starting your own engineering consulting business
If you love engineering and you want to make more money on the side, starting your own engineering consulting business may be an option for you. You can start this business as a sole proprietor or by forming an LLC or partnership. While marketing your services does entail some costs, there are ways that may help offset those costs such as attending networking events or trade shows. Consulting is a huge business—there are approximately 7,000 engineering consulting companies in the United States alone—so knowing what your competitors are charging for their services could help you determine your own rates. And if you build up a solid client base and you’re putting more time into your business than you had anticipated, consider hiring an employee or two to take some of the load off. Consultants are typically paid either through retainer or hourly fees, and though they usually charge an initial retainer fee in addition to the hourly rate, they also sometimes take a percentage of the ongoing business as well. In most situations, consultants will build their own websites and other marketing materials to get their names out there.
If you’re just starting out with your consulting business and you don’t have much experience, don’t expect to make a ton of money right away. Many people think that if they simply have a good idea and make it available to potential clients, they will be able to charge high rates. While there will probably be many willing buyers, remember that supply and demand actually dictate the prices you can charge for what you provide. The more demand there is for your services, the higher your rates can go. And remember that some consultants do get paid higher rates because of their expertise in a particular field. If you have been around the engineering industry for a while, you may be able to command higher rates than someone who is a newbie.
teaching engineering classes at a local community college or university
If you’re looking for additional sources of income, teaching engineering classes at a local community college or university may be a great way to make some money. Although you won’t be able to receive the same salary as you would at a private college, teaching courses can be an excellent way to supplement your income. If you’re comfortable with the type of work, this could also be a great opportunity to teach engineering while earning a few extra dollars in retirement; it may also eventually lead toward becoming your own instructor in the future. You may have to do some research to find out if engineering courses are available at your local community college or university and figure out what kind of hours you’d need to keep teaching classes. You also will want to pay careful attention to the type of degree that you’re looking for as you’ll need a state-approved license or certification to teach. Once you’ve got most of the details settled, you can apply for a teaching assistantship position.
Most states require that all college instructors hold an approved license or certificate from the board of education. You’ll also have to undergo a criminal background check and be fingerprinted before being hired. Even though this won’t be your only job, it will likely be one of the first jobs you get and should be done as soon as possible to ensure approval. If you’re looking to teach while you’re still in school, you can apply for a teaching assistantship position. This allows students to pay you under the table and help to compensate your other work-study job. Other ways to earn money while working toward a professional degree include: tutoring students, teaching English as a second language, writing custom software or providing training on new computer hardware through the computer lab.
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becoming a freelance engineer
Do you love going to work every day but you don’t need a full-time job? If so, becoming a freelance engineer might be the perfect solution for you. You can set your own hours, so if you love working on your computer and have an interest in engineering or technical fields, this could be the way for you. If this is the case, know that designing and testing products without the benefits of the company’s support staff could be difficult. You may need to build a client base before you consider offering services or products to them.
Benefits of Becoming a Freelance Engineer
There are lots of benefits to becoming a freelance engineer, including:
You can be your own boss. You choose your own working hours, so if you love to work at night and sleep late, you can do it. If you would prefer to work in the morning and during the daytime, there is no one stopping you from doing that either. You will have the flexibility of setting your own schedule so you are never on someone else’s time.
writing engineering textbooks or articles
If you’ve developed an interest in engineering, writing textbooks or articles on the subject may be a great side business for you. In order to do this, however, be sure to research topics thoroughly and create detailed reports that are easy to follow. If you’re already working as an engineer, and your current employer is okay with you doing so, it could be a great way to get your name out there, as well as generate some extra income. Even if you aren’t able to publish your own work, you can always find work by submitting articles for publication.
Step 1: Research a Topic You Would Like to Write About
Once you’ve started thinking about writing about a particular topic, it’s important that you do your research and find out everything you can about it. Find out what is already being written about in books and magazines (including the math and science side of things) so that you can understand the pros, cons and potential problems. If you’re going to tackle writing on the subject, make sure that you fully understand it before trying to write anything.
Step 2: Write a Detailed Outline
developing engineering software
If you have a knack for programming and you enjoy working with computers, developing engineering software could be the right path for you. Whether it’s software that helps design products or more general engineering software, there are plenty of opportunities to make money, primarily by selling your software. When developing the software, be sure to provide better features than what your competitors are offering and make your product user-friendly.
Many of these companies require a full-time commitment, with some even requiring relocation to their own offices. Though this can be a challenge, the pay and benefits are usually significantly higher than being self-employed as an engineer.
Developing engineering software is also a very compelling field because it utilizes your creativity and problem solving skills—skills that you’re likely to have gained through a career in engineering. With so many different types of engineers, there is a population that’s hungry for software and wants improved products or services.
What to know