Aplin Group Blog

Your success (or not) as an IT contractor really comes down to your personality, skills and lifestyle.
Are you an IT professional who embraces change and challenges? Do you like to meet new people and think you can pivot to new projects on a semi-regular basis? If yes, being an IT contractor might be the right option for you.

Benefits of being an IT contractor versus a full time employee
There are a lot of advantages to being a contractor versus a full time employee:

You will likely earn more. Since you don’t get benefits or vacation pay as a contractor, nor is there the same overhead involved in hiring and training you, you can earn far more, per hour, than what an employee's salary works out to .

Contracting can give you a chance to try a company on for size. That is, if you work with an organization for a period of months, you get a chance to see if you like it: their mission, values, the interest levels in the work that is being produced. By the same token, managers get a chance to see how you work, what you are able to produce for them. For both sides, it can be an excellent entry point to flipping the contract into a full time role, with eyes wide open. If however the company isn’t quite the right fit, you aren’t committed beyond your contract terms.

You might have more flexibility in your work than an employee. While your contract may stipulate the number of hours per week you will be working, the company for which you work won’t have the same power to control your every movement that they would if you were full time. You will likely have more flexibility in managing your schedule, particularly since you won’t get bogged down in corporate-level activities, which frees up a lot of time. Further, if you are restricted from working more hours than what your contract stipulates, this can actually help you to maintain a better work / life balance than individuals who are on salary.

With contracts running anywhere from three months to a year or more, you will have the option to experience a variety of industries, with variable models of work: this adds to your breadth of experience while at the same time avoiding burn out or boredom.

If you’re not a fan of office politics, they will likely be a thing of the past for you. It just doesn’t have to be part of what you do within the organization and for many, that’s just fine.

A few provisos on becoming an IT contractor
The very same things that make being a contractor positive can, depending on your point of view, end up being negatives. Like what?

No vacation time / pay and no benefits. This works well for people who don’t have a family or other obligations, but you also need to be prepared to self-insure for unexpected problems, like illness. Shoring up the funds to take some time off is important too. Burn out is just as much of a reality for contractors, as it is for full time workers.

You will not necessarily integrate socially with the full time employees. This isn’t always the case, but it does happen that the employees see the contractors as separate and don’t include them in some of the more social aspects of working together (group lunches, after work drinks).

Being a contractor does require you to be more independent and need less instruction than an employee might need. You do have, to some extent, hit the ground running with a new organization, when you move to a new contract. But for those who are experienced and have a handle on their skills, this is not an issue.

And in the time of COVID-19…
Being a contractor can have another plus: if you aren’t as integrated into the daily machinations of an organization, you can work from home easily, with less sense that you have been withdrawn from a social construct that you depend on for some of your value. You are also already set up with technology tools and everything you need to operate more or less independently. It’s a silver lining in an otherwise difficult situation.

How can you become an IT contractor?
Ideally, you’ll have given thought to some of the points made above, to make sure that the pros (and the cons) are workable for you and your lifestyle. You also need to look at your current skill set and see if those are in demand in the market. One way to do that is to review available postings through an IT staffing agency: it will give you a sense of what employers are looking for.

If you feel like you have strong skills, it’s far easier to work through an agency, where the relationship is managed and paperwork is handled, on your behalf. All you have to do is your work!



Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


David Aplin Group is a private family and employee owned Canadian staffing agency founded in Alberta in 1975, recognized as one of Canada's most accomplished recruiting firms. Our mission is to positively impact lives.  Blog author, Johan Bolinis the Manager of Strategic Partnerships, based in Calgary, Alberta.