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James Serra's Blog

James is currently a Senior Business Intelligence Architect/Developer and has over 20 years of IT experience. James started his career as a software developer, then became a DBA 12 years ago, and for the last five years he has been working extensively with Business Intelligence using the SQL Server BI stack (SSAS, SSRS, and SSIS). James has been at times a permanent employee, consultant, contractor, and owner of his own business. All these experiences along with continuous learning has helped James to develop many successful data warehouse and BI projects. James has earned the MCITP Business Developer 2008, MCITP Database Administrator 2008, and MCITP Database Developer 2008, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering. His blog is at .

Thinking about taking a contract position? Questions to ask

Over the years, I have accumulated a set of questions that I usually ask the placement firm about a contract position (W2 or 1099) that I am looking at taking.  Many of these questions will also apply if you are thinking about working as a salaried employee for a consulting firm:

- What is the job description?
- What is the length of the contract?
- What is the pay rate?
- What is the company name of your client that I would be working at?
- Where is the work location?
- Is this position W2 or 1099?
- When would you want me to start?
- Any other of your contractors at this company?  Can I talk to them?
- Are expenses paid (flight/car/hotel/meals)?
- What are the chances of the contract being extended?
- Are benefits available (medical/dental/LTD/STD/life/AD&D/vision), and how long before they take effect?  What are the deductibles and premiums?
- Are there any paid vacation, sick, holidays?
- Is there any monthly/yearly bonus?
- Any paid training?
- How long are contractors usually on the bench between projects?  Is bench time paid?  How long will you let someone stay on the bench before you “let them go”?
- Is any overtime expected?  Is it paid?
- What are the typical work hours?
- Is the job location close to a park-and-ride?  Will I be reimbursed if I have to pay for parking?
- What are the pay periods?
- Do you have contractors just in this city or nationwide?
- Are there other contractors in your company I can exchange technical questions?
- Is there a chance the next project will be in a different city?
- Are there promotions?  Annual reviews?
- What is my job title?
- Is there a sign-on bonus?
- Will I be in a cubical or office?
- Is a laptop/computer provided or do I need my own?
- What languages/tools will I be using?
- Is this more of a maintenance role or new development?
- Will I need to be on-call at all?
- Can you describe my day-to-day duties?
- Is there a 401k?  Any employer match?
- Any stock options?
- What is the driving distance to the work location from my house?
- What is the bill rate you will be charging the client that I will be working at?
- Who would be my “boss”?

Hopefully this list will spur you on to ask many questions so there are no “surprises” that happen after you take a contract position.

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