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preference?: directly employed or consulting co.

John M. Gabriele
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 18, 2001
Posts: 232
what do you folks prefer, working directly for a company that
needs java programmers or working for a consulting company that
rents you out to various other companies when needed?
i'm new to all of this---i suppose the 2nd options makes you a
contractor, no?
i further guess that some folks become consultants on their own---
rather than contracting but then you've gotta hoof down all your
jobs on your own.
opinions? advice? rants? what's more common these days?
Tony Alicea

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 3226
I prefer the "steady job" that working directly for a company offers. But that's my style.
In effect that's what you're asking: Which lifestyle one prefers?
I'd personally work with the same people in the same project (or really various projects all using/inheriting previous code) than not knowing where I will be three months from now.
But that's just me ...

Tony Alicea
Senior Java Web Application Developer, SCPJ2, SCWCD
John Dale
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2001
Posts: 399
The second option may make you a contractor from the point of view of whoever is buying your services from the consulting company, but it doesn't necessarily make you a contractor from the point of view of the tax authorities. You'll want to be sure you understand whether you are an employee or are a self-employeed contractor when negotiating pay, planning for tax payments, etc. Unfortunately, you cannot always trust whoever hires you to explain it correctly. In the US, the IRS definitions and rules are the ones that matter.
I don't know about today, but about 10 years ago, I saw situations in which it was difficult to get businesses to hire you independently. My understanding was that this was because there were too many cases in which a "contractor" didn't do the taxes right, and the IRS was able to make the case that the person was really an employee of the company, which should have been witholding and paying taxes. So I saw people drumming up jobs, then having to find a body shop to hire them and supply them to the customer, for a very generous cut of the negotiated hourly rate. However, I don't know how it works today, or this was peculiar to where I lived 10 years ago (Washington, DC).
John Coxey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 24, 2000
Posts: 503
John Gabriele:
Personally, it doesn't matter to me whether I work for a flesh-peddler or an IT-Based company. As long as it's all W-2, and I get a paycheck every week - whether I am on the bench or not.
Neither one guarantees any job security. I have worked 80 hour weeks in both situations. I have also worked 20 hour weeks (but got paid for 40) in both situations.
Both situations will require you to relocate (most likely) several times in your career.
Bottom line. Have good interview/people skills, and have good technical skills that are transferrable. You need to continually improve yourself week after week in this game.
I had lunch today in Denver with one of the other JavaRanch folks. We both agreed that we do more studying now than we ever did as undergraduates in college. We both came up with an average of 2 or 3 hours per day for studying - in addition to the 40-60 hour work weeks.
John Coxey

John Coxey
Evansville, Indiana, USA
Peter Tran

Joined: Jan 02, 2001
Posts: 783
I've done both, and each has their individual pros and cons. Personally, I'd rather be a contractor. Perferably, corp-to-corp, since I already have my own corporation established. I get a kick out of being being under the gun. As a contractor, I'm usually brought in when things have already gone to hell in a hand basket, so I'm looked at as the person who can help fix things. That means the pace is fast and furious. With that said, I'm currently a full time employee at my current job. I'm going on 2 years soon, which is the longest I've ever been with any employer. A good site to get a feel for the differences is I recommend going there and look around.
John M. Gabriele
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 18, 2001
Posts: 232
thanks for all the opinions and tips guys.
Tony, I think I'm with you.
J.D., thanks for the important tax tips.
J.C., I don't like to admit it, but I bet you're right about the relocating
thing. I'm married and my wife likes living where we are---around family.
We're trying to have kids (yahoo!) so the relocating issue may become quite
a problem. We own (well, we're paying the bank anyway) a condo. Not sure
how this part will pan out... :\
Peter, you're just a masochist!
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
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