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Ask HN: How to start working as a contractor?
119 points by aliencat on June 20, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 77 comments
I was offered a job as a contractor by a big company in Canada. The pay is good, around $100,000 CAD ($55/h). But so far I have only worked as permenant employees. What are your experiences working as contractor? What are to be expected?

You need to factor in the following: Taxes PTO Vacation Equipment Certifications Insurance Costs of hiring people under you Mortgage/Rent Gas/Transit Costs Emergency funds

Essentially as a contractor you should be making at least 2.5x what an employee would make. So if an employee is being paid $120,000 as is in a similar position as you you should be getting paid $300,000/year so you can make the same salary + a little more for the added costs of being a contractor.

What are these extra costs you might be wondering they are: Business registration, licensing, certification, life insurance, private medical/health/dental insurance, taxes, vacation, technology, bills, travel, parking, emergency funds, liability, general and umbrella insurance, car maintenance, car fuel, carl detailing and regular cleaning, house maintenance (yard, inspections, upgrades, insurance, etc.) or rent, payroll if you get your own subcontractors, overtime pay (if you end up working 60 hours a week you need to add in the costs of this. If your employer wants you to work more than that you can renegotiate your rates to accommodate), etc.

As an employee there is about 50% or more costs that you do not see as an employee. It is known and expected that contractors will be paid way more than employees as contractors take on 100% of the risks.

I think 2.5x is way too much. The rule I've seen is XX,000/year as salary is roughly equivalent to XX/hour as a contractor. Here are the details on some of the mentioned items:

PTO: if you get 3 weeks out of 52 paid, then account for 6% more to cover that

Taxes: Employer portion of payroll taxes (let's say 8% in US) and B&O taxes that your state will likely want (1-1.5% of revenue)

Downtime: If it takes 2-3 months/year between projects, add 30% to your rate to cover that. Some may see this as a bonus time to recharge, but you are still likely be working on business development and marketing at least for a bit.

Licensing and Business registration: depends on your local requirements. In my city it's $300/year for both. This presumes you register an LLC and not just have a sole proprietorship.

Medical insurance: You can get an inexpensive bronze plan or high deductible plan directly from insurers (this comes with HSA you can contribute to) or get coverage from your partner (if available). I used to be paying around $400 for a bronze plan.

Umbrella insurance: Not too expensive, but may require coverage raised on your auto and homeowners insurance. Let's say $100/month, although I'd advise having it anyway. Parking and auto: depends on whether you work remotely or not; let's say $200/month.

Total: 45% on top of your salary rate + $1000/month; if you are comparing with 100k salary, then you'll need 60% more to cover additional expenses.

Note that most of these expenses can be expensed, so they will be subtracted from your before tax income, thus reducing your taxes. You can also include car-related and home-office related expenses, which will further reduce your taxes.

I may be missing something, but it should give you a rough idea on what to expect. This is all based on personal experience.

So that comes out to be 2X the salary. This is calculated by the shorthand rule of doubling hourly pay and then adding 3 zeroes at the end.

I get back my original salary with this calculation.

75,000 / 2000 = 37.5 (average 2000 work hours PA)

37.5 * 2 = 75

Add three 0 and 75,000

> car maintenance, car fuel, carl detailing and regular cleaning, house maintenance (yard, inspections, upgrades, insurance, etc.) or rent

These are all expenses that have nothing do with being a contractor vs an employee. Only some of both category will need them.

If you work at home, while those things would need to be done anyway, should be piped through your business to some extent since your business is taking advantage of those resources.

2.5x is the golden rule. You will need to double the salary to cover additional expenses (some of which weren't mentioned, like employer's side of FICA in the US, time spent on sales because contracts end, legal, etc.) you will incur. The .5 of that equation is your profit. Because you're running a business.

3x though if you can land 12 months or greater contracts id say 2.5 is just about acceptable.

