Becoming an Engineering Contractor

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Click on the below link to download our free, quick and easy to read Becoming a Contractor Fact Sheet:

Becoming a Contractor Fact Sheet

Depending on your level of experience, on where you are based and on the state of the industry at the time you start contracting, you could expect to earn twice as much, or even more, than a permanent employee would. Somewhere in the region of £45 per hour or more in fact. Our take home pay calculator can show you how much more you could take home as a contractor.

Money is not the only positive aspect of a decision to work on a contract basis. When the market is good, you could find yourself in a position where you can choose where, when and for how long you work – and subsequently, how much holiday you can take!

But with this level of freedom comes the responsibility to make sure that you do actually find and complete enough contracts to maintain your required level of income. This is quite straightforward when there are lots of projects available which suit your skill set, experience level and location – but it can be tougher in more challenging economic times when projects are not as readily available, and the competition for the best contracts is that much higher. For advice further advice please visit our page on finding a contract

What happens next?

The decision to move to contract is often a conscious one, but sometimes it happens as the result of redundancy, where you simply don’t have a choice if you want to keep the money coming in. Either way, as soon as the decision has been made, there are a number of things that you will have to consider. The most vital of these is the need to manage your finances yourself, as you will no longer just be paid by a payroll department somewhere within your employer’s organisation!

The first step is to decide how you will operate – the two most common options being to work through an umbrella company or to set up a limited company. For more information please visit our page on Limited vs Umbrella.

If you do choose to set up a limited company, SJD Accountancy can give you with a wealth of information and advice – as well as providing a low-cost fixed-fee accountancy service which has been specially developed for contractors.

You should also make sure your CV is as up to date as it possibly can be, and that it is saved in a universally-recognised format such as Microsoft Word or as a PDF file – so when you start to email it out to prospective companies, you can be sure they will be able to read it. Our Contractor Careers Centre has all the information you need on writing the perfect CV and how to perform your best during an interview

It’s also a good idea to have some business cards. They are useful for meeting situations whilst sorting out your first contract and are always worth having as you continue in your contracting career, as you never know when an opportunity might present itself in the future!

Finding an Engineering Contract

This is always the challenge of course – and there are two main routes.

1) Networking. Personal contacts will be a vital tool here! Many contractors tend to try this option first and it basically involves getting in touch with anyone and everyone that you’ve worked with in the past and letting them know that you’re looking for contract work.

Start handing out those business cards and make sure that your name is always in the frame when a client is looking for someone with your skills and experience. Even if the people you know are not the actual clients, your past colleagues will be happy to recommend you if they become aware of a position which will suit you – assuming of course that it’s not ideal for them as well!

2) Through a recruitment consultancy. If this is not something you’re familiar with then ask other engineering contractors as they will be able to make recommendations based on their own experience.

Once you have chosen a potential agency, send in your CV and explain why you’re looking to start contracting and also why you’d like to work with them. It’s also useful to say right from the start which areas you’d be happy to work in, and whether in the UK or abroad, and also when you’re available to start work.

It probably makes sense to give them an idea of your expected salary as well, so you don’t waste time talking to people about roles which turn out to not generate the income you require. You might also want to give them a call every now and again, just to keep your name front-of-mind.

If you have any question about contracting or would like any further advice please contact our New business team using the form below.

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