If you've worked as an in-house cost estimator for a few years, you may find that many of your peers have begun to say goodbye to the rat race in favor of stringing together consulting gigs that provide increased flexibility and an interesting and constantly-shifting work environment. While consulting can be a boon for many who are looking to change their daily routine, it's not always ideal for everyone, and jumping into this business without some pre-planning could leave you wishing for your old job back. Read on for a few of the factors you'll want to consider when deciding whether to leave your 9-to-5 job for a consulting gig:
Do you have access to health insurance?
One of the primary downfalls to consulting can be the lack of benefits--and if your current employer is carrying the lion's share of your health insurance costs, you may find yourself facing sticker shock the first time you're asked to pay a monthly health care premium.
If you have access to good health insurance at a reasonable price through your employer, you may want to investigate your COBRA options for continuing your coverage for a period of time after leaving your current employer. This can provide you with a bit of runway to see whether your consulting career takes off before you need to switch to an entirely new policy altogether.
Are you comfortable negotiating your wage?
Consulting can be a moneymaker for estimators who know their worth, but even those who spend their entire days analyzing the cost of various supplies and line items may sell themselves short when it comes to setting out a project bid. You'll want to do some preliminary research, including talking to others in the industry, to get a better idea of the prevailing consulting wage in your area and the types of services it encompasses.
As your experience has likely shown, coming in with a bid that's far higher or lower than competing bids can raise red flags on the outlier's quality or reliability; for this reason, you'll want to ensure your own proposed wage or fee is in line with what others in your city and profession are receiving.
Is there enough work in your area?
In some parts of the country, there are far more jobs for cost estimators than there are workers to fill them, making it easy for consultants to put together a portfolio of customers and maintain steady work. However, those in more rural or economically depressed areas may find themselves facing stiffer competition from others in this field, making it much tougher to scratch out a living. If you suspect your area falls into the latter category, staying at your current job may be the safer bet.
Contact an independent cost estimate company for more information and assistance.