5 industries where it pays to work as a contractor

Though the job market is performing well and pay is on the increase, the truth is that the majority of the government’s statistics are skewed to hide the huge number of low-income and zero-hours-contract workers. And for the rest of us, although there are new opportunities to advance your career, it can still be very tough to climb the career ladder, whatever niche you work within. One option is to take your career into your own hands and contract rather than work for one employer. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best industries to do that.


If you’re looking to enhance your career and earn more for your time, then engineering is an industry to consider. According to some data, engineers earn as much as 75% more as a contractor than they would by working for an employer. The average day rate for a contract engineer is around £250, equating to more than £65,000 per year – whereas the average salary in the industry is closer to £35,000. Sure, you have to take on more responsibilities as a contractor, like accounting, finding contracts and invoicing, but working with an agency and the best umbrella companies will allow you to maximise your income without headaches.

Social care

In the United Kingdom, healthcare continues to pose huge challenges. Professionals can earn around £25,000 with the right skills, but contractors can command an annual salary closer to £50,000, as companies look to fill short-term gaps in their staffing, and have to pay for the privilege. Of course, the challenge is knowing how and where to find work, and there is no guarantee that you’ll be working full-time hours if you’re a contract care worker.


Another popular industry is manufacturing, with the average pay sitting at around £31,000 for employees, but closer to £52,000 for contractors. Whether you’re a project manager, wlder, operator, manufacturing engineer or marketer, working in manufacturing can lead to a very prosperous future – but again, it’s about finding the right roles and opportunities consistently.

Design and creative

If you’re working in the design and creative industry, you’ll know that you can command a decent salary. The average wage coms in at around £31,000, which is already healthy, but when you decide to go on your own as a freelancer or contractor, you can expect an income closer to £52,000, as you can charge clients for your time, coaching, and artistic direction.


Finally, construction. Whether you’re a bricklayer or a higher-up, the average salary for the sector is £25,000 – but contractors can earn closer to £45,000, again because companies are looking to fill short-term gaps in their staffing. With the UK leaving the European Union and laws on immigration tightening, the construction industry will increasingly look to temp staff to help them meet demand, and that could lead to a very prosperous career for you.

Of course, to command a contractor’s salary, you’ll need experience and confidence. Take your time, pay your dues, and make the transition to a contracting role when you’re ready.

Jonathan Rice

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