using the status column.
When would you use table partitioning?
When large amounts of data are stored in databases, performance and scaling suffer. Partitioning helps by dividing big tables into smaller tables, which reduces memory swap problems and table scans. As a result, huge data sets become more accessible and manageable. Most of the operations on unpartitioned tables are applicable to partitioned ones.
Focusing on database administration tasks (e.g., optimization and monitoring) may also be useful when looking to hire seasoned PostgreSQL developers:
What are the key metrics in a PostgreSQL database, and which tools would you use to monitor them?
In terms of query performance, strategic logging is required for any nontrivial application. It is crucial to recognize long-running queries and optimize them (standard approaches include running EXPLAIN ANALYZE and checking query costs). On the application level, it is vital to have visibility into how many queries are issued for a single request to identify N+1 query problems. To handle scaling, it is a best practice to monitor the number of open connections and replication lags.
Services like Datadog and New Relic provide actionable insights regarding PostgreSQL performance and are easy to integrate into existing applications of various languages. pgAdmin is also an excellent open-source graphical tool for database administration; it can monitor database configuration and activity, track sessions and locks, catch long-running queries, and more, but much of this functionality can also be achieved by a PostgreSQL developer skilled with the psql command line.
What would you do if a client’s application (dependent on a database) is stuck and nonresponsive?
Cooperation with other application teams is crucial, as the root cause of the problem may be outside of the database layer (e.g., unresponsive application servers or network firewalls). If all other layers are functional, then engineers should use the performance optimization methods for debugging we’ve laid out here.
Finally, a case study approach may be useful while interviewing. The situation below assesses a candidate’s experience with at least one other relational database (e.g., MySQL, Oracle, MS SQL).
To determine each candidate’s ability to deal with real-world problems, ask them to create a relational database model that meets a set of business requirements that aligns with your project’s use cases.
Based on each candidate’s model, ask them:
How would you query and manipulate data in the database?
What trade-offs did you make in terms of performance, scalability, and maintenance?
How would you run an EXPLAIN on a query? Please include a proposal to optimize the query plan.
All candidates should demonstrate a clear understanding of these relational database concepts.
While interviewing, consider other relevant developer strengths from the complementary technologies mentioned in the “How can you identify the ideal PostgreSQL Developer for you?” section, plus more general engineering topics:
Dockerized and cloud technologies are prevalent in PostgreSQL application architectures. Ask candidates about their experience with cloud database configurations, including experience with dockerized environments (containers) and major cloud providers.
No software engineering interview is complete without situational questions that assess problem-solving and debugging skills. These capabilities are essential for all developers, regardless of their technology or language specialization.
If you need support on high-level performance or architecture decisions, inquire directly about plans to assess your specific problem. Experts working at this level will have strong experience and referrals. They may suggest clear proposals for onboarding clients, defining the project’s next steps, and managing stakeholder expectations.
Why do companies hire PostgreSQL Developers?
PostgreSQL engineers can handle various data sets, whether serving small projects or global enterprises, and PostgreSQL is available for use with major cloud providers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.
Common real-world use cases for PostgreSQL and other relational databases include transactional applications (e.g., customer relationship management systems) and other scenarios in which data does not change frequently (e.g., storing healthcare data, government data, electricity or mobile plan data, or financial data). An SQL generalist could be all that you need in such cases if there’s already enough PostgreSQL expertise on your team, but you’ll need a PostgreSQL specialist for your app to scale at an enterprise level.
PostgreSQL is an RDBMS first, but PostgreSQL developers can also harness the power of NoSQL functionality and work on projects with unstructured data using a combined document/relational data model. This approach is possible due to PostgreSQL’s rich JSON support, and it requires an engineer who has worked specifically with JSON datatypes in a production system.
While PostgreSQL is a versatile tool, it may not be suitable for every project. For example, other approaches offer better solutions when dealing with huge amounts of unstructured data or blob storage where you don’t need ACID compliance. But you still may benefit from PostgreSQL developers when using other technologies if you are migrating data from PostgreSQL.
As the DBMS market continues to grow, companies will increasingly look to expert PostgreSQL developers to harness the profits of large data sets and stay competitive. With the guidance offered here, you will be better prepared for every step of the hiring journey—from drafting your PostgreSQL job description to identifying the required advanced PostgreSQL skills for development. Zeroing in on the right PostgreSQL experts will drive your data—and your business—toward success.
The technical content presented in this article was reviewed by Tomislav Delas.