Contracting can give the opportunity for skilled workers to have a lucrative career, along with a wide range of benefits. However, if you’re thinking of moving from permanent employment to contracting, you’ll have to keep in mind that you’ll be running a business, so you’ll have a lot more administration tasks to do that would’ve been performed by other people at your old job.
If you’re thinking about becoming a contractor, some of the pros and cons below will help you decide if it’s right for you.
Pros of being a contractor
One of the greatest advantages of contracting is the sheer variety of work you could be doing. With many clients and assignments out there, you get to decide which projects you want to work on.
As a contractor, you’ll be paid more than a full-time employee doing an equivalent job because you’ll be earning more per hour, and your tax status allows you to keep more of that money.
You get to decide which of your skills you want to develop, or even decide to train in something completely new. You’ll get a greater sense of satisfaction from training as a contractor because it will result in increased earnings.
You can choose when to work or not work when you are between contracts, and you’ll have to work less hours to make the same amount of money that you would as a permanent employee.
As a contractor, you get much greater choice in when and where you work – and you can finish working when a job is done, rather than staying in the office for a set amount of time every day, with not much time off.
Better work/life balance
As a contractor, you get much more control over your life. You can work as much or as little as you like, you can choose when to take holidays, when to spend time with your family, you can spend more time on hobbies, etc. It’s probably most contractors’ favourite thing about being a contractor, because it has such a huge, positive impact on your life.
Cons of being a contractor
Though contracting has lots of advantages, it requires many skills that not everyone has, so contracting, while it can be great, isn’t for everyone.
Read the cons of contracting below to see if you still think contracting is for you.
No safety net
Without a permanent employer, you’ll have nobody to keep paying you if you fall ill and are unable to work, nor will you have anybody to pay into your pension pot – you’ll have to do all of this yourself, paying into a pension, and ensuring you’ll be okay if you fall ill.
No paid holidays
Holidays was also in the pros of contracting section because you get to decide when you can go on holiday, but it’s also here in the cons section because, unlike when working as a permanent employer, you won’t be able to take paid holidays.
Finding regular work
A big part of being a contractor is finding and securing contracts. You’ll need to spend time finding work and getting in touch with agencies and clients.
You’ll have nobody else to work out what skills you need and offer training. You’ll need to work out what skills you need to acquire or develop yourself, and then find and pay for the relevant training.
Time between contracts
Between contracts, when you aren’t working, you won’t be earning and money. This can cause a lot of stress for some people, but other people will see this time between jobs as an opportunity for training and keeping their skills up-to-date.
Running a business
When deciding to become a contractor, you’ll have to remember that you’ll be running a business. Whether you work as a limited company or under an umbrella company, you’ll have to spend some of your time on administration. You can, however, get support from third parties, for example by hiring an accountant.
IR35 is legislation designed to stop employees claiming to be contractors in order to receive tax benefits. The rules are confusing so you really should seek the help of an accountant to show you how to operate in a way that doesn’t set alarm bells ringing at HMRC.
Is contracting right for you?
If you’re the right sort of person for contracting, it can be a very rewarding and lucrative career. However, it’s not for everyone – hopefully reading the pros and cons of contracting will help you decide whether you should move from full-time, permanent employment to being a contractor.