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Engineering Engineering Consulting?

  1. Feb 1, 2009 #1
    Hey Guys,

    I'm a freshmen EE at NCSU (thinking about power systems as of now). Lately, I've been hearing a few people in one of my classes talking about engineering consulting and it sounded somewhat interesting. What exactly is an engineering consultant and what do they do? Also, how could one become a consultant (degrees, experience, certifications, etc.). What kind of salary do they usually make and hours do they work? From what I gathered, it usually takes years after earning a degree to become one (my guess is like 7 years after a BSEE or 5 after a MSEE) but you have a lot of flexibility and can basically do whatever type of work that you want.

    Any input is greatly appreciated, thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 2, 2009 #2


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    Engineering consultants come in many different varieties. You may be hired for a particular project ranging in months or even years, or for a specific part of a project. You may be hired as a pseudo-employee also. As far as what you will do, it varies but will remain within the engineering discipline.

    Once you graduate, you'll definitely need some experience if you want to consult on your own (independent consultant). If you joint a consulting firm you can gain valuable experience as you work as an employee of the firm (even though you are consulting for another company).

    Most consultant I know had around 10 years of experience before they decided to be independent consultants but there is no fixed requirement. Most of them have PE's also which requires a specific amount of time working under another PE (requirements vary by state so check with NCEES).

    Keep in mind that consulting can be feast or famine at times and you don't have the security of a large company. Plus you'll need to be insured very well. Most companies I worked for when I consulted required a $1 million in CLI with a $5 million umbrella policy. It cost me about $40,000/year for that (that was a few years back). Consulting firms usually either cover that completely or if you work as an sub-contractor for them, they'll charge you a few hundred bucks a month to work under their policy.

    I would recommend working for at least five years first, getting your PE, and most importantly making a lot of contacts! You'll need them for future work.

    Good luck.

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