How to Become an Engineering Contractor

(5 minutes to read)

An engineering role can cover a broad range of categories, but ultimately the title refers to jobs that use both science and mathematics to solve problems.

The list of engineering roles you can choose from is pretty long, but can include titles such as aerospace engineer, civil engineer, electrical engineer, software engineer and environmental engineer (to name just a few!).

The four main types of engineering are:


This could have you working in industries such as food production, pharmaceuticals and mining.


This is to do with the design, construction and maintenance of the environment, which could see you working on road and bridge projects or renewable energy.


An engineer working in this field would research, design and test new technology and electrical systems within buildings and products. This could cover robotics, transport or digital technology.


This can cover a wide range of areas, from aerospace to manufacturing.

As there are so many areas to choose from, the engineering sector can have strong prospects, particularly if working as self-employed, as you are able to work more than one contract at a time and can usually charge more than a permanent worker might.

Qualifications needed to become an engineering contractor

The type of qualifications you need to become an engineer will all depend on the field you choose; however, you will need good A Levels in both mathematics and science (particularly physics, biology and chemistry) as a starting point.

The next step would be to obtain a degree in either an engineering or technology-related subject. Of course, the degree you go for will all depend on whether you want to get into civil, chemical, electrical or mechanical engineering.

It’s worth considering studying for a Masters or PhD, or taking courses for professional qualifications after a degree, especially if you want to become a Chartered Engineer (CEng).

Joining a professional body will also help to further support your career progression.

Many people will choose the apprenticeship route instead, where they can gain the experience they need and learn on the job while they study. This will have you completing a national diploma in engineering (or a related subject) while being paid to train.

There are a number of big companies that offer engineering apprenticeships, such as Royal Mail, Rolls Royce, Mars Chocolate and Ford.

It’s also worth noting that you will usually need to have a few GCSE’s graded C or above to be accepted for an apprenticeship.

The benefits of being an engineering contractor

Being self-employed brings with it numerous benefits that a permanent 9-5 employee can only dream of.

There’s the fact that you are essentially your own boss, which puts you in complete control of your career, its development and progression. Having the flexibility to work when you choose is perfect for creating a great work-life balance and means that you aren’t constricted by an employer telling you that you can only have certain days off for holiday, or having to ask permission to attend an appointment when it’s within work hours.

Often, self-employed professionals are able to earn more than their permanent counterparts and this is only fair considering that there is no holiday or sick pay provided to a contractor.

Not only can you expect a good rate of pay – either on an hourly or daily basis, but as a contractor you can choose to work more than one contract at a time if you can. There’s also the opportunity to claim back on expenses (only ones that are made wholly and exclusively for your business), which can reduce your tax bill at the end of each year.

Finding work

As a contractor, you will be responsible for finding your own work, however, although this won’t be the case for everyone, sometimes it is better to have gained a bit of engineering experience before becoming self-employed.

This can also be beneficial for gaining potential clients and contacts along the way who may be useful for when you decide to join the contracting sector.

Make sure that your LinkedIn account is up-to-date and create a strong network of people who work in your industry; if you’re using other social media sites to find contracts, such as Twitter and Facebook, set up a separate account to your personal one so that you look more professional.

Setting up a business website is a great way for you to sell your work to potential clients, just make sure that it is clear and easy to use with plenty of information about your skills.

Looking to jobs boards can be a useful tool, whether you choose a general one or a site that specifies in engineering.

There’s also the option to join an agency – look around for one that suits you and consider asking other people in your field if they can make any recommendations.

If you’re interested in becoming an engineering contractor, please contact for further advice. Or please complete the form below and one of our friendly experts will call you back to talk you through the sign up process.

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