How to Start a Civil Engineering Firm

If you’re thinking about starting a civil engineering firm, then there are some things you’re going to want to take into consideration first; not least of these is ensuring that you have the appropriate qualifications and experience to do so. 

In this article, we’ll cover the education needed to become a civil engineer and the basic process for setting up a civil engineering firm. Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need to get a new business up and running.

How Do I Start My Own Engineering Firm?

The first thing that any prospective business owner should do is assess the market to understand whether there’s a demand for qualified civil engineering firms. You need to understand whether clients are looking for the services that you can provide, in addition to what the competition is like. 

There are many different kinds of civil engineering firms out there, which include traffic engineering, construction, and structural design organizations. While you may have a passion for one particular specialism, that could also end up being the most saturated corner of the market, increasing the competition you’ll face in growing your business and gaining clients. In these primordial stages, research is key! 

Building the Right Team

Aside from assessing the condition of the market, you will also need to secure the right balance of skills on your team. Civil engineering firms call for more than just experienced and skilled engineers; you will also need to have strong business management on your side to grow and succeed with your business. 

If you’re getting into business with a partner, then the ideal scenario is for one of you to be an expert in business development, or at least well-versed on the steps that you will need to take. Having a team that has excellent technical knowledge but no business acumen whatsoever could lead to early failure.

Starting Your Company

There are a lot of boxes to check when starting a new company, including determining your company’s structure and following any regulations set out by your state’s engineering regulatory body. Once you’ve navigated the necessary paperwork and red tape, it’s time to land your first client. Some engineering firm owners get into business because they’ve already secured a client, but nevertheless, you will need to grow your client base to ensure that your business has a future.

Many prospective business owners source clients by attending networking events and developing professional relationships. Depending on the university program you choose, you might even get the opportunity to start networking in your years at college or university. You’ll also want to work on your understanding of marketing, which some degree programs will include in the curriculum. 

Finally, never forget to ensure that you have the proper insurance for your business.

Is Civil Engineering Hard to Get Into?

While we’ve referenced a degree program as one means of getting into this profession, there are other avenues. Aside from enrolling in a college degree program, you might undertake an apprenticeship, or be promoted into the position or offered a role after working within another field of engineering.

Should you take the college degree route, you should know that these degree programs are fairly rigorous and will involve studying the sciences, including physics and mathematics. Other courses will likely include hydraulics, mechanics, and geotechnics.

As a result, degree programs can have stringent entry requirements. You’ll commonly be asked to have an average GPA of 3.0 or above, though some less competitive institutions may accept 2.75 or above. You’ll also be expected to have scored highly in areas of mathematics, chemistry, physics, calculus, algebra, and potentially other subjects. It’s not uncommon to be asked to write a long essay response to a prescribed topic, too.

How Do I Start a Construction Consulting Firm?

Many of the principles we’ve highlighted above for starting a civil engineering firm also apply to starting your own consultancy. You’ll need to have a strong business plan that involves an element of market analysis to understand both where there’s an opportunity in the market as well as the competition you’ll be facing. You’ll also need to build a client list by building your professional network.

You’ll either need to be well-versed in general contracting, safety codes, and project management, or you’ll need to build a multidisciplinary team that has these combined skill sets. Ideally, you’ll also have a college education in an area such as construction management; many working professionals in this field have a bachelor’s degree and some have even graduated from master’s programs, though some professionals do work in this field with a high school diploma or GED as their highest level of education.