How to Become an IT Architect Contractor

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Cyber attacks are continually evolving and companies are struggling to keep pace to protect their information. IT architecture contractors are uniquely positioned to quickly respond to such threats by plugging the skills gap with their specialist knowledge.

IT architects who have similar responsibilities may be referred to as solutions architects, technical architects, data architects, cloud architects, enterprise architects and security architects to name a few. No matter what title you prefer as an IT architect you could command higher rates of pay by working on a contract basis to meet the needs of companies demanding a quick turnaround to address unexpected or ongoing security or IT concerns.

This article will discuss the benefits of working as an IT architect contractor, rates of pay, securing work and how to operate as a contractor.

Why are IT Architect contractors in demand?

A few years ago “architect” was not usually a term used to describe someone who works in IT, but with technology evolving at a rapid rate the term “IT architect” is used to describe someone who can navigate the complexities of modern IT systems and provide solutions to any obstacles encountered on the way.

IT architects make it their priority to understand how complex IT systems work and the functionality of the individual components. With businesses becoming increasingly reliant on digital platforms and systems, IT architects identify potential problems and find ways to reduce the severity of any possible risks.

Businesses will also call upon IT architects to evaluate potential new IT systems and technologies before they are installed full time, as well as lead their implementation into the business. IT architects may also be asked to envision new systems or to identify which areas need to discarded to make way for new technologies.

Benefits of becoming an IT Architect Contractor

High rates of pay, flexible working hours and no office politics are some of the reasons why IT architects prefer working on a contract basis as opposed to in a permanent role. In fact, in our latest contractor attitude survey, 80% of our contractor clients who work in the IT industry stated they enjoy contracting to the extent that they don’t miss the benefits of being an employee.

Some other benefits of working as a contractor include:

  • Skills development. Contractors generally work in a variety of roles in a relatively short space of time. Exposing yourself to different working environments, companies and projects will increase your skill set and enhance your CV. For example, some companies will give you the opportunity to enhance your time management skills by working within the agile development methodology.
  • Better work/life balance. In our latest survey, 73% of our IT contractor clients stated that contracting has had a positive effect on their work-life balance. Many get the opportunity to work from home, leaving the daily commute redundant and letting you choose your working hours.
  • Variety of work. As a contractor, you can experience a diverse range of technologies. Contract work gives you the opportunity to experience and use different platforms, coding practices and testing environments. This diversity further enhances your adaptability and knowledge base.
  • Option to stay in a technical role. In our latest survey, some of our contractor clients stated that contracting allows them to continue working in the technical areas that interest them, rather than taking on management positions. This opportunity to keep your skills sharp in a technical arena, rather than become a manager, is a huge advantage to those that love dealing with code – not managing coders.

Finding your first contract

Recruitment agencies are the most popular way for IT contractors to find work, according to our most recent contractor attitude survey. Below are a few recruitment agencies that are actively looking for candidates to work in IT architecture contract positions (September 2015):

  • Technojobs are a job site that specialises in permanent and contract positions in IT or technology industries. They currently have contract positions for IT architects to work in solutions, security and data roles.
  •  Annapurna Recruitment based in Munich and London are currently recruiting for solution architect contractors based in London.
  • CW Jobs is a specialist IT recruitment website with permanent and contract positions available across the UK and Ireland, including a number of IT architecture roles.

Rates of pay for IT Architect Contractors

If you decide to contract as an IT architect your rates of pay will depend on the role, your experience, the contract location, and of course your negotiating skills. The average rates of pay for solutions, security and technical architects are listed below (rates correct as of September 2015).

Region                                  Average Daily rate

UK                                          £527

London                                  £540

South East                            £492

South West                           £522

North West                            £533

North East                             £608

Scotland                                £358

If you have secured your contract already you may want to use our take home pay calculator to find out how much of your contract you could be taking home. The next step is then to decide how you would like to operate as a contractor.

Limited or umbrella

As a contractor, the two most common ways to operate are as a director of your own Limited company or through an umbrella company. Both options come with advantages and disadvantages and the best route for you will depend on your daily rate, length of contract and personal preference.

Umbrella company contractors are essentially employed by the umbrella company and collect their contract rate from clients who then pay it onto you with tax, national insurance and their umbrella company fee deducted. Although this is the most straightforward way to operate it is also the most expensive. You can typically take home 60-65% of your contract rate through an umbrella company, making it suitable for short-term contracts (three months or less) and those who are earning less than £25,000 annually.

Working as a director of your own Limited company is widely considered to be the most tax efficient way of contracting as it allows the most opportunities for tax planning. It is most suitable for those earning more than £25,000 annually and who are considering contracting for three months or longer. Limited company ownership does come with some additional administrative responsibilities, which will usually take around 15 minutes to complete each month.

Setting up a Limited company

The process of setting up a Limited company is usually completed within three to four working hours and all you need is your desired company name. To check if your company name is available you may want to visit our company name checker, or for more information about our complete company formation package click here.

Appointing an accountant

Limited company contractors can save themselves a whole lot of time, money and stress by appointing an accountant to take care of their personal and company tax obligations. When choosing your accountant you may opt for your local high street accountants or you may decide to go with a firm that specialises in working with contractors and the issues that affect them such as IR35.

SJD Accountancy has been supporting contractors with their taxation needs since 1992 and currently have over 14,000 Limited company clients. For more information about our fixed-fee accountancy package please visit our services page.

If you would like to find out more about becoming an IT architect contractor or contracting in general, please contact a member of our new business team by calling 01442 275789 or email

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