Accounting Professionals


How to Approach Contract Work as an Accountant

8 minute read

How to Approach Contract Work as an Accountant



How to Approach Contract Work as an Accountant: Navigating the World of Contracts and Careers

In the dynamic landscape of the accounting profession, the traditional career path of a full-time, permanent employee is no longer the only option. Many accountants are now exploring the world of contract work, a shift with unique challenges and opportunities. If you're an accountant considering becoming a contractor, this guide is tailored to provide insights, tips, and strategies to help you navigate the exciting yet intricate realm of contract work.

Understanding the Basics of Contract Work in Accounting

Embarking on a contract role in accounting means breaking away from the traditional mold of permanent employment. As a contractor, you operate temporarily, providing your expertise to employers for a defined period. This shift offers flexibility and the potential for higher earnings but comes with job insecurity.

One of the key considerations when entering the world of contract work is understanding the benefits and drawbacks. On the positive side, contractors often enjoy a higher hourly rate than their full-time counterparts. Additionally, the flexibility to choose assignments and the opportunity to work in diverse industries can significantly enhance your skill set.

However, job security and the lack of employee benefits are challenges that contractors face. Unlike permanent employees, contractors are not entitled to health insurance or paid leave benefits. Additionally, the uncertainty of contract renewals and the need to continually secure new assignments can create professional instability.

As you contemplate becoming a contractor, carefully weigh these factors and consider whether contract work's dynamic and flexible nature aligns with your career goals and lifestyle preferences.

Pros and Cons of Contracting: A Comprehensive Analysis

Before committing to contract work, conducting a comprehensive analysis of the pros and cons is essential. Understanding the potential advantages and drawbacks enables you to make an informed decision that aligns with your career goals and personal preferences.

The advantages of contract work are the flexibility to choose assignments, the potential for higher earnings, and exposure to diverse industries. Contracting allows you to build a varied and impressive portfolio of experiences, enhancing your marketability in the long run.

Conversely, job insecurity, the lack of employee benefits, and the need to consistently secure new assignments are challenges that contractors face. The absence of health insurance, paid leave, and retirement benefits may impact your financial stability and overall job satisfaction.

When weighing these factors, consider your risk tolerance, financial goals, and career aspirations. If you thrive in dynamic and challenging environments, and value the autonomy of contracting, the benefits may outweigh the challenges.

Setting Up as a Contractor: Limited Company vs. Umbrella Company

Choosing the right business structure is one of the crucial decisions you'll face as a prospective contractor. Two common options are setting up a limited company or working under an umbrella company.

Establishing a limited company gives you much autonomy and control over your financial affairs. As a company director, you can optimize your tax strategy and potentially increase your take-home pay. However, this option comes with additional responsibilities, including handling administrative tasks, tax returns, and compliance with legal regulations.

On the other hand, joining an umbrella company offers a simpler and more hands-off approach. The umbrella company becomes your employer, managing administrative tasks, tax deductions, and payroll. While this option may provide more convenience, it typically results in lower take-home pay, as the umbrella company deducts its service fees.

Understanding the implications of these choices on your tax returns, take-home pay, and overall financial well-being is crucial.

The Art of Landing and Managing Contract Assignments

A critical step in securing lucrative assignments is crafting an effective CV tailored for contract roles. Unlike a CV for permanent employment, a contractor's CV should highlight diverse experiences, showcasing adaptability and expertise in various accounting tasks.

When reviewing a contract, pay close attention to key details such as the scope of work, contract length, and compensation package. Ensure that the terms align with your expectations and career goals. Additionally, consider the employer's reputation and the potential for career development within the organization.

Navigating the job search for temporary positions in the accounting sector requires a proactive approach. Leverage online and offline networking opportunities to connect with staffing agencies, industry professionals, and potential employers. Building a strong professional network can open doors to exciting contract assignments and contribute to your long-term success as a contractor.

Adapting to Contract Lengths and Industry Shifts

Contract assignments vary in length, ranging from short-term gigs to more extended projects. Understanding and adapting to these varying durations is essential for success in contracting. Short-term contracts may provide quick income and exposure to different industries, while longer projects offer the opportunity to delve deep into a specific sector and build lasting relationships.

Adapting to different industry sectors is another aspect of contracting that demands flexibility. You may navigate diverse industries with unique challenges and requirements as a contract worker. To thrive in this environment, continuously expand your skills and stay abreast of industry trends. This adaptability enhances your market value and positions you as a valuable asset in the competitive world of contract accounting.

