Like their IT brethren who hold permanent, full-time positions, consultants have concerns about the money they’re earning.
In a recent survey of more than 220 IT consultants, we found that consultants are getting the pay raises they're after, but they don't necessarily think they're being adequately compensated. Case in point: 35 percent of respondents—the highest percentage—make less than $50,000 annually as consultants.
Not only that, nearly 20 percent said they rarely receive significant salary increases, and a third said they were dissatisfied with their current salaries.
These statistics generated discussions and mail from readers, and not all of it matched the survey findings. Some respondents said they’re pleased with their current compensation, and others question whether consultants’ high salaries are justified. Here’s what some TechRepublic members said.
We’re worth every penny
Several respondents said there’s no question as to why they work as consultants rather than permanent employees—it’s all about the money.
DarinR’s pay increased dramatically when he became a consultant. “Compare 10-30 percent (annual raises) as a consultant with 5-10 percent as an employee,” he wrote. “My third increase this year as a consultant was almost $25,000. It's definitely a positive alternative.”
John Z.was dissatisfied with the pay raises he was receiving as a full-time employee, so he decided to give consulting a try and “get [his] increases one job at a time. That was more rewarding.”
When a client told him he would get an annual increase of no less than eight percent by joining the company, he took the job.
“What a joke. You had to practically walk on water and feed hundreds with a single slice of bread to earn over a four percent increase,” John wrote. ”I built an entirely new department internally which delivered complex technology solutions, I implemented processes and plugged them into current processes seamlessly, and I helped them revamp current inadequate processes—all in less than one year. I worked a minimum of 14 hours a day for the next two years. I left that company making only nine percent more that when I first started.”
Matt,a system administrator in Toronto, suggests that consultants could earn more by cutting out the middleman—the recruiters or employment agencies that place them in assignments.
“One can only imagine what their piece of the action is,” he wrote. “When negotiating a rate, it helps to know what the agencies get. The agency I used marked up my rate by 28.5 percent, which is at the low end of the scale—33-50 percent is more traditional. When negotiating, make it a win-win situation for you and the client company, and don't forget to factor in inflation.”
(Read more about the percentages paid to employment agencies in our recent article, “Educate yourself about employment agency fees.”)
Are consultants too greedy?
On the other side of the coin, several readers expressed concern about whether the professionalism and performance of their peers match the salaries they earn.
Bob Cooper—a senior consultant in Cerritos, CA—believes most consultants do earn what they should but thinks many of them have become consultants probably because they just didn't fit into a typical organizational culture.
“I've observed a strong weakness in attitude, communications skills, and being a real team player,” he wrote. “When a consultant is thrown into the midst of a client organization with key management team members, a consultant is the first line of ‘quality’ customer service by the engaging organization. When there's a bad attitude problem—defensiveness, unwillingness to cooperate, overly aggressive behavior, and downright poor manners—it creates a potential failed project from the get-go. So salary is the least of concern for top-tier consultants.”
Roscojim believes consultants should be happy with what they have. “Overall, I feel that consultants are getting too greedy. I'm sure some are underpaid, but not as many as your poll suggests,” Roscojim wrote. “I think salary is relative. For example, if you live in Iowa as I do, you can't complain about someone in California making double what you do. They may be making double, but their cost of living is more than double. I'm very happy with my salary and the annual raises I get. Could I get more elsewhere? I'm sure. Would I want to? I don't think so.”
Are consultants earning what they’re worth? Post a comment below or send us a note.