What Is A Contract Job? Things To Consider Before Accepting An Offer

two person talking about what is a contract job
Nowadays, chances are, if you ask someone what they do for a living, they might answer that they’re a freelancer or a contractor. But what does that even mean? What is a contract job? How do you get a contract job, and what is the difference between working as an independent contractor and working for an agency? Once you do figure out what a contract job is, you then have to decide if a contract job is right for you and in what format. Below we’ve provided information to those questions and hope you find it useful as you decide if a contract job is for you. 

What Is A Contract Job?

A contract job is a job you work for a specified length of time. This differs from being directly hired by an employer. When you’re hired directly by the employer, your pay comes from the employer, and you’re considered a permanent hire. You would get benefits and all the perks that go with being a regular employee. When you work a contract job, your pay comes from an agency, or directly to you if you’re an independent contractor. That means you would have to pay your own taxes and medical insurance.

You can also think about what is a contract job by thinking of a contract job where the job, most likely, is not permanent. Sometimes companies will hire employees from a contracting, or temporary, agency for several reasons. A spot might need to be filled while someone is out for a medical issue or on maternity leave. Retailers might hire many contractors during busy times like during the holidays. When the contractor is a freelancer, someone might hire them to complete a specific job.

Types Of Contract Jobs

Now that you have examples of what is a contract job, we want to give you some realistic types of contract jobs. Movies often portray contractors as people who work in construction in some fashion. Today, a contract job can be almost anything and for any service. Some popular contract jobs include:

  • Clerical Work
  • Warehouse Worker
  • Assembly Worker
  • Adjunct Professors
  • Nursing Pools
  • Content Writers
  • Virtual Assistant

If you have the skills, you can find contract work if you know where to look, what to look for in an agency, or how to find contract jobs for independent contractors. There are several ways to go about getting a contract job, but you also have to decide if you want to be an independent contractor or go through a contract agency.

How To Get A Contract Job

The most common way to get a contract job is to sign up with a job agency. There are different contract job agencies depending on what type of work you’re looking for. There are agencies that only have contract jobs for skilled and manual labor. Some contract agencies work with job seekers who do office work or have administrative skills. To get a contract job with a contract job agency, you usually have to submit a resume, go in for an interview, and sometimes do some type of skills test.

The skills test are specific to the industry you are looking to get a contract in. For example, if you’re looking for clerical work, you might have to take a typing test, a computer aptitude test, and a math test. If you’re looking for work in a manufacturing or warehouse position, an agency might require you to prove you have forklift certification or experience using software such as SAP. Just as with a regular hire type of job, there could be a background check and a drug test.

When you’re an independent job contractor, you usually have a portfolio, that is specific to your industry. Artists include examples of their work, and content writers do the same. Architects might have pictures of buildings they’ve worked on. Independent contractors can go through a contract job agency, or they can make a direct bid or application to the hiring company.

Independent Versus Agency

So, there’s the basic information you need to know what is a contract job. But how about the differences between getting the contract job through an agency versus being an independent contractor? Take a look below to help you decide which type of contract option will work best for you.


  • You’re only contracted for one specific job
  • You decide the rate of pay
  • The contract is between you and the employer

Contract Job Agency

  • There’s a contract between the company and the agency and between the agency and you
  • The agency decides the rate of pay
  • This could be a temp to hire position where you would have the same duties as a regular employee
  • You might have to get agency approval for overtime, and it might be the agency that decides if you work holidays

Understanding the differences in the types of contract jobs can help you look at the pro and cons of a contract job. Whether you become an independent contractor or to use a contract job agency, there are pros and cons to both.

Pros And Cons Of A Contract Job

Every job has pros and cons, and contract jobs are no different. What is different is what is considered a pro and what is considered a con. When you search for a job, there are things you are looking for besides the rate of pay. You might want to work in a certain location based on where you live or where you want to live. You might value the amount of vacation time more how good the medical coverage is.

Other things that job seekers look at are job longevity and what the office or corporate culture is like. These things take on a different meaning when you have a contract job and whether that contract job is with an agency or as an independent contractor. When you have a contract job, some of these things may not matter. You might already have insurance through a spouse and are just looking to make extra money for a specific purpose.

You need to be careful when you take a contracted job. Make sure you are clear on who you report to, when you get paid, and whether this is a temp-to-hire job or just a job for a short period. A temp-to-hire job is one where your employer is the agency, and the company is trying you before they decide on whether to hire you on as a regular employee or not.

When you work for an agency, often regular employees know that and might be slow to incorporate you into their group or the company culture. They might see you as temporary. That can also be the same when you’re an independent contractor. You are only there for the duration of the project. Having vacation time or medical benefits might not be that important to you.


  • You can find out if a particular industry, or employer, is right for you
  • Most contracting agencies pay every week
  • You get experience to add to your resume
  • If you are recently unemployed, most agencies can find you something rather quickly


  • There is no guarantee of how long the job will last
  • If you refuse a job, the agency finds for you, they may not want to work with you
  • As an independent contractor, you are responsible for paying your own state and federal taxes
  • You might not be as included in office functions as a regular employee would be

Having a contracted job is not for everyone. Some people need a steady job, with regular pay; others enjoy moving from job to job and constantly learning new skills. What matters is figuring out if a contracted job is right for you.


There is a lot of misinformation about contract jobs. Some think people who work contract jobs are too lazy to find a real job or are afraid of the commitment that a real job requires. A contract job is definitely a real job. Whether you find the work through an agency or as an independent contractor, there is a job that needs to be done. The only difference between a direct hire and a contract job is who the contract is with.

There are several reasons people take contract jobs. Some people time their yearly work to match their children’s school schedule to avoid having the cost of daycare after school and in the summer. Other people don’t need benefits but need extra income. There are also those who turn to contracted jobs when they are in between jobs to have an income.

Remember, use caution when entering into a contract job. Make sure you understand the terms and length of the contract. If you are going the independent contract job route, do not forget to set aside some of each paycheck for taxes. Keep in mind your financial needs and if you are trying to find a career or you’re just looking for job experience. In both instances, a contract job might get you where you want to be.


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