Contracting Life

Is becoming an energy contractor a good move?

If you’re working in the energy sector but getting tired of working for someone else, you might be starting to…

Author Photo by Kingsbridge

If you’re working in the energy sector but getting tired of working for someone else, you might be starting to look at contracting as an alternative to a full-on career-change. Becoming a contractor in the energy field could be a good move.

After all, it’s a huge field with lots of opportunities for work, both specialist and more generalised. It’s a field where big budgets are the norm and so the higher rates of pay combined with the flexibility of being self-employed can be very appealing.

Whether you’re an Energy Adviser, a specialist Project Manager, an Energy Strategy Analyst or a Domestic Energy Assessor there are some universal benefits of being self-employed in the energy sector – but what are they?

Be your own boss

Being your own boss is often the main reason people move into self-employment. In the energy sector, it means that rather than being a cog in the mechanism of a huge, faceless energy company, working when, how and where they want you to, you get to choose when and how you work.

You want to only work Monday to Thursday? No need to put in a flexible working request with HR – just tell people that that’s when you work. Need to finish early next Tuesday to attend your youngster’s parents’ evening? Just take the time, no need to ask anyone.

Fancy taking a few weeks off over the summer to lounge by a pool while reading thrillers and eating an inordinate amount of ice cream? No need to request leave and do battle with Tom from Sales who wants the same dates – you just say that that’s when you’re going!

Being your own boss allows you to call the shots. And yes, there are a few downsides such as increased admin, and a lack of sick pay and holiday pay, but the flexibility and ability to dictate your own work-life balance really does make up for it.

Become a specialist

While it’s fine to be a generalist in the energy sector, it’s such a large field that you do run the risk of getting drowned out by all of the noise. Instead, finding an area to specialise in can have lots of benefits. First of all, it allows you to work in a niche that you actually find interesting – meaning you can work on projects that excite you.

Work, after all, is always much better when you actually feel stimulated by what you do.

Having a specialist area can also allow you to ‘make a name for yourself’ in the sector so that you become the go-to person for that particular specialism. In turn, this enables you to charge – and be paid – higher rates, which leads us on to our next point…

Reap the financial rewards

Usually, contractors can charge more than a full-time employee. You will typically be charging a day rate. A quick glance at energy sector contractor roles available at the time of writing showed rates of between £300 and £800 per day dependent upon role, experience and location.

Consider that an FTE salary of £45,000 gives a before tax daily rate of just over £173 and you can really see the difference.

Of course, at least part of this difference takes into account the fact that a self-employed contractor is covering their own business expenses, admin and not getting paid leave for holidays or sick days. But even bearing all that in mind, it’s still a vastly higher rate of pay.

To put it in perspective, even at the lower end of the scale, you could work around half-the time of a full-time employee and still take home more-or-less the same amount of pay.

How do I set up a limited company?

If we’ve tempted you with the benefits of being self-employed in the energy sector, you’re going to want to look into setting up your limited company.

While this isn’t quite as complicated as it sounds, there is still a lot to take in – and a lot to make sure you do in order to be compliant with regulations. This includes finding a suitable company name, registering on Companies House, registering for VAT, and getting to grips with your tax requirements.

Thankfully, we have a blog for that. You can find a checklist of all of the key points you need to remember right here.

And when you’re ready to set up your business insurance, remember that Kingsbridge offers contractor insurance specifically for those in the energy, oil and gas industry. This is one package with full, comprehensive cover designed to meet the exposures a business in the energy sector could face.

You can find more information on the Kingsbridge website, or contact us to speak to a contractor insurance specialist.

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