Are you thinking of making a career shift from working as an employee to being a freelancer or vice-versa? Whatever your reasons are, whether it’s income-related or wanting to expand your career, here’s what you need to know before you take that big leap.
Working as a full-time employee
One of the biggest advantages to being employed in a company is having job security. When you hold a post in a particular organization, you can expect to receive a regular paycheck. This allows you to plan a predictable budget that covers your living expenses, build an emergency fund, and achieve financial goals in the future. More so, full-time employees can earn a tenure—meaning, you’re protected under the law and your employer can’t just fire you on a whim.
Apart from that, you also have access to a benefits package that consultants don’t. Usually, employers offer health insurance and 401k match contributions to their full-time employees. Health insurance usually cost a lot if you shoulder its premiums on your own, plus that match benefit for your retirement account is free money that you shouldn’t take a pass on.
On the other hand, working full-time means being tied to a predetermined work schedule. Typically, you need to render eight hours of work in a day, and may even have to go overtime if your tasks call for it. Sure, you get paid for extending your work hours, but it can affect your work-life balance. In addition, working full-time won't offer variety in terms of your tasks.
The biggest draw to freelancing is the flexibility it offers. When you’re a freelancer, you are your own boss. You call the shots regarding your work hours and the projects that you take on.
Another perk of being a freelancer or consultant is getting paid more than an employee who’s tasked to do the same job. This is because most consultants are paid on an hourly basis. Moreover, freelancers get to keep more of their earnings because of tax breaks and incentives that they have access to.
While freelancing offers a higher level of independence, it requires a great deal of discipline too. When you choose this route, you are fully accountable to yourself. You are in charge of everything—from finding clients, managing your time, to taking care of your finances.
Unfortunately, you won't have access to employee benefits. This means that you need to pay for your own insurance premiums, and you are not entitled to any form of paid vacation days and other parts of a company’s benefits package.
An employer can easily let go of you, too, unless you have a contract for a particular project that says otherwise, which is rare with a freelancing gig. When a client decides to leave while a project is underway, they usually pay you only for the work you’ve already done, but that’s basically it. Additionally, company consultants are usually the first to get laid off should the company decide to downsize.
Test the waters
Before you go full-time on either one of these career paths, why not conduct a dry run and try doing both? Actually, it’s surprising to know that it works for most people, including me.
I currently have a 9 to 5 job, but to add variety to what I do in the office and enrich my skillset, I do freelance writing and editing gigs on the side. The key, I realized, is simply proper time management and only taking up offers that I know my schedule can handle.
The better choice
It varies from person to person. Freelancing may work for you, but for others, working full-time makes more sense. It all boils down to your working style and risk tolerance.
The right choice is about knowing what you want.