A successful independent programmer consultant needs all the skills of an employee programmer plus those of an entrepreneur. Here are some of the rewards and requirements of this top of the programming pyramid work:
The moneyYou can make double that of a top employee programmer.
IndependenceYou are your own boss.
VarietyYou select the work that you want and like.
ChallengeYou get the best (the most visible and exciting) projects.
Project orientationEvery consulting job is a project.
EntrepreneurshipYou may be your entire company.
Work hoursYou negotiate when and where you will work.
Personal timeYou can take off twelve weeks and make more that year than employee programmers.
ReputationYou are recognized and sought after by top management at multiple client companies.
Skills inventoryYou must demonstrate superior skills.
FlexibilityYou can and should have several concurrent client corporations bidding for your services.
Instant goodbye You have the power take leave of a client instantly to move on to another.
Additional workYou can be an expert witness , or move to management jobs or a top IT management job.
Wide networkYou typically have a large network of clients and other IT professionals
Work from homeBig projects may allow you to work from your deck at home
Management skillsYou need to become an effective manager while consulting
Negotiating skillsYou get to negotiate everything
Direct feedbackYou get paid or get asked to leave based on your managers perception of your performance
Consultant contractI like the handshake agreement
LeadershipA consultant programmer is a leader