What Is A Consulting Engineer? (Qualifications And Skills)

Updated 13 March 2023

A consulting engineer is an engineer that specialises in project design, coordination and analysis. These highly skilled professionals provide their expertise during the planning, designing, supervising of public and private infrastructure projects. If you want to become a consulting engineer, you may benefit from knowing more about this career. In this article, we discuss what is a consulting engineer, what they do and explore the benefits of becoming an engineering consultant, along with the steps and skills required to become one.

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What Is A Consulting Engineer?

What is a consulting engineer, can be described as an individual who provides subject matter expertise to their clients on engineering related projects and evaluates the project's design. They serve their clients from a project's preliminary stage through its final stage of design and construction. Engineering consultants often work as technical liaisons between process specialists, suppliers, contractors and the client. These professionals usually have a diverse background and may specialise in civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, chemical, industrial, agricultural, environmental and geotechnical engineering.

Related: How To Become a Mechanical Engineer

Why Become A Consulting Engineer?

Here are some reasons engineering professionals choose to pursue this career:

  • Interesting work: Each engineering project is different and has unique requirements, cost constraints and existing conditions.

  • Salary potential: Engineering consultants have the potential to earn a high salary. With experience and over time, you can work as a freelance engineering consultant.

  • Extensive travel: Since consultants work with public and private sector companies, they often travel to the client's location. For those who enjoy travelling and exploring new places, this can be a significant benefit.

  • Participation in all aspects: Based on your engineering specialisation, you can take part in the planning, designing or construction stage of a project or at all stages from beginning through the completion of the project.

  • Development opportunities: Engineering consultancy is a growing field with opportunities for development and training. As you often require to work on new and different types of projects, you commit to lifelong learning.

  • Fast-paced environment: No two days would be similar in a consulting engineer's role as the activities you perform vary. For those who find a continual change in work exciting, consultancy could be an excellent career choice.

Related: What Are Consulting Jobs? (With Careers, Salary And Skills)

What Does An Engineer Consultant Do?

Your exact job responsibilities may vary depending on your specialisation and the type of projects you handle. Here are some common duties:

  • Project management: These professionals work with clients and assess their requirements, then translate them into designs and new systems. Starting from the ideation phase to the project completion, they manage all project timelines.

  • Project framework: Consulting engineers often help architects build a project's framework by providing solutions to any technical issues. After assessing and analysing a technical issue, these consultants come up with solutions to resolve the issue, without affecting the project's deadline or the involvement of other departments.

  • Client relationships: These professionals meet and interact with clients, local authorities and other stakeholders to build relationships while understanding their requirements. This helps in providing solutions that solve their business problem.

  • Cost reduction techniques: These engineers deliver advanced quality designs that reduce the project's building, maintenance and operations cost. Whether they prepare a new design or rehab an existing one, the end products they make are cost-effective and simple to achieve.

  • Project logistics: An engineering consultant's job role involves organising the project's logistics and supply chain management. This may include purchasing machines or equipment necessary for project completion.

  • Reporting: A part of their job role involves creating reports and documenting every detail of their assessment. These reports may include the key findings of a project at every stage - from inception and concept planning to completion.

  • Review meetings: Consultants often take part in review meetings with other engineering departments and analyse the procedure for effective design implementation.

Related: What Is a Process Engineer? A Complete Guide

Work Environment Of Consulting Engineers

Your work environment may vary depending on where you choose to work. Consultants may work in a multinational company, a government organisation or a consultancy firm. They can even work as a freelancer. A remote or freelance engineering consultant is a viable option for those who want project-based work to expand their expertise. Engineering consultants are usually full-time employees with a set schedule of working hours every month.

Related: 8 Essential Consulting Skills And How To Develop Them

Average Salary Of Consulting Engineers

The average salary of consulting engineers is ₹55,833 per month. But, your salary depends on your skills, specialisation, employer and experience. With experience and a postgraduate degree, you are likely to earn a higher salary.

Skills Of A Consulting Engineer

Some important skills to master for a successful career as an engineering consultant are:

  • Organisational skills: Often, consultants work under strict deadlines and on several projects at a time. To ensure timely completion, they require excellent organisational skills.

  • Communication skills: Engineering consultants meet with clients, attend review meetings, discuss a project's progress with business stakeholders and communicate the client's requirements to their team. These professionals also require good written communication skills to prepare project-related reports.

  • Computer knowledge: These professionals can use their computer skills to create complex engineering designs, read technical drawings and change the design. Proficiency in specialised engineering software is also helpful to fulfil all job-specific duties.

  • Planning: Employers often prefer consultants with excellent planning skills. Proper planning is necessary to ensure safety in any construction project.

  • Problem-solving: Consulting engineers require strong problem-solving skills to troubleshoot and analyse engineering-related problems. Based on their analysis, they provide a comprehensive solution.

  • Technical skills: The exact skills required for the job may vary depending on your engineering specialisation. But, some common technical skills required include computer simulation, design optimisation, cost estimation, mathematical analysis, reliability analysis and engineering management.

  • Time management: Apart from managing their own time, these consultants monitor the time of their team to ensure timely project completion.

Related: Time Management Skills: Definition and Examples

How To Become A Consulting Engineer?

Follow these steps to become a consulting engineer:

1. Earn a bachelor's degree

After completing your 10+2 or higher secondary, appear for engineering entrance exams. Having an engineering degree in an area of your choice is the bare minimum requirement for becoming a consulting engineer. A degree in engineering like BE or BTech is preferable. If you have a diploma in engineering or a BSc degree, you can make a lateral entry into an engineering course and complete the BE or BTech in three years.

Related: Top 10 Jobs With Mechanical Engineering Degree

2. Pursue higher education

To expedite your career growth, consider pursuing a postgraduate degree in engineering. Higher education options include ME or MTech in a field in which you completed your engineering. Furthermore, to get admission into colleges that provide a master's degree, passing the graduate aptitude test in engineering (GATE) is necessary. Based on the score, you can get admission to a suitable college of your choice.

3. Gain experience

Begin your job search by applying for engineering jobs roles. For example, if you hold a civil engineering degree, apply for a civil engineer's job. Working as a consultant requires a few years of professional work experience so that you can provide expertise on a project. Explore job opportunities online to get hired for a desirable job.

Related: What Does A Civil Engineering Consultant Do? (With Skills)

4. Get certified

Your education proves your knowledge in the engineering domain and certification can enhance your skill set. Certification from reputed institutes or online platforms can make you a promising candidate for any consulting engineer job. Choose a certification to pursue based on your specialisation.

5. Join a professional association

When you join a professional association, you get in touch with people passionate about providing consultancy services to clients on engineering-related activities. In addition, membership in relevant associations can provide you with development opportunities, news of the latest development in your field and current information about this profession. Also, by joining such an association, you can expand your professional network, which can help you find and secure a desirable job faster.

6. Create a portfolio

Most employers want to see a portfolio of your previous work. As you gain professional experience, consider creating a portfolio of your designs and projects. This can help clients understand your skills. Also, it is a great way to showcase the quality of your work.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.


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