Author Topic: Professional engineer side jobs  (Read 2318 times)

_steve

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Professional engineer side jobs
« on: May 30, 2017, 10:34:35 AM »
How could a registered professional engineer make money on the side? (Mech Eng)

With this license, I could sell my engineering know-how to the general public. I am early into a very fulfilling engineering career but could obtain this license with little effort on my part.

Some things would be harder than others to certify (ie, a steam boiler versus playground equipment). What is niche engineering expertise that a community or small business or homeowners generally require?

Just thinking out loud here... any other PEs in the crowd doing engineering code work on the side?

The Gecko

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Re: Professional engineer side jobs
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2017, 06:12:21 PM »
Licensed PE (Electrical) here in a few states.

You will find out quickly that being properly insured for errors and omissions as an "independent" professional engineer will eat any profits on a side gig. Some of the professional societies offer reasonable insurance if your billables are on the lower end. Don't expect the large industrials with deep pockets to come calling or even local municipals for your evening services.

My best recommendation is to network through professional societies and see if you can pick up some 1099 work through another firm that has a need but not a need for a full time worker. Let them pick up the overhead, insurance, etc. The few times I have dabbled with smaller jobs on the residential or commercial side, it has been more trouble than it was worth and my profit margins tend to be on the low end.

Talking to colleagues, regular residential work tends to be the nastiest side of the business. People are very quick to turn you into the board as a threat to extort money, services, or insurance settlement if anything goes different than they expected. Lots of headaches and lawyers fees to make the nonsense go away.


Goldielocks

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Re: Professional engineer side jobs
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2017, 09:33:01 PM »
I looked at this years ago -- I thought then that designing / certifying small residential property septic tanks would be a good way to get part time call up work in rural areas.  Requires a different license and training than engineering, but the technical knowledge was very similar to my training.

Blissful Biker

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Re: Professional engineer side jobs
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2017, 10:16:19 PM »
I am in the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) business, which can by cyclical but over 20 years I have found that OT is encouraged, requested or mandated about 2/3rds of the time.  I have to set my own limits on what I work or I could work around the clock.

While not a true "side gig", OT is dead simple - all you have to do is say yes.  And a willingness to work OT can escalate your career because it shows commitment and dedication.

If your primary engineering job is salary based (ie, fixed salary regardless of hours worked) as opposed to hourly, consider the EPC business.  Hourly rates are normally higher in EPC because project work is cyclical by nature and thus job security is a bit less.  But being good at your job provides excellent job security, regardless of industry.  And EPC is fun (in a pedal to the metal, adrenaline pumping kind of way).

BrendanP

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Re: Professional engineer side jobs
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2017, 07:48:06 PM »
I used to know licensed engineers who would testify in court. They must have made some sort of connection with consulting companies or lawyers.

Goldielocks

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Re: Professional engineer side jobs
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2017, 10:03:26 PM »
I used to know licensed engineers who would testify in court. They must have made some sort of connection with consulting companies or lawyers.

Needs a lot of specific experience, or the opposition tears holes through your qualifications..hopefully we will all be FIRED before we qualify..

Fishindude

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Re: Professional engineer side jobs
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2017, 09:55:24 AM »
In my state a PE or licensed architect is required to stamp drawings for new building projects submitted for state permits.  A PE of several different disciplines can stamp the plans.
I've always been a builder, but not a licensed PE or Architect.  On small projects it was quite costly to hire an architectural firm, so we simply did the drawings ourselves, then partnered up with a retired PE to look them over and to put his stamp on them prior to submittal.

There is some risk to this.  If a building collapses, was built the way it was drawn, and you put your stamp on the plans, you could have some liability.
Be careful who you work with if you do this, and don't be bashful about questioning or investigating things you don't understand.  Have done this on numerous occasions and it has always worked out well for all parties.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Professional engineer side jobs
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2017, 10:29:05 AM »
I got my Mechanical Engineering PE last spring and haven't stamped a single drawing.  I am still happy I got it (work paid for it) but there's not much that I can do with it in the mechanical field.  I could possibly get back into the piping engineering world where a Professional Engineering stamp is required for each drawing, but I don't really want to go back to that.  Be very careful looking for "side gigs" that are outside your area of expertise. 