Depends on what you can expense via your company as business expenses :-)

>What are these extra costs you might be wondering they are...

Almost all of these just seem like my normal expenses. Why are any of these aside from business registration, private medical and payroll "extra" costs?

They are "extra" compared to being an employee. At least in the US when you become a contractor you no longer have employer subsidized healthcare. I imagine that Canadian employers might provide complementary insurance.

I specifically excluded medical and a few other things as reasonable. The list of things that don't seem like extra expenses, but rather just plain old expenses, to me are:

licensing, certification, life insurance, vacation, technology, bills, travel, parking, emergency funds, general and umbrella insurance, car maintenance, car fuel, carl detailing and regular cleaning, house maintenance (yard, inspections, upgrades, insurance, etc.) or rent

> licensing, certification

You're a business now and this is upkeep. Business expense. You would receive training and licensing under normal circumstances through your job.

> life insurance

This is provided as a benefit by most businesses to their employees. Talk to your HR. If you're working for yourself, you pay for it now.

> vacation

This should be obvious. No work, no pay. So vacation literally costs you double. Loss of time + the cost of vacation.

> technology

Computer equipment to do the actual work. Nobody will provide this to you for free.

> bills, travel, parking

Nobody will reimburse you for these expenses. If you have to visit the client on-site, they're on you.

> emergency funds

You must keep 3 month's of salary at a minimum sitting in a bank account at all times. This is a cost of doing business. There are ups and downs, don't expect contracts to come in immediately one after another. It doesn't happen.

> general and umbrella insurance

This should be obvious, you bear 100% of the cost of all types of insurance.

> car maintenance, car fuel, carl detailing and regular cleaning

If you use a car to get to the client, well, this is obvious.

> house maintenance (yard, inspections, upgrades, insurance, etc.) or rent

If your home is your office, all of these are now business expenses to some extent even if you had to do them before. You're spending double the time in your house. That will increase upkeep, electricity, etc.

In the US we don't have healthcare provided by companies as a law, some companies do provide ok insurance, but its far too expensive for what you get. Put that money in a medical savings account, and hopefully by the time you're old you'll live somewhere with decent healthcare.

The main thing is to work out how you will set up as a contractor and tax efficiency - is there not a Canadian self employed contractor forum / org like the UK PCG Professional Contractors Group.

The overhead rate for an employee is I think a lot more than 50% I have heard 300% for the UK for bog standard tech companies - the us might be a little lower due to the way heath care is structured

Really high end RnD (world leading ) can go well over 500% - labs and specialist shops do cost a lot.

You typically do not need any kind of business registration if you're okay with a sole proprietorship and are working under your own name.

This is a terrible idea for numerous reasons. You will be personally liable for any defects in the work. If you get dragged into court, it can ruin you for life. You will be unable to take advantage of tax benefits that would accrue to you if you incorporated. Various business-only services would be inaccessible to you (like a business bank account, lines of credit, etc.). Also, good luck getting health care in the US as an individual.

I didn't say it was a great idea... just that a registration is not necessary to conduct business. In American common (and civil) law, the right to conduct business belongs to the individual as well as the corporation.

Depends on location and tax law also a PLC limits your liability - that's why sole traders and partnerships can be so deadly.

Also Canadian but I typically contract to US companies and have for the last 8 years or so.

Put away a nice big rainy day fund. I try to aim for 3-6 months of full living expenses. You'll need this to fill the gaps between contracts.

For me, contracts typically last around two years or slightly less. This is probably anecdotal, so take it with a grain of salt.

It usually takes me between 2 to 4 months to find a new contract, but I work strictly remote, so your mileage may vary. Try to keep your finger on the pulse of what's going on. If you can figure out when your contract will end, this will help mitigate the amount of time you spend running on rainy day money.

Pay your income tax installments on time. Every day you go without paying them costs you interest to CRA. On the topic of CRA, get an accountant to help you figure out what you can expense. You can expense all kinds of things including utilities and part of your mortgage.

