How To Become A Freelance Mechanical Engineer

Becoming a mechanical engineer is not the easiest thing to do. I have found that most people believe they can become freelance mechanical engineers overnight and make lots of money, but this is not true. 

You must put in many hours of hard work before you can begin to reap the rewards. I have been a mechanical engineer for over 20 years, and as I look back on my career. 

I see that there are several things that could have made it easier for me to go out on my own and become a successful freelancer. Here are some tips that I have found helpful:

Figure Out What Kind Of Clients You Want To Work With

To figure out what kind of clients you want to work with, you must first determine a niche in the market that you’d like to focus on. 

For example, if you know for sure that your strengths are in mechanical design and drafting, then it makes sense for you to set up shop as a Mechanical Designer/Draftsperson.

You should also be realistic about the kinds of clients who will hire someone like yourself. If your skill set doesn’t allow for much room for growth or innovation (for example drafting). 

Then finding an employer who will pay well but also keep things interesting may not be as easy as it would have been if your expertise was state-of-the-art CAD modeling software skills.

Choose A Niche In The Market

The next step is to choose a niche in the market. This can be done by identifying your skills, interests, and knowledge of a particular subject area that you are passionate about. 

The more experienced and knowledge you have in this field, the more likely it will be that your freelance mechanical engineering career will be successful.

You should also consider what type of niche you want to work in: whether it’s automotive, aerospace, or industrial; large scale or small scale projects; consumer goods or healthcare products the possibilities are endless! 

The important thing is that you choose something that excites and inspires you so that when it comes time to send out proposals/quotes for jobs, they will sound convincing enough for potential clients.

Become An Expert In Your Field

Becoming an expert in your industry will take years of hard work. But there are ways you can accelerate the process, even if you’re just starting.

One method for doing this is to learn from other people’s mistakes. If you had a friend who was opening up their first business and wanted advice on how to do it, would you tell them about all the mistakes they could make? Of course not! 

You’d want to give them a rundown of what works and what doesn’t, so they could avoid making costly errors along the way. 

The same principle applies when seeking out information on building your career as a freelance mechanical engineer: don’t just read articles that talk about what worked well for others; 

Find resources that describe exactly where each person went wrong and how they could have avoided those pitfalls (or done better).

Take One Project At A Time And Do Your Best Work For It

You should always be working on one project at a time and doing your best work for it. This will help you avoid the situation where you’re juggling multiple projects simultaneously and none of them get done well. 

If you try to take on too many projects at once, then they likely won’t all be done as well as they could have been if they had each gotten your full attention.

Don’t let this discourage you from looking for work outside of your specialty because that is how I started, but don’t over-commit yourself either!

Set Your Rates

Once you’ve got your marketing plan in place, it’s time to start setting your rates.

A good rule of thumb is to set your rates based on the amount of experience you have. If you’re just starting and have no experience, it’s best to set them low but as soon as you pick up some clients, consider raising them accordingly. 

As with any other freelance job (and especially if this is your first one), it’s important not to undercut yourself; otherwise, if someone else wants to pay less than what you’re charging right now, they’ll probably go with them instead.

Start Gathering Experience Before Going Freelance

Start gathering experience before going freelance. One of the most important things you can do to prepare for a career as a freelancer is to gain experience working for someone else first.

Starting in an environment where you have more structure, direction, and help from others will allow you to learn all the skills needed to be successful as a freelancer. 

You’ll also have time to build up your portfolio of completed projects and get feedback on your work from clients.

This is also an excellent time to start networking with other professionals so that when you go off on your own later down the road, these relationships will hopefully come with you!

Invest In Your Skills By Taking Training Courses

To succeed as a freelance mechanical engineer, you need to invest in your skills. The best way to do this is by taking training courses.

There are several different types of software used by mechanical engineers and many companies offer training courses on how to use them.

These include CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software such as AutoCAD or SolidWorks; CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) software such as GibbsCAM or MasterCam; CAE (Computer-Aided Engineering) tools like ANSYS Workbench.

Autodesk Inventor Professional or Pro/Engineer Wildfire SE; BIM (Building Information Modeling) tools such as ArchiCAD or Revit Architecture; 

Design for Manufacturability tools such as Creo Parametric 3.0 Mechanical Interface Designer but these can also be taught online through online courses.

