One interesting thing I've noticed on this job search is that I'm getting a fair number of calls for contract jobs, and in general, most recruiters simply double the hourly wage and claim "well, this looks like a very good wage." They then seem rather surprised when I note that when one counts the cost of medical and dental insurance and the FICA match, that hourly wage doesn't sound so good after all. It is as if many of my fellow engineers are not doing the math to calculate these costs.
It's surprising that employers and recruiters think that they can get away with this, and shocking that apparently many of my fellow engineers are failing to do the math and are letting them do exactly that. Aren't we supposed to be a group of people who can do basic arithmetic?
If you happen to be looking for work, and the possibility of contract work comes up, a good rule of thumb is that the contract wage should be about 30% higher to cover both insurance and FICA, and about 20% higher to cover insurance alone if the employer covers the FICA match. If you've got a family and typical base salary in your field is less than $60,000, those numbers go to 40% and 30%.
If you happen to hear someone complain about there not being enough engineers, ask them what they're offering to pay. Five will get you ten that what they're offering is not comparable with what engineers in the field are usually paid. There has always been a shortage of engineers willing to work for 40% less than the going rate, after all.
A couple of recent examples; one company requesting an IE with eight years of experience offered a contract rate lower than that generally obtained by new college graduates in the field. Another looking for a QE offered a rate as low as assemblers in that same company--unskilled labor really--were getting.
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