Contract or permenant - What is the market like? (uk)

Hi everyone.

I've been having a look round the forum and see that you are the experts in this field so i'd love to get some input into a decision im trying to make at the moment.

I'm currently working permanently as an instructional designer for a large company. I have 3 years experience in instructional design (using captivate and storyine, photoshop etc to an advanced level) and a further two years experience in blended training (mostly delivering live classroom training along with creating podcasts and simulations on a moodle site). I'm on a decent salary (over 40k) but im thinking about making my next career move in the next 3-6 months.

Basically im thinking i have two options - to apply for permanant "senor instructional designer" jobs i sometimes see or to work out my notice and start contracting.

I haven't contracted before but the whole moving from project to project lifestyle does appeal to me.

So basically i just wanted to know from the UK instructonal desgners on here what the contractor market is like? Are jobs quite abundant if you have a decent amount of experience? How much are the daily rates? would it be worth leaving my current job for? 

I know it depends on a huge amount of different factors but just a general would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks so much in advance everyone!

7 Replies
Bruce Graham

Hi Jonathan - and welcome to Heroes.

In terms of some facts re freelancing - read here, (end-to-end). I doubt there is a better selection of ID related material in the World.

I make a very good living as a UK-based ID, and know others that do as well.

As always - my advice is start your business and get a flowing pipeline before resigning - it's so much easier....


Jonathan Pewter

Thanks so much Bruce i am currently reading through that thread as we speak! Invaluable information and everyone seems so friendly and helpful here.

Maybe this question is answered in that thread or i'm being completely ignorant (forgive me if this is a silly question!) but is freelancing (the way that you and several others on that thread do) different to contracting?

I get recruiters calling me seeing if im interested in 3 month or 6 month contracts to go in and work as an instructional designer in a company for that length of time - is that different to what you do? Do you have a business and clients and work on a purely project basis?

Again sorry if thats answered in the other thread and I massively appreciate your advice.

Bruce Graham

People do both.

I view "contracting" as working "contracts", and freelancing as working for myself, on my terms.

Personally I am lucky. I have been on one "contract" now for over 3 years, however, they let me flex what I do. That allows me to work on many other "by the hour" jobs - with lots and lots of other clients.

There are pros and cons of doing both ways.


Jonathan Pewter

Thanks so much for the advice Bruce! Its really hard decision for me - i dont think i'd have the stomach for pure freelance work and would look to work on a contract daily rate basis just not sure how much of that type of work is out there and how competitive it is! I'd guess id have to be on about £350 a day for 9 months out of the year to make it worthwhile though!

Judith Blackbourn

Hi Bruce,

I've just been offered a contract working as an instructional designer for a firm in Ireland (I'm in the USA). It appears that this company expects me to act as a free-lance worker, dealing with my own taxes, insurance, etc. I've never done that in the US -- I've always worked under a W2 contract.

The contract they sent is very explicit and seems quite thorough.They require that I hire an accountant and purchase contract insurance. They gave me a quote for a standard 60-minute training module and indicate that I would do some writing and storyboarding.

They said they're very busy, I could start work immediately, and could get enough work for 40 hrs per week.

What else should I ask?



Bruce Graham

Judith - you could run it all past a friendly legal and accountant.

Can you get OUT of the contract, and if so - at what cost?

Professional Indemnity Insurance is quite normal, though I have only ever been asked for it twice.

All sounds reasonable, I would just ensure expectations are set on both sides.