How to Become a Private Contractor

Private contractors enjoy the freedom of working for themselves.

Private contractors enjoy the freedom of working for themselves.

Many people dream of leaving the rat race to be their own boss. Becoming a private contractor is a way to move away from a traditional workplace without taking on all of the risks of starting a business. Private contractors work for clients who specify the end product they want, but they are not considered employees. Dentists, accountants and graphic designers can all work as private contractors.

Apply for any occupational licenses needed to work in your field. These may be at the county, state or federal level. If you work in a federally regulated industry, such as aviation or firearms, you will probably need a federal license. Check the list of industries that require licenses supplied by the Small Business Administration, or SBA.

Create a contract for your services. A sample contract is available through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Specify the scope of your work, how long it will take and who will pay for any expenses. When bidding for jobs, review this contract with each client.

Advertise your services through free online sites, or contact clients you have previously worked for to see whether they have any work for you.

Set up an accounting system, such as a simple spreadsheet to track what clients have paid and when. Also, track any expenses that you may be able to claim on your tax returns, such as mileage for driving to any work-related meetings.


  • Consult a lawyer to verify that your standard contract is sufficient to protect you in case of non-payment.


  • Be aware that private contractors have very little job security. There is no guarantee of continued work beyond your existing contracts.

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About the Author

Melissa Samaroo is a writer based in Florida. She is the author of "The Complete Dictionary of Insurance Terms, Explained Simply," "The Complete Guide to Building Backyard Ponds, Fountains and Waterfalls for Homeowners: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply" and "The Complete Guide to Writing a Successful Screenplay: Everything You Need to Know to Write and Sell a Winning Script."

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