Job security used to stand out as one of the most important attributes to an employee but this seems to be changing. The last few years has seen the rise of the super contractor who won’t consider working a permanent job again – but is contracting really the best move for you? There are a number of factors to consider when deciding if this is the right path for you and your career.

Pros of becoming a contractor

Great variety:  Variety has been listed as the number one benefit of contracting. You choose your assignments and clients, so you can choose only to work on projects that interest you

Ability to earn more take home pay: You should find that you benefit from increased earnings in two ways: you are paid more per hour/day than an equivalent employee, and your tax status enables you to take home more net pay than an employee

Holidays: When you are between contracts, you can choose to take as much or as little time off as you like. Earning more money gives you the freedom to take holidays.

Flexibility: Employees typically must turn up to work between set hours five days a week, with limited time off. Contractors can choose when to work and when not to, and many have greater control over working hours and locations

Training: You choose which skills to develop and what training you take. Most contractors find they gain much greater satisfaction, and return on financial investment, when they are in control of their own skills development

No office Politics: As a contractor you work independently- no more work disputes with your colleagues

Work/life balance: You decide how much or how little to work. If you plan to use your increased earnings to subsidize taking the school holidays off with your kids or perusing a hobby that’s your choice. If work is everything to you, then you can spend all 52 weeks of the year in contract

For many workers, contracting is the answer to their work and lifestyle prayers. You can continue to perform a role that you love, train and develop your skills at your own pace, and choose when and where you work.

But contracting does not suit everyone. You must acquire a whole set of expertise ‘contracting skills’, to ensure that you stay in contract.

Cons associated with contracting

Staying in contract: You need to find and secure an ongoing stream of contracts to ensure you continue to earn enough to make a living. This may require you to engage with recruitment agencies and learn the skills they require, or you may need to invest in Sales and Marketing direct to clients.

Downtime between contracts: If you are not working then you don’t get paid.

Holidays: Contracting is not like employment. No more paid annual leave and sick days. If you don’t work, you don’t earn.  The ideal is that you should be earning enough to be able to afford to take time off.

Skills and development: As a contractor, you no longer have a human resources department on hand to ensure you are properly trained and qualified to fulfill the roles you deliver. Some contractors find this liberating while others lake the motivation to continue to hone their skills

Running your own business: There are two main models of contracting: running an limited compnay or using an umbrella company . Each of these requires a degree of time spent on administration.

So do you take the plunge? Become your own boss? Could contracting be the answer for you …?