Get a GST/HST number if you're making more than 30k. You'll have to pay GST if the work you are doing is not done on a remote server out of country.

That's all I can think of off the cuff. Get in touch if you have any questions

Contacting has been a great experience for me but it takes some time to get used to the risk and learning to anticipate the future.

Good luck!

My advice as a full time employee who contracts.

Option 1: Don't get a gst number until you hit 30k. To remove a gst number is a lot harder than getting one.

Option 2: Incorporate and get your gst immediately. Advantage if you are buying materials.

Option 3: Get your gst and do not incorporate. Lowest tax rate/highest cost for taxes.

Knowing when your contract is to end should help you decide. In your case I would incoporate immediately if the contract is > 6 months.

Hi wolco, the contract is 6 month. I am definitely thinking about incorporating immediately. But I am wondering what kind of expenses can I declare as a IT person? Can you elaborate on that?

Assume you work from home, you can deduct portion of your internet, electricity, gas bill and mortgage. If you work primarily from home and go into the office, you can deduct millage.

Best thing for you to talk to an accountant.

How is the company paying you? Are you going through an agency? If not, you might have to get an independent insurance.

Hi Can you tell me something about your remote working experience? What software stack do you work on? How do you find clients? Do you cold call/email companies or something else? How do you keep track of hours? Thanks

Python and Javascript mostly. I just use online job boards, communities like HN and reddit, slack communities, etc. Close to zero networking, though I'm sure it would help. I wrote an article a little while ago about how I approach finding remote jobs, if that helps


The contracts are usually full time equivalent and I usually only have the one, so tracking time is pretty easy.

Not the OP but the secret is to pick a niche and attend events related to your industry segment. I'm active in the local Python meetups, they are a great source of business leads.

That is a lot of information! Thanks for sharing! :)

I contracted for about 8 months through a large staffing firm. A few things I liked:

* Hours were fairly flexible

* Not too much supervision, was mostly given things to work on and expected to finish them in a certain amount of time

* Didn't get pulled in to as many meetings in the office

* The pay was excellent

Some things I didn't like:

* No/little vacation/pto/sick

* If you don't work, you don't get paid (if you're paid hourly)

* No/little job security. I was around for 2 rounds of layoffs and had a young child at home, so this wasn't ideal

At the end of the day it made more sense for me to go back to a normal employment role due to family and a few other factors with job security. I did enjoy my time as a contractor though. Enough so that I still pick up hours through some old employers occasionally.

The flexible hour and no much supervision sounds excellent! Does that mean you can come to work late or leave work early as long as you work for 8 hours a day?

I think it means you work whenever you want as long as the job is done on time. If you're working remote with little supervision, then it makes no sense to stick to an 8 hour 9 to 5 schedule, unless that's your optimal working window.

That is pretty specific to the role. I have done contract work where I just had to get stuff done in and couldn't bill more than 40 hours a week. Other roles were up to 45 hours a week but had to have ass in seat in office mon-friday 8-5

I get to do that as a normal FTE. Hell, I don't even have to work 8 hrs/day; the only requirement is that I work 80 hours every two weeks. I thought that was pretty standard in the tech world. Is it not?

For salaried supposedly so - its up to you to manage your time.

That was pretty much the case for me, yes. I usually preferred working 6:30-3:00 and it fit my schedule really well.

well that's the whole point. if they dictate the contractor work hour, work environment or workload outside the contract deliverables it's employment masked as contract work and there are hefty fines and the possibility to be forced to hire the person.

As someone who has had non-trivial contract experience, how much leeway is given to independent contractors in the US to work on-site, with the in-house employees? I'm almost 100% sure I was mis-classified as an independent contractor while getting employee-like wages. I was told to show up from 9 to 5 on the premises.

I don't think anyone really punished the company though. They were a pretty small and insignificant web agency just hiring a couple local people but tons of off-shore work.

