Posted on




Would your engineer (of any discipline) like to have his own private engineering practice within six (6) years of graduation – A practice that will support him or her and a family in an interesting exciting and lucrative career?


The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an engineer as “a person who has scientific training and who designs and builds complicated products, machines, systems, or structures.” This is what a consulting engineer in private engineering practice does.


At the high school level, students should consider career options. Don’t choose a career just because it “sounds like fun.” Make sure that it will be lucrative enough to support you and a family, will not restrict where you can live, and will not require odd hours or excessive travel.

I have a friend whose daughter became a Marine Biologist and later found out that it qualified her to “shovel seal poop.” Those who are strong in science and mathematics should consider engineering.


However, before spending four years of your life and your parents’ hard earned money, you should be reasonably sure that engineering is for you. I recommend “shadowing” an engineer of the discipline that interests you. If you don’t know an engineer, use the internet. Try structural engineers (for example) or professional engineers. Make a phone call, and explain that you are a high school student interested in becoming an engineer and would like to speak to an engineer. Explain to the engineer that you would like to come to his/her office and observe a typical day. Very few engineers would turn down that kind of a request, and it might turn into a summer internship or a job after graduation. If you are unsure of your discipline of choice, call engineers of various specialties to try and gain an understanding of what their job entails. Spending time with several engineers would broaden your perceptive.



I am an electrical engineer. I started my own private engineering practice on my 29th birthday and we grew from a one man shop to the largest electrical engineering firm in Rhode Island. Your engineer (of any discipline) can have his own private practice within six (6) years of graduation.

Most Colleges of Engineering never mention the words “Consulting Engineering” or even the words “Systems for Buildings”. They are too busy talking about research or other fields where engineers will never be their own boss.


“Consulting engineers are individuals who, because of training in one or more engineering specialties, are licensed professional engineers in private practice. They serve private and public clients in ways ranging from brief consultations to complete design and coordination of projects. They are often the technical liaison between architects, process specialists, contractors, suppliers and the client. A consulting engineer can provide general consultation, feasibility reports, design, cost estimates, rate studies, project development, patent assistance, and preparation of environmental impact statements.


Architects (and building owners i.e. hospitals) hire engineers to draw system plans and write specifications for their buildings, including electrical, mechanical (heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and plumbing), fire protection (sprinklers), structural, and civil. Sometimes, very narrow specialties are required, such as acoustical engineers.


Drawing & Specifications Phase

The consulting engineer is responsible for designing within the architect’s budget limitations and coordinating with utility companies and inspection authorities.

Specifications Phase

At the end of the design phase, the consultant prepares a specification document detailing the material requirements for his specialty and system functions.

Bidding Phase

During bidding, he attends pre-bid meetings, clarifies issues, and prepares addenda for the architect to issue to inform bidders of changes in the requirements.

Shop Drawing Phase

After a contract is awarded, the consultant reviews/approves shop drawings, detailing all equipment that his trade contractor proposes.

Construction Phase

During the construction phase, he visits the job site to record progress and clarify the contract documents. At the completion of the construction phase, he prepares a punch list detailing corrections to the work, if needed.


How would you like to be responsible for guiding your engineer to his or her own private engineering practice that will support them and their family for an interesting, exciting, and lucrative career?

I have written three consulting engineering books to share my knowledge with the next generation of engineers:

My first book is: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING. In essence, his readers discover “step-by-step” how to start & manage an “outstanding” Engineering Practice and exactly how to gain a reputation as an expert in their specialty. This is both a handbook for new engineers and a constant reference manual for seasoned professionals.

My second book is: The “Outline Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING. It is a condensed and abridged summery of the detailed advice provided in the “Complete Guide”. It is intended for engineers looking for just the facts; without the stories and background. It is intended to be like the “Cliff’s Notes” version of the Complete Guide.

My third book is The CONSULTING ENGINEER’S “Guidebook” and is an excerpted and extended version of the “Complete Guide”. It is the result of requests from many readers to narrow the focus to the goals of:

  • Becoming an “outstanding” consulting engineer.
  • Gaining a reputation as an “expert” in their specialty; and
  • Obtaining the engineering “management skills” needed to advance their career and make the firm stand out from their competitors.

All my books are available at AMAZON.COM

Go to my website:, If you chose the “Engineers Gift Package” you can get all three books at a discount. Use coupon code “paperback” and save.

What are you waiting for?


Excerpted from ‘The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING’  © by John D. Gaskell, Retired Professional Engineer. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute this “Consulting Engineering” tip, upon condition that this message remains.

Visit: for additional tips.