Contracting within the rail industry should deliver you the opportunity to take complete control of your career, and for some people, it can be the best decision they’ll ever make.
Initially you may have chosen to become a rail contractor because you wanted to grow your skills and have the freedom to pick and choose what contracts you work on. Most contractors actually possess “soft skills” (interact effectively, harmoniously, have a positive attitude and a willingness to learn.) Having these skills as a contractor means you are able to talk to a business, understand what that business needs and then efficiently deliver any technical aspects of the project. So, you need to understand what contractor skills you have which make you stand out from the crowd.
What is apparent in order to be a successful contractor you have to have the right mentality, a driving passion for delivering a first-class service and ensure you become an integral team member on each contract that you work on. Can you provide these and even more skills to your clients to ensure the success of your business?
Technically a self-employed contractor should be aiming to earn at least twice as much as a permanent salary. Having this will cover you for costs associated with travel, staying away from home and employment gaps. So, are you generating enough income from your business?
Most rail contracting jobs involve lots of commuting, unsociable working hours (weekends / nights) and living away from home. Indeed, some contractors may focus too much on the financial side of contracting and less on the impact on the family and home environment. So, is the money more important? Or your home/life work balance? Perhaps you manage to balance both aspects?
Working within the guidelines of IR35 contractors can either set themselves up under an umbrella company, but some of these can take as much as 15% of your salary through their fees. Or form a limited company, but unless you employ an accountant you will be responsible for all the financial side of things such as pension, tax returns and filing accounts. Either way you need to be able to manage the complex issues with IR35.
Despite IR35 reforms contractors are an invaluable employment resource in the rail industry and always have been. So, whether you’re a client, contractor or sub-contractor the rail industry needs you, more especially if you have areas of specialist technical expertise. But hopefully by now you will consider your role as a career not just a day-to-day job.