Does that mean that ICs generally work remotely? Or what is actually the deal with company offices and ICs?

Moving ahead, I wish I could help out the industry by shielding the naive new workforce from mis-classification and similar forms of work exploitation.

I’m unsure about US law so I can’t help with concrete advice for your situation. Anyway, it is not something it will be investigated without the employee initiating the action and documenting it in a lawsuit, which is going to strain your relationship and generally makes sense only if a large amount of the workforce is missclassified and takes collective action.

Game theory and all that applies. Best recourse is not to fall into one such firms.

In broad terms the contractor vs employee test is similar across the world, because is derived from the same forces (tax and welfare avoidance for the employer, better cashflow for the employees that don’t care about welfare yet)

You really need to check in your jurisdiction but in general: you have work hours vs contracted goals, you have no agency to work for multiple clients concurrently, you work on employee machinery.

Work remotely locally etc is a consequence of those general tests. It help thinking that it’s a contract between to business. Would you ask a cake shop exclusive work, to be at your house 9-5 and to work on your oven? That’s not a cake shop, that’s a baker.

That's not self employed though? which is what the OP as asking about I think.

No, they just asked what it's like working as a contractor. They said they were offered a job through a company similar to what I was employed through.

I have done contracting for a long time. One thing to consider is that if you are not careful your career will stagnate. While employees are moving up the chain you are stuck at your level forever. To get around this you must establish yourself as an expert in an area so you can charge higher rates.

I left contracting and took a full time position for this reason.

This is good advice.

Did this transition 10 years ago (Brazil). It takes some discipline. I guess the $100,000 CAD is not that good if you are working full time for them (specially in the most expensive provinces) because you will not have time for business development - and having just one big client is putting all eggs in one basket.

In USA health insurance is probably the most expensive thing for a contractor but I guess in Canada you have your bases covered.

My advice is to subcontract other people as soon as possible and invest the extra time to learn about sales, marketing and negotiation, then go after new business. Currency exchange rates are excellent for subcontracting from Brazil or Argentina.

Good luck and drop an email if you want to ask anything.

Nice to hear your history. I'm very interested in the details of your transition (pros and cons). Are you from Brazil? Can I send you an email for a little chat?


Sure man, shoot. And if by any means you get nearby São Paulo lets have a coffee/beer/whatever.

Thanks for the detailed writeup! I will send you an email :)

$55/hr is not what it seems in Canada, especially since it's likely the first offer you go. You will take home closer to $30-45/hr or less the first few years while your first time and ongoing expenses balance out.

Employees who have a hourly before tax pay of $25/hr often cost $40/hr to the employer with their contributions. Add benefits and other costs to this.

You are not a contractor, you are a small business and will have to carry the costs of small business.

I would get some local advice. Also to be a contractor in Canada under law you must meet the burden of being an independent contractor (buying all of your own equipment, having expenses, have risk of losing work) and have more than one customer.

Contracting is awesome. I have written about it before - learning about the difference between being a freelancer, contractor, and consultant will go a long way to help you assess your value offering and opportunities that come your way.

I'm Canadian and have been a contractor since I was 19 or so, happy to chat offline if needed.

Depending on how you'll work and charge for time worked, you may want to factor that in the price too. I'm typically a sole person responsible for frontend dev, so most of the work time involves writing code or specifications and very little is communication. Flexible hours and remote work also mean that I'm not charging for slacking around the cooler, or having a lunch.

I just can't do 8h days 5 times a week of this kind of work consistently. So if you compare/base your compensation to FTE, factor in that no FTE comes to work in the morning, writes code for 8h straight and goes home. I add 30% just for this over the FTE salary, aside from other differences.

One thing I could never figure out was how to do business development while simultaneously working full time as a contractor. I just didn't have the energy or time to continue developing relationships while also focusing on existing client's problems. Thus when contracts ended it was a rough transition from one job to another.

