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IT Consultants: Is Full-Time Work For You?
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Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
12/2/2013 | 10:40:54 AM
Tax considerations?
Seems like it would also be wise to talk to your tax expert. Doesn't being a contractor come with some advantages in terms of write-offs and the ability to incorporate?
manna4ang
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manna4ang,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2013 | 12:17:32 PM
Re: Tax considerations?
Hi Lorna! Yes being a consultant does have it's advantages, like the one you mentioned, tax write-offs. However, you must be established as a business entity. S-corp, B-corp, LLC, Sole-Pro, etc. And save, save, save those receipts! 
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
12/2/2013 | 1:43:33 PM
Re: Tax considerations?
When the 550 person consulting company out of Chicago I worked for went belly up after Y2K, I took the 3 clients I had and launched my own consulting company as the only employee. I incorporated for the tax and liability benefits you get from that.

It was interesting experience. The tax hit is tremendous, besides income tax you also must pay Social Security tax. On about $147K of income, the taxes were $52K. Plus another $700 a month (in after tax dollars) for health coverage. No paid vacations, if you didn't work you didn't earn anything.

The problem with starting like that is in Sales. If you are working for a client everyday, how are you going to get that next client? There are firms who will sub contract work to you, taking piece of the action of course. If your goal is to grow, then maybe you partner with someone who handles the Sales part. But if your goal just to keep yourself busy, the sales function becomes a real problem with no answer.

The real key to making this work for yourself is whether you enjoy travel. Crappy travel, like a 1-1/2 hour drive on icy roads to another part of your state. If you are fairly young and single, that may not bother you. Once you get a family, it most definitely will at some point.

It takes a special breed to do this in the long term.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
12/2/2013 | 12:24:21 PM
Stability Real And Imagined
What about the isolation factor? Can any of you say you went back to a full-time role because you missed being part of a team, mentoring the next generation, etc.? For some people, that is a large satisfaction in a full-time role.
anon6310838817
IW Pick
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anon6310838817,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2013 | 2:11:34 PM
Re: Stability Real And Imagined
I was lured back in to the Enterprise about a year ago. I was drawn by the promise of architecting Enterprise level applications, bathing in software development best practices, constantly exposed to like minded programmers with whom there would be deep debates about patterns and architecture and such.

What I found was a horrific nightmare of spaghetti code, worst practices and anti-patterns. I stuck around long enough to at least get them using source control and doing little things like indexing SQL tables. The most baffling part was that the people there were all pretty sharp. I still can not explain how such sharp people put out the code and applications I found there.

No real point here, just a story!
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
12/2/2013 | 2:30:49 PM
Re: Stability Real And Imagined
I'm sure many readers can relate to that experience. The grass often seems green during the interview process -- then you learn about the realities once you are on the team.

This raises the related point that you should do any due diligence you can on the team you're considering joining. This is a big switch from consulting to full-time. Can you network your way to some first-person knowledge of the team leader at least? I am always surprised when people tell me they took a job offer without trying to research the potential boss.

 
Deron Lespoir
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Deron Lespoir,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2013 | 12:34:31 PM
Re: Stability Real And Imagined
Laurianne: I firmly believe that people rarely leave their career for the money, but often because they don't like the people they work with.
MaritaS849
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MaritaS849,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2013 | 2:44:56 PM
Company Environment for Consultants vs Full Time
Great Post! I was curious if you've found that consulting varies much by company, in terms of how you are treated as a consultant vs being a full time employee. Do you find that most companies have similar policies regarding consultants and how they are treated or have you seen a large variance depending on company, location and/or industry?
Deron Lespoir
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Deron Lespoir,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2013 | 12:03:26 PM
Re: Company Environment for Consultants vs Full Time
MaritaS849: In the private sector you don't really see a difference and are generally treated like everyone else. However, in the Public sector, you see, feel, taste, smell and touch that there is a difference.
kevmacr1
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kevmacr1,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2013 | 3:23:40 PM
Re: Company Environment for Consultants vs Full Time
@MaritaS849...As Deron Lespoir mentioned, the typical consultant is generally treated like their co-workers, but years ago, Mircosoft was sued by long-term contractors for benefits. Now, many companies won't staff a temporary contractor for more than 2 yrs. That lawsuit combined with federal compliance bills like Dodd-Frank and HIPAA have made a growing number of companies particularly wary about how they treat their employees versus how they treat consultants. Some companies will have different rules for consultants and certain perks and priviliges are not extended. For example, as a consultant, you may not be granted remote access to the company's network. So working from home may not be an option. Don't expect prime real estate onsiet either. Contractors often get the workspace no one else wants and they're often forced to share that space. Also, employee discounts and invitations to company functions are usually not extended to consultants.
manna4ang
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manna4ang,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2013 | 12:38:18 PM
Insurance Benefits & Contractors
I was a full-time art teacher with a salary was on the higher end of the teacher payscale. It provided me with insurance, paid time off and paid summer and spring breaks. Loved it! However, moving to New York, I quickly realized that in order to maintain a lifestyle that I wanted, I needed to explore my career options, in order to increase my income. I transferred my skills over into the IT world. The move had it's pros & cons. Pro - I doubled my salary, Con - I lost of my benefits. If I take off from work, I don't have PTO, however, I can save enough to miss from work. The thing that I miss the most are the health & dental benefits. To acquire this privately in NY you're looking at $3K a month for a premium. This is quite a chunk. So, I definitely agree with this article, you must weigh your options. I think this was still the best option. But here is a great site for consultants to look into for insurance. I'm going to check it out and will repost when I get more info. 

