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Contracting as a developer, the DEV communities experience

Hey DEV! I've always worked as a full time employee, I have about 3 years of experience now and I'm looking at starting to contract, with the money that some devs are on I could work 3 months of the year!

Anyway, what are some of your experiences of contracting VS full time employment? Is there a massive downside I don't see?

Discussion (3)

1e4_ profile image

From my experience the biggest thing is that your trading stability for freedom.

Having a full time position gives you stability in knowing you'll get paid whereas freelance you don't.

If your ill then you lose out, there is no sick pay.

You gain infinite freedom to work where you want, when you want, how you want. If you want to work 20 hours one week then you have the ability to do that.

You mention you could work for x months of the year. But country plays a big part in your pay. Some American remote work still requires you to be in America for instance.

You have to be very comfortable with clients, whereas normally your boss would deal with payments, contracts, timescales and negotiations, these are now all your responsibility.

There really is so much to list for pros and cons as it's such a huge topic.

Personally I find it very hard to keep a routine, that's the biggest challenge I've faced along with mental health - not being in an office around people can get quite lonely at times.

Wish you the best of luck ☺️

canro91 profile image
Cesar Aguirre

My first contract was with my previous employer. After listening to a couple of podcast episodes, it is a common way to start among freelancers. Your ex-employer knows your work and you know the codebase. The thing was we worked per hour and sometimes they ask somebody to "check" my estimates...

jennrmillerdev profile image
Jen Miller

I actually in the middle of writing a series about contracting. There's a few articles already post that might be of help.

I used to work as a employee, but then changed to a contractor afterwards.
Contracting is overloaded term. It could be freelancing or being a "contract-employee". If you are looking at your contractor co-workers, you are probably thinking of being a contract-employee.

I enjoy contracting. Some of the I've experienced benefits are:

  1. You get move around more and experience different companies and technologies. Build a network of anchor clients you can return to (without interviewing).
  2. You are in charge of your career development and future. There's no excuses or depending on anyone. This can be a pro or con depending on your own personality and preferences.
  3. Higher pay on average and overtime pay. Many salaried employees do not get paid overtime, but as a contractor you get paid out for every additional hour worked.
  4. You get more leverage to find projects that you enjoy. This is because you can always leave a bad project when your contract ends to see something better.
  5. It re-rejuvenated my love for development. I was burnt out working unpaid overtime, feeling under appreciated, etc. But once I converted, I got paid my rate, enjoyed looking for new opportunities, and saw better projects.

Some of the disadvantages are:

  1. No health care benefits
  2. More frequent interviewing (unless you stay a contractor at the same place for longer periods of time)
  3. Market fluctuation on contractor rate.
  4. Periods of time between contracts.
  5. You have to have a desired skillset to be a contractor. Java and or JS is a good combination. So are DBAs. Some fields lean towards fulltime opening such as BAs.

There are some myths about contracting too, which I'll eventually write about.

  1. Many contractors don't earn significantly more then employees (but are still happy).
  2. Vacation time is not paid. Technically true, but you actually include the vacation into your hourly rate.
  3. Higher rates don't necessary mean more annual take home pay.