One of the most important talking points for programmers is which path they want to go down. Do you want to be a freelancer or an employee that works for a company. Let's compare the two and see what the difference is between both of them. They both have their pros and cons however there is nothing stopping you from alternating between the two throughout your developer career.
Freelancers are the type of people who are self employed. They often work with multiple clients as they are not tied down to a company structure where they would be expected to work on a few or less projects at a time. One of the defining qualities of a freelancer is having the freedom to do what ever you want and follow your own set of rules. Being your own boss comes with countless advantages as you are solely responsible for all the work that you do. You create and live to your own personal standards.
A significant difference between Freelancers and Employees is that Freelancers don't usually have a team of people that they work with. I suppose it could be compared to that of a lone wolf going off on their own and finding their own feet in the world. Freedom does lead to an increase in creativity though and with it comes many benefits such as remote working and setting your own work hours.
However with it comes downsides. For one Freelancers have to pay their own taxes and it is not quite as fun when you have to spend a long time sorting through all of your paperwork to make sure that you are getting paid the correct amount and dealing with all of the numbers. Company employees don't need to worry about any of this finance stuff as they have accounting and payroll departments that do all this stuff for them. All they have to do is work and they get paid weekly or monthly depending on what company they work for and the structure there.
Another drawback of being a Freelancer is that you don't get any company perks like bonuses, healthcare, company car or stocks... It is also a little bit more difficult to have protection and union rights like companies do. This was a problem recently because of the coronavirus when furloughed workers were still getting paid whereas self employed were left out to begin with.
Company employees are permanent workers who get paid a fixed salary. Unlike Freelancers they have permanent employment where their income is guaranteed each month so long as they work for the company. In contrast Freelancers income is dependent on the work they get. If there is no work then they can go weeks or even months with no stable income.
Employees also have scheduled work hours for the week where they are expected to either be in the office or remote working from home during those hours. Freelancers can work as much or as little as they want any day of the week including weekends. Company employees normally work week days only for office work although weekends can be an option too if overtime is required or if the job dictates that you should be available for weekends too. Like in the retail and restaurant industries.
When you are working as an employee at a company you will usually be working alongside other people in a team based atmosphere. Working in a team is a really great way to make new friends and collaborate on the projects that you work on. This is an area where Freelancers miss out because the job itself is for one person unless they outsource some of the work to others. But as a plus Freelancers are not required to work overtime whereas employees might have to do so and without extra pay because they don't have an hourly rate.
Perks and bonuses can be included within the contract itself and you have a team based learning environment where you can get help from your colleagues if you find yourself stuck on a problem. The ability to have more than one brain trying to solve a problem makes it far easier to troubleshot issues. Compare that with a Freelancer who could often be stuck on a problem for hours that could have been solved within minutes with help from a team member.
Whichever path you choose to go down know that you are going to learn something new either way. If you want to have as much flexibility and freedom as possible then go down the freelancer route. However if you need stability in your life and colleagues that have your back then working for a company is a safe bet.
I really hope that you enjoyed reading this article and learned something from it. As a content creator and technical writer I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and helping other people reach their goals. Let's connect across social media you can find all of my social media profiles and blogs on linktree.