Are you looking to start a career as a freelance structural engineer? There are several benefits to being a freelance engineer. You can choose your hours and schedule and decide for yourself how many projects you’ll take on at one time. But, how do you start freelancing as a structural engineer?

This guide will help you get started by covering the following:

  • What a structural engineer does
  • How to become a freelance structural engineer
  • How Countingup helps freelancers manage their finances with ease

What a structural engineer does

Structural engineers design the strength and stability of anything from bridges, homes, rollercoasters and skyscrapers to public artworks.

As a structural engineer, you’ll often work alongside architects, builders and other engineers. Your job will be to make sure the building works well in practice and fulfils its purpose. 

How to become a freelance structural engineer

Make sure you complete the following steps when starting a freelance structural engineer business:

Get the right qualifications

Structural engineers need to be problem solvers and have good skills in maths and science to do the job well. Additionally, you need a degree or postgraduate qualification in structural or civil engineering. 

Choose a niche to focus on

There are many areas of structural engineering that you can specialise in. As a freelancer, you want to make sure you pick a focus to avoid overwhelming yourself. Choosing a niche also helps you find and sign the most suitable clients for your business. 

Areas you can specialise in as a freelance structural engineer include:

  • Buildings
  • Bridges
  • Vehicles
  • Tunnels
  • Pipelines
  • Industrial
  • Aircraft
  • Spacecraft

Create a killer resume and portfolio

As a freelancer, you’ll likely compete against a sea of other engineers, so make sure that your resume and portfolio stand out. 

If you have the required engineering degree, you should at least have designs and other material from your courses that you can add to your portfolio. Use these projects to demonstrate your skills to potential clients. 

You’ll also need to make sure your CV is up-to-date, is easy to read and highlights your main strengths and qualifications. To stand out from other generic resumes, try adding some personality to your CV by using colour and design elements that suit your niche and industry.

The more effort you put into your portfolio and CV, the more you increase your chances of getting noticed by clients and proving that you’re the right person for the job.

Set up a functional workspace

You need an area to carry out your work, even if it’s just in your own home. Wherever you choose to set up your workspace, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need when you need it. 

Write down all the supplies and equipment you’ll need to do your job, and set up a space where you can easily grab the items. Creating a checklist also helps you maintain office inventory so you can restock items before you run out.

Keep your workspace as neat and tidy as you can, at least when you’re working. If you need to move your work stuff away (if you use the kitchen table, for example), try to organise it so you can quickly put it back when you need to.

Register on a freelancing site

Freelancing websites like Freelancer, Upwork or PeoplePerHour are one of the top ways companies and individuals find suitable candidates to fill a position. These sites also offer job-specific resources to help you market your skills and find new jobs.

Signing up to a freelancing website will help you connect with clients looking for your specific skills. So browse around and choose a site that’s well-suited for structural engineers.

When you’re browsing, find out how each site’s hiring process works. This information could tell you a lot about your potential for work. For example, if you need to submit a specific amount of designs and you don’t have enough, that site may not be the right fit for you.

Tell everyone about your new business

When you go out on your own as a freelancer, you won’t have a marketing department to promote your business for you. Instead, it falls on you to spread the word about your services to potential clients. Marketing is crucial for small businesses to succeed.

Use your existing network of friends, family, schoolmates and people you’ve worked with to spread the word about your new business. These people will have their own networks that they could recommend you to. Word of mouth marketing is highly effective, and 88% of people trust brands that friends or family recommended.

Use social media

Social media platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram will probably be the most effective for structural engineers.

You can use these platforms to connect with potential clients, join conversations, and share samples of your work. LinkedIn is also excellent for joining groups that help connect you to other professionals in your field and recruiters looking for your specific skills.

Make sure you include keywords on your profile that recruiters are likely to search for. For example, ‘freelance structural engineer’, ‘3D CAD designs’, ‘structural design expert’, ‘construction & building plans’, and so on.

Always do your best

If you want to build a reputation as a competent professional, your work has to be of the top standard at all times. You must give each project everything you have to deliver excellent solutions, designs, and customer service.

Since 90% of people are more likely to trust a recommended brand (even from strangers), impressing clients from the start could help you get your freelance business off the ground faster.

Now that you know how to become a freelance structural engineer, we hope you’ve found the last bit of confidence you need to take the next step in your career.

Keep your finances in order with the Countingup app

By setting up a Countingup business current account, you can manage all your financial data in one place. The app comes with free built-in accounting software that automates the time-consuming aspects of bookkeeping and taxes. You’ll receive real-time insights into your business finances with profit and loss reports, tax estimates, and unpaid invoice notifications. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward!

Download the Countingup app to apply for your business current account in minutes. All you need is proof of ID and a selfie. Find out more here.