Soft Skills: The Unsung Heroes of Successful Contracting

While technical expertise is crucial in accounting, soft skills play an equally significant role in the success of a contract accountant. As a contractor, effective communication, adaptability, and interpersonal skills are essential for building positive relationships with employers, colleagues, and clients.

Making the switch from permanent employment to short-term contracts requires a mindset shift. Embrace the dynamic nature of contract work and develop a proactive communication style. Clearly articulate your expectations, deliverables, and timelines to ensure a smooth working relationship with employers.

Investing in soft skills enhances your ability to navigate

Soft skills like adapting to complex work environments, managing client relationships, and positioning yourself as a reliable and sought-after contractor can help elevate your opportunities in this work dynamic. As you embark on your contracting journey, prioritize the development of these skills to thrive in the diverse and fast-paced world of contract accounting.

Considering Packages and Negotiating Your Worth

Understanding the components of a contract package is vital for ensuring fair compensation and a favorable work arrangement. Beyond the basic hourly rate, consider other elements such as bonuses, benefits, and expenses. Evaluate the overall package to determine its alignment with your financial goals and lifestyle preferences.

Determining your hourly rate as a contractor involves carefully considering your skills, experience, and the market demand for your expertise. Research industry standards, benchmark your skills against peers, and confidently negotiate a rate that reflects your value.

Negotiation strategies for contract accountants include clearly articulating your unique skills and experiences, demonstrating the value you bring to the employer, and being open to compromise when necessary. Successfully negotiating your worth contributes to your financial well-being, professional satisfaction, and motivation.

Navigating the Recruitment Process and Dealing with Hiring Managers

Building a strong relationship with staffing agencies is crucial for securing rewarding contract assignments. Establish a professional rapport with recruiters, clearly communicate your skills and preferences, and maintain regular contact to stay informed about potential opportunities.

Understanding the role of the hiring manager in the contracting process is equally important. Hiring managers are tasked with identifying candidates for a specific contract role. Present yourself professionally, showcase your expertise, and highlight how your skills align with the employer's needs. Building a positive relationship with hiring managers can lead to repeat contracts and referrals, enhancing your reputation as a reliable and valuable contractor.

Ensuring Compliance and Avoiding Pitfalls

Navigating the legal and regulatory landscape is paramount for contract accountants. Understanding the tax implications of contracting, including W-2 forms, deductions, and compliance requirements, ensures a smooth and trouble-free contracting experience.

Streamlining internal audits and maintaining compliance with legal regulations contribute to your professional credibility. Avoid common pitfalls such as misclassifying employment status, inadequate record-keeping, and failure to adhere to tax obligations. Seeking guidance from legal and financial professionals can clarify and mitigate potential contracting risks.

Long-Term Goals and Career Development for Contract Accountants

Balancing short-term gig contracts with long-term career goals is a key consideration for contract accountants. While the dynamic nature of contracting offers immediate income and exposure to different industries, planning for long-term career development is essential.

Utilize platforms like LinkedIn and leverage referrals to find new clients and opportunities. Building a robust professional network positions you as a reliable and sought-after contractor. Establishing connections with industry professionals, attending networking events, and participating in online forums contribute to your visibility and success in the contracting space.

Consider your long-term career goals and the role of contracting in achieving them. While short-term contracts offer immediate financial benefits, aligning your contracting experiences with your overall career objectives ensures sustained success and fulfillment.

Conclusion: Key Takeaways for Contract Accountants

As you embark on the exciting journey of contract work in accounting, keep these key takeaways in mind:

Embarking on a career as a contract accountant offers a dynamic and rewarding path. By understanding the intricacies of contract work, making informed decisions, and continually developing your skills, you position yourself for success in the ever-evolving accounting profession.

How can Taxfyle help? 

Why only get the benefits of contract work after dealing with the marketing or collecting payments? With Taxfyle, you can start picking up jobs without worrying about side tasks. 

Once you’re onboarded, you’ll have access to our job routing platform. This will allow you to pick up tax filing jobs on your desired schedule and features a support team to assist you whenever you run into speedbumps. 

If you want to increase your income without being concerned about being micromanaged, become a Pro.

Legal Disclaimer

Tickmark, Inc. and its affiliates do not provide legal, tax or accounting advice. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal, tax or accounting advice or recommendations. All information prepared on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied on for legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your own legal, tax or accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. The content on this website is provided “as is;” no representations are made that the content is error-free.

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November 22, 2023


Steven de la Fe, CPA

Steven de la Fe, CPA


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