What is a Fractional CTO | Why They’re in High Demand?
3 min read

What is a Fractional CTO | Why They’re in High Demand?

Learn about the interesting role of a Fractional CTO, why they're in high demand, and other career possibilities!
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A Fractional CTO is a Chief Technical Officer who works on a part-time or freelance basis, usually for startups or small businesses. The role of a Fractional CTO is to provide technical guidance and advice to the company, as well as manage and oversee the technology team.

Fractional CTOs are usually experienced tech executives who have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the industry. They are hired on a short-term basis to help with specific projects or tasks, and often work closely with the CEO or other senior management.

The benefits of hiring a Fractional CTO include having access to high-level technical expertise without the full-time commitment or cost, and being able to scale up or down the level of support as needed.

1. The high demand for Fractional CTOs

There are two core drivers to increase demand for Fractional CTOs:

Remote work

  • It takes down geo barriers and opens companies to approach the desired profiles, even if they are in another city/country.
  • As more companies operate asynchronously, they're able to break down work into smaller chunks, and they can use Part-Timers efficiently.

High salaries for highly skilled tech workers

  • High wages make it challenging for many startups to hire full-time leaders and seniors.
  • This applies not only to CTOs but also to other senior technical roles like DevOps, Cloud infrastructure, Software development, etc.

Just like for full-time salaries, rates for part-time jobs are through the roof. Suddenly, someone working 10-20 hours/week can make as much as they'd make on a full-time job a few years ago.

In essence, remote companies that operate asynchronously are driving most of this demand.

2️. What are the usual rates for a Fractional CTO

The rate card varies wildly, depending on experience, a specific skillset, and mostly, how deep the client's pockets are.

This can range from;

  • $100/hour to work for an early-stage startup to create a roadmap or build an MVP.
  • To $1000/hour to conduct technical due diligence for a VC before they commit to a large investment round.

And we’ve seen everything in the middle, with common rates ranging between $150-300/hour.

I've worked as a Fractional CTO for companies like US, NL, DE, CH, BE, and PT. However, these engagements are more popular and pay higher rates in the US and UK than anywhere else. Most of the opportunities I'm sent these days are from US companies.

3. Typical scope of work for a Fractional CTO

The work is usually more strategic and less hands-on than a full time role. It's important to clarify scope upfront, to make sure it matches the level of commitment agreed.

The main use cases for me have been a mix of:

  • Roadmapping / Tech vision
  • Fundraising / M&A support (docs, DD, etc)
  • Day to day delivery management
  • Architecture work / Audits
  • Hiring / Firing / Sudden departure of tech team

4. How to be hired as a Fractional CTO

Most of my inquiries come from:

  • Founders from my network
  • Round tables with other CTOs
  • Randomly from network

I'm now working Full time and don't have bandwidth from fCTO clients. So I'm offloading the requests I receive.

5️. Things to consider

  • Revenue of a Fractional CTO is not fixed. Some months you'll earn record salary, other months you'll earn zero!
  • You may spend significant time in screening calls and interviews, not doing actual work.


Fractional CTOs are in high demand because they offer specialized expertise on a part-time basis, which is cost-effective for startups. Rates for these roles vary depending on experience and skillset, but typically range from $100-$1000/hour.

Speaking from experience, Fractional CTOs are more popular and are paid better in the US and UK. With a great line of experience, a Fractional CTO can be a kind of part-time or contractual career to consider.

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