Part-time consulting is the very best way to test and validate your ability to make the significant leap from sheltered employee programmer into the top pay for outstanding performance every day world of the independent programmer consultant. Are you good enough to be a consultant?
An independent programmer consultant (programmer contractor) is an entrepreneur who does programming or related work ”not as a company employee, but for a per-hour or per-day fee (or, infrequently, for a project fee). He must get the work, perform it, manage the client, invoice the client, secure payment, pay all taxes (taxes are not withheld from the checks he receives for his services), and meet all federal, state, and local reporting requirements. An experienced independent programmer commands top dollar ”probably $75 to $125 per hour in the United States.
Consultants are paid so well because they are the emergency-room physicians of the information technology world. They are expected to perform miracles ”and often do. They are the programmers in any department who are under the greatest pressure; they feel the highest level of stress (see Chapter 12 Mission: Impossible ), for by the time they are called in, disaster is usually imminent. I have arrived at companies and found the CIO ”once, even the CEO ”literally waiting at the door for me to immediately resolve critical business problems.
On one of my consulting assignments, the president of a major company and I were shaking hands to cement our relationship (he had just hired me under my normal consultant conditions ”a handshake, rather than a formal written contract). Suddenly, he said, ruefully, But you ll be making more than any of my employees !
Right ”and rightly so! Any programmer called in to be a consultant must have impressive skills in coding, business savvy, and risk management, and he must be willing to take on the toughest, most high-visibility projects.
The budgeting for an in-house programmer in my area ” Philadelphia ”might be around $74,000 a year, but for a consultant programmer it would be $150,000, says Dennis Mulcare, who spent twenty years becoming experienced and well-rounded as a pure programmer, designer of operating systems, IBM systems engineer, IBM computer salesman , and vice-president of marketing for a software development company before venturing out as a top programming consultant.
Sam Gottlieb, the former technical interviewer who is now a consulting-programmer, notes, I still remember when I made the move from my in-house job to my first consulting position. I had three years under my belt. When I became a consultant, my income nearly doubled .