September 8 2020 - About 116,000 students graduate with an engineering degree each year. The degree can lead to a specific or a general path based on the type of engineering.
And while many new engineers head into the corporate world, that's not your only option. Keep reading to learn how you can use your engineering degree as an independent contractor.
Consider Your Specialization
When deciding what career to pursue, you should consider the type of engineering degree you have. There are dozens of engineering specializations, and some are more common than others.
Industrial engineering involves solving problems for businesses. Computer or software engineers can help develop computer programs or fix technical issues.
Other types of engineering include mechanical, chemical, and electrical. Depending on your specific engineering degree, you may be able to work with different clients or on certain types of projects.
Engineers can find work as consultants, and they can also work on engineering tasks. Think about what you can do with your engineering experience to turn it into an independent contractor career.
Decide What You Want to Do
When starting your career, you may be wondering what is an independent contractor? The term refers to someone who works on a contract basis.
A company will hire you to work on a particular project for a few weeks or months. If you also do consulting, a company can hire you for your services.
Because of this, you get to work with many different companies and clients. You can work with businesses in different industries, or you can stick to one type of company.
If someone wants to hire you, you can say no if you don't think it's the right fit. You'll have control over the projects you work on and the clients you work with. That can be a lot more enjoyable for some people than getting a traditional engineering job.
Set Up a Business
The next thing you'll need to do is set up your business. You don't need to have employees to operate a small business because you can set up a sole proprietorship.
You'll be your employee, and clients can hire your business rather than you. If something goes wrong on a project, working as a small business can protect you from lawsuits and other problems.
You can also use your business name to help clients find you. For example, "John Doe Engineering" will be easier for clients to find than "John Doe."
By adding the word engineering or your specific service to your business name, you can help attract clients. It can also look more professional when you meet people and they ask what you do.
You don't have to have a massive company to get started, but you should determine how you will run your independent contractor business.
One of the best ways to get clients is to use your network. Networking can be scary to some people, but it doesn't have to be intimidating.
You can start by telling people you already know about your business. Use your social media accounts to talk about what you do.
Go to conferences or join an engineering association to meet new people. The more you network and talk about yourself, the more people will start to recommend you.
Word-of-mouth is an excellent marketing tool that takes little effort on your part. Once you get things going, you can watch clients contact you. Then, you can get new clients consistently without spending a ton of money on advertising.
Create a Website or Portfolio
As you start networking, people may ask you about your website or portfolio. If you don't have one, you should create a website to showcase your engineering work.
You don't need a fancy website with a ton of pages. But you should have a page for your portfolio and another page talking about you.
When potential clients hear about you, they can visit your website. They should be able to see some of your past work to determine if they want to work with you.
Whether you focus on computer or software engineering or you use industrial engineering to be a business consultant, you need a website.
It can be your digital home, and you won't need to rely on a particular social network.
Land Your First Client
You have an online presence, and you just set up your business structure. Now, it's time to land your first client.
If someone you know needs some contract engineering help, they may contact you. But you don't have to get your first client through your network.
By advertising yourself correctly, you can find clients anywhere. Once you do have someone interested in your business, you can send them your independent contractor agreement.
Your agreement should outline what work you'll do and when you will do it. It should also include the payment amount and due date. If the company has forms for freelancers, you can use those as well.
Work on Your Terms
One of the most common reasons why people want to work as an independent contractor is to be their boss. While you'll still have to report to your clients, you can work on your terms.
You can complete the work when and where it makes the most sense. A client may prefer you to visit their office, but you can also work from home or a coworking space.
All of this freedom does mean you'll need to create some systems for yourself. Set a schedule even if your clients don't have one in mind.
That way, you can avoid procrastinating. It can take some experimentation, but once you find systems to keep you on track, you shouldn't have a problem meeting client deadlines.
Freelance With an Engineering Degree
An engineering degree can open a lot of doors for your career. While a lot of engineers work traditional jobs, others prefer to work as an independent contractor.
No matter what type of engineering you studied, you can work for yourself. Consider your expertise and what you want to do to start your freelance career.
Want to learn about other careers and jobs? Check out our website for similar posts.
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