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The low down

Your career

Freelancing

Imtiaz Bandali, 39, is a freelance structural technician currently working with the Diamond Wood Partnership in Leicester, where he was placed by recruitment firm Anders Glaser Wills.

Route to job

I graduated from Plymouth University with an HND in Civil and Structural Engineering in 1984, and first worked with Kenchington Little & Partners, where I trained. In 1991, I started freelance work - my first job was with Posford Duvivier in Peterborough, where I worked as a structural technician preparing working drawings.

Since then I have worked for various companies across the country, in Nottingham, Cambridge, Leicester, Birmingham and London, among others. And I have worked on prestigious projects, such as Canary Wharf station with Posford Duvivier. I spent about two years on this contract. My role was to check and co-ordinate various technical staff in the office involved in the production of technical drawings.

I work as a freelance because...

I wanted variety and flexibility, and to work for as wide a range of employers as possible. My expectation was that I would work on a range of projects in varied surroundings, and meet different people. Experiencing different ways of working also appealed to me - I wanted to have as many new experiences in my job as possible. Being in control of my freedom and being able to manage my own affairs was another plus.

But I was also realistic about the disadvantages - the absence of job security, depending on the economic climate, losing one or two hours a day travelling to different locations. Also you get no sick pay, so you cannot afford to take much time off.

Reality

I have enjoyed my time as a freelance. Contact with different companies has certainly been useful - but there is no automatic career progression, so you have to make an extra effort. I am currently working for a Master's Degree in Geotechnical Engineering and Management at Nottingham Trent University.

The highlight of my freelancing career was working for contractor Wade Adams in Tanzania from May 1992 to December 1995. My role was to co-ordinate, check construction drawings and liaise between architect, consulting engineer and various other technical specialists. I am also enjoying my current job, which involves the preparation of structural drawings of reinforced concrete, using CAD.

Advice

Although I would recommend freelancing in the construction industry, I think that anyone considering setting themselves up should bear several points in mind.

First, how do you rate in your field? Freelancing is competitive. Could you produce high quality work to the specified time limit? And second, are you prepared to travel long distances away from your home, which may well mean spending less time with your family? You need to be flexible. But most of all, are you prepared to take the stress and insecurity of the job?

So before you dive in a the deep end, think about whether you really have got what it takes to be a freelancer.

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