5 tips to ensure you get the right contract engineering rate

Embedded Expertise,

At some point, if you’re a contractor or consultant, you will have to negotiate an agreement and set contract engineering rates for your services. However, determining the contract engineering rate you deserve - that factors in your expertise, knowledge and skillset - can be tricky.

For most contract engineers, each individual project they take on is unique, requiring a different set of skills, processes and operational environments; setting a blanket project price may not cut it.

This has made setting and negotiating contract engineering rates with potential clients one of the more challenging parts of being a contractor. Unfortunately, it can be difficult understanding what you’re worth and most contractors end up charging whatever they think they can get away with. Although the average project engineer salary is $84 610 per annum, it’s an unequal comparison to your work and rate as a contractor.

Embedded-Expertise-medium-2Many contract engineers find it difficult understanding what they're worth in terms of setting rates for potential clients

But you don’t have to set contract rates lower just because you hope to win future jobs with your favourite companies, or out of fear of running out of work. It’s important to understand what you’re worth so you can figure out what to charge clients per hour to make good money as a contractor.

For those who prefer a more hands on approach, listed below are five tips to ensure you get the right contract engineering rates that you deserve.

1. Leverage your networks - social and professional

One of the easiest and most convenient ways to get clear about the right contract engineering rates is by leveraging your networks. Or, better yet, keep in touch with technical resourcing experts who know your industry and have established networks.

Contractors are often likened to lone rangers because it feels as though they are in an almost continuous state of looking for new contracts. This makes having a network of people who help connect you to new opportunities a must. This network of friends, professional colleagues or even past teammates can vouch for you and ensure you get the right contract engineering rates commensurate to your skills.

For those who don’t have a wide enough network to get steady work, resourcing experts like Embedded Expertise are a good way to go. As an arm of SAGE Group, we have established partnerships and networks, that have been developed over twenty five years, that can help avoid gaps in between contracts. We’re effectively working on your behalf to help you maximise your contract pay rate, and give our clients the best talent available.

2. Keep in touch with recruiters, or join our engineering talent pool

According to the Paystream Contractors Insights Survey, 75 per cent of respondents chose to use recruitment agencies when seeking a new contract.

While the approach will help an individual gain access to big companies, at the end of the day, recruiters work for the company, not for you. A technical resourcing company like Embedded Expertise has an interest in serving both client and candidate. In addition to accessing companies in our established networks, candidates are looked after for the full duration of their contract, and afterwards. Ultimately, we’ll be the ones who understand contract engineering market rates and can get you the best deal per hour now, and in future jobs.

3. Do your research

Contractors are often responsible for their careers and career development. This makes it important that they know the going market rate for their line of work. This means doing some research! The best way to do this is by researching current vacancies or opportunities online or with others in your line of work until you are more confident about charging the right rates.

Whilst the research indicates a median contractor rate of $103 per hour for long term contracts and $106 per hour for short term contracts, there are many variables that are worth uncovering before you subscribe to these. The industry, demand, job complexity and location are some factors that can influence this number.

4. Preparation

As an outside hire, your clients have little or no idea who you are or what you do. This makes it important to write an outstanding contractor CV/resume that highlights certain key elements. These include a tailored profile, key projects worked on, unique skill set, achievements and problems overcome during your career history.

It’s crucial that you don’t just list your experience but really talk to the projects you’ve worked on. Detail the unique problem solving or experience you brought to a certain project or company, as this is what hirers will be looking for. The team at Embedded Expertise will help elicit this information but the better you are at articulating your value and relevant learnings, the easier it is for the client to see how your experience may translate into value for them.

With a clearer outline of what you have worked on and will bring to a project and organisation, you can afford to be explicit about your contract engineering rates and potential hirers will see your value and be more willing to pay.

5. Keep up with changes to your industry

Being a successful engineering contractor is hard work and a significant part of that is determined by how knowledgeable you are about fluctuations in your industry and the workforce as a whole. This is another way in which technical resourcing experts can help contractors in their talent pool. Specifically, by sharing valuable career advice, market trends, employer needs and wants and skills demands.

Another surefire way to keep abreast of changes is by connecting with a significant membership organisation or industry association, who produce helpful resources and remuneration reports and vacancy trends.

Find out what kind of rates you should be charging. Contact us today.