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What are the pros and cons of working as an IT contractor? (self.sysadmin)
submitted 1 year ago by LunacyNowWindows Admin
I've get contacted all the time about contract work - at least once a week. What are some of the pitfalls and things to look out for as a contractor?
[–]gsxrPlatform engineer 5 points6 points7 points 1 year ago
Cons: Benefits. Some companies give contractors only shit work.
You decide: May have to travel more for work. may have to relocate. Have to negotiate your pay more often.
Everyone saying Job Security, bullshit. As a full time employee you can be fired just as easy. I've seen FTEs walked out while contractors take their spot more than once.
[–]techie1980 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago
Everyone saying Job Security, bullshit. As a full time employee you can be fired just as easy.
Everyone saying Job Security, bullshit. As a full time employee you can be fired just as easy.
[–]SexBobombDatabase Admin 0 points1 point2 points 1 year ago
Only in the states.
[–]rbeumer 0 points1 point2 points 1 year ago
You must be American?
[–]gsxrPlatform engineer 0 points1 point2 points 1 year ago
[–]AndroidHelpIn Your PC Fixin Shit 6 points7 points8 points 1 year ago
No Job Security
You would have to be extremely lucky to find an agency that provides benefits, even 401k. Extremely lucky.
Treated like shit because you're expendable.
This is just my personal opinion from over the years of being an IT contractor, it's hard to find a really good place that will contract you out and provide good pay + some sort of benefits.
[–]ButtonFuryselect * from Certs where Useful = "y"; empty set 6 points7 points8 points 1 year ago
Shittier pay? If you accept a contract for what you would normally get as a salary, then you're doing it wrong.
[–]AndroidHelpIn Your PC Fixin Shit 2 points3 points4 points 1 year ago
I'm not even making what I'm supposed to be, the company I originally signed up with that contracted me out has yet to fix my pay and completely ignores me, hell, even HR ignores me when I ask.
My lawyer is drafting a letter and I will be seeing them in court next month to get back 600+ Hours of OT + All the pay they screwed me on.
[–]techie1980 2 points3 points4 points 1 year ago
If you don't mind my asking --
how the hell did you let it get to that point?
I can understand a few weeks while they try to straighten out a pay problem while fielding daily calls from you. But 600 hours? And the wrong payrate?
[–]AndroidHelpIn Your PC Fixin Shit 0 points1 point2 points 1 year ago
I've constantly emailed HR, my account manager, other account managers, managers, and the legal team asking why I'm not making what I signed my contract at... They have all ignored me, every single time. I even, on purpose, sent an email out to above noted people asking 2 questions, 1 question being something off topic and the other question being about why I'm not making what I signed up for.
They always ignore it. HR basically told me to fuck myself.
[–][deleted] 0 points1 point2 points 1 year ago
So I know the thread's kind of old now, but, you didn't really answer his question - they're obviously stonewalling you but you haven't really put any fire under their asses, at all. You letting them do that for 600 hours sends them a message that they can get away with it.
Also, my guess is that they don't have the money to pay you. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer. That's just my experience.
[–]ButtonFuryselect * from Certs where Useful = "y"; empty set 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago
With all due respect, the agency you signed up with is not like the majority. Best of luck with your law suit. I hope you get what's deserved to you.
I understand, I've worked for great agency's in the past but this one just takes the cake. It's actually a big agency considering how many people go through them to work for the place I'm at.
[–]alaterdaytdrm -rf / 2 points3 points4 points 1 year ago
Add to cons: Doing your own taxes.
[–]coffeeblues 0 points1 point2 points 1 year ago
Some contracting companies put you on a W2 though.
I get a W2
[–]KardolfWindows Admin 3 points4 points5 points 1 year ago
More Pros - Experience. Exposure to people and environments.
I have had the pleasure of working with some incredible people at some incredible companies. It has given me experience in areas that I probably would not have seen if I hadn't been doing contract work. And, it can really help with networking to keep your name out in the wild.
Yeah, I guess I could add to the list "More clients for my new business, all the people in this facility are older folks and don't know crap about computers yet they work on stuff that goes into satellites for NASA and DOD. So these folks always ask if I do IT work outside of this place, so I give them my business card and make a killing on the side.
[–]altometerJack of all Trades Admin 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago
To add on to the cons, Everything is spot on. Read this subreddit for a week. Every negative thing that isn't from management you will be responsible for.
Unless you are in government space, I would recommend stabbing yourself over doing contract work.
[–]Arlieth[LOPSA] Sysadmin Madagascar 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago
She/He might not be going through an agency, just flying solo as a contractor. In which case he/she is just going to have to charge more to compensate.
True, I'm going through an Agency that had royally screwed me over but next month I'll have the last laugh.
Ouch. Best of luck with that.
Much more control of your job. You can choose what engagements you want and leave when you want. There are no expectations of changing to fit the evolution of the role.
Better pay. Even after I began buying my benefits aftermarket, I found I was making better pay. I was subsidising people with families.
