One of the biggest decisions to make upon entering the work force is deciding whether or not a freelance or full-time position is the way to go. Freelance and full-time positions both offer their own set of challenges and benefits – the trick is finding out which one works best to suit your lifestyle and work habits.

If you’re looking for reliable income, a steady schedule, and predictable work load, it goes without saying that a full-time position is your best bet. If you’re just starting out in the field, working for a well-known company and establishing important connections can be the perfect way to gain essential industry experience and build your credibility. Not to mention the fact that full-time jobs bring the allure of a consistent salary, health insurance, and paid time off. During tough times, a full-time position can guarantee a higher level of job security; when cuts get made, consultants and contractors are the first to go.

However, it’s important to note that taking a full-time job means you’ll be expected to answer to your employer in a way that freelancers are not. After all, your employer is putting forth all that money to keep you on. This means less flexibility in your hours and salary negotiation, and less creative liberties for the type of projects you want to work on. But your schedule might allow a little more time to fully develop project ideas and concepts; as freelancers usually set an hourly wage, they are often expected to finish projects with a quicker turnaround time.

While Full-Time offers consistency and predictability, the other side of the spectrum is complete flexibility. Freelancers are able to set their own salary, schedule, and location. They can choose the nature of the projects they work on. Freelance roles can also be challenging for those that lack the motivation or self-discipline to seek out clients and stay on top of projects. Marketing yourself and your skills requires money, time, and effort to build up a consistent work load.

Additionally, freelancers bring in a higher wage than their full-time counterparts, since they do not qualify for benefits or paid time off. When you aren’t working, you’re not getting paid. You’re also footing the bill for any equipment you require, as well as paying your own employment taxes. Payment is not always consistent, as some agencies and companies will not pay you until their project is completed and they’ve gotten paid. The cycle of a freelancer is often feast or famine. If you’re considering transitioning into a freelance role, make sure you can make it work until you’ve established a solid network of clients.

It all comes down to personal preference and work style: If you’re the type of person that thrives with clear expectations and guidelines from your boss, then the unstructured nature of a freelance position is probably not in your best interest. If you want to be your own boss and pave your own way, freelancing can be a liberating way of life. Consider your professional strengths and weaknesses, do your research, and take the plunge. The beautiful thing about life is that there are no wrong choices: if one option doesn’t work for you, you can always go back and try a different path.