The Secret Path To Contract Programming

Part 12 of 20 in the Series: Learn Computer Programming Online

Who is a contract programmer?

A contract programmer is a software developer who is paid an hourly rate for working on special software development projects for a period. Contract computer programmers are not paid salaries like full-time developers but hourly wages.

Contract programmers tend to be very project focused because they are hired to solve specific problems or code specific features and as soon as that is done, they have to move on to another project or find a new client.

Contract programmers are independent software developers who work with clients on a project-to-project basis. The relationship between a contract programmer and a client lasts as long as the client has a steady stream of work. What usually happens is that as soon as the client can’t find any work or the work starts dwindling down, the client initiates the process to end the relationship.

Contract computer programmers are not supposed to form strong emotional bonds or ties to their clients unlike their full-time colleagues because the nature of their work is temporary. That is why contract programmers are sometimes called temporary workers.

Contract programmers are specialists, experts and master craftsmen. When a client hires a contract computer programmer, the client expects to find a master programmer who will hit the ground running. This separates contract programmers from full-time software developers and the master craftsmen from the wannabe contract programmers.

A contract programmer is expected to start churning out high quality code, fixing bugs, improving their clent’s software and generally justifing their high pay by solving important problems within a few hours or days of starting work. Unlike full-time software developers who may take 6 months to 1 year to prove themselves, contract programmers who haven’t mastered their art well-enough to make a difference are usually dropped like hot potatoes by their clients.

Contract programmers may be W2 contract programmers or 1099 contract programmers. The difference lies with how their taxes are filed with the IRS.

The W2 contract programmer is paid by a recruiting agency that is also responsible for withholding taxes and providing liability insurance. Many recruiting agencies will also provide medical, dental and 401K benefits.

On the other hand, 1099 contract programmers, generally known as free-lancers, pay their taxes to the IRS and provide their own medical, dental and 401K insurance.

A contract programmer has the liberty of working as a W2 contract programmer with one firm and a 1099 contract programmer with another firm.

How long do contract programming projects last?

Contract programming projects typically last from a month to 5 years. The trend is towards fewer months and higher billing rates. The typical duration is 3 months, 6 months or 1 year.

How much do contract computer programmers bill?

Contract programmers typically bill anywhere from $50 per hour to $200 per hour.

What factors determine the contract programmer’s billing rate?

The factors that determine a contract programmers billing rate include:

1. Experience: The more experienced a contract programmer is, the more the contract programmer can charge

2. Demand: Some computer programming skills are in high-demand while others are not. So contract programmers who master computer programming skills that are in high-demand can bill at a higher rate than others

3. Client: The compensation provided for the same programming skills can vary widely by client with no other explanation other than one client having more money than the other

Who should be a contract programmer?

Contract programming makes sense for computer programmers who love to be independent or who do not want to climb the corporate ladder. It is also good for those individuals who want to make more money than is found in regular full-time software development. Finally, it works for those who can use their down-time in between projects to sharpen their computer programming skills, pursue other hobbies or take vacations.

What is the future or outlook for contract programmers?

The future is bright for contract programmers as more companies are trending towards out-sourcing their software development projects to temporary staffing firms or recruiting agencies that in turn out-source the programming work to contract programmers. Contract computer programmers are considered to be expert, highly-skilled craftsmen and their opinions and expertise are valued at client sites They are also paid significantly more money and do not have to stand inline or beg for a pay raise when they work for it.

How do you become a contract programmer?

The critical skills needed for a successful contract programming career are:

  1. Expert programming skills

  2. Well-crafted resume

  3. Effective job interviewing skills

  4. Aggressive Resume Marketing

Read this previous post titled “The keys of a successful computer programmer career” to learn more about these keys.

If you have these skills in abundance, you will do well in contract programming. If you don’t or will like to develop them, you should read “How to become a master contract programmer” or CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR COPY IN A FEW MINUTES.

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