Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2007 21:12:08 -0600
Reply-To: Alan Churchill <savian001@GMAIL.COM>
Sender: "SAS(r) Discussion" <SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From: Alan Churchill <savian001@GMAIL.COM>
Subject: Re: SAS job levels redux
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I think this is over-simplification. I know a lot of top consulting talent
and they are very happy being a consultant. A lot have multiple offers
outstanding, and we choose to go our own way. Can we get market rates for
these jobs? Absolutely. We are not shopping and we know what we are doing.
Also, this isn't a 'break into management' or become a consultant issue
either. Most of us have been in management and do so at times as
consultants. We don't care for management or it isn't as lucrative.
To say that money is not a factor I think is incorrect. It does pay better
even when you factor benefits. You must maintain consistent bill rates and
hours which is tough but a lot of us manage it. HOWEVER, it is not a panacea
and you work for every penny. Yes, I have to pay for my machines, my travel,
my software, my health insurance, etc. but I like knowing that I am making
Finally, if you are searching the job boards looking at consulting jobs and
taking what they say as a rate, that is where the disinformation lies. It is
the consulting jobs that aren't advertised that pay well. Why? The
customer/house/etc. already know who they want and they don't shop. They
know the rate, the quality, and the dedication and both sides are in
agreement before the first call is made: we just discuss schedules.
From: SAS(r) Discussion [mailto:SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Lou
Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2007 6:25 PM
Subject: Re: SAS job levels redux
"Wanda Upole" <Wanda_Upole@HGSI.COM> wrote in message
> I'm not saying that there isn't a limit. I'm saying that the limit is
> often not reached in the programming world--how else would so many
> programmers be able to quit their jobs to become consultants and make more
I was a consultant for over a decade. Your hourly rate is generally higher
than the hourly rate you commanded as an employee. If you can find enough
work so that you're not ever out of work, sitting on the bench between jobs,
you can do pretty well, but you're not going to strike it rich as a SAS
programmer (other kinds of programmer, I wouldn't know). Some of that
higher hourly rate has to go toward things the company used to pay for but
now you don't have a company paying for them anymore - things like paid
holidays, paid vacation, paid sick time, 401k match, medical insurance, life
insurance, self-employment tax (essentially the employer's portion of social
security), unemployment taxes, continuing education, attendance at
professional conventions, memberships in professional organizations, and the
risk of downtime when things are slow. Some people need to hire an
accountant, and marketing your services isn't exactly trivial. Back when I
was doing it, the general rule was that you had to gross 1.5 to 2 times your
salary as an employee just to stay even. I don't know what the conventional
wisdom on that is today.
And as an observation, consulting rates over the last 10 years seem to have
gone down. Occasionally I experience a twinge of nostalgia for the good old
days and peruse the consulting jobs advertised on the web - the majority pay
about two-thirds the rate I received on my last consulting gig. In my
present role, I have had occasion to hire consultants. Sometimes the
billing rate is as much as the rate to me (what I got after the agency took
its cut) was, but it's 10 years later and those dollars are worth less.
Still, if you're an employee at a company for a few years, and the company
has a firm policy of limiting pay increases to some smallish percentage,
your pay can fall below present market rates. Some people cope with that by
becoming consultants. Others change jobs.