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The main source of clients for most Consulting Engineers are “Architects”. However, others often hire them. “Private Clients” are any client who is not in an architectural practice. The following is how engineers find private clients.

Trade Contractors

Trade contractors are often asked by General Contractors to bid on “Design Build” projects which include plans & specifications sealed by a Professional Engineer. Sometimes, these projects require some missionary (unpaid) work up-front. My advice, if you are willing to take a risk, don’t donate more than 8 hours and get paid for an extra 40 hours, if the project goes ahead. But, BEWARE: Contractors are notorious for “stiffing” engineers. However, you can usually trust the Contractors on your Selected Bidders List because they are already somewhat beholden to you.

Housing Authorities

Housing authorities are great for upgrades: i.e. electrical include: fire alarm, generator, and lighting). But they usually hire architects for major renovations.. This work, of course, is subject to funding cuts.


These are critical facilities and the work is specialized. The same comments as above apply here. This can be some of your most profitable work; there is little competition; and the need for hospital work usually does not fluctuate with the economy.

Colleges & Universities

Higher educational facilities are recession proof clients. The same comments as above apply here.

Federal Agencies

Effective January 1, 2002, the FedBizOpps (FBO) database has replaced the Commerce Business Daily (CBD). This new FBO/CBD database (@ is identical to the old CBD format. This is an on-line electronic database that can be searched for Federal Government Architect & Engineer opportunities.

Attorneys/Law Firms

If you are confident, knowledgeable, and well-spoken serving as a Forensic Engineering/Expert Witness should be part of your engineering practice.

Excerpted from The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING © 2015 John D. Gaskell. Used with permission of Professional Value Books, Inc. All rights reserved. Order at Use coupon code “paperback” and save.