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What are the pros and cons of IT contracting?

In this guide, we take a look at the best and worst things commonly associated with IT contracting.

Pros of IT contracting

  • You will have the potential to earn more income than a permanent employee. Most contractor make significantly more than they did as ‘permies’.
  • You will have far more freedom to control what work you do, who you work for, and where you work.
  • The chance to experience a wide variety of projects and industries – and countries, if you’re interested in working overseas.
  • The chance to learn cutting edge skills on numerous projects.
  • You are less likely to be embroiled in office politics (although this isn’t always the case!)
  • You can take planned breaks between contracts to travel, spend time with the family, etc.
  • You have greater responsibility for your own financial planning, especially if you run a limited company.
  • The independence contracting affords is a good confidence builder.
  • You may decide to set up your own business on the back of your contracting experience, or run it concurrently with your contracting work.

Cons of IT contracting

  • There is a lack of job security (especially during ‘tough times’). But then again, many permanent jobs aren’t really secure.
  • You only get paid when you actually work.
  • Unlike traditional employees, you will not receive any holiday pay, sick pay, or other benefits and ‘perks’. You have to pay for these yourself.
  • You may have less choice of where you work, and may have to travel more to secure contract work.
  • You will have more paperwork to deal with (if you have a limited company) – although a good accountant will take this off your hands for a monthly fee.
  • You will have to negotiate punitive tax laws implemented by successive governments, particularly IR35. Again, with correct professional advice, you should be able to deal with such issues.
  • You may have to deal with occasional permie conflict – sometimes permanent staff members resent contractors for a) earning more money than they do, of b) because contractors have been bought in to replace sacked permies.
  • Alongside the obvious technical skills you already possess by virtue of your chosen profession, you will need to develop additional sales and networking skills to help secure fresh contract work.

For most contractors, the pros of IT contracting nearly always seem to outweigh the cons. If you’ve already decided to become a contractor, chances are you have the temperament to take a chance and take control of your own career.

Others simply aren’t cut out for the uncertainly contracting can bring – especially in tough economic times, and prefer to return to permanent work.

Last updated: 21st October 2017