In Pictures: 15 tips for surviving - and thriving - as an IT contractor

Pundits are calling 2014 the year of the IT contractor. Here are 15 tips for setting up shop and making it stick.

A work gap is no time to vacation Changing positions frequently keeps contractors engaged and challenged, they report, but there is a downside: the prospect of being unemployed in between assignments or in a situation where the work doesn't add up to a full-time gig (or paycheck). It's important not to let those unexpected breaks turn into vacations. "If you want to take a break and spend a few months off, that's not such a good idea. You'll be less attractive to clients after being off so long," Cirri warns.

Instead, take a class or volunteer your skills at a nonprofit. Or follow the example set by Raasch, the freelance web developer from Portland, Ore. He uses his downtime to learn new skills and build robots.

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