The Freelancers Union is more than 80,000 in New York with more than 150,000 nationwide. This includes the consultants, independent contractors, temps, part-timers, contingent employees and the self-employed that make up one-third of the American workforce. Because they are employed in nontraditional arrangements, these independent workers do not have access to employer-based health care insurance. Therefore, Working Today, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, launched Freelancers Union in 2001. Freelancers Union has created a portable benefits delivery system, linking benefits to individuals rather than to employers, so independent workers can maintain benefits as they move from job to job and project to project.

In addition to providing a somewhat flexible safety net in the form of portable benefits, the organization tries to increase the visibility of independent workers, bringing issues that concern freelancers to the attention of media and policy makers. Freelancers Union also provides its members with online tools, business management information, networking opportunities, group discount terms with various vendors or partners, and other assistance in working successfully as independents. Membership is free of charge, as is members' access to the Union's meetings, tools and basic information. Members pay fees for certain events, seminars and other services, as well as premiums if they elect to buy health insurance through the Union.

 

https://www.freelancersunion.org/benefits/

Thanks Deron for posting this! What are you comments?
kevmacr1
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kevmacr1,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2013 | 9:25:04 AM
Consultant vs Temp
Great post. I think the decision also hinges on the type of consultant you are. Some "consultants" are merely temporary contractors doing normal everyday tasks. Long term, consulting is of little benefit to these individuals and could be detrimental to their careers.

Conversely, true consultants have highly coveted skills and are expected to use those skills to provide solutions to their clients. As such, they have already made a career of doing so. Any fulltime position short of management could wear quickly on these individuals.
Deron Lespoir
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Deron Lespoir,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2013 | 11:58:02 AM
Re: Consultant vs Temp
Kevmacr1: Very good point. Consultants vary greatly. The line can be blurry even within the industry, among recruiters and consultants. I have found the distinction is even more important for the client. Clients who want consultants that are highly experienced and committed to the organizations success recognize the value and will pay for the right people to be in the right positions.  Clients who choose less experienced folks pay less upfront but end up paying more down the road when the project goes awry. I've seen this happen time and time again. With IT projects, proper leadership is everything. It is important to put the right people in the right roles whether consultant or temp.
proberts551
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proberts551,
User Rank: Strategist
12/10/2013 | 4:45:38 PM
Consulting Nitch
I currently work contract at a major corporation through an agency. I got hired to install & maintain computers. Not quite.   I found my role expanded quickly as I discovered the needs of the department. The department hired me.

 The Standard company support people are young, inexperienced contactors and did not have the experience to meet the needs of the department, and I.T. has slashed to the bone, getting rid of experience guys that used to do my job as full time employees.

The supervisor cut me loose and said, take good care of us, and gives minimal direction of my duties.   Having been in I.T. 25 years I  know what needs to be done.

I serve Multiple roles from a Network Guy Troubleshooting Corproate issues (To get them fixed) Systems integrator, procurement person, helpdesk, project manager, asset manager, Sharepoint list Admin and More.  I do not Qualify as the Title Systems Administrator / Database Adminstrator on paper, not sure where I fit in. I make less than half the wage of either, but have security where I am. (Muliple year no end contract)  

After being here several years, I really miss the paid vacation time, holidays paid, sick leave, and other benefits.  The economy is too scary to make a move right now.  Bottom line is If you are a contract agency, or work as feelance,  you make big bucks.  If you are the Contract person working for agency, much lower bucks.


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