Looking to Start an Engineering Design Consultancy


I want to start an engineering design consultancy in Perth, I am looking to take services for structural, piping stress and similar fields.

To get into the business and develop contacts, I was thinking of starting with taking up drafting jobs. I have 15 years experience, however I plan to hire or outsource work as my experience is limited to mechanical design.

I need advice about how to start the ball rolling, where should I search for the "engineering work scopes" or jobs. I don't have any contacts in WA as most of my experience is from overseas.


  • +7 votes

    Without a decent network and contacts in the organisations you want to get work from, I think you may have trouble kicking off.

    I personally think rather than doing drafting, you'd be better off working for a few years in an existing engineering consultancy and use your time their to build a network and further understand what exact the local market wants (just be mindful of any non-compete clauses). Not to mention if you don't have CPEng registration, then this will help you out to attain it.

    In your spare time try joining some relevant professional societies and attend their meetings to network. Also get friendly with the vendor reps you deal with and attend some of their seminars/presentations if they hold them. It can be a good networking opportunity and down the track those vendors may help you out by referring some of their clients that are looking for consultants to you, or can at least give you a heads up on project opportunities you can chase down.


      I am in agreement with you, however the problem I face is getting or trying to look for project opportunities while working in a company is not ethical.
      but yeah maybe then have to wait for few years before taking a dive.

      • +3 votes

        What I have seen in a lot of smaller electrical engineering contractors/consultants is they typically started out working for say mining companies, power utilities, heavy industry, etc, built their contacts up through that and then went out on their own. Just not sure if in your field there isu h opportunity for that.

        Even if you worked for an engineering consultancy, you wouldn't be trying to take their