The rules for contractors
- If you have a S-Corp, go 1099. You'll have more write offs and will pay almost half in taxes.
- If  you can go W4 and you live out of state, get your contract amended to include Per Diem as part of your wage.
Never fall in love with a contract.
Outsiders usually know whats going on inside your company before you do.
Insiders may know whats going, but will be reluctant to talk about it.
Reviewing Monster and Dice will tell you a lot (query your position and area). Company websites often tell you a lot.
In this information age, truth can be extrapolated from bits and pieces collected through various resources.
In most cases, contractors are frowned upon
It looks like they draw more income, which isn't true.
Full Timers and Salaried Workers may do better than Consulants, even though they make less.
Judging income by looking at hourly wage is a bit bone headed.
A full timer at $30 an hour may end up doing better than a contractor at $40 an hour.
- In most cases, contractors usually don't get paid a vacaton, sick days, employer matched 401k's, and worst of all group health insurance
- 1099 Contractors pay full state taxes, FICA, health insurance (if they can get it) and may have to pay unemployment insurance and workmans compensation.
- The big perk for being an hourly contractor is, you get paid for every hour you work.
Salaried employees often work 60+ hours a week, uncompensated.
I think in general, if you are a programmer, there are no stable positions.
Unless you move up the ladder, you are expendable.
Since outsourcing became popular in the 90's, both salaried employees and consultants have become major targets of budget cuts.
- I've seen situations where almost all of the salaried programmers were laid off, and the contractors were kept.
- I've seen situations where an entire floor of an apartment building was rented to house foreign contractors for an all expense paid contract. 
These foreign contractors make far less in wages. Often, they send most of what they make back to their families. Its almost impossible for natives to compete with that.
However, with the rise of foreign contractors, comes the rise of communication failures. I believe Business Analyst have become popular for that reason.
For these reasons, with management overloading, what used to take a week to impliment, may now take 6 months.
Plus, unlike 10 years ago, when I had one boss, I now have many.
It is important to maintain a network of contacts
Whether salaried, full time, or contracting, everybody is subject to the ax.
In the end, maybe half of the people I've known end up on the street.
The best thing you can do to remain stable is to find a niche.
I think that in the struggle for management to quantify what programmers do
- the cost has been dead paperwork
- documention that no one looks at
- meetings that sometimes involve over 100 people most of which don't have a clue about what is going on
- Constant updates of your status
- Paranoid procedures have been developed. Often, security procedures are created by people who do know the application.
The following is a good story to share.
I made an error, or so it would seem. I wasn't allowed to see productions configuration until implementation day. Its configuration was different than our test system.
I could have fixed the configuration in one minute, but instead, I had to back my programs out and do a workaround. That took 3 months.
I got a black eye for that, but I don't blame myself. I blame poorly designed management procedures and horrible security implementations. To much management means slower responses. Too much security may mean months of red tape to cut through.

Sunday, May 24, 2009 5:51:42 AM, From: jim, To: Stories