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IS CONTRACT WORK FOR YOU?

You’ve got a full-time permanent job, but you’re feeling limited or restless.  Or you’re looking for a permanent job, but haven’t found exactly what you’re looking for.  Or you’re new in your field and looking to stack up a wide variety of work experience.  In any case, you ask yourself – is contract work for me?

The answer, for a lot of people, is yes.  For some, it’s a part of a phase in their career.  For others, it has been their preferred way of working for decades, and will continue to be for quite some time yet.  We offer here some considerations to help you decide if the contract worker lifestyle will work for you.

The Pluses

More money
For many positions, hour for hour, contract work pays better than permanent.  In part, this is to compensate for the fact that it does not offer benefits, vacation, or job security, but a smart investor can cover these needs and still come out ahead of the game.

More lifestyle flexibility
Many people choose contract work because it allows them to accommodate other priorities in their lives.  Some take “sabbaticals” between contracts to spend time on research, art, writing, travel, being at home with children, or other pursuits. 

Can complement a spouse/partner’s full-time position
Many couples pool the positive aspects of both contract and permanent work.  One partner holds a permanent job, and secures health/insurance/dental benefits for the entire family.  The other partner works on contract, and is able to bring in more income for the family than they could in a permanent position.

Opportunities to experience multiple workplaces and organizations
Through contract work, candidates can sample the workplace environment in a number of organizations.  This allows them to try a potential employer out without making a major commitment.  It can also be very helpful in getting a sense of what work environments are available, and which are most comfortable for you.

Offers a route to permanent employment
Many employers prefer to engage a potential employee on contract before offering them a permanent job.  Taking contract work can actually increase your chances of finding permanent employment, if this is your goal.

Employment expenses become tax-deductible
Whether you are a sole proprietor or an incorporated contractor, working on contract permits you to deduct a wide variety of expenses.  Contact an experienced tax accountant for more details.

Contract work is often more plentiful in difficult economic times
Economic upturns and downturns are a fact of life.  During the downturns, companies tend to avoid hiring more permanent staff, and bring in contract workers instead. 

The Minuses

Contract work isn’t for everyone.  It can be a question of financial realities, family needs, or personal comfort zone.  Here are some of the factors that might make it a less attractive option for some professionals.

No benefits, pension, paid sick-days, paid vacations
For many people, these aspects of permanent positions are must-haves.  Although health/dental benefits can be purchased through an independent provider, and retirement savings can be accumulated outside a corporate pension plan, some other aspects of the permanent employment relationship cannot.  These can include paid sick-days and vacations, as well as an employer-paid training budget, and other advantages.  As well, contract personnel are usually not covered by government employment insurance programs.

Unpredictable employment markets
A contract worker should have a nest egg to cover the chance that the next placement might not come along immediately after the current one.  For those whose financial circumstances do not permit any interruptions in income, this uncertainty may be too stressful.

Changing environments, changing co-workers
Some contract workers enjoy the stimulation of moving from one workplace to another.  Other professionals do not.

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