Normally, I’m described as wither a “consultant” or a “contractor” depending on what the client is expecting me to do – I much prefer the more consultancy-oriented roles, where there is a genuine interest in your input to help devise the best solution for them, rather than the contractor-oriented roles which tend to be much more of the “here is what you need to do, here is how to do it, now go and do it and don’t ask any questions” variety.
Recently, I found an amusing definition of consultant, contractor and freelancer on The Daily WTF (Worse Than Failure!) blog:
Consultants fill the gap when an organization needs to leverage their collective synergy with a quality-driven approach that focuses on delivering key objectives. Contractors are great when the only remaining solution is throwing more bodies at the problem. And freelancers, they’re perfect for companies on a budget, hoping to build their technology infrastructure ten dollars at a time.