Is contract engineering right for you? Join our talent pool
Embedded Expertise, Published: November 7, 2019 - Updated: August 30, 2022
The Australian workplace is rapidly changing. There are many different forms of employment available today that differ from the traditional permanent, nine to five engagements we all grew up knowing.
These alternative employment models have opened up new doors to personal career growth opportunities you may not have considered otherwise. One of the most common emerging trends in engineering employment is contract engineering. While the concept isn’t new, the growth in demand for this service is…
The rising trend of contract engineering
Australia’s ‘large-scale infrastructure investment has signalled a boom time for jobs in the engineering sector. It was one of the fastest-growing industries on SEEK in 2017 with job opportunities rising 26.7 per cent and more than 12,000 new roles were recorded for the year.’
As Australia looks to invest in infrastructure over the next ten years, there is an abundance of project-based work and an increased demand for experienced engineers to engage with companies on a short to medium term basis.
This increase in project based work and demand for contract project engineers has given rise to a multi-channel workforce which consists of casual workers, freelancers and contractors that remain independent of the traditional permanent workforce of an employer.
Employers of professional engineers are making greater use of this alternative workforce as a means of meeting peak workloads or to engage contract professionals for specific projects or tasks. For instance, an engineering firm may choose to engage outsourcing services for responsibilities like design and manufacturing to reduce costs and improve their flexibility. This allows them to customise their services on a per project basis.
"Employers of professional engineers are making greater use of this alternative workforce as a means of meeting peak workloads or to engage contract professionals for specific projects or tasks."
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that a growing proportion of the workforce is now engaged in non-traditional work arrangements with professionals operating as independent contractors or consultants among the fastest growing group. And contract project engineers are certainly no exception.
What you need to know about being a contract project engineer
Freelance contractors have different responsibilities and requirements from permanent employees. They can work as an individual (sole trader) or through their own company, partnership or trust. Freelance contractors can be referred to as an independent contractor or sub-contractor.
It is important to know whether you are a contractor or an employee as this can as it can affect your tax and insurance, ownership of intellectual property and superannuation responsibilities. To be a project contractor, you have to be a completely independent business that works on a project or produces a result for an agreed price, usually under an ABN.
Goodbye 9-5: Australia's employment models are diversifying beyond the traditional 9-5 permanency model
You’re a contractor if you:
• are able to accept or refuse work
• are paid on a per project basis or for results achieved
• provide the necessary equipment/materials to complete the work (although employers can choose to provide, especially if they want to incorporate you as part of their onsite team)
• provide your services to different businesses, which can include competitors (although employers might state a preference/terms of contract that you don’t undertake concurrently).
The benefits of being a contractor
There are several benefits to being a contract engineering employee in a modern workforce. These include:
1. Higher pay
Contractors are often paid higher wages by the hour than permanent employees, since they work short term, as compensation for a lack of work security and long term employment. However, they are also responsible for organising their finances and taxes.
Most freelance contractors can set their working hours and location, allowing them to work from home if they want.
3. More available positions
Australia is currently experiencing an upsurge in the demand for experienced contractors giving freelance contractors many more options out there to apply for, depending on their experience.
4. Greater exposure
Contractors gain more exposure by working in various industries, workplaces and projects, allowing them to learn what sector they prefer and which is best suited to them before committing. This exposure also increases skills and knowledge learnt which can be applied into every subsequent project, making you, as the candidate, a much more desirable and sought after hire.
5. Better work life balance
Contractors don’t have to commit to long term employment allowing them to maintain a better work life balance. Often there are more opportunities for breaks, holidays and study or upskilling opportunities, particularly in between contracts. One of our high-level project manager contractors regularly travelled abroad for a month at the end of her contracts to recharge before the next gig.
6. Greater project variation
Shorter contracts mean that contractors can gain experience in a variety of projects and job roles rather than just in one area only. This also helps them learn to have a different way of thinking, like, ‘putting your all into the project now because you’re not here forever’ which provides greater satisfaction and better outcomes.
7. Foot in the door
Is there a specific organisation you really want to work for in your career? Being a contractor is a good way to have a foot in the door. Although your time with them may be short term, it is also a valuable opportunity to demonstrate exactly why they should appoint you as a permanent employee and the value you bring to the company.
Thinking of contracting? Things to be aware of:
Since contractors are responsible for tracking and organising their finances and taxes, this added workload may distract you from the immediate work at hand or just add another thing to your “to do” list. This shouldn’t be a hindrance though as you can contract out many of the functions of running a business to other contractors like accountants/book-keepers, financial planners, business coaches etc. Additionally, you are responsible for sourcing your next project and negotiating work terms with employers. This can be difficult or distracting. However, technical resourcing companies like Embedded Expertise alleviate these worries by introducing you to opportunities that match your interests and skills, leaving you to do what you do best.
Discover more about contracting today. Schedule an appointment.