Independent consultants (IC) are more satisfied with their professional life than employed consultants, according to a survey by freelance consulting firm Eden McCallum. While not specific to environmental consultants, the findings reveal those who take the leap to freelance consulting can reap financial rewards, improve work-life balance and reduce the gender pay gap.
The firm’s independent consulting survey canvassed over 400 consultants including over 300 freelance consultants on a range of employment metrics.
Over two -fifths (43%) of ICs reported earnings were higher as an IC compared to a third (33%) who said their pay was less, and 24% the same. However, the gains were much higher for those ICs under the age of 40 with 71% stating moving to freelance consulting had improved their earnings, compared to 17% who said they had fallen.
Overall satisfaction with their professional life was marginally higher for ICs at 86%, compared to 82% for employed consultants, while 6% of ICs were dissatisfied compared to 11% of employed consultants. Work-life balance, choice of projects, flexibility of when they work and having time for other interests were all given as satisfying benefits, however the one drawback was the lack of employment benefits such as pensions and paid leave.
The survey found that going independent can be particularly helpful in eliminating the gender pay gap. The full-time salary of female ICs was 3% lower than men's, marking a huge improvement on the 27.7% deficit with men in their last employed role.
Around five million people in the UK are self-employed, with two million of these listed as freelancers, according to the Office for National Statistics, with this number swelling year on year as the UK embraces the gig economy.