Have a plan for that.

That's why you have agents

Please tell me where I can find an agent who will find and maintain a steady stream of clients for me, and what the catch is.

Not "leads", actual qualified clients ready to pay for my service if I should accept the terms.

Almost all tech recruitment agencies have a contract side - do you not know how the recruitment industry works?

Can you elaborate on this?

Recuiters peform an agent-like role.

I just made the transition to contractor/consultant/freelancer. Some thoughts more on the consultant side:

- Logistics: set up a domain with a one-pager landing page[1], get some simple business cards, and get a work email. I ended up spending $50 for an LLC and getting a business bank account and card. I use Freshbooks for tracking time, expenses, and sending invoices.

- Legal: Get a lawyer (and a tax person) who understands what you're doing. It's worth the <$1000 you'll spend just for peace of mind. I found mine through a local startup incubator. Your lawyer can draw up a Master Services Agreement you sign with clients once that goes over IP etc. Then for each project, you simply sign a one-pager Statement of Work that has your rate, scope of work, duration, etc (which can be updated and expanded as you go by re-signing).

- Getting clients: this is literally a sales/marketing funnel. Share your business with your network [2], start getting incoming leads from folks, screen clients [3], closing contracts. This is actually one of the reasons I decided to consult, I want more hands on sales experience. Advice from a friend: spend min 1h each day emailing or whatever else necessary to land new clients.

- Doing work: take on a customer-facing mindset (like you would in a support role)--make them feel comfortable, make them look good, and make them successful. Obviously makes sure your work is incredibly good--your best sales channel should be referrals.

Maybe this goes without saying, but all of the above is MUCH easier if you have genuine experience and expertise. I wouldn't recommend this for someone in their first 5y of being an engineer/designer etc--build specific experience in an area and make the jump later (for ex, I lead a design team at a YC startup and taught design at UM, not sure I would have done this 5y ago).

[1] http://directedworks.com

[2] https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6401496...

[3] https://muledesign.com/designbook/screener.html (from https://abookapart.com/products/design-is-a-job)

Hi sampl, thanks for taking the time to comment! I have less than 5 years of experience, but apparently the company is in need of contractors so they offered me the job without hesitation. I am wondering if there is anything I should consider before taking the job.

Are you hourly? Do you get vacation? Do you get medical, 401k?

I have done both, and I typically factor it all in for pay. If you're hourly that means that you get paid for what you work, which is great if you've ever worked a salaried job and put in 50 hours a week.

But it also means that you won't get vacation (most likely) so you either have to make up for that or factor in the amount of days you don't want to work into your schedule. So if you want to take 3 weeks off a year, factor that into your pay and reduce it accordingly.

If you get paid overtime, then factor that in as well. This all sounds like a lot but my rule of thumb is as a contractor I should be making at least 20% more than as a FTE. This isn't the case based on my last job of 50+ hr weeks.

That isn't even to start into how you approach the team and your code. As a Individual Contributing contractor (non-contract to hire), you probably won't be doing maintenance, setting schedule, or a lot of other project planning like activities. You'll be laying tracks down how they want. That isn't to say you can't make suggestions, and make the code more maintainable but that's not your primary focus once you're on site, it's to fit in to the team and support them. To make them better where they'll accept advice and to follow coding standards where they won't. While this is also true of FTE in a lot of cases, you aren't going to be maintaining this beast so if you bring it up (typically a few times) and they shoot you down then you did your best.

Don't go rogue, if you see a better way to do something and you want to show them, it's OK to work up a POC but I typically don't charge for that if they don't take it.

This is ALL my opinion, I've seen so many different types of contractors, some don't care, some go rogue and do whatever. The whole point is that at the end of the day you have a set time on the project and you have to keep that in mind.

EDIT: I use pomodoros to justify to myself the hours I'm billing. This is a personal technique I really like, but it helps me identify when I'm going over and under what I should be doing in a day and to have a justification to myself (meetings or other such things).

