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Becoming a Contractor in Engineering

 

The market for Engineers is particularly buoyant at present and it is looking to stay that way in the near future.

At Technical Network we are being approached by many candidates looking to take the leap from a permanent position to that of a contractor, and we know this can be daunting. But it shouldn't be.

People worry about the uncertainty of working as a contractor, however few of us in permanent employment can boast of great job security.

In reality it's not a significant change and the positive aspects of being contract or freelance can outweigh the insecurity of not drawing an annual salary. Here are what we think are the key benefits of becoming a contractor, and disadvantages, can you add anything?

 

So what are the benefits of becoming a contractor?

Be your Own Boss.

If the market allows and there is sufficient demand for your expertise you get to decide who you want to work for. Whether your criteria is location, the type of the work or the hourly rate, you can take control of the work you do.

Flexibility.

Generally if you invoice on an hourly rate you have the flexibility to schedule your hours of work to suit you. Of course employers expect work to be carried out during agreed hours, whether this is 8 hours a day (any 8 hours) or more traditional working hours. However as a contractor you may be able to negotiate those hours, allowing for a better work vs life balance.

Potential earnings.

Depending on your level of experience it's possible to earn a least twice as much working as a contractor than a permanent employee. However you do need to make sure you have sufficient work to maintain your required level of income. As a limited company contractors who take professional advice can greatly reduce the amount of tax paid.

Internal politics.

As a contractor you can turn up, do your job and go home at the end of the day, without having to engage with the backbiting, gossip and general stress associated with office politics. Naturally you will want to form good working relationships with the company you are contracted to. But freelancing allows you the freedom of being able to turn your back on this aspect of permanent employment.

Gain valuable experience.

By choosing your contracts carefully you can build on your experience and enhance your desirability to other companies. At the same time you get to meet new people, work in a different environment and avoid the mundane.

Overtime.

Need I say more? Your hourly rate is already at a higher level than if you were fully employed, you'll be more than adequately compensated if you agree to any overtime. Just think of all the permanent staff who put in extra hours for no financial gain.

 

What are the pitfalls of becoming a contractor?

Of course, were contracting an easy and completely safe way to earn a living most people would become a contractor. Some skills are not suitable for contracting (e.g. where the employer needs a stable workforce and the customer expects to deal with the same member of staff each time). But even if your skills and experience are suitable for contracting, it may not be right for you. Only you can weigh up the pros and the cons.

Some of the disadvantages you will need to consider include:-

Less security - Contractors are not protected in the same way as employees;

Uncertainty - there are usually no guarantees of another contract when your current contract ends;

Hassle - because you will be running your own business, there will be forms to fill in, rules to obey and accounts to keep;

You will be on your own - as well as sometimes being lonely, being your own boss means, for example, that nobody will pay you when you take a holiday or are ill.

 

NEXT STEPS 

If contracting is still attractive to you, and you believe you can cope with the disadvantages, the next step is to do some research. Don't give up your job (or spend money setting up a company) until you are sure that there is a market for your skills as a contractor.

Please feel free to contact us at Technical Network on 0121 450 5020 to see what contracts might be available, whether you are suitable for them, and how much you could earn.

You will also need to look into how to operate your own business including forming a company online, getting professional indemnity insurance and a business bank account.

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Network Recruitment Partnership Ltd:
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Edgbaston
Birmingham B16 8LB
Tel: +44 (0)121 450 5020
Fax: +44 (0)121 450 5021

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