More influence on management. Because you are brought in for a specific role, and you are bouncing through jobs fairly often, you have a unique perspective. This often means that presentations and documents that you prepare will be blatantly stolen, but this is pretty normal.
You're somewhat easier to fire. As a sysadmin, most companies are still reluctant to let you go over minor infractions.
Switching disciplines is more difficult. As an FTE, you can spend some time picking the brain of a DBA and maybe pick up some skills.
Finances tend to be trickier. Make sure you have a good tax person. They're worth the money.
[–]scottyyycSr. Sysadmin 4 points5 points6 points 1 year ago*
Lots of slashdot discussions about this...
Pros: Usually higher wages, flexibility, easier to write stuff off as you'd be your own business. Easy to come and go at places and get experience. Edit: Depending on your speciality, if you have one, you can start to become an expert in a subject area, and become a valuable resource. Do a couple dozen exchange migrations, for example, and you'll quickly become a go-to-guy (partly where the relationships thing comes into play).
Cons: Little job security, can be let go at any time. You're essentially running your own company - your wage will be dependent on you and your efforts. Not always good for people who aren't self starters or develop good business relationships.
If you want to own your own business, contracting through a large agency is a good way to get experience and build a customer base.
[–]KhueSystems Engineer 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago
Con: Time off is money out of your own pocket and therefore you tend to work more and take less personal time.
[–]jhulbeSysadmin 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago
I left a nice soft job at a corporate data center watching sql database jobs and not really doing anything to be a 1099 worker with an MSP.
I quickly showed my worth and got more and more work thrown my way. We grew and then my job roles changed from billable work to non-billable like pre-meetings and consults and stuff and we had a predetermined salary thing that just didn't work out so I eventually left for a competitor.
I'm salaried now, and love my job. I made some crazy bank contracting though. Around 35-50 an hour. Around these parts, that's damn good pay.
I had to basically dig up work though, check on clients, follow up and it all led back to more work being needed done, and I got paid.
[–]SexBobombDatabase Admin 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago
One major con I've noticed is at least at our company we're leery to hire people who have previously been contractors as we're scared they'll just bail the second another high money contract comes along.
[–]techie1980 0 points1 point2 points 1 year ago
But they don't expect that of FTEs?
[–][deleted] 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago
Hrm, it's about time I deleted this account anyways, so I'll unload some personal stuff. I've been contracting for 12 years.
The money can be good, but you have to be willing to hunt for it. On average I bill $90/hour, and I'm typically booked 36 hours a week with a swing of an extra 10 hours per week if I want it. I'm averaging $150k/year, but it has some caveats.
It took me 3 years to "figure out the formula" to successful consulting. That burn, plus a silly-ass-early-20's-lifestyle lead me to a pile of debt that took a long time to pay off. I call it my life-tuition. My advice: when you start out, live like a pauper for a bit.
If you can, find recurring monthly contracts. Guaranteed money every month is a big deal if you're trying to raise a family.
I haven't had a real vacation in 10 years. By real vacation I mean, if I go anywhere for a long weekend or take a few days off in the middle of the week I'm still tied to my phone/aircard. I can't escape, and I'm tired.
DO YOUR TAXES. SAVE MONEY FOR YOUR TAXES ON EVERY CHEQUE YOU RECEIVE. I learned this lesson from an acquaintance some years back. He used all his income to survive and didn't pay his taxes for a bunch of years. The gov eventually caught up to him, audited his ass, and demanded $100k due essentially overnight.
You will need to work your ass off on other things than "tech". To be a successful consultant you need to understand how businesses work and how to relate to business people. Read books: Good to Great, Built to Last, Drive, How to Win Friends and Influence People, everything by Gladwell. It doesn't matter if you don't like these books, the people you're selling your services to like these books. If you don't want to be a business person, or don't see the value in being a business person - stay gainfully employed.
Learn how to social engineer. I can't tell you how much business I've won (and retained) simply because the decision makers believe that "I'm just like them" and "totally on their team". I'm not screwing them out of anything, I simply understand their motivations and work my ass off to help them accomplish their goals with language they understand.
The most important thing I can stress about contract work: build very diversified relationships. I have never won any business that wasn't based on a previous relationship. If I just walk into a business and say "I'm awesome and can help you propel your business forward" I'll be told to get bent. If someone already in the business understands that a niche (or hell, a generalization) needs to be filled and says "I know this guy, LunacyNow, maybe let's give him a shot?" - BAM, you're in. To build these relationships you'll have to "be there" for people first.
OP, If you have specific questions that you haven't seen answers to (or simply need a boost in the right direction), please respond or shoot me a PM.
[–]LunacyNowWindows Admin[S] 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago
This is some great advice, thanks! I'll let you know if I have any questions.
One other item, I notice a lot of guys in this thread seem to be jaded about "agencies". I have never used an agency, I've always inherently distrusted them.
I also distrust recruiters, product evangelists, and mimes.
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