Becoming an IT Contractor in the UK

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Becoming an IT contractor: take control of your career

Last updated on Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Written by Alex Cadman

Are you thinking of becoming an IT contractor? Making a career change is not always easy, and switching from permanent employment can seem daunting. Despite this, IT contracting can offer so many advantages, for example, higher income, relaxed working hours, career independence and more.


If you are thinking of becoming an IT contractor and are not sure where to start, we can help you make the first step to beginning a satisfying career in IT contracting. Continue reading to find out more.

1. Sign up with recruitment agencies

The IT contracting industry is fundamentally driven by recruitment agencies who are able to place skilful contractors into various roles and fill large skill gaps in the IT industry. Therefore, the best way to put yourself out there as a first-time IT contractor is to enrol with a number of recruitment agencies. Many of these agencies concentrate on specific IT sectors, so through registering with a specialist agency, you could find your ideal first IT contract role even faster.

The other option available is to find IT contract roles by going directly to the end-client. This can be more challenging for a first-time IT contractor, particularly as they may not have a substantial network of contacts, but you can start building this up by keeping in touch with former and existing colleagues, uploading your CV on IT job sites, and continuously updating your LinkedIn profile to mirror your career ambitions.

2. Be prepared to leave your permanent job

There is no need to be unemployed while searching for your first IT contract role, but you should remember that a lot of potential clients will intend to interview candidates straightway and, in many cases, need you to begin working within a couple of weeks. This isn’t always the case, but keep in mind the competitive nature of the IT contractor industry, and be prepared to seize opportunities that arise.

3. Decide on a payroll service – limited company or umbrella company

Even if you haven’t found your first contract, you should decide how you intend to be paid early on. There are typically two main methods for contractors to be paid: through an umbrella company or a limited company, however the limited company route is typically more popular with IT contractors. On the other hand, IT contractors who do not want to be involved with any administration, or are only contracting for the short term, often contract through umbrella companies.

There are professional IT contractor accountants in the UK who can help you decide which payroll option is best for you, and help you maximise your take home pay as an IT contractor.

Read more on the differences between limited companies and umbrella companies.

4. Get started in your new role

Once you have finalised your first IT contract and have arranged how you will be paid, you're almost ready to begin your career as an IT contractor. However, it's important to consider whether the contract places you inside or outside IR35 legislation. IR35 is government legislation that assesses whether a contractor is genuinely self-employed or a ‘disguised employee’. Get in touch with a tax status specialist such as Bauer & Cottrell with matters regarding IR35.

Becoming an IT contractor can give you the opportunity to earn more, advance your career faster, and have a better work-life balance. Thousands of IT professionals are making the switch to IT contracting, especially as the industry is currently in high demand for skills in areas such as app development, cyber security, cloud architecture, UX and more.

Find out more about becoming an IT contractor on our website.

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