Just to point out, if the salary is listed in CAD, then medical and 401k are not going to be relevant. I’m not sure how payroll taxes and retirement savings work in Canada, but it’s bound to be very different compared to the USA.

Can be interpreted as corresponding healthcare insurance and pension fund taxes/expenses.

I thought Canada had universal healthcare?

To some extent, ambulance is usually not covered by the oui plan (but an order of magnitude cheaper than in the US), prescription medicines aren't 100% (but also much much cheaper than in the US anyway), neither is dental or vision. But your hospital stay is free, and so are doctor and specialists visits. If you have a health plan through work, or costs 300-500 per month in my experience and is a benefit so you only pay the taxes on it and then it covers dental, vision, sometimes alternative medicine, psychologist, etc.

Yes, but does not cover dental, ambulance, etc.

I sort of slipped into contract work this year. After ~5 years of full time work I'd had enough, and I quit my job in January to do more things that I wanted to do (spend time outdoors, work on side projects etc.)

A few months ago I was contacted by a previous employer, asking if I'd be interested in a short-term contract gig (similar pay to what you're describing, but in Australia).

I'm coming to the end of this contract and I have another one lined up once I'm done, working 4 days a week from home and making my own hours.

I have to say that I love the freedom and extra money contracting has given me. Of course, there are a lot of extra costs to consider (no paid leave or superannuation, need public liability and professional indemnity insurance), but even considering all of that I'm better off financially that I was at any previous full-time job.

I wouldn't recommend contracting if you're only just living within your means (e.g. paying off a hefty mortgage and supporting a family) where being let go would leave you in an untenable financial position. Contractors generally have far fewer rights than a full-time employee, and my current agreement states that my contract can be terminated with a day's notice (YMMV).

I hope you have the same experience I've had, all the best!

To be fair, you can be let go without notice in the US as well. I was recently let go without notice and I was a salaried employee at the company.

Raise your rates and concentrate on delivering value.

First contract won't give you the best rate and you will most likely not be in a position to negotiate a great deal. But that does not mean you should not try! Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.

Delivering value is different than just doing your "job". Help the business and carry more than your weight. This can also mean questioning(in a polite and constructive way) what you are doing. If you can see that the problem could be solved in a better way, then speak up.

Once you have shown your value, then you are in a better position to negotiate - so use it. The more you know a business the more you are worth to them. The more experience you have as a contractor the more you are worth to new clients.

BUT as someone else also very wisely pointed out. It is a game of diminishing returns. By being a contractor you also somewhat step out of "normal" career advances. You can raise your prices up until a point, where without a doubt you can live a very, very comfortable life. But 10 years down the road you are not necessarily advanced to a higher position. Which can be fine, but you need to think about it of course.

Have you already negotiated with them? (@techjuice brings up a great list of points which could be negotiated). Is the contract signed? Is 100k their first offer?

You could contact 10x Management (they offer "Agent on Demand"[1] which was discussed on HN[2]) for help / guidance. I've been represented by them for 5 years and they do tremendous work (they're professional agents / negotiators..!)

Email me if you want more info (email in profile). I'm Canadian and have been doing nothing but contract work for US customers for the past 5 years.

[1] http://www.10xagentondemand.com/

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16494677

Generally speaking, you want to be targeting ~2x your FTE salary as a contractor rate, and your floor should probably be somewhere north of 1.5x. So if you were making $50k/yr before, this is a good offer; if you were making $80k/yr, it's not a good offer.

Not sure what is the job and market like in Canada but I think the contractor gig should pay at minimum twice of your permanent position. That should compensate all benefits you would get from permanent role and risk of switching when they decide to not extend you for another 3/6/12 months.

I've worked as a contractor in the US only. Other than tax paperwork, which is minimal (but can have a lot of ramifications come tax day), and a few managerial differences (ie work scheduling) there was no difference. Congratulations and have fun!

