Contracts engineers, or contract engineers, work for architectural or engineering companies on a contract basis instead of on a full-time or permanent basis. These workers can be found in several fields and complete a multitude of different projects. Entrance into this field requires an undergraduate degree, and in some instances, contract workers must earn a license to provide their services to the public.
Types of Contract Engineers
Contract engineers are highly qualified engineers that work for a company on a short-term per project basis that can last anywhere from six months to two years. These workers can be found in all engineering fields from aerospace to mechanical engineering. Available projects can range from creating a new medical device to constructing roads. Contract engineers can find career opportunities within architectural or engineering services, government, construction and manufacturing.
Broad Job Duties
As a contract engineer, you are hired to analyze and design solutions to engineering problems; however, your specific job duties will vary based on your career. For instance, as a mechanical engineer, you develop products from computer chips to snow skis and test new materials, while as a petroleum engineer, you develop methods for improving oil extraction. Electrical engineers develop and test electrical equipment, such as communication systems. Civil engineers construct and maintain buildings, roads and bridge systems.
Contract engineers need a thorough knowledge of engineering science and technology, along with the principles, techniques and procedures used to design and produce various products or services. As a contract engineer, you need an understanding of design techniques and tools. Principles of strategic planning, leadership techniques and resource allocation are also important. Since engineers work with the public and technicians, they must have exceptional customer service skills and the ability to evaluate customer satisfaction.
Education and Training Requirements
Becoming a contract engineer requires at least a bachelor’s degree in your field of interest. Depending on your field, you may want to look for degree programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology or ABET. Since employers do not provide contract workers with entry-level training or new hire training, they are expected to have specific training or work experience before applying. Additionally, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or IEEE notes that most contract engineers usually have a few years to more than a decade of experience in the field prior to beginning work as a contract engineer. Additionally, engineers who sell their services to the public typically need to be licensed. Professional engineer licensure requires completing an accredited program, gaining experience and passing two exams.
2016 Salary Information for Civil Engineers
Civil engineers earned a median annual salary of $83,540 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, civil engineers earned a 25th percentile salary of $65,330, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $107,140, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 303,500 people were employed in the U.S. as civil engineers.