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Starting freelance and contract work

  1. May 22, 2007 #1
    Maybe im still too young to say im tired of working a regular 9-5 job, but i feel like its doing nothing for me. I am a mechanical engineer, and i would like to continue on that path, but working for a big company sucks. I was thinking of starting with CAD freelance cuz i can do that pretty well, and possibly continue with that when i start going back to school full time. If you work freelance, how did you get started and established??
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2007 #2
    I believe in order to contract or do freelance work you need a professional engineering license. Have you taken the FE exam?
  4. May 22, 2007 #3


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    I can't say anything from a professional engineering perspective. What I will say is that you have to do whatever you feel necessary to be content with your life. If that means freelancing, then by all means pursue it. Just be aware that there are a lot of hardships involved in that which you don't find in an employee position. Research a lot before committing yourself to any particular path.
  5. May 23, 2007 #4


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    Freelancing is tough because the field is pretty competitive. There are a lot of companies that do that. The trick, from the people I have talked to, is to find a niche. One guy I know did that for a while just drawing aircraft wiring harnesses and diagrams for a bunch of people at a local airport. All I can say about getting started is that it definitely helps if you network. I would hit up all sorts of places including architectural firms. Just understand that there are a lot of different CAD platforms out there. You need to be proficient in all of them as well as have access to all of them to be really effective.

    The good thing is to be a CAD jockey you don't need to have your PE.
  6. May 23, 2007 #5


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    Most of the designers (CAD monkeys) at my place are freelance contracting staff. You don't need professional status.
  7. May 25, 2007 #6


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    The easiest way to be a freelancer in the UK is sign up with an agency. You do the work, they look after all the boring stuff, like reminding your employer to actually pay you.

    Before you take the plunge, think hard about Brewnog's phrase "CAD monkeys". That's pretty much the way contractors get treated - except there are more laws to protect lab animals than to protect contractors.
  8. May 30, 2007 #7


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    But agencies (or staffing companies) usually keep a fair percentage of the income. For instance i used to have a freelance position via a staffing company which was keeping 1/4 of the income.
    I eventually left the staffing agency for a full time position elsewhere, and recently the company i was doing freelance work for came directly to me, and so now i get the full pay from them.
  9. Aug 14, 2009 #8
    Freelancing is not a bad option if you can get the gigs. One advantage is the freedom of being your own boss but you need to be disciplinary. If you are single and want to travel, freelancing might work out well. A physics PhD friend is only working 3days a week because he does not have a lot of expenses and he travels a lot.

    There are lots of freelancing sites out there nowadays. You might want to check out a new site http://www.mymuto.com" [Broken] which uses scientific collaborative research as the model and it's quite geeky. It allows you to form virtual team with others to go after big gigs.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Aug 17, 2009 #9


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    We hire contractors from time to time when CAD work backs up. If I could offer some advice. If you're working for a company who's facility has a security clearance, don't spend the night at your cubicle then go around at 4 stealing stuff off of people's desks.[/rant]
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