How can I get into contracting?

Advice on how to break into the contracting market

Advice on how to break into the contracting market

I have been a system engineer for the past three years, running a Novell network, supporting around 900 users, and more recently NT. I now want to try contracting, mainly for financial reasons, while I still feel young and fit enough! Are there companies that take on people with no previous contracting experience who could show me the way?

Get a consultancy to represent you

There are companies who take on first time contractors, but it is important to get sound advice when setting out. The financial benefits of contracting are widely known. The average contractor can earn 44% more than in a permanent position with the same remit. This can mean working less or simply enjoying the increased money.

Choosing contracting also opens up many other positive lifestyle changes. Many contractors are attracted by the diversity and flexibility that it offers and although you are not always guaranteed continuity of work, the increases in remuneration can often bridge that gap. Contracting can also offer exciting variable work, which is quite often project-based.

However, contracting isn't all a bed of roses. You become liable for your own holiday, sickness and limited company running costs, particularly with the advent of IR35, but these can be minimised through good professional support from an accountant and recruitment consultancy. With a good consultancy representing you, finding that starting point can be much easier than you think.

Solution provided by Craig Bowater, a team leader at Apex

The panel consists of Elan, Best International Group, Computer Futures, Computer People, Apex, Monarch Recruitment, ITNTO and Capital Tomkins

Need advice on your career?

Write to Next Move, Computer Weekly, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS; e-mail

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

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