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How can I become a contract software developer?

By kveratis ·
I have been working for small businesses as a software engineer for over 5 years making less than $30k. I am looking to become a contract software developer since I hate being a wage slave working for incompetent managers and all the corresponding office politics (but then again who does). The problem is I don't know how to find this type of work, especially since I am stuck in a backwater state like South Dakota. I have a B.S. in Computer Engineering and lots of experience developing custom applications for small businesses, but no Certifications. I have thought about getting a MCSD.NET certification, but I'm not sure if it would really help or not. How do I transition from a wage slave to independent contractor and get better pay in the process.

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by onbliss In reply to How can I become a contra ...

Hopefully your language reflects just your disillusionment on your situation and not your attitude.

Some companies allow their employees to become contractors, and engage them in the same role. So you might want to check first that.

Next,instead of becoming a independent contractor straight away, you could look into becoming an employee of a consulting firm. Slowly you could wean yourself into a full fledged independent contractor.

If you feel SD has less opportunities, then you could think of Twin Cities. But I know of a person who constant speaks high of Sioux Falls as being such a great place to live and work.

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Just looking for a ray of hope

by kveratis In reply to Dejection

Yes, you could definately say I am disillusioned with my current situation. I should clarify that I live in Rapid City which has a very different business climate than Sioux Falls. It's true that Sioux Falls is a great place and I would love to live there, but I can't afford to move my family there right now due to financial contraints. I don't know if there are any applicable consulting firms here in Rapid City, but it's definately worth checking into. Thanks for your input.

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Just to let you know

by onbliss In reply to Just looking for a ray of ...

Minneapolis/St. Paul has some good consulting companies, and we have some strongly performing companies based from here. So there is need for consultants most of the time.

May be others at TR can offer you more help than I did.

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Your Second Job - Salesman

Being an independent contractor is like having two jobs. The work you do for your clients is one.....and the even more important job of promotion, publicity, sales, and networking.
See if you can find a market for small business application development where you live and work. Do any of your friends work for small companies? They may be able to get a foot in the door. You may also consider some of the clients and other companies who do business with your current employer (although be very careful not to go against company policy).
If not, then you need to "get yourself out there". If you don't have a website already with some examples of your work, create one. There are many sites out there that have postings for piecemeal work for independent computer consultants. You may have to offer other services like PC support.
However, beware.....many of the contracts you find on the Net may just be executives and other developers simply looking for a game plan or how much a project will cost. They will just take your quote and never contact you again. Give up as little information as possible until the contract is signed, and ask for some of the money up front.
You will probably need to do the contract work in your free time while still employed, because the contracts you get initially will not be able to support you. So that's like having THREE jobs. But the idea is to build up a solid client base so that eventually you can quit your "day job".
During every contract, always try and keep an eye on the next one. Identify areas of their business that could use custom developed solutions and present those ideas to those that hired you.

Hope that helps! Best of luck to you!

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by Kiltie In reply to Your Second Job - Salesma ...

As location seems to be the major restriction here, the idea of online contracts looks tempting. It may need some travelling though, since you always have to visit sites, long hours in addition to your day job, which you musn't lose, since you need to keep the bread on the table.

Links anyone?

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Online Contracts

by billbohlen@hallmarkchannl In reply to location

With a high speed Internet connection and today's remote access software, online contracts involve a lot less travel than they used to.
Many companies are perfectly willing to set you up with a VPN connection so that you can get solutions working on their own systems.

Here's a good organization for independent computer consultants that has a Job Bank:

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Thanks for the info

by kveratis In reply to Online Contracts

I didn't know anything about the ICCA before, but it looks like a great resource. Thank you for letting me know about them, and for the other advice as well.

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More Tips

by billbohlen@hallmarkchannl In reply to Thanks for the info

Despite all the outsourcing of software development, I think that a lot of small businesses are still open to the idea of hiring an independent in the US to do development work. There is still a great need for high-quality business software tailored to specific tasks. Not only is it much cheaper for them than hiring a consulting firm, but they have more control over the process as well.
You'll find that you'll get a lot of responses if you learn, use, and advertise the latest industry tools, and buzzwords like "AJAX".
Don't be a developer snob....If you are more comfortable in .Net, learn J2EE and LAMP. The more solutions you can offer a customer the more contracts you can get.
Try to make sure no one (especially the IT department) curses you after the project is done. Design your software to be flexible and network-friendly and document it well. If you do this.....chances are you'll be asked back when they want an upgrade, more features, or another app.
The last time I was an independent contractor was 2001. That was a dark time for IT, and after 9/11 I couldn't find a contract to save my life. I'm hoping you find the climate out there is a lot better now. Since then, I've been happily employed for five years but I still take on the occasional small project for extra money and to hone my skills.

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make full use of current environment

by tropicsu In reply to Online Contracts

you may want to make full use of the resource in your current company. for example, to communicate with other project teams that doing some technology / project that you may be interested and also learn from them. If there's chance to go to other project, then make the switch, else explore early for better opportunities elsewhere. I sure there will be a place suitable for a developer.

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Nice link but

by Kiltie In reply to Online Contracts

It is American.

Please don't forget that you are posting to a World Wide Web audience.

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