IT Professionals Leaving Dot Coms for Contract Work

IT contractors who took equity bait offered by dot coms have experienced pullbacks, frustration and burnout. Many are again looking toward higher paying, saner contract work assignments.

Though many IT experts have scored big with IPOs, commanding large salaries and many perks, others have become frustrated with long hours and little reward, according to Phil Sawyer, Executive Vice President of Commercial Programming Systems, Inc. (CPS), a Los Angeles-based contract service for IT professionals. Many IT professionals are putting visions of grandeur on hold and regaining their enthusiasm as well as some personal time by choosing high-paying contract positions that provide considerable flexibility as well as a saner working environment.

"The IT contractor market is quite robust," says Sawyer, "Because most pre-IPO firms are strapped for cash these days, IT professionals of all types are returning to contract relationships paying hourly rates significantly higher than corporate salaries for equivalent staff positions."

Contract positions are available in most areas of corporate information technology, including programmers, systems administrators, technical support staff, process facilitators, data architects, project managers, Web developers, security specialists and technical managers.

Since much of contract work are projects, contractors usually work on a new or unique program for a limited amount of time, rather than routine staff work that continues ad infinitum. This type of employment often requires structured, eight-hour days, as opposed to "high burn rate" open-ended schedules and tasks associated with many IPOs.

In most cases contract pay doesn't include benefits, which can add up to more than one-third of a full-time employee's compensation. Also, many contractors work only six or seven months a year, so their gross annual income is affected accordingly.

"The Internet is not to blame for the IPO shakeout, and the Net is not going to lose much momentum, if any," Sawyer says. He feels that the task of connecting legacy systems of traditional retailers and B2B firms with Internet "front ends" will keep many IT professionals busy for a long time.

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