Like in any business, there are pros and cons to being a freelance engineer consultant. Deciding whether you want to become a freelancer is not something you should take lightly, and there is a lot of factors to consider.
Pros of Being a Freelancer
☑ On the plus side, you can be your boss. For most people who hold traditional positions at a company, their boss is the number one reason they want to quit. When you want to call in sick only because you don’t like who you work for, choosing to freelance can be a welcome relief.
☑ If you have kids or need flexible hours for other reasons, freelancing can be a great option. As a freelancer, you can choose when you are available, so if it’s a fine day and you want to go to the beach, no one will be telling you no. Flexible hours are great for parents who need to be able to pick up their child from school, or don’t want a stranger raising their baby. In some areas, it can also be a sound financial decision because of the rising cost of childcare.
☑ One final benefit is that if you telecommute, you won’t have a long, stressful commute to work. Long commutes are unpaid and take up large portions of valuable time. Commutes can also be a considerable source of frustration and additional expenses like gas, insurance, and vehicle maintenance.
☑ You may still have to commute if you choose jobs that involve going directly to the work site, but because you are a freelancer, the choice is yours. This freedom is something you can’t get from a 9-5 job, and is often well worth the effort.
Cons of Being a Freelancer
After listing all of these benefits, it may seem like a simple decision to put in your notice and to strike out on your own. Unfortunately, there are also cons to consider seriously of being a freelancer before you make this change.
✘ The biggest con of all is, of course, the fact that you will have no source of steady income. The moment that you decide to be your own boss, you are also responsible for your personal income and professional success. That fact means that when no one wants to hire you for a job, or you don’t like what those jobs entail, you are not making any money.
✘ You might also get endless leads for jobs in one season, and next to none in another season. Since there is no real way to predict the job market, you will need to put a substantial amount of money aside for times when the market is lean.
✘ When you begin, there is also always that considerable concern – will anybody want my services at all? Until you start freelancing, there is no way to know the answer to that question. Starting on your own can be a scary experience, and you’ll need to have a nest egg set aside so that the transition can be smooth.
✘ Finally, you will have to do your taxes. This task can be a big hurdle for someone who is used to merely submitting their W-2 at the end of the year and receiving a lump sum in return. Now tax season will represent some math and a significant expense. You will be in trouble if you haven’t set money aside for this reason.
Freelancing isn’t easy, and it isn’t for everybody. If you don’t mind the risks, however, the freedom to conduct business in the way you want can be a big relief. If you’re ready to become a freelance engineer consultant, follow these tips and say hello to your new business.