Contract vs. Full Time: What Type of Employment is Right For You?
Which is a better option in the life sciences sector - working as a contractor or full-time?
The life sciences industry is one of the most rapidly growing industries in the world. If you are searching for a career that is both challenging and rewarding, then this just might be the industry for you. Many different professions are available in the life sciences industry, including jobs in research and development, marketing, and sales.
However, before jumping into a career in the life sciences industry, it is essential to understand the fundamental differences between working as a contractor and working as a full-time employee.
For starters, as a contractor, you will be self-employed. This makes you responsible for finding your clients, setting your rates, and managing your business affairs. Contractors also typically have more freedom when choosing their projects and working hours.
Working in the life sciences industry as a full-time, traditional employee, on the other hand, means that you are employed by a company and have a set job description and working hours. Full-time employees typically receive health insurance, paid vacation days, and 401k plans.
Each path in the life science industry has its own set of pros and cons. Let's take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of working as a contractor in the life sciences industry.
The Pros of Contract Work
From not having to worry about being micromanaged by a boss to having more control over your projects, there are many pros to working as a contractor. Here are some of the most notable upsides:
Be Your Own Boss
While working as a contractor, you have the freedom to choose your own projects and work hours. As a result, you are empowered with the flexibility to work on projects that interest you, and also the ability to balance your work and personal life more easily. In addition, you also have the flexibility to take on new projects as they become available. This can be a great way to expand your skill set and learn new things.
Build an Impressive Portfolio
Since you are in control of your own projects, you have the opportunity to quickly build resume-worthy experience. This can be especially beneficial if you are just starting out in your career or are looking to change careers. In addition, as a contractor, you can work with a variety of different clients, which can give you a well-rounded view of the life sciences industry.
Set Your Own Rates
As a contractor, you have the power to charge more than you would if you were employed by an organization. This is because you are responsible for setting your rates and deciding how much your work is worth. This can be effective to earn more money over the course of your career.
One of the greatest advantages of working as a contractor in the life science industry is having more job security than employees. If a company you work for downsizes or goes out of business, you are not typically affected as you can find additional work faster than an employee in the same situation. This can be a great way to protect yourself against layoffs and other career setbacks.
However, there is also potential for you to have less job security, but we'll get to that in a different section.
Work For Anyone, From Anywhere
Biopharma companies often look for contractors with specific skill sets to work on short-term projects in other countries. Additionally, many contractors work remotely, as they often have multiple clients based in different areas. Contract work can be ideal if you want to gain international experience and see the world.
The Cons of Contract Work
Now that we've gone over all of the benefits of working as a contractor in the life sciences industry, let's take a look at some of the downsides.
As a contractor, you typically do not receive benefits such as health insurance, paid vacation days or 401k plans. This can be detrimental if you cannot find another source of health insurance or if you need to take a break for illness or personal reasons.
Since you are responsible for finding your own clients, your income can be unstable from month to month. This can be a challenge if you cannot discover new projects regularly.
As mentioned earlier, job security is not guaranteed when working as a contractor. You may go through periods of time where you do not have any work. This can be a challenge if you are not able to find new projects quickly or if you rely on your income from contracting to support yourself or your family.
In addition, life science contracts may only last for a certain period of time, which can be challenging if you cannot find a new project right away. Always pay attention to how long the contract is for and ask about the likelihood of renewing it as you approach the end date.
Which Skills are Best for Working as a Contractor?
So now that you've weighed the pros and cons, you may be asking yourself what kind of contracting jobs are in high demand at the moment. Biopharma companies are looking for anyone from clinical research associates (CRA), project managers, lab technicians, to even business and sales reps. It depends entirely on your background and skill set.
For instance, if you have experience in data management, then you may want to look for a data management contracting job. The same goes for if you have experience in clinical research or if you are a lab technician. The life sciences industry is rapidly growing, and contractors have many opportunities.
The best way to find out what types of contracting jobs are in demand is to search on job boards or reach out to an experienced recruiter. They will be able to tell you what types of jobs are in high order and get you on the right track for a fulfilling career.