Many professional engineers are trading their full-time jobs in favor of the flexibility of contract work. Contracting provides freedom and work-life balance that isn’t always achievable in a permanent position. If you are new to contracting, or if you’re considering making the switch, consider this advice for a successful career.
Know What You Have to Make
As a permanent member of an organization’s staff, you have the comfort of knowing how much you are going to make each week. As a consultant, every job will pay you a little bit differently. You must be intimately familiar with your finances and know how much you need to bring in from month to month in order to achieve your goals.
Contracting also requires financial discipline. Don’t forget to plan for downtime in between assignments, as well. As a contractor you won’t get paid for those gaps, so you must be able to save money and keep yourself and your family afloat if you’ve got a few weeks in between contracts.
Stay on Top of Trends
As a permanent full-time employee, you likely had access to company trainings, reimbursement for conferences and seminars and other educational offerings. As a contractor, you have to take your education into your own hands. That means making time to read up on trends, attend professional groups and engage with industry content and leaders on LinkedIn. Staying ahead of what’s new in the industry will make you a more competitive candidate and a sought-after resource.
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
In a “traditional” job you were around the same people day in and day out, week after week, year after year. As a contractor, you will be exposed to new people, new company cultures, new ideas and new ways of doing things several times a year. If you want to get the most out of these experiences, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Work for a company that’s larger or smaller than you may normally work with; take an opportunity to travel for a job if it arises. The great thing about contracting is if you find you aren’t really enjoying an assignment, it will be over before you know it and you get to try something new once again.
Contracting Can Be a Hustle
If you are attempting to land engineering contracts on your own, be prepared to hustle. You’ll have to constantly look for new jobs to keep your calendar full, and that type of legwork can be daunting if you aren’t prepared for it or if you don’t enjoy the thrill of the chase.
If you like the freedom of contracting but don’t like the hustle of constantly trying to uncover new opportunities, partner with a recruiter who is an expert in engineering contract assignments. The recruiter will do the hustling for you, helping you manage stress while keeping your calendar filled.
If you are an engineer who is ready to take the leap into the exciting world of contracting, PEAK Technical Staffing will work with you to match you with projects and employers that will help you achieve your goals. Browse through our current offerings and contact a recruiter today.