The Contracting Life: Caveats to Cashing In

The major, and minor, factors to consider before jumping into full-time IT contract work. It's not all about that bump in your rate of pay, but it's understood why you'd be thinking that way.

At pay rates of up to 30 percent more than most IT professionals, the prospect of becoming an IT contractor makes many tech workers see dollar signs.

Its more than money, however, drawing them in: Its variety. Some find the influx of new and different projects to be more satisfying than the static labor in corporate IT departments.

"I find it more intellectually challenging than a 9-to-5 gig," Wes Trochlil, president of Effective Database Management and an independent consultant, told eWEEK.

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"I have a lot of flexibility and the ability to choose my own projects. If something is not interesting to me, I can say no thanks," he said.

Trochlil had worked for a series of nonprofit companies before becoming an independent consultant seven years ago. Hed seen a big need for the types of CRM (customer relationship management) services he offered, from software selection to implementation and ongoing maintenance, a need that led him to switching paths.

"I felt like I could have a broader impact, and I think Im learning a lot more. I have the opportunity to explore new things that are out there. And because I am consulting, I have access to a broader range of software solutions," he said.

If greater intellectual challenges, flexibility, control over workflow and a broader impact sound too good to pass up, youre probably among the thousands of IT professionals considering turning themselves and their skills into a business for hire.

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But to do so without awareness of the range of benefits surrendered—from stock options, office space, a steady paycheck and, in many jobs, a structured plan for career advancement—becoming an independent contractor could be rough to manage.

eWEEK spoke to five experienced IT contract consultants to find out what qualities and skills they considered essential to a successful independent IT worker. Among a slew of advice, four caveats rang out most frequently.

Next Page: 1. Youve got to crave flexibility and independence.