BrandNewPapa

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Re: Professional engineer side jobs
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2017, 10:59:35 AM »
I've thought about this too, but decided it wasn't worth the time and effort.

I did discover a decent side hustle running a small 3D printing and design company. I have a few small/local customers that use me to help them with their invention designs and CAD. I have a hub on 3Dhubs.com and treatstock.com for 3D printing. Something I enjoy doing that can earn me some income and tax breaks. Grossed about $2k in my first year of doing it.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Professional engineer side jobs
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2017, 11:02:44 AM »
I've thought about this too, but decided it wasn't worth the time and effort.

I did discover a decent side hustle running a small 3D printing and design company. I have a few small/local customers that use me to help them with their invention designs and CAD. I have a hub on 3Dhubs.com and treatstock.com for 3D printing. Something I enjoy doing that can earn me some income and tax breaks. Grossed about $2k in my first year of doing it.

How does a professional engineering license help you in a 3D printing side gig?

trollwithamustache

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Re: Professional engineer side jobs
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2017, 11:49:29 AM »
So, get licensed no matter what.

some places will pay you more. some places will treat you better with a PE. Some places won't hire you without one. Some places won't lay you off with one because you are the only one who can certify regulatory filings.

For me, it ended up the PE meant the engineering firm listened to me/took me seriously (because I was a "real engineer, like them"), we got more work done and my confused bosses promoted me, although they were never sure why we got more work done.


As others have noted E&O can eat your lunch. I pay about 6.5k because I do a lot of petrochemical work, yours may be cheaper. If you can, start with non stamped work or things were maybe you are comfortable with the risk without insurance. I was comfortable writing feasibility studies and high level, proof this is possible type stuff without big boy insurance. When I went out on my own and was responsible for real documents for purchase/construction then I got a massive amount of insurance.  Depending on your industry even finding someone to insure you can be a challenge.

 If you can handle the warrior lifestyle the EPC job with OT is probably the easiest way to juice your earnings with a PE license. Beware of burn out. I personally like it for a year or two  and then it gets old and I drop out to make sure the Dear Lady Troll won't leave me, get back in shape, sail ect.

Blissful Biker

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Re: Professional engineer side jobs
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2017, 05:46:04 PM »
If you can handle the warrior lifestyle the EPC job with OT is probably the easiest way to juice your earnings with a PE license. Beware of burn out. I personally like it for a year or two  and then it gets old and I drop out to make sure the Dear Lady Troll won't leave me, get back in shape, sail ect.

Good advice.  Burn out is an issue in EPC but project work has it's upsides too.  I have been fortunate to be able to take 2-4 months off in between almost all of my projects.  Work hard and reap the rewards, both financially and time off for mini-sabbaticals.

BrandNewPapa

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Re: Professional engineer side jobs
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2017, 10:30:53 AM »

How does a professional engineering license help you in a 3D printing side gig?

It doesn't. I don't have my PE. I got my FE several years ago, but decided the time/money to get and maintain my PE wasn't worth it in my career.

I didn't see any benefit to having it as an independent consultant. Like the others have said, the overhead and other issues aren't worth it to me. If I want to do consulting or I have a job that would require a PE they would most likely cover the costs.

lielec11

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Re: Professional engineer side jobs
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2017, 10:29:01 AM »
I am an electrical engineered and am licensed in a few states. To be honest even on my side work I do not use my stamp much at all. I was able to team up with a small mechanical/plumbing firm who needed electrical help and most of my work is with them. So they deal with the insurance issues.

If I were you I'd search craigslist, I've found a bunch of people looking for MEP/architectural help on there over the years.. Don't limit yourself to just your area, look for telecommute help all over the country.