Main image of article Developers See Rise in Consultant Work, Full-Time Jobs Steady

As shown by the latest Dice Salary Survey, 2017 saw the continuation of a healthy tech economy; full-time jobs continue to pay well, while consulting pay is on the rise.

Although many tech pros have a side gig of some sort (whether coding apps, or even running a startup on nights and weekends), there are no direct correlations in our data between the uptick in consulting pay and the overall robustness in tech employment. The only demographic hit notably by a dip in full-time tech employment was the under-30 category, which went from 84.4 percent in 2016 to 80.3 percent in 2017; at the same time, that group's consultancy rate went from 7.6 percent to 9.3 percent.

Full-time employment also dipped for the Baby Boomers, who likewise enjoyed a slight uptick in consulting numbers. In essence, careers come full-circle: those under 30 and above 65 (the silo at the upper edge of the Boomers) see dips in full-time employment, even as they consult more often. (And overall, part-time work is notably low compared to full-time employment, which suggests that a growing number of tech employees may be using freelance work as a means to round out their income.)

We love to ask "why" employment is relatively steady in general, and consultancy is up ("why" is always an interesting question), and there might be some good reasons behind people seeking consultant jobs. The survey shows that the hourly rate for consultants is up 4.7 percent to $72.32 per hour; consultants report their annual salary is $114,725, notably higher than full-time employment.

We also have to wonder how many tech pros will seize the moment and jump jobs in 2018. Tech salaries were flat compared to last year’s Salary Survey data, but we’re seeing an increase in the number of tech workers who feel they can find a better job elsewhere within the next year, with only 13 percent suggesting there's more opportunity for upward mobility at their current employer.

In any case, 2018 could prove a dynamic year. New technologies and disciplines such as augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence (A.I.) may drive developers and engineers to seek exciting opportunities in the freelance or consultancy realms. Between a vast market of opportunity and more pay, it’s easy to see why more tech workers are searching out ways to consult or strike out on their own.