As a contract recruitment consultant, this article could be massively biased, so I’m going to try and be as realistic as possible!
I’d like to start off by saying that contracting is most certainly not for everyone… However, as a young (ish) adventurous male with no dependents, the idea of contracting really appeals. And here are my 4 reasons why:
(Well it had to be the first didn’t it?) It’s simple, a mid-level mechanical engineer working as contractor can expect to be on around £30 an hour + as a minimum. Based on an average 40 hour week for 48 weeks of the year (allowing for 4 weeks holiday) it is fair to say this would equate to 20k more than their permanent counterpart as a rough guideline. On top of this, if you are true contractor and are not under Supervision, Direction and Control (SDC), then any expenses are offset against tax increasing your take-home pay.
Some will argue that you can never be sure where your next contract is coming from and that you don’t get any paid holiday etc. This is very much true, but as we’ve just established, you don’t have to be in work constantly to be earning similar money to your permanent equivalent. What you do with the rest of your time is completely up to you and if you’ve had a really good year you’ll be able to pay for a seriously long holiday, or perhaps take some time out to complete some personal projects and goals as many of my contractors do. Try doing that in a permanent role!
As a well-seasoned traveller, I can assure you that seeing how other people live and work is an important and interesting aspect of life. Even if it is only the other end of the country! But surely everyone’s sat behind that same desk AGAIN and fancied a change of scene? And if personal commitments allow, why not go and work overseas where the rates are often even higher!
The average time spent in a permanent role is 4.4 years (it’s true, I googled it). In that time you will only ever learn about that particular company’s product line and how they choose to go about business. It speaks for itself really but, as a contractor, working with multiple companies on multiple projects; you’re going to learn a lot more about your industry and what really works, technically speaking and business wise. Perhaps even psychologically developing the foundations to start your own business?
I appreciate I am only scratching the surface, and there are many divided opinions where security, location and company benefits amongst others can only be gained via a permanent position. However I would truly recommend at least giving contracting a go once in your career as there are many people who I speak to on a daily basis who never look back.
If this sounds appealing, if you are already looking to make the move into contracting, or you’re seeking your next project, please do get in touch.