How to Become an Independent Contractor

Independent contracting is an essential part of today’s constantly changing society. Independent contractors are individuals, businesses, or corporations that provide services under specific terms of a contract or agreement.

What does an independent contractor do?

Independent contractors (often abbreviated IC) are individuals who are hired to complete a particular job and are typically compensated on a freelance basis. They often work through a limited company or are self-employed and own their own business. Independent contractors work in a variety of fields such as accounting, construction, and engineering. They often work for many different clients and take on a variety of projects that require special expertise. They complete the work according to their own techniques and often use their own supplies and materials. Independent contractors must pay their own taxes, health insurance, unemployment taxes, Social Security, workers’ compensation, and other benefits. They often market themselves in creative ways and spend a lot of time negotiating contracts.

What kind of training does an independent contractor need?

Independent contractors usually need at least a bachelor degree in business management, construction, accounting or other related area that pertains to their field of expertise. Most independent contractors also complete apprenticeships or internships in their field of interest to gain hands-on practical experience. Some independent contractors who specialize in particular industries acquire specific trade skills to become competitive in their field. Independent contractors must also stay current on advancements and often complete continuing education.

Independent contractors must be licensed in some states and fields. Licensing requirements vary greatly but typically require minimum education and experience and passing a written and practical state examination.

What are the prospects for a career as an independent contractor?

Employment of independent contractors is expected to increase faster than average for all professions, increasing 16% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Population growth and the increased demand for specialty expertise in a variety of different fields will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be very good especially for independent contractors with extensive education and experience. Job openings will also stem from the need to replace independent contractors who retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do independent contractors make?

As of October 2009, independent contractors earned an average annual salary of $80,000; average annual salaries vary greatly on location, field, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as an independent contractor is an excellent choice for individuals who desire to work on their own terms and conditions and not be bound to one particular employer. Independent contractors must have a strong business sense and be able to effectively handle all the aspects of being self-employed from paying taxes to negotiating contracts. Determination, perseverance, excellent communication and interpersonal skills are all essential qualities of independent contractors. They must be able to establish good working relationships with a variety of different businesses and companies to remain competitive in the field and gain more prospective clients.

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