I hope you got paid 2.5 to 3x for the extra risk other wise why bother.

It all depends on what you feel comfortable asking for. At first, no, I didn't do great, the more experience I got, the more comfortable I got asking for more because I was getting more done, and thus not as many hours to get projects done.

Sweeeee! :)

Do you have flexible time? Like being your own boss kind of deal?

That is one of the "legal definitions" of contractor. If you don't have control over your own time, you are an employee. Look up definition of employee, in Canada it may be different. In the US, lots of big companies (think Uber recently) get in trouble by trying to treat contractors like employees without giving them any of the benefits of being a contractor.

Know the law, at least a little bit, learn to ask for a more than you are comfortable with (companies almost always are willing to pay you more than you think) and document everything.

Be sure to keep email trails of work requests, especially stuff over the phone. Numerious times (when I first started out) I had a client say "do this" on the phone, I do the work, then they said "I didn't ask for this". So always verify work requests in writing/email, even if it seems redundant. It will totally save your behind.

I often times will mention I need confirmation, explicitly, even with long time clients. Like "Do I have the ok to start on project XYZ?", and I let them know I need an email back with a "yes" before I start work.

It may take some client training for them to get used to this kind of thing, but if they are confused I give a brief explanation on past experience where I accidentally misunderstood a client request (I take responsibility) and did work I wasn't asked to do. I always get a good response from this, and the needed "yes".

I don't know where you are in Canada, but I would not consider $100k a good rate for a contract position. I would double it to consider it a "good" salary for a contracted position.

I have been working a Software Developer / Independent Contractor in Toronto for the last five years doing mobile-related projects. I had gigs with a bank, a telecom company, a VC-funded startup and a couple of development studios. Here are a few insights.

* You earn more than full-timers, the performance expectations from you are also higher. If working with other devs in your area, you are expected to be stronger and more efficient than full-timers to justify your salary and status of a contractor. If working on the project alone, you are obviously expected to be the technical authority and go-to person regarding any issues related to the technology stack you are working with.

* Once you are on a project, you have less freedom of choice than the full timers what kind of work to do. Usually, you will get what the full timers don't want to or don't have the expertise to do. For example, at a bank, the full timers usually implement new features, while the contractors clean up the bugs. Also, banks and big telecoms have separate dedicated budgets for contractors.

* So far, I have been lazy looking for gigs, finding them mostly through recruiters. My biggest gig and the one I mostly enjoy has been lasting intermittently for almost three years. I got that far with the client by delivering over and over again results above and beyond the client's expectations.

* The mindset of a contractor is different than the mindset of an employee. You will no longer care about meetings, "promotions", titles, asking/getting vacation days, Monday Syndrome/TGIF, performance reviews etc. In fact, your "performance review" will be whether or not your contract gets extended. You will care about getting your own (best) hardware equipment and software/dev tools licenses, assuming responsibility over professional development and delivering the best results you can. Also, as a new adopted mindset, you need not care what kind of work you get given by your client, your goal is to deliver excellent results for any kinds of projects.

* Starting rate on a gig is usually determined by the market with ~10% negotiation room. For example, the recruiter will call you and have a second or third question "so what is your hourly rate?". If you name a figure 10% higher than what they have in mind, they will usually say that is above their range. From what I know, the reason for that is companies have fixed budget for contractors and when starting the search, during the conference call with recruiters, they set their rate expectations.

* So far, contracting proved to be so much more fun and intellectually and financially rewarding than full-time employment. Once you start, there is no going back :))

Best of luck.

For me the pay increase made it a great switch. But I would say I could not do it if I had kids. The job stability would be needed.

But what if it is remote contract? Definitely anyone with some financial cushion and family should consider.

One of my friend created British Virgin Company (contracts from Canadian companies) and moved to Thailand.

But he pays no taxes.

Now he is on a student visa there.

And if you do not have a family it might work for you.

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