Civil engineering is one of the most exciting professional careers out there, but it is not easy to start your own firm unless you already have the budget. The only option for most engineers is to join a firm in the beginning. This, however, has its drawbacks.
You are essentially a regular employee. In many cases, you are not free to choose your own projects; the firm assigns them to you. You will receive a salary, which may not be what you pictured when you were studying to become an engineer. You want to make more money because, well, what professional doesn’t? On top of that, like your projects, you don’t have control over your time.
Freelancing as an Engineer
One thing you can do if you’re tired of being held back is to go freelance. It’s not unheard of for civil engineers to start their own consulting firm of one. That sounds radically better than being called a freelancer. Here are some of the things you need:
- You’ll Need the Right Tools
Invest in tools and materials early on, even while you’re still working under a firm. Save up for the costliest ones. This means you need to live on a budget and have a plan. Some of the things you need may be available by renting or even asking friends if you can use theirs for the short term. Pronamics.com.au added that you might need civil engineering cost estimation software as well, so you can bill your clients’ right or give them advice on how much they need to put together for a project.
- You’ll Need Contacts
Contacts are as important as your tools and knowledge. Without the right connections, you will find it difficult to get projects, especially the big ones. What you need to do is get started on your networking.
While you’re working with a firm, start distributing your business cards and becoming friendly with the right people. Attend industry seminars and get-togethers in your area. You can’t shun networking at this stage in your career. Be online a lot when you’re not busy. Tweet and meet people on Facebook.
When you do get a project, always communicate with your client. They don’t like to be kept in the dark, so periodic reports are a plus. If they are satisfied with your work, they are more likely to recommend you or call you again when they need something new done.
Don’t be afraid to go solo and start your own civil engineering consulting firm. When you’re good and ready, you might be able to start your own firm with other engineers.