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I tried my best to frame this question in such a way that it will help others out there who are curious about the same thing as I am. I am currently a full time C++ programmer. I also do a little bit of C#/.NET programming as well. I have over 4 years of experience total. I have looked into the possibility of doing contract programming. I am looking to avoid having to be stuck on one team/project forever. I am single, have no kids, and have enough money saved up to last over a year without an income. I live in one of the biggest cities in the U.S.

I know there are different types of contract work, such as W2, independent, contract-to-hire, etc. I'm looking to work on contracts that last 6 months to a year. I would like to avoid having to do most of the marketing/overhead work myself and just want to do the programming work. I thought about getting contract work through different agencies and they would get a cut of the pay for doing the searching/overhead work for me. I just feel so stuck in my current job and want the freedom of working on a variety of projects and have some flexibility in hours and location (whether it's working at home or at another office). I have no desire to move up to management or navigate through office politics every day. What would be the best option for someone in my situation? W2 contracts through an agency? I wouldn't mind getting a little less pay as long as someone would take care of most of the marketing/overhead work involved.

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This question really belongs on freelancers.stackexchange.com, which is currently in private beta but should be going public any day now. –  tcrosley Aug 1 '11 at 3:31
    
Cool, didn't know about that one. –  Turnkey Aug 1 '11 at 12:42

1 Answer 1

It sounds like you have identified what you're looking for and you've concluded the free-lance type of consulting will require some marketing/networking and/or the possibility staying on a project for longer term (not necessarily bad if it is an evolving project). The only other area you might look at would be to get on as full-time with a consulting firm that does a variety of work for multiple clients. But for both of those types of contracting (W2 agency and consulting firm) you probably won't be able to control the flexibility of your hours and location as much as you would as an independent consultant. As in everything there are trade-offs involved but the independent consulting could also get you what you want if you establish several good customers and pick your projects carefully and deliver well. At that point the marketing time goes down as you establish a reputation and have repeat customers.

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Are there W2 contracts out there that are similar to 1099 contracts in the sense of having more freedom and flexibility in hours/location, etc.? –  Andrew Aug 1 '11 at 2:53
    
There are a few W2 situations that may not require being on the client premises but in those cases they may require being on their premises (especially in the case of the consulting firms). However, you are probably more likely to find the flexible hours/location in the case of the placement agencies. –  Turnkey Aug 1 '11 at 12:42

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