Your IT Consulting Career Questions, Answered
Are you a consultant or a contractor? Do you get paid by the employer or an agency? Do you work for yourself? Are you responsible for your own taxes? If you’ve ever considered becoming an IT consultant these are probably some of the questions you’ve been asking. Before you decide whether or not consulting is right for you, here are some of the answers to the most common questions.
Q: What is consulting?
A: Being an IT Consultant simply means that you are an expert in your field and you provide advice on it in a professional capacity. A consultant can be either an employee or an independent contractor.
Q: What is the difference between being a contractor and a consultant?
A: These words are often used interchangeably, but they probably shouldn’t be. We’ve established the definition of consultant, but many people use the word to describe someone who is employed as a contractor. A contractor is employed by an agency that specializes in IT placements. They are placed on jobs that match their skills and interests and the agency provides the paychecks. An independent consultant is someone who works for themselves marketing their services directly to clients. They are then also responsible for their own taxes, which are handled by the agency in the case of a contractor.
Q: How much will I make?
A: The pay rates for contract IT consultants depends largely on the experience you bring to the table, the client’s budget, and the duration of the assignment. However, it is in the recruiter’s best interest to get the best rate for you. Keep in mind that your salary will not be negatively affected by working with a recruiter. Their fee is established with the client and is unrelated to the negotiated salary.
Q: How long will a contract last?
A: This is also dependent on the needs of the client. Many contracts are around 6 months but some can be shorter or longer. The client may also elect to keep you as a contractor if your performance is stellar. This will be discussed with you on a case by case basis.
Q: What are the benefits of consulting?
A: Regarding fringe benefits, such as health insurance, the agency will be able to provide details of what they offer. However, additional benefits include more flexibility in the types of work that you do, the ability to learn new things, and potentially the ability to travel. Not all consulting jobs involve travel, but if it is an interest, you can focus on the jobs that offer it. But know that you have responsibilities, too, both to your employer and the client company. Never walk off a job, talk to your recruiter if you have concerns, and always remain professional.