IT Consulting: 5 Important Things You Should Know

Mar 15, 2023 | Tech Jobs

To step into the world of IT consulting is the eternal dilemma that many software testers in the IT field fight with. It is a well-known fact among software testers that contracting as an IT consultant can yield significant financial rewards. As a result, many software testers may look upon their contracted counterparts with jealousy or even animosity in certain cases.

Is IT Consulting For You?

It’s like choosing between a steady annual salary and the allure of a monthly paycheck that can reach up to a whopping $15,000. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well, not so fast.

Is IT consulting for you

Of course, the reality of IT consulting is far from easy. Yes, the financial rewards of contracting can make your bank account do a happy dance, but let’s not forget the not-so-glamorous aspects of IT consulting.

To Contract or Not To Contract? That is the question!

IT consulting has its challenges that may not be immediately apparent. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows; in fact, it demands a high level of professionalism and competence. As an IT consultant, you’re not just an external employee; you are expected to be highly skilled and very knowledgeable as businesses are essentially paying for your specialised skills and expertise. They expect you to hit the ground running, to deliver results from the outset without the luxury of extensive training or onboarding.

Let me outline some of the downsides of IT consulting:

First off, job security—or should I say, the lack thereof. Forget about it. Contracts come and go and so does your employment. IT consulting can be unpredictable, as your employment is not guaranteed beyond the duration of the project or contract. This means you may face periods of unemployment between contracts, which can make financial planning difficult.

If you’re one of the lucky few, you might be lucky to get a four-week notice period, but more often than not, it’s a mere one week. Heck, I’ve even had one with just a day’s notice. You can literally be given the boot at any time.

Now, in reality, some of my projects have rolled over on 6-month contracts for years but sooner or later all projects come to an end and all IT consultants ultimately get the dreaded memo from their manager asking “Can we have a chat?”.

Say goodbye to those. As an IT consultant, you’re not entitled to employee benefits such as healthcare, pension contributions, or paid time off. It’s a DIY situation. This means that you will need to budget for these expenses and plan for any potential periods of sickness or absence yourself.

Job Stability

Well, that’s a luxury IT consultants can’t always afford. IT consulting roles can very easily and very quickly come to an abrupt end. Projects can be cancelled or postponed at the drop of a hat and if you don’t meet the project requirements or prove to be unsuitable, you might find yourself out of a job. Unfortunately, nothing is guaranteed in the world of contracting and this uncertainty has affected many of my contracting friends over the years.

I worked on a project with Huawei and Virgin that was a classic for “hire and fire”. Working with the Chinese giants was not a walk in the park, as they are highly technical and exceptionally hardworking. Their expectations of IT consultants are sky-high and have a constant need to step up.

On the day I joined as Technical Test Lead, the Test Manager approached me and informed me that she had resigned. Within two weeks, she was gone. Due to the lack of time, I was promptly asked to assume the roles of E2E Test Lead and Test Manager, as well as Program Test Manager simultaneously. I was immediately thrust into high-pressure governance meetings and other responsibilities.

Despite the challenging circumstances, I decided to persevere as it presented an opportunity for me to learn and grow significantly. However, it was also apparent that there was a high rate of turnover among both IT consultants and permanent testers on the project. Not many people lasted to see it to the end.

IT Consultant

Greater Financial Responsibilities

As an IT consultant, you are a business! You will need to manage your own finances or employ an accountant to assist with your taxes, insurance, managing expenses and setting aside money for future periods of unemployment. This added responsibility can be daunting and may deter some individuals from pursuing contracting opportunities. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Travel

Want to make big bucks? Get ready to pack your bags and travel to lands far and wide. You have to be brave and flexible when you’re an IT consultant. You won’t often find lucrative projects on your doorstep. When I took a contract in Vienna I landed in a new city, not speaking the local language and was forced to integrate myself. I had to find an apartment quickly in order to prevent costly hotel bills and register with the local authorities.

There are a lot of upfront costs to consider that can take you a few months to recover. Do you register and pay local tax for example with a local accountant or do you opt for some kind of exotic tax solution and fly under the radar? You have to think about the tax implications and tax solutions available to you as an IT consultant.

All of this needs to be considered before making a decision, as it may not be suitable for everyone.

So, before you dive headfirst into the world of IT consulting, weigh the pros and cons. It might not be the golden ticket for everyone. After all, life in the consulting lane isn’t always as glamorous as the paycheck suggests.

Mark

Author

Software Testing Newsletter

Join 8000+ fellow subscribers to receive software testing advice, expert articles, and more straight to your inbox.

 

Sign up now and stay in the know!

Name(Required)