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Few sectors have such a high demand for qualified professionals as that of engineering. This has led to a number of entrepreneurial engineers stepping away from full time employment and into contracting. And with good reason: contractors can potentially earn twice the hourly rate of a permanent employee.

There are, however, a few things to think about before you make the move into engineering as a contractor. This guide should answer some of the questions that any budding contract engineer might have.

Finding work
The first thing to sort out is some contracts. Don’t get overwhelmed. There are several ways you can seek out work including recruitment agencies, networking, and word of mouth.

Highly rated engineering recruitment specialists such as Fircroft and Just Engineers are a great place to start. But it’s important not to stress too much if contracts come through slowly at first. Use the free time to build robust business processes and create worthwhile connections.

Experience counts
Unlike many types of contracting, in engineering you’ll need to show industry experience in order to win work—for most areas, the people issuing the contracts will be seeking SQEP qualified personnel.

Of course, this won’t be a concern for most engineers, but if you’re fresh out of uni or lacking any experience, you might want to spend some time in employment before making the move to contracting.

Staying organised
One major difference between permanent employment and contracting is the level of personal organisation required. If you’re running your own business you’ll need to manage your diary, stay on top of invoicing, and carry out your own marketing and PR if required.

Some engineers find this a challenge, while others are excited about the opportunity to explore their entrepreneurial skills. It’s not going to be the biggest factor in making or breaking your career, but it’s certainly worth thinking about.

Taking care of business
Before you start building your contracting empire, you’ll need to set yourself up as a business. There are three main routes to take: sole trader umbrella company; limited company.

For the average contract engineer, a limited company set-up will provide better tax efficiencies and less liability than the other routes. It’s easy to set yourself up as a limited company, but you will need a business bank account, documents for VAT registration, and a company name that’s unique to you.

Finding engineer contract accountants
If you’re not comfortable sorting out the financial elements of your business, it’s worth bringing an accountant on board. If you’re unsure on who to approach, head over to our supplier directory to get started.

Check out our resources too. They’re full of information and resources on running your business effectively.


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