Why become a Java freelancer?
Q. Why a contractor or freelancer is paid more than permanent developers?
- cost to a company for a permanent employee with benefits can be 1.5 to 2.5 times the amount they see in their pay check
- As a compensation for short term or temporary nature of the assignment. Freelancers or contractors can be easily hired and fired.
- To attract specialized and wide range of skills. Companies can hire contractors for 3 reasons. Aim for reason number 3 described in the next answer.
A. For 3 main reasons outlined below.
1. to get someone to do some dirty or non-interesting work that their permanent staff is not too keen to perform.
2. to get some additional work force on a temporary basis to get the project over the line as it is not always possible to predict workload.
3. to get expertise, which lacks in the current team. For example, get a Java developer with drools experience, etc. So, as a contractor or freelancer, if you have Java experience with some niche skills like a commercial BPM framework like IBM Websphere Lombardi, Business Intelligence (BI) software like IBM Cognos or in-memory data grid like Oracle Coherence. In the third scenario, you can call yourself more a "consultant" than a contractor.
Q. How many years of experience do you need before becoming a freelancer or a contractor?
A. Generally 2 to 5 years.
Q. Why work as a freelancer?
- Better pay. Usually, 1.5 to 2 times the permanent staff. So, you can take some time off to travel or work on your passive income generating ideas.
- Gives you more freedom, and opportunity to acquire wider range of skills. You will have better control of your career direction by carefully choosing your contracts. Ask the right questions at your job interviews.
- Don't have to get involved with the company politics. Do your job well, and build your network to find your future contracts directly without having to go through the job agencies.
- Gets you out of your comfort zone to explore other opportunities and acquire new skills.
- Overall gives you the professional (and possibly financial) freedom.
Q. What are the disadvantages or risks of working as a freelancer or contractor?
- Job security risk as your income can be unstable, especially in a difficult job market. This is more true for freelancers than contractors. This is where working on your passive income generating ideas become handy. I tend to start looking for new contracts around 6 weeks prior to my current contract expires.
- You may have to do additional paperwork as part of insurance (e.g. professional indemnity insurance) and tax requirements. You will also be under different type of scrutiny when you apply for loans as you will have to provide evidence that you have a steady income. I go through an umbrella company as their employee for a nominal fee of 3% of my rate. This not only frees me from any administrative tasks to concentrate more on what I enjoy doing, but also makes it easier to apply for loans.
- Freelancers also run the risk of not getting paid. This is not much of a problem for the contractors unless they work for a start up or a company that is in a brink of receivership. Do your research on the company.
- You also don't have the benefits like health benefits, sick pay, holiday pay, etc. But, this can be compensated in your regular rate.
- You need to regularly prepare for your job interviews.
Q. Is there a difference between a Java contractor and a Java freelancer?
A. Even though these terms are used interchangeably, there is a subtle difference.
A contractor: generally works for one client on an exclusive basis for a longer term say 3 to 12 months. Contractual agreements may prohibit you to work for other clients. You will get paid on an hourly or daily rate, and rates are generally 1.5 to 2 times the equivalent permanent role.You normally work at the client's location. You can find contract jobs through recruitment agencies, job advertisements or your network. This tends to have more security and steady income than a freelancer.
A freelancer: generally works for multiple clients on a project by project basis for shorter period. You normally work at your location and visit the client office as needed. You will have to find your work on your own. You could even have overseas clients. There are popular websites like the ones listed below to bid for work. Handy to gain some extra income while gaining much needed hands-on experience.
A volunteer: sole purpose is to gain much needed hands-on experience with a nominal pay or no pay. Good for beginners, and smaller businesses, charities, and community groups are more likely to offer volunteer jobs.
Freelancing means professional freedom, but it also means instability and the risk of failure. But if you risk your stability for something more in tune with your professional goals than a traditional job, you have the opportunity to build your name and reputation and reap more rewards. You are the best person to decide what is best for you.
Disclaimer: This is a general discussion only. It is imperative that you consult your accountant for relevant business structure and tax laws in your jurisdiction.
Important: This was written as a general discussion only. The terminologies may differ in other countries. Check the tax laws and contractual agreements carefully in your jurisdiction.
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