The Pros And Cons Of Becoming A Consultant

If you've been downsized and are looking for a job, temping isn't your only option. You can keep your skills sharp and make some money on the side by working as a consultant. However, this career choice isn't for everyone. Read the pros and cons to make the choice:

The Pros
Always something new. If you get bored easily on the job, then consulting can provide you with a stream of new projects and new faces. You'll also have the opportunity to pick up new skills as you begin to market yourself as a consultant.

Plenty of travel. A consultant must be willing to travel at a moment's notice, which can be an exciting prospect if you've been suffocating in a cubicle farm.

More money. Since a consultant does not get benefits, you can charge more per hour, covering your benefits and then some. The more specialized your expertise, the more a company might need you.

Choice. If a job seems boring, you do not have to take it. Sure, you might need to take it for the money, but, as a consultant, no one can tell you what you must do. You can also turn down a project that may interfere with vacation plans or raising a family.

Lower taxes. Since you are running your own business, you may be able to take deductions that you couldn't when you were a regular employee.

The Cons
No steady income. Consultants might get paid more by the hour and enjoy a few tax deductions, but, when the job is over, the paychecks stop, too. A consultant needs to have the discipline to stash some money away for the slow times.

Lack of respect. Despite all the benefits, consulting still seems like a fallback after a job loss. A few consultants might sit around the house and eat Doritos all day, waiting for the phone to ring. But those are the unsuccessful consultants.

No benefits. As a consultant, you will be self-employed, so you will need to lay a strong foundation to protect yourself. Invest in health insurance and a retirement plan.

Tax confusion. You will also want to track your deductions and estimated tax payments diligently to avoid fines or, even worse, an audit. Hiring an accountant would also be a smart use of the money you make.

Kneecapping. Sometimes, you will take on a client who refuses to pay you, no matter how many times you ask. Keep good records and consider hiring a lawyer.

Too many people. A shy person will not enjoy consulting because she has to build her network and market herself so she can keep getting projects. If you get nervous before talking to anyone new or you don't know much about marketing, consider building your confidence or taking a class. Otherwise, keep applying for traditional positions.

Consulting is a career choice that is perfect for an extroverted self-starter. Although consulting isn't known for its stability, it can provide freedom if you are good at what you do and are able to sell others on your talents.

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