Making the switch from a full-time tech employee to an independent contractor is a nerve-racking experience. You wonder if you're making the right decision in giving up a steady pay cheque and definite work so you can have the freedom and benefits that come with IT contracting. Whether you're just beginning that journey or are a seasoned veteran, it's helpful to understand the current trends. If not for your own peace of mind, it helps with career planning. MBO Partners recently released their State of Independence in America and, not surprisingly, the results are quite positive. Although it only surveys independent contractors in the USA, because of the close proximity and similar business cultures, it is safe to assume we are seeing the same trends in Canada. Some political or business groups claim that independent workers are only in their positions because they have to be and would prefer, as well as be better off with, a traditional full-time job. According to the research, though, most independent workers in the US are in their positions by choice and are doing well financially. In fact, 81% choose to be full-time independent workers, up from 66% in 2012. There are also another 15 million occasional or side hustle independents in the US. In addition, MBO Partners' Financial Well Being of Independent Workers explains that independent workers report similar levels of financial well-being to those with traditional jobs, with 77% reporting they are doing okay or living comfortably, compared to 78% of traditional workers. With these numbers, it is no surprise that overall satisfaction as an independent is increasing. As shown in the chart below, in 2011, only 32% of independent workers in the US reported feeling more secure working independently than at a traditional job. That number rose to 53% this year. Furthermore, the report found that 82% are happier working on their own and 69% believe it has been better on their health.
More Specifically: IT Contracting in Canada
We know that independent contracting in general can be a great career choice. Specifically, IT contractors in Canada can also take advantage of lucrative opportunities and interesting work, as proven by ITWorld Canada's CanadianCIO Census 2019. The report suggests new hiring could be cooling as only 37% of CIOs are planning on increasing headcount, while 44% are keeping it stable, 12% are in a hiring freeze and 4% plan to downsize their IT departments. An IT contractor might interpret this as meaning that new opportunities are on the rise. Because new employees are not being hired, when skills are inevitably needed for a project, the IT contractor gets the call. Overall, CIOs says that the top skills they're hiring for today are Big Data/BI/Analytics, Business Analysis and Enterprise Application Development. Of special note for IT contractors, their most difficult skills to contract or outsource (and most in-demand) are AI, Data Analytics, IoT, Mobile Development and Cloud Services.