Forums  > Careers  > Finding a niche as a software contractor  
Page 1 of 1
Display using:  


Total Posts: 27
Joined: Apr 2011
Posted: 2021-01-03 17:02
I've been working as a software developer in the finance world (coming up on 9 years, mostly C++ stuff, exchange connectivity, getting orders from point A to point B etc etc). As I get older I'm kinda tiring of going through the grind of having to reprove myself each time I apply for a job. I was thinking (maybe naively?) that selling my services as a contractor might lessen this burden. From what I understand though to really make it as a contractor you gotta find a niche (so I don't think just being a C++ developer with a working knowledge of the TCP stack will cut it).

Since I feel I'm pretty out of the loop when it comes to up and coming trendy topics, I was wondering what are some of the upcoming software niches that might be profitable for a contractor?


Total Posts: 1301
Joined: Jun 2007
Posted: 2021-01-03 22:22
I am a freelancer myself. Mostly data engineering (think kafka, flink, pulsar and spark and data base related stuff), scientific computing (simulation optimization) and ML.

I don't see how becoming a contractor reduces the tiring process of reproving yourself. You will apply for more projects, not for less? No?

Other than that I don't think there is a safe bet on what tech to focus. I live in Germany and I don't know about your market.

Right know I have the feeling I can sell a junior into an overpriced DevOps role. Admin tools for the big 3 cloud providers (AWS, google cloud and Azure), Kubernetes, Docker, Bash and Python scripting, CI deploy pipelines...

But that might go away quickly.

Ich kam hierher und sah dich und deine Leute lächeln, und sagte mir: Maggette, scheiss auf den small talk, lass lieber deine Fäuste sprechen...


Total Posts: 90
Joined: Jul 2018
Posted: 2021-01-04 01:23
I think you can look at it extrinsically (what areas are trendy) and intrinsically (what would a company outsource).

I've been mostly gardening for a year now. From what I've seen, there's a bigger market for well-paid contracting work among small and mid-sized enterprises where you're laying the foundation for a new project or making important architectural decisions.

I echo Maggette that I don't think being a contractor reduces your effort of selling yourself.

I also concur with M that cloud-based devops is one area that firms will be willing to outsource. Another area that I've found in hot demand was frontend development for SPAs (e.g. React, Vue). The developers were getting paid a premium and it's also more logical to outsource frontend when you're starting up a new project. A lot of successes in the recent 2 years follow the "X, but on the cloud" and "Y, but better UX" template. Frontend contract work is not necessarily an easy market though, I feel you can really only make it more profitable than a solo job if you have an efficient hub-and-spoke model of outsourcing the trivial work offshore.

As for trends, based on my conversations with VCs, cloud-native applications, cloud-native devops tools, digital payments (not crypto, think Adyen/Ant/M-Pesa/Stripe) especially in emerging markets, multi-platform game development all seem to have significant momentum. I'd also say that many NLP applications are on the precipice of commercial viability while needing significant hardware-software codesign, something which I don't think the DL phase has really demonstrated.


Total Posts: 27
Joined: Apr 2011
Posted: 2021-01-04 21:20
@Maggette @prikolno Thanks for the feedback. I'm based in the US, not sure if that makes my life easier/harder. I agree I'll always be selling myself, however it would be nice to be in a position to sell myself based upon a past set of work. In these discussions it seems ML always pops up, I've always been pretty hesitant of it, for one the market seems saturated with people and two the viable use cases (outside maybe google/amazon/facebook) seem small.

Anyway, you've given me something to chew over.


Total Posts: 1345
Joined: Jun 2005
Posted: 2021-01-05 12:10
ML is a set of modernized fashionable labels over old methods.
Like AI is in fact ANN.

... What is a man
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? (c)
Previous Thread :: Next Thread 
Page 1 of 1