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The benefits of working as a Contract Engineer

  • Publish Date: Posted 4 months ago
  • Author: Jon Armstrong

Whatever engineering role you’re looking for, working as a contract engineer is the best way to get there. Whether you’ve been laid off during COVID, are just starting your career, or are looking to get back to work after having a family, you can start building up your CV with a contract engineering role.

More and more employers are looking for contract engineers. Companies that are crunched for time and money don’t want to go through a long-winded and costly permanent recruitment process – especially for niche roles that call for hard-to-find skills like SQL or T-SQL database management, AutoCAD 3D design, or Epic Cogito/Clarity Administration (electronic health records).

If you’re worried about being older or overqualified, you’ll have an edge here, because employers will know they can trust you to hit the ground running without too much training. You may even find people looking for a contract engineer who can mentor existing staff.

Contract roles also give you the chance to demonstrate your skills over an extended period, and many employers will be eyeing you for a permanent position when your contract ends.

Why contract jobs?

The benefits of contract engineering work are many: getting work (and payment) fast, getting work experience in new areas to improve your CV, and excellent pay rates (though under the new IR35 rules, you may well have to handle your own taxes).

Another benefit is the freedom to move around and drop in and out of roles and industries until you find something that suits you. If you want to take a long break between gigs, nobody will be counting your leave days. Older or disabled workers who want to slow down a bit may enjoy the flexibility of contract work.

Engineering.com points out that contract roles are perfectly aligned with the one thing engineers do best: solving problems. For example, you might land a one-year contract to develop a testing process for a new robotic system. You’ll find the expected outcome for the contract is spelled out up front, with goals to meet every few months.

What is a contract engineer?

Not every temporary role is a contract role. If you set yourself up as a freelance engineer, you’ll be your own business entity, and you can form contracts with several clients at once. You’ll handle your own marketing, accounts, and legal compliance.

Or if you don’t fancy the admin side of that, you can take the increasingly popular route of going through an agency, which will match you with employers and handle the paperwork for you.

While some contracts will spell out that you can’t expect a permanent role at the end, and others will be silent on the subject, you’ll find some labelled “temp-to-hire” or “contract-to-hire”. Some might even require that you’ll be able to take up a permanent role when the contract ends.

Of course, whether that role materialises will depend on your performance – but if it does, you can expect your permanent pay and benefits package to be worth more than your pay as a contractor.

That doesn’t mean contract roles pay badly – in fact, because contract pay takes the lack of benefits like paid holidays and pension plans into account, you may find a significantly higher number on your payslip.

Gain work experience

Your dream job may have a long list of requirements when it comes to skills and work experience. With contract work, you can get paid to learn them; some contract roles even state up front that they’ll train you in specific areas.

With contract engineering roles, you can reboot or jump-start your career, while building your CV with a variety of valuable work experience. You'll have the freedom to take breaks, move around, and try new things, and you might even earn more than in a full-time permanent role.

Contact us to find out more about contract engineering today! ​