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IT Contracting

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by ITMatt, May 4, 2008.

  1. ITMatt

    ITMatt Bit Poster

    Hi all,

    I hope you're all having a great weekend and bank holiday.

    A bit on my background before delving into the question. I am currently working as a 2nd/3rd line Desktop Support/Data Security Technician for a large banking organisation. I've been working in IT since I left college (6 years). I have an Advanced Apprenticeship in Communication Technologies, A levels, ITIL Foundation, CompTIA A+ and N+, as well as the MCSA.

    I have "commercial" experience designing, implementing and administering Windows XP/Server 2003 and Cisco network infrastructure i.e. installations, cabling, patching, etc. I also have experience implementing and administrating various security solutions (physically and virtually). I was the lead designer in setting up our latest VPN solutions, including security requirements for Blackberrys, laptops and remote access. And then theres the usual commercial experience a 2nd/3rd line support technician deals with on a day-to-day basis.

    I leave it at that for now.

    My questions regarding becoming an IT contractor (sys admin, networking, infrastructure, etc) are:

    1) What experience and knowledge is required?
    2) How much work is out there for IT contractors?
    3) What is the typical age of an IT contractor?
    4) Where is most of the work geographically located?
    5) How/where do you find IT contractor work?

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks,

    Certifications: BSc (Hons), A+, N+
    WIP: MCP
  2. Stoney

    Stoney Megabyte Poster

    Hi Matt,

    I think the answers to these questions are quite general because there is no 'definitive' rules for contracting. A lot of it depends upon the type of project the contractor is working on and where businesses are growing at the time.

    If you want a real feel for the contracting market I suggest you have a look at some job agencies/websites and look through the contract roles that are posted on there. That way you can see the types of projects that are taking place and the requirements that are in demand for each type of project.

    I have answered your questions, albeit a little vague!

    This depends on the project and what you are required to do.

    Lots, but this is dependent upon the economy and the demand for contractors at any one time.

    I have no idea. Depends what your skill set is and how long you have been in the industry. I would say that generally contractors are more seasoned IT professionals, but this is not always the case.

    Typically larger cities like London and Birmingham will always have proportionately more work than other areas, but that doesn't mean that you wont find a lot of demand for contractors in other areas. It really depends on what the market is doing locally and nationally and the types of IT projects that are in progress at the time.

    The same place that you would find full/part time IT work. Check out the usual job sites and register with some recruitment agencies.

    One thing you will need to consider as a contractor is that you will be self-employed. For tax purposes you will have to have your own business to process the tax returns through. You can register with an umbrella company who will do this for you, but they'll have some of your salary for the trouble.

    Certifications: 25 + 50 metre front crawl
    WIP: MCSA - Exam 70-270
  3. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

    Stoney said what I would have said... so since I can't improve upon it, I'll just say:

    What he said. :biggrin
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  4. sunn

    sunn Gigabyte Poster

    I agree with what Stoney has already said 8)
  5. supernova

    supernova Gigabyte Poster

    I'll add that umbrella companies are very useful when it comes to IR35. IR35 basically stops you from been a sub contractor and full time with the same company, avoiding paying as much tax by using your own limited company entity.

    Certifications: Loads
    WIP: Lots
  6. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

    IR35 is what persuaded me to stop contracting when my contracting company went tits-up. I decided that my current and several previous contracts were full-time in all but name, and moving from company to company was fairly easy now.

    So I went permanent. That was 9 years ago and I haven't regretted it!

    Certifications: ECDL A+ Network+ i-Net+
    WIP: Server+
  7. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

    I'm in 2nd line desktop support work at the moment I we have contractors that vary from 25 up to 75. A couple of them "fell" into the role about 5 years ago and have just been renewed each time (more of a failure of my company rather than success from them).

    Some of them were break-fix engineers with photocopiers or printers and they just found a crack and jumped in and learned desktop support work from the ground up on the job. Others have jumped into contracting because of the extra money, but there have been no hard and fast rules for what I've seen.

    I think if you're in a specialised area - say programming in a specific language - the more experience the better, but for some of the "lower" jobs, as long you have some knowledge and can blag an interview, doors will open to you.

    For example, AA engineer (not alcoholic but British road-side assistance company) for 5 years decided he wanted more money. He had "played" around with and built computers at home, he jumped straight away into contracting at the age of 35 - that was 3 years ago and he's done desktop/AD support for a bank, some retail outlet and now our company - and by his own admission, he knew very little about corporate IT or even home-networking until he started his first IT job in contacting, and has no interest in IT at all apart from the £25 per hour he's getting paid.

    I think if I was to do it, I make sure I had the experience, knowledge and certs for the type of job I'd be applying for, I'd then quit my job (giving 4 weeks notice) and start applying for contract jobs - some agencies won't even look at you if you are still employed, as they can find someone else that can start quicker. I would have 6 months worth of house bills/rent/mortgage/petrol behind me, just in case after 4 months I had no luck, and would start to apply for permanent jobs again. And of course, backing from your partner/family also helps because having them nag at you for 3 months while trying to get a job will be hard!
    Certifications: MBCS, BSc(Hons), Cert(Maths), A+, Net+, MCDST, ITIL-F v3, MCSA
    WIP: 70-293
  8. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

    As always, I say check out Contractor UK for more details on it - especially IR35 stuff. It isn't as simple as being tax efficient, you need to be able to show you are not an employee in disguise, which has to do with substitution, control from the company, actual work practices and a couple of other things.
    Certifications: MBCS, BSc(Hons), Cert(Maths), A+, Net+, MCDST, ITIL-F v3, MCSA
    WIP: 70-293
  9. zillmere

    zillmere Bit Poster

    A lot of recruitment agencies will help you out with the umbrella company setup. Doing a few contracts can be great for your career if you get good ones that build on your skills. Be careful not to want a contract because of a perceived pay increase because that is a dead end.

    One benefit from contracting that is not obvious is that it lets you learn how different companies operate, politics, ethos, culture for example. Learning about this stuff helps later if you do consultancy & it also helps you get future jobs by allowing you to do better interviews by understanding what type of employee the campany wants.
    Certifications: MCSE x3 MCTS MCITPRO
  10. onoski

    onoski Terabyte Poster

    ITMatt, you have broad range of experience that am sure would make you marketable to a lot of prospective employers. May I ask why the change to IT contracting?

    I believe you have good reasons and my take is as long as you're learning and willing to work hard you'd progress and survive. Best wishes on your quest for a role as an IT contractor:)
    Certifications: MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003 Messaging, MCP, HNC BIT, ITIL Fdn V3, SDI Fdn, VCP 4 & VCP 5
    WIP: MCTS:70-236, PowerShell
  11. divinitymedia

    divinitymedia New Member

    Hi Matt, take a look at ITCONTRACTOR www.itcontractor.com You'll find it has alot of information relevant to your situation. I personally know the dude who built the site and he definitely knows his stuff.. :biggrin
    Certifications: Bsc, Msc Computer Science

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