Taking the leap into contracting can be daunting. Leaving the relative security of full-time employment to pursue a career in programming and design contracting might seem like madness. Why would you jump into the unknown and forego your comfortable employment at a stable company? In the text below, we aim to enlighten you and show you that contracting can be a rewarding and worthwhile venture. We discuss 8 different reasons why you should consider contracting and the benefits it can provide.
Contracting in programming and design is currently booming. Businesses are turning towards contracting solutions as opposed to undertaking work in-house. Using contractors presents them with a greater level of flexibility. Moreover, it means that the business can improve its expenditure and staff management. Contractors can be hired as and when required for specific jobs – there is no wasted labor or excess payroll requirements. That is from a business point of view – what about from your point of view – the contractor?
Greater freedom and flexibility
Working a standard 9-5 job can be quite restrictive. You work contracted hours on a weekly basis - each day you complete the same routine. You get up and drive to work. You then spend 7-8 hours each day in the same environment surrounded by the same people. Evenings and weekends are your own. There is literally no variance to this loop except for the 25 days holiday you can take each year.
If this doesn't sound like something you can do for your entire working life, contracting could be a great alternative. Contracting provides variety, freedom, and flexibility. Firstly, you can set your own working hours - there doesn't even have to be a set pattern. You could, for example, work on a Sunday and have Monday as a rest day. Providing you hit your deadlines and complete your contracted work when required, your working life is as flexible as you desire.
Secondly, you can have the freedom to tailor your working life exactly how you want it. This can make your days go quicker. It can also improve your enjoyment of work. Finally, it can also complement your home-life and means you can do things that you wouldn't be able to with a standard desk job.
Improved opportunity for learning and experience
As a contractor, you will become involved in a myriad of different projects. One week you could be writing code for an enterprise CRM. The next week, you could be writing a mobile app for a smartphone game developer. The possibilities are endless. This gives you greater variety – your working life will be interesting and engaging.
The other major benefit of this is that you can learn a wider range of skills. Your knowledge will increase exponentially and not just on a single subject. You can, of course, choose to specialize in one specific area such as a programming language for example. If you truly want to excel as a contractor however, you have the chance to build up a repertoire of useful skills within the IT industry.
This will, of course, give you a greater potential for taking jobs and picking up new contracts. By contracting, you can become multi-talented. Moreover, you can grow as a person and potentially learn new skills that you may not have considered working in a full-time business role. Sometimes, learning and self-betterment opportunities are limited at a company – the business may not have a need for you to learn new skills. Contracting removes this limitation and allows you to reach your full potential.
Higher potential earnings
One of the most attractive aspects of contracting for many is the potential for earning. The basic fact concerning contracting is that there is no potential ceiling to what you could earn. You can literally earn as much as you want, providing you take the work and put the effort in.
When employed by a business in a full-time IT role, you have a set salary. You may also have a bonus scheme or potential for overtime. Outside of these three factors, there is nothing you can do to improve your wages. Promotion is, of course, an option, but this is not guaranteed. You could work at a business for numerous years and never have the opportunity to better yourself.
Contracting removes these limitations. You can set yourself a salary target and take work to achieve your goals. If you wanted, you could then take additional work and earn more! Your salary essentially becomes flexible.
Avoidance of company politics and internal conflicts
Businesses are littered with politics and strife. Different departments may have conflicting ideas. Moreover, disputes may arise between staff and management. In addition to this, a business has a plethora of rules, regulations, and expectations.
As a member of staff, you would be exposed to these conflicts. Furthermore, you would have to adhere to certain standards and comply with company regulations. For some, this can seem limiting. Moreover, involvement in company politics can cause unwanted stress.
As a contractor, you are not subject to the politics surrounding a business. The only rules and regulations you have to consider are those relating to the individual jobs that you are contracting for. Furthermore, you often work alone and therefore will not get dragged into arguments or managerial conflicts.
This should combine together to provide a much calmer working environment with less stress. There is, of course, stress relating to your contracting work. This stress, however, is manageable and can be used to spur your work efforts forward.
Ability to work remotely from a location of your choice
Some people enjoy the consistency and stability of working in an office environment. Others, however, prefer the freedom to choose where they work. As a contractor in the IT industry, you can often work remotely.
This means that you can sometimes work from home. Imagine the freedom of working from home. You get up in the morning, have a leisurely breakfast and then head into your study to start work. There are no stressful journeys to work through rush hour traffic. Moreover, you are not confined to the same four walls of an office day in day out. If you want, you could work in the garden, or in your living room – the choice is yours.
There is also the possibility that you could work and travel. Many contractors actually enjoy a nomadic lifestyle. They travel from place to place and work remotely. The main point is that you have a choice and are not confined to a single working location.
Potential for reduction in tax payments
Working as an employee for a business means that you will pay a set tax figure based on your salary. There is no scope to reduce this tax payment. Although taxes are necessary for public services etc. it still takes away from your earnings. Contracting can actually give you the opportunity to reduce your tax payments.
As a contractor, you can register as self-employed, create an umbrella company, or create a limited company. Using these methods you can reduce your tax payments through business expenses and other means. For example, when creating a limited company you can claim a wider array of business expenses. Moreover, certain industries actually pay less VAT if they enroll in the government flat rate VAT scheme.
Ability to build a strong business network
Networking is an important aspect of a business. It is vital to create a network of contacts within your industry. Moreover, it is also prudent to create contacts within complementary industries too. Networking is sometimes difficult as an employee within a business. Your business, for example, will use set suppliers and work with a limited number of external companies.
As a contractor, you have the opportunity to create a large business network. During your working life, you will interact with a multitude of different people and businesses. Each job you take could present a new set of business contacts. Furthermore, you will undoubtedly interact with people in different industries and from further afield.
You can draw on this large business network and use it to your advantage. It could also lead to new job opportunities and long-term contracting work.
Improved quality of life
When choosing a career, it is important to remember that you will likely have to work for 30-40+ years. To that end, you must be happy with your job. Moreover, you must have a great quality of life too. Would you want to work for a company that pays well, but makes you unhappy and stressed?
Contracting can give an improved quality of life. The factors we have mentioned above can combine together to give you a fantastic balance between work and home life. Contributing factors include:
- Often working from home
- Flexible salary
- No involvement in company politics
Basically, if you value your own well-being and life more than work, contracting is a fantastic choice. This career path does require hard work, but the long-term benefits and quality of life can be vastly superior to working as an employee of a company.
Contracting is an extremely worthwhile career. You must be dedicated and hard-working, but there is literally no limit to what you can do. There is scope to earn as little or as much as you want. Furthermore, you can take your business in whatever direction you please. Control, flexibility, and freedom – these are just a few of the key things you can expect if you take this career path.
If you're based in the UK and would like to benefit from becoming a contractor, be sure to check out our guide on becoming a contractor in the UK.
Decided to take the leap? Great news! You may like to now join the wellpaid.io network, where you can create your free contractor profile, receive enquiries from hirers when you're available, join a professional contractor community, and access £1,000s in discounts. Find out more.