Frequently Asked Questions
- How does Skillserv protect my password?
- Aren't benefits supposed to be worth about a third of my compensation?
- What should I enter for productivity?
- What other expenses should I add to my rate or salary calculation?
- How did you choose the default values for insurance and retirement?
- What does 'Configure for 1099 / C2C mean?
- What does 'Configure for Contract-W2 mean?
- What does 'Configure for Fulltime mean?
How does Skillserv protect my password?
Skillserv doesn't use secure connections because we don't conduct commerce on this site. However, password protection is still very important. So before we send your password to our servers we perform a 'one-way' transformation called a hash. That way, if a bad guy intercepts your user information, all they see is the hash—40 characters of gooble-de-gook. This also protects your password in our database but does not mean that choosing a strong password isn't important. If you choose something simple like your birth-date, someone...somewhere will use a dictionary of hash values to look it up. So choose wisely.
Aren't benefits supposed to be worth
about a third of my compensation?
Yup. That's the conventional wisdom, and the reason for it is that most job sites figure vacation as a benefit, a situation that makes my calculations much harder to perform. The way I deal with this is to take a contractor's perspective that says that I only calculate my salary based on my actual number of productive hours. For a fulltime job, this is the number hours you work in a year minus my paid holidays and vacation. Doing it this way normalizes for the fact that contractors usually take their vacations during 'downtime', but it also makes the total compensation for benefits look a bit lower.
Don't worry. The rate calculations are still correct.
What should I enter for productivity?
Simply enter the weeks or hours that you expect to work in a year. For contractors, a good rule-of-thumb is about 44 weeks—52 weeks per year minus 10 national holidays (in the US), 3 weeks of vacation and 3 weeks of hunting for gigs. (Your mileage may vary.)
What other expenses should I add to my rate
or salary calculation?
This is a hard question to answer because it varies so much from state to state. Some of the things you could add include commuting expenses, equipment, supplies, and travel expenses. But, if you're working 1099/Corp-to-corp make sure that you add just your deductible expenses. In other words, include those expenses that would be deductible before figuring your self-employemnt taxes according to the US Federal tax code.
How did you choose the default values for
insurance and retirement?
Though it's probably a little high for most of the US, $350.00/month is about what you'd pay for a decent (though not great) individual medical/dental plan in California.
The retirement default value is 1/12th of the $5000.00 dollar maximum allowed for Individual Retirement Account contributions in 2009.
What does 'Configure for 1099' mean?
This option sets up the calculator as if you're working as a "sole-proprieter" (or maybe you have your own company, an LLC or S-corp). In other words, you are your own employer and are covering all your own expenses and taxes. You'll notice that the check box for the employer's portion of FICA is turned off when you use this option, indicating that you have to cover this expense yourself.
What does 'Configure for Contract W2' mean?
This option sets the calculator to treat you as a "W2 contractor". In other words, a direct employer or agency has you on their payroll but isn't paying you any benefits. They will, however, cover the employer's portion of FICA. You'll notice this check-box gets turned on when using this option.
What does 'Configure for Fulltime' mean?
This is sort of a 'what if?' scenario. "What would my salary and benefits look like if I was employed fulltime?" Use this option if you want to get a sense of what benefits are worth, keeping in mind that my calculators treat vacation and holidays a bit differently than the conventional wisdom suggests.