When it comes to working in project management, you have two choices: either you work as a permanent employee, or you work as an independent consultant.
But what is the best option for you?
Well, it depends on your objectives and experience.
First, let’s understand why companies hire consultants or permanent employees.
Why do companies hire independent consultants?
There are many reasons why companies hire independent consultants.
Most enterprises only need project management professionals for the duration of a project, not for the lifetime of an enterprise.
Also, a consultant can provide a company with expertise in a particular area. Consultants are often more experienced than employees and can offer valuable insights that may not be available from other members of the team.
A consultant may be a more cost-effective option than an employee for a certain task.
Whatever the reason, it is important to choose a consultant wisely so that the project runs smoothly and meets expectations.
Why companies prefer working with a permanent employee rather a consultant?
There are pros and cons to using either a consultant or an employee when working on a project.
A permanent employee offers stability and consistency. An employee is usually more committed to their job and will be more likely to stay with a company for a longer period of time. Consultants are less likely to be committed to the project long-term – if the project isn’t going well, they may choose to move on rather than stick around and try to fix it.
Consultants typically charge higher fees than employees do, which can add up quickly if a company relies on them for regular work.
Employees are more likely to develop personal relationships with their co-workers and clients, which can lead to better communication and cooperation down the line.
Working as a consultant vs permanent
If you are asking yourself this question, I recommend that you first think about your professional goals and your current experience.
These two points are key to help you defining what is the best option for you.
In general, I would say that if you are starting your career, working as a permanent employee is a better option as it will give you more stability and first experience.
However, if you are an experienced professional and are looking for some challenges and (maybe) more money, working as an independent consultant is a good choice.
Let’s see more in detail some caracteristics between consultant and permanent positions.
Flexibility to work on different domains and projects
As a consultant, you will have more control over where you work and which projects you choose to work on. Also, you can move from diferent domains and improve your experience among many different companies. Consultants are typically hired for their expertise in one area, and can then move between different projects as needed. This flexibility can be an advantage for consultants, since it allows them to stay up-to-date on industry trends and developments.
As a permanent employee, you will only work on projects related to your company’s domain. If you work in a construction company, you probably won’t get experience in entertainment projects.
Adaptation to job environment
Adaptation to a new job environment can be difficult for employees, but it is also important for consultants.
When employees are first hired, they may be unfamiliar with the company’s culture and how the work is done. This can make them less productive and disrupt team dynamics.
Consultants, on the other hand, need to be able to adapt quickly to new projects and clients. They must be able to communicate with all stakeholders and understand their goals in order to provide effective advice.
There is no doubt that working as a permanent is more stable than working as a consultant.
Typically, consultants are hired on an ad hoc basis, that is, according to a specific project. Once this project no longer exists (eg your project was cancelled) your work is no longer needed.
Another point concerns the quality of your work and interaction with your customers. You could be out of a job if the number of clients decreases or if they don’t like your work (no company will invest in training or evaluating your work – you will be summarily fired).
Permanent employees, on the other hand, tend to have a more reliable income and are less likely to be let go due to economic reasons. Companies will invest in their professionals to develop a long-term career. The cost of replacing a permanent employee is more expensive than working on his adaptation and development.
Salaries and benefits
When considering a career in project management, one of the most important factors to consider is salaries and benefits.
Average, consultant salaries are around $75,000 per year, but can range up to $150,000 or more (*). The average salary for employees working in project management is about $70,000 per year. Employee benefits may include medical insurance, retirement savings plans, and vacation time.
One advantage that consultants have over employees is that many consulting firms offer flexible work hours and locations. This can be an important consideration if you want to spend time.
(*) Glassdoor (salaries in Canada)
A consultant is a self-employed individual who does not have a career path to follow as a permanent employee. You need to be very careful when choosing a new contract to ensure that it will help you advance your career.
If you are starting your career in project management, working as a permanent employee at a company that gives you the possibility to advance your career will be a great choice.
On the other hand, if you are already a professional with extensive experience in some field and you want to diversify your experience or go into self-employment, consulting can be a good alternative.
Working as a permanent employee or consultant is an important decision to make. But this decision isn’t necessarily final. Obviously, if you’re looking for stability at work, it’s not a good idea to risk working in consulting.
But if after years of working in a company, you decide to change direction and venture into consulting with other companies taking advantage of your experience, this can be highly rewarding financially.
The most important thing is that you feel fulfilled in your career and always seek the best for you and your family.
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