Contract work is different from temporary work in that you’re normally hired for a defined, fixed term - anything from a day to several months or even years. As a contractor you’re usually paid a monthly salary, and entitled to the same benefits and conditions as permanent staff during your time with the employer.
Contract workers can be hired to handle one-off projects, to cope with seasonal demand or other time-limited needs, such as providing maternity cover. Contractors are often hired by firms who lack certain skills in-house. They can be highly-skilled professionals, or less specialised general workers.
There are some significant benefits to contracting. It can pay as much as three times more than the same work on a permanent salary, for a start. By its nature though, contract work can leave you with long periods in between jobs - so you’ll need to save enough to see you through the gaps.
Other benefits include independence, flexibility and variety. Contract work can help you gain new skills, experience different work cultures and build a network of contacts. As with any freelance or temporary work, contracts can sometimes lead to permanent positions if that’s what you’re looking for.
As a contractor, you’ll need to manage more than just your budget. You may have to keep accounts and handle tax - though you can hire an accountant to do some of this work for you. It will also help if you like interviews, as you’ll need to ‘win’ work much more often than you would as a permanent employee. For the same reason, you’ll need a good CV.