There isn’t really a set ‘rate’, since every market is different, as well as every specialty. I would not charge the same amount to mx a punk band at a club as I would to do a multitrack session live for a jazz gig. Factors such as demand, experience, quality of equipment (if you even offer your own gear) and market trends tend to shape how much you charge. I have had some people think my live on-site recording rate of $120/hr was insane, but that includes two degrees, about $15k in mics and full in house mastering as well. Meanwhile, I only bill some non profit groups $15/hr to just do FOH w/a Presonus SL and a case full of 57/58’s. Experience and specialty have alot to do with how you charge, as does what is going on in your market. This is why ‘undercutting’ the average rate is considered a dickish move and will quickly lose you friends. Offering a competitive price is one thing, but doing FOH club gigs foe $11/hr and supplying the entire PA is quite another, and causes people to soon expect it to be common for audio engineers and technicians to be that desperate. The race to the bottom is never one you want to win.
Also, as a bit of a tip: be careful about calling yourself an engineer unless you actually have an engineering degree. If you do, use that degree as reference. It gives support for how much you charge. It describes your verifiable skill to clients and generally is just professional. If you don’t have a degree, you are in effect misrepresenting your education, and can easily get into something over your head. And, having to tell a client or having them find out DURING the gig that you don’t know what you said you knew can not only kill the pay from that gig, but follow you. Word gets ‘round fast…
The best thing is to price out local freelancers, speak to your local IATSE union and ask other technicians and engineers what their education and experience are in relation to their rates. From there it won’t take long to get a feel for the local market. Most of all: GO TO SHOWS. See the bands, the trends and the demands of the gigs you want to work. Once you have an idea what the local guys average, then you can see where you sit skill-wise. There are national rates, but each market is wildly different. You have to hit the ground and get to know what is the demand.
If you are just staring out (i.e. only a few years experience or just starting a degree program), expect to start at the VERY bottom. This is an industry built on skill, art, science and networking. “Who you know” does play in and does affect what you can charge… until you screw a show up or if you aren’t effective to work with. Conversely, if you save a show from disaster or give the perfect mix at the perfect time, you will find your pay being Increased for you by a producer or club owner in hopes you can do that on a regular basis
Most importantly: DO NOT REFERENCE CRAIGSLITS!!!!!!!
Hope that gives a bit of insight.. at least from my perspective