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For years I have been doing what I thought was consulting work, basically an independent contractor and those companies would say I was their consultant, but recently I have learned about a guy who has written a couple of books and has a small following on his Slack channel regarding the idea that a consultant does not do actual coding, you just get paid for your opinions.

That has not been my personal experience on what a consultant is, anyone with a decades worth of experience on this topic or a couple of people that could help clear the confusion?

  • Do you make recommendations, provide insight, guidance, and/or advice to your clients or do you just work on tasks and projects that have already been planned and mapped out by others without providing any input or influence of your own? – joeqwerty Sep 8 '19 at 4:15
  • @joeqwerty, a combination of both. The tasks are bugs that were already planned to be fixed as found by QA, some of the projects are based on my recommendations, some are not and regardless of who planned a particular project I always provide insight that informs decision making. – Daniel Sep 8 '19 at 4:26
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    afaik the word consultant can have many meanings, your description of your work seems to fall under it quite well imo... – Solar Mike Sep 8 '19 at 4:31
  • @SolarMike, that's what I thought, but after communicating with this individual who feels convinced (and wrote a book about it) that consulting is just getting paid for opinions and relegating coding as just being labor, I was no longer sure anymore. There does seem to be a trend of relegating developers as just labor to code up what has previously been planned, but in this individuals analysis, my world, the one of providing recommendations to a plan and then actually coding it up, seems to not have a place. – Daniel Sep 8 '19 at 4:42
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    Many books have been written that are full of sh1t, you don’t have to believe it or the author... – Solar Mike Sep 8 '19 at 4:51
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I'd consider you a consultant.

IMO, the definition of a contractor is a person who performs tasks that have already been planned and mapped out and who doesn't provide any input of their own. Similar to a laborer in the building trades. A contractor/laborer is there to perform a set of predetermined and predefined tasks without providing any input.

  • Yes either of those could be a consultant. Contractor is a bit of overlap but it's a different role. – Kilisi Sep 8 '19 at 5:07
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"It depends" -> the ultimate answer of any consultant. Both definitions exist. For some, when I say I am consultant they ask me if I did any hands on work or just analysing/recommendations. Others assume that hands on work is part of consulting...

You could say something like: You are an IT Consultant and IT Engineer/Software Developer. (If IT Engineer isnt protected where you are from)

  • the title of IT Engineer is protected where you are from? That is interesting. It reminds me how in the City of Philadelphia, for people who work in social services, if they do not have a BSW or MSW, they are not allowed to call themselves social workers. – Daniel Sep 8 '19 at 13:42
  • I am from Germany. And calling yourself Engineer isn't protected, but calling yourself Ingenieur (german word for Ingenieur) is. And since a lot of IT is in english anyway, the (untranslated) IT Engineer is a pretty common title in germany. – Benjamin Sep 8 '19 at 15:43
  • thanks for sharing that. I love learning stuff like that. – Daniel Sep 8 '19 at 22:03
  • You're welcome. Now after I reread the first comment, I realised that I messed up by using Ingenieur to explain Ingenieur xD At least it was obvious in context – Benjamin Sep 9 '19 at 5:04

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