Where Should IT Contractors Take Their Programming Skills?

With IT coming to prominence across most industries (and triggering automation on a large scale, especially in the Financial Markets, IT professionals have a wealth of professional opportunities to choose from. The ‘Gig Economy’ was borne out of their independent working habits, and while it has expanded to other jobs, the IT contractor remains at the centre of this lifestyle shift.

However, the IT contractor market remains extremely inefficient when it comes to pay. Emolument.com has launched its Contractor Pay Reports to bring transparency to the IT sector and other contractors. Based on our existing data pool of contractor data, we have been able to point to the best paying sectors and IT languages and see how it compares to be a contractor versus a full time employee.

Best paying sectors for IT contractors:

IT Contractors

Based on 49 Contractors UK Senior Developers and 622 UK Full-time Senior Developers

IT Contractors

  • Tempting riches for contractors: Across all industries, contractors’ daily rates are two times the higher than annual salaries for equivalent jobs. However, if hesitating between the two, it is key to factor in job security, visibility when it comes to projects, and employee benefits – to some extent, choosing a “gig” profession is also a lifestyle choice.
  • From Silicon Valley to Wall Street – While Media & Technology are the historical birthplaces of the contracting industry, banking now accounts for almost a third of all contractor positions. Under huge pressure by regulators and shareholders to streamline and automate as much of the banking activity as possible, especially on trading floors, banks have employed armies of IT contractors in order to build new systems both for support and front office functions. Beyond implementation, maintenance often ties contractors in for the long term: a hybrid position between freelancing and employee status?
  • Banks have not struggled to draw IT professionals thanks to high pay packages both for full time and freelance employees: While we expected Banking & Financial Services be the highest-paying sector for IT contractors, it was surprising to see how much of a gap exists between banking and the runner up media sector (62% gap).

How do years of experience impact pay? 

IT Contractors

Based on 155 UK IT Consultants 

  • Experience matters, even when it comes to new technology: Despite a lack of hierarchy in the contractor industry, experience does come into play when it comes to pay, due to reputations being built over time through word of mouth. An IT contractor’s main challenge is to remain on top of new IT developments and trends in order to avoid becoming obsolete.

Top paying languages

IT Contractors

Based on 49 UK Senior Developers

  • Java takes top spot! Both for contractors and full time employees, Java is the best paying language across all industries. Java Developers should definitely look for a job in finance as the average developer makes £45,000 annual salary with zero bonus on average, versus £56,000 with a £7,000 bonus in finance.
  • Different rules for full time developers: C++ is the best payer for full-time finance developers, only just at £55,000 on average with Python coming in at £54,000, and Java at £51,000

Alice Leguay, COO & Co-Founder at Emolument.com said: “As IT moves from a support function to a key centre of product and business development, banks worry more and more about paying their IT staff – both permanent and contracting – accurately, which is proving a difficult exercise especially with contractors who have wildly fluctuating day rates. Hence why we felt the need for a reliable and detailed output for contractors’ salary to provide pay transparency to employers and contractors as we have done for years for full time positions. Forget about banks being involved in a tug of war for traders or M&A executives, the IT developer is the new hot property.”

Where Should IT Contractors Take Their Programming Skills? by Emolument

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