You’ve got a stable, full-time technical job that you enjoy. You go to work, get paid and have both benefits and vacation time. There’s not much more you could ask for.
But if you could ask for more, what would you want? More money? More variety? More time off? Would these things make your job an even better fit? If so, you need to consider technical consulting.
With IT consulting, you get more money, more time off, more variety, more challenges, and a lessened involvement in office politics.
All in all? IT Consulting might be a better fit for you than full-time employment. Especially if …
1. You want more money
Typically, being an IT consultant will bring in 50-90% more money than a similar full-time employee position. For example, if you normally make $75,000 at your full-time job, you would be making anywhere from $100,000 to $140,000 a year as a technical consultant.
Why? Many companies hire consultants to work on short-term, difficult projects. If they feel that they are inconveniencing you, or getting someone with specialized knowledge, they’ll likely spend more money to bring you on. Furthermore, because they are hiring you for a shorter period of time, they’re less likely to fight over the rate. They’ll want you to get in to do your task and then have you move on.
2. You crave challenges
Why did you get involved in technology in the first place? Was it for the thrill of coding a new program and inventing something new? What was so appealing about this? The challenge?
We thought so.
The great thing about technical consulting is that it allows IT professionals to be challenged. Companies bring consultants on to solve the hard problems, and to find the difficult solutions. That’s it. When you’ve solved the problem, it is up to the full-time employees to implement the program. Unfortunately, they get stuck doing the same thing day in and day out, but you get to go from challenging problem to challenging problem. Doesn’t that sound more appealing?
3. You dislike office politics
Unfortunately, office politics are often a lot like being back in high school. You’ve got to make allies, avoid criticism, and prove that you’re not the weakest link. [Insert appropriate reminiscing shudder here.]
You don’t have to worry about office politics if you’re a technical consultant though; you’re expected to stay out of the fray. As a technical consultant, companies don’t expect you to make changes to their business processes or even their technical methodologies. They don’t want you involved in their business or managerial decisions, either. They want you to simply work on the technical project that you were hired to do. As a technical consultant you can concentrate on accomplishing spectacular technical feats while everyone else works on trying to not be the smallest fish in the pool.
4. You like variety
You know that full-time employees tend to stay in one place for quite some time; most don’t feel compelled to take on a new employer more than every 6 to 8 years. While this allows FTEs to establish strong and lasting relationships with their companies, it may also hinder the advancement of their skills.
Consultants see as many as 4 or 5 different client sites in this same 6 to 8 year timeframe. Within these different contracts, they are exposed to new technologies and are given more opportunities to solve new problems. As a technical consultant, you’ll not only have a change of pace every so often, but you’ll also have the opportunity to advance your skills.
5. You like time off
By approaching consulting wisely, a consultant can schedule large gaps in between contracts to take that vacation, plant some flowers, sail the high seas, add that addition, or just laze around the house for a while. In order to do this, you need to plan out both contract searches and budgets. Once you do this, taking the summer to sail around the world or to spend time with your kids becomes a very real possibility.
This is not the case for FTEs. They are limited to the number of vacation days they are allowed to take in a given year. If you had the opportunity to take more time off, wouldn’t you?
So what are you thinking now? Is there more you could be asking for in your FTE position? If so, seriously consider technical consulting. It’ll give you more of everything: more money, more time off, more challenges, more variety, and a greater sense of autonomy from office politics. Being a technical consultant allows you to concentrate on new, challenging technical issues – your dream when you entered into the tech field.
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