After consultants have been with a firm for about two to three years, most will stop for the first time and evaluate where they are in regard to their ability to continue traveling on a weekly basis. Put another way, if a consultant is going to burn out on constant traveling, this is typically when it will occur.
At this point, one of three things will take place. The consultant will:
1) Continue what they are doing (as an employee of a consulting firm)
2) Leave consulting all together
3) Consider contract opportunities
Continue what they are doing (as an employee of a consulting firm)
For some consultants, their travel schedule is just fine, and with no major changes in their personal lives, they will continue to do what they’re doing.
Leave consulting all together
At the two- to three-year traveling mark, most consultants will burn out on traveling completely, or conditions in their lives that allowed for frequent travel will have changed and, as a result, they’re no longer able to travel as often. As a result, they’re going to look for a position within an organization in which they’re not on a Monday-Thursday travel schedule.
Consider contract opportunities
Some consultants will choose to stay in consulting, but will look for opportunities in which they can make as much money as they did as an employee of a consulting firm, are able to take a little more time off, and have more control over the assignments to which they commit.
As an “independent consultant” or “contractor,” you will be paid an hourly rate that’s higher than the hourly rate you earned while a salaried employee. This is primarily because you will not be paid during bench time (time when you’re in between engagements). As a result, you can work fewer hours per year while still earning the same amount of money that you made as a salaried employee. You can also take time off in between engagements, which may make the hectic travel schedule more tolerable on a yearly basis.
Also, as a contractor, you have control as to whether or not you sign on for a project. If there’s a project for which you’re qualified but don’t enjoy the work, you have the ability to pass on it. This is a choice you may not have had as an employee of a consulting firm. Or, if there’s a good project but the travel schedule would be difficult to deal with, you have the option to decline and wait for something more favorable. When I refer to difficult travel, I’m referring to one of two things: First, the amount of time a client requires you to be on-site. Secondly, how difficult it is to travel from where you live to the client’s location. A four-day-a-week “on-site schedule” may not be difficult for someone traveling from Florida to North Carolina, but a three-day-a-week “on-site schedule” could be very difficult for someone traveling from California to Maine.
Taking these factors into consideration will convince many consultants to consider contracting after they’ve been with a firm for two to three years.
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