What Do Contract Engineers Care About in an Assignment?

Savvy managers know that part and parcel to having an engineering contractor be successful on the job is to make sure they’re doing what they want to be doing.  Engineers in their element are far more likely to be productive than those that are biding their time, suffering through a suboptimal assignment waiting for the right one to come along.

Therefore, it’s important to interview contractors before an assignment to get a good sense of whether there’s a true fit from as many perspectives as possible.

To get an overall sense of what’s important to contractors, PEAK Technical Staffing USA conducted an anonymous survey of 348 engineering contractors randomly self-selected from a pool of approximately 6,000.

When asked to rank the advantages of being a contractor, not surprisingly great compensation topped the list. Most career contractors are more interested in higher pay associated with flexible labor, than long-term security.

A close second was interesting, challenging assignments. Most career contract engineers truly care about the type of work they do, and interesting work provides a high incentive to remain a contractor.

Not far behind these two was the ability to work in a city desirable to the contract engineer.  For some, if your job is in Bangor or Bismarck, and they want to be in Boca Raton or Baton Rouge, you may have a real problem on your hands, especially when winter rolls around.

Overall, contract engineers ranked working on leading edge technology and working with flexible time, as less important.  The results of the survey are shown in the  chart below.

Engineering Contractor Survey Chart

The most important thing to note is that, while there are significant correlations among engineer preferences, different contract engineers care about different things. So while working in a desirable location was important (ranked 5 or 4) to 128 contractors, for 81 it was less important (ranked 1 or 2) as compared with the other criteria.

Other considerations of importance to contract engineers includes access to medical and dental insurance at competitive rates, the ability to have their pay direct deposited into their bank accounts and the ability to participate in a 401(k).


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