The median pay for data scientists is over $114,520 per year. And the industry will grow 19% over the next decade.

With a career outlook like this, it’s no wonder many people are looking for work in this field.

But because there are so many jobs available, it’s difficult to choose the right path, especially if you’re just starting your career in data analysis.

If you’re a beginning data scientist, you may be asking questions like “Should I get a masters degree?”, “Which tools should I use for analyzing data?”, and “Should I work full time (FTE) or be a contractor employee?”

If that last question sounds like one you’ve asked, don’t worry. We’ve created an article to help you understand the pros and cons of contracting vs FTE.

Contracting vs FTE: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to data scientist job, there are two different ways you can work either as a full-time employee of a company or as a contracted employee.

Being a full-time employee (FTE) is fairly straightforward. You have a set number of hours they work every week and receive overtime pay and benefits. As a full-time data scientist, you will usually be working in teams on daily projects.

Being a contract employee is a little more complex. Usually, contractors are expected to enter a data scientist contract. These contracts usually last between 6 months and a year. They can either require you work directly with the company on location or remotely.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Full-Time Employment


Full-time employment for many data scientists means stability. As an FTE, you’ll have benefits like retirement plans, stock options and paid time off.

One of the biggest benefits of working full time is networking. As an FTE you’ll have access to coworkers to form relationships with and to learn from. And these relationships also lead to more employment opportunities in the future.

Working full-time with one company lets you become an expert in your field. As an FTE, you’ll spend hours each day with the company’s technology and around coworkers who are authorities in the field. This kind of exposure is difficult to have if you’re in a contract position.


The biggest drawback to being an FTE is the lack of versatility. Though working with one company lets you be an expert in today’s work environment, flexibility is key. And having the ability to work with a variety of different technologies is a valuable skill.

Though having benefits is nice, many people in data science want more versatility. Many IT professionals also dislike the rigid 9 to 5 schedule of full-time employment and want the chance to work on their own timetable. And many newer employees want to move to different companies and cities, which is hard while being an FTE.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Contract Employment


Depending on how quickly you work, this is one of the easiest ways to improve your hourly pay. The usual full-time data science salary includes a lot of deductions for things like unemployment insurance and vacation pay. But contract employment doesn’t include these deductions, so the amount of money in your paycheck will usually higher.

You also have the option of traveling for work. For example, If you want to relocate to a city where tech jobs are more common, like Charlotte, North Carolina, after you complete the project you have the freedom to move.

This flexibility extends beyond just where you want to move to. It also includes hours you work.

This is especially great for people who want a good work-life balance, like new parents. If you work on a big data project, you can automate the process, saving even more time.

Being a contract employee also means you can work on a variety of projects and with a lot of different companies. This means that you’ll gain a greater skill set that you would if you were a Full-Time Employee. This wide variety of experiences will look great to future employers.

Contract employment is also much less competitive. Since many analysists usually want to work for large companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter or Intel, competition for these jobs is fierce. Smaller companies and startups see fewer applicants and are more likely to hire contract employees.


The most obvious disadvantage of being a contractor is being a jack-of-all-trades. Though this may seem good on the surface, some companies only want experts in working with specific technology. However, it’s possible to get extensive experience as a contractor

Another problem is that as a contractor you’ll probably be working independently. Although you may work well by yourself, you’ll be missing out on networking opportunities and oversight from experts that can help you improve.

Working alone also means that you won’t get to feel like your part of a company. You may miss out on the feeling of community that comes from being part of the team because you may only be working with the company for a few months.

The most serious drawback of contract employment is the lack of benefits. This means that there are no retirement plans like pensions and 401Ks and there are no paid vacations or health insurance. As a contractor, you will have to buy these things like insurance and retirement accounts yourself, which can be pricey.

Your taxes may be higher as an Independent Contractor. As a contractor, you will be considered self-employed, so you are expected to pay both the employee and employer parts of social security and insurance taxes.

We Can Improve Your IT Career

As an IT professional, picking Contracting vs FTE can mean the difference between having a happy career and being miserable at work.

But there are more decisions you need to make as a data analysis. Whether you’re just starting out or want to revamp your career, we can help you make these decisions.

Contact us and we’ll help you get the job of dreams!

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