Find A Mentor

Finding a mentor is incredibly important. A mentor is someone who has already been where you want to go and can help guide you there. They can teach you new skills, help get work (and build your reputation), and improve your craft. 

Mentors are often willing to advise because they care about their community of professionals, which means that if you’re skilled enough, they’ll want to pass along some wisdom.

If there aren’t any mentors in your area or industry that seem like a good fit for what you need, try looking online for someone who might be able to help out with the skillset that would be helpful for this career transition. 

You may be surprised at how many people are willing and even excited to share their knowledge with others!

Ensure You Have Credibility First Before You Go One To Specialize In Any Field. Otherwise, You Will Not Get Clients

Before you start looking for clients, it is important to ensure that you have the right credentials and experience. If not, you will find it very hard to get clients and your business will suffer because of this. Here are some things that can help:

Be qualified. Your prospective client expects professional service from an expert in their field. 

This can be achieved through proper training or certification programs offered by reputable institutions such as The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) or The Institution of Engineering Designers (IED). 

You may want to consider these programs if you are starting as a freelancer because they provide a way for new engineers like yourself to build credibility quickly by gaining recognition from industry leaders who recognize how much work went into earning these credentials.

Have the right equipment and software tools at your disposal.* Make sure all your computer systems work well together so that when working on projects remotely with clients there are no issues with connectivity between devices.

Investigate which software programs would be most effective for completing tasks required by clients before agreeing on payment terms with them this way there won’t be any surprises later on down the line when they try using something different than what was originally agreed upon!”

Network With Other Engineers And Other Professionals

You probably already know that networking is an excellent way to find new clients, opportunities, and mentors. But what you may not realize is how much value it could add to your life.

Networking is a great way to meet people who share your interests, whether they’re other engineers or professionals from other fields. 

Your network will help you find potential leads when searching for jobs and new clients, as well as allow you to collaborate with others on projects or simply hang out socially (remember: friends are also customers!).

Offer Consulting Services To New Clients If They Want Advice On Issues Related To Mechanical Engineering

Once you have a few clients and some experience under your belt, it can be helpful to offer private consulting services to new clients who are looking for advice on issues related to mechanical engineering.

If you don’t want to take on this type of work, that’s okay! You don’t have to do it. This is just an option if you feel like doing this kind of work would be interesting and beneficial for both parties involved. If a client wants your opinion on something, consider offering them advice as long as:

The issue they are facing is something that you have experience with or know about (like designing something specific).

You understand the problem well enough that giving advice won’t result in more confusion or problems down the line (i.e., if they ask how much time it will take someone else who works at their company to design something new then give them an estimate based solely off how long other designers would take).

Set Up Your Office Space So That You Can Work From Home Comfortably

It is important to have a space that you can call your own so that you can work without interruptions. You will also want to make sure that this workspace is conducive to your job as well. 

You need a desk and chair with enough room for all of your paperwork, files, and other materials. You should have at least one computer connected directly to the Internet so that you can access information quickly when needed. 

A phone line is also necessary because clients may need to contact you during business hours. A printer/scanner will come in handy for printing out documents for clients or yourself and having an appropriate fax machine if required by clients

Use These Tips To Become A Freelance Mechanical Engineer

  • Take one project at a time.
  • Set your rates.
  • Start gathering experience before going freelance.
  • Invest in your skills by taking training courses and workshops, or get involved with local organizations such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). 

You can also find other ways to learn about what’s happening in the field through blogs and newsletters that focus on different aspects of mechanical engineering careers, such as Manufacturing Engineering magazine. 

Popular Mechanics magazine and more specialized websites like Design News where aspiring engineers who are interested in learning from others can share their experiences. 

As well as access useful information about everything from product development to engineering management strategies which will help them land jobs faster than anyone else would be able to do so without these connections beforehand!


Becoming a successful freelance mechanical engineer takes guts and hard work. But the rewards can be fruitful if you are strategic about your career change. Use these tips to start your new adventure as a freelancer, and get ready for a satisfying career that lets you run the show!

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