As an independent contractor the majority of your time is spent on client work (as this is what pays the bills!) but as more people choose to become contractors (figures for 2018 show that there around 1.77 million people are working as contractors), it’s important that you keep your skills current while also planning where you want to go with your career and how you are going to do that.
At college or university, you had an abundance of time to study, but finding the time to study while you’re working can be difficult. However, if you are meticulous with your planning and organisation and are willing to put in some late nights or early mornings you can top-up your skills or acquire new ones without studying full-time.
Also, if you are a member of a professional organisation, such as the Institute of Engineering and Technology it may be a requirement for you to complete a certain amount of CPD – Continuous Professional Development each year.
Upskilling and CPD don’t necessarily mean that you have to return to the classroom, there are so many options available, some of these include:
Thousands of conferences are held each year in the UK and many more across the globe covering everything from accounting, IT, engineering to gaming. Conferences are an amazing way to pick up new industry trends, to try out new technologies and to meet up with colleagues and peers. Some trade conferences also offer points for attendees which can go towards your CPD.
Trade magazines may be something that drops through your letterbox each month or quarter and which you flick through quickly. But trade magazines are an amazing source of news such as emerging trends, techniques and technology. So, the next time you get one, take some time to read it in depth.
E-learning is based around distance learning and involves learning through online courses, presentations, seminars, eBooks etc. There is a huge wealth of distance learning courses available across multiple disciples. Some are offered by recognised learning institutions such as colleges and universities, but there’s also a lot which is offered by unrecognised institutions so it’s important you carefully research courses and their providers to find one that is right for you.
If you’re not familiar with podcasts, they are a digital audio file which can be downloaded and listened to using multiple devices. Podcasts have become incredibly popular in the last couple of years because they can be listened to at any time and anywhere, like on your lunch break, on your commute or even at the gym.
If there’s an industry expert who you particularly admire, check to see if they have a podcast. Most of the time they do!
If you are looking to totally change your career path, it may be that a degree is the only way to go. If so, there are other options to studying full-time, such as part-time degree courses which can be done alongside work such as in the evenings or at weekends. Most universities offer part-time or flexible degrees and so does the Open University.
As an end note another benefit of upskilling and CPD is that you may be able to claim the cost of this as a business expense which can be offset against your Corporation Tax bill. It’s a double win!
We work with contractors at various stages of their contracting career, so whether you’re looking for your first accountant or are wanting to change accountants, our team has the knowledge and expertise to support you at every step.