The beauty of working in Information Technology is that it gives you the opportunity to choose your own career path in many ways that other industries can’t. There are many different positions and career opportunities throughout the IT landscape that give you the option of selecting what you want to do and where you want to go. Speaking with IT professionals on a daily basis gives me insight on what they like and dislike about the consulting aspect of IT. Here’s what I’ve discovered over the years…
Pros of IT Consulting
You are exposed to many different environments:
Change can be good right? As a consultant you have the opportunity to change working environments, experiment with different technologies and learn from new people/train in different areas when changing job sites. Often times your job responsibilities aren’t so narrow so it gives you the chance for faster growth opportunities as well as working alongside a variety of people that you would have never met before.
You can have more flexibility with your schedule:
You are essentially your own boss; sometimes you can even take extended time off between contracts if your lifestyle allows. I find that a number of the consultants I speak with not only travel a lot for business, but also travel a lot for pleasure. Sometimes your work hours can also be more flexible depending on the particular project, as you might not have to adhere to the corporate hours.
You typically make more money per hour:
It’s not rocket science to know that consultants typically make more money than full-time employees due to the fact that employers don’t have to pay for things like Social Security taxes, unemployment, workers’ compensation coverage, or provide employee benefits like health insurance and sick leave. Also, a lot of contracts are project based and have a set budget that is typically higher for a shorter duration than a salaried position. Lastly, a lot of salaried employees work more than 40 hours per week, but aren’t compensated for overtime whereas a consultant usually has the ability to charge for every hour worked, even over 40.
Cons of IT Consulting
Uncertainty between projects:
A good skill set for contractors to have is the ability to self-market themselves. This is a necessity because contractors are constantly looking for the next gig (sometimes long before their current contract ends) and it can become difficult to find a new one depending on the present market. Everything nowadays is “at will” employment of course, but more now than ever I see contracts being cancelled, put on hold, or delayed depending on a myriad of factors; this could include loss of budget, personnel count and waiting on sign-offs from the C-level executives.
Losing your benefits:
Companies that hire full-time have the ability to supplement a lower salary with many perks and benefits including: insurance, vacation time, sick time, PTO, 401K matching, education reimbursement, and more. A lot of these perks and benefits are forfeited when you become a consultant and the rising costs of health insurance through COBRA and “a la carte” options can often cost several hundred or several thousands of dollars extra throughout the year.
The travel and lifestyle:
Being on the move from project to project can not only be taxing on you, but also your family. It can become difficult to constantly be changing physical locations of projects, sleeping in hotel rooms, catching flights and being away from family and friends for an extended period of time.
As you can see, it’s a personal choice to decide to get into IT consulting or stay at a full-time position with many factors involved. There’s also the third idea of contract to hire that you see many companies utilizing for their employment strategy and is becoming more relevant now more than ever. As with any decision, always weigh the pros and cons and make sure whatever you do makes you happy in the long run. If you’re looking for work, explore what we can do for you.
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