For many tech specialists, consulting is often the next logical step in a successful career. If you’ve worked in management positions in the past, transitioning to consultation can allow you a greater degree of freedom, as well as the opportunity to exercise your expertise. However, before you make the switch, there are a few things to consider to ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible.
The very first step to transitioning to a consultation role is considering the long-term effects it may have on your career and your personal life. It’s a good idea to plan for periods of slower income, travel, or very long hours. Prepare your family for these changes in your routine, and have a system in place to make the switch easy on everyone involved. Professionally, you should consider how unique consultation opportunities will look on your resume. This will help you choose assignments that broaden your experience and skill set.
Set Your Salary
If you’re testing the waters, you’ll want to determine your desired salary well ahead of time. A good formula for contract workers is your former salary divided by 1000 plus 50 percent. So if you made $80,000 before your transition, you may settle on $120 an hour for your consulting fee. Check the market to see what IT consultation usually pays, and this will help you get a good range for your skills. If you work for a consulting firm, your salary may be set in stone, but independent consultation allows for flexibility in your salary.
Independent Consulting vs. Consulting Firm
Choosing whether you’d like to be an independent consultant or on staff at a consultant firm can be a major decision in your transition. If you have more experience, you may opt to work independently, while those looking to diversify their tech portfolio may find more value in a consulting firm. If you choose the latter, you should also consider the size and reputation of the firm before you commit to a position.
Ease Into It
Once you’ve made the important decisions, it’s time to take action. It’s not a good idea to quit your full-time job before you’ve built up a client base, so start by doing consultation work on the side or even trying pro bono work. If you’re lucky enough to get a long-term contract, this will give you the necessary cushion to ease into your transition.
Making the switch from direct employee to consultant can be stressful and challenging, but it has the potential to offer amazing benefits and freedom to those willing to try. Consultation can offer you valuable opportunities to expand your knowledge base and your experience, so if you’ve been in the IT industry for a while, perhaps it’s time to take the leap.