A freelance engineer seeks and completes paid engineering projects as an independent contractor rather than an employee. In most cases, you will need the same level of training to become a freelance engineer as you would to become an employee in this field. This usually involves graduating from high school and earning a bachelor's degree, and then gaining at least a few years of experience. With solid work experience secured, you can typically take your jurisdiction's licensing or certification exam to gain the right to work unsupervised. Finally, you can create and implement a plan for finding clients.
To become a freelance engineer, you will need an appropriate education. This will likely start with attending high school, during which you can improve your chances for success by taking advanced science and mathematics classes. You might also benefit by taking classes that help you develop communication skills. This can be important, as verbal and written communication skills are typically critical for success in college and throughout an engineering career. In lieu of graduating from high school, you could choose to earn a General Educational Development® (GED®) diploma and then prepare by taking a few community college math and science classes prior to enrolling in a challenging engineering degree program.
After high school, you will have to earn at least a bachelor's degree to prepare for a career as a freelance engineer. There are many types of engineering programs in which you can enroll, but some of the most common are mechanical, electrical, and civil engineering programs. Graduation from a bachelor's degree program in engineering will usually qualify you for an entry-level job. Though working as an employee is not your ultimate goal, doing so can help prepare you to become a freelance engineer.
With your college degree in hand, you can gain the experience needed to become a freelance engineer. When you first start out in an entry-level position, you will likely perform your work under the supervision of experienced engineers. In many jurisdictions, engineers must have experience and pass a test to obtain licensing or certification, and to have permission to work without such supervision. The requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but you will usually have to spend a few years gaining the experience required.
Once you have earned a degree and gained experience, you can take your jurisdiction's certification or licensure exam. These exams are usually standardized, long, and designed to test your engineering competency. If you pass, you can then go on to seek freelancing projects as an engineer.
Finding clients as a freelance engineer can be a challenge. You can improve your chances of success by developing a solid marketing plan. For example, you may do well to incorporate plans for placing ads, seeking referrals, and joining networks through which you can secure contracts.