I've been in private practice as a one man office for twelve years. I earn no
salary and rely upon competition for work. This does not mean that I am the
lowest bidder - I don't think I ever have been. My earnings as an engineer
have much to do with my abilities as a businessman. Maintaining work and
creating a strong foundation built upon good business practices and ethical
relationships with my clients has insured me continued work without the
typical fears associated with recessions. This also means that I have to be
flexible in the work that I do in order to compensate for slowdowns in the
building trade. I might do this by marketing my skills in areas devoted to
seismic retrofit or damage repair etc.
I remember the discussion we had with the editor and publisher of CE Magazine
who indicated that the average earning potential was much hirer than most of
us in private practice can get. I was not complaining about my hourly rate or
what I needed to live on, I simply disagreed with his assessement.
I believe that we do have potential to earn as much as we are willing to put
on the line. Many engineers do very well within larger firms where they
gamble on hirer pay verses job security. Personally, I believe that only we
can create our own security and it does not come from working for other
people. Therefore, we become responsible for our own sucesses and failures.
If you want to make money you must be creative enough to know how and what
skills to market. I have a feeling that many of us who participate on this
List are not the typical 9 to 5 engineer. There is a certain passion our our
profession that drives us differently that those who can easily turn it off
at 5 pm and enjoy their family and friends. Therefore, we are probably more
inclined to better than average financially as we learn new creative ways to
approach or create business opportunites.
Isn't this the true measure of our sucess?
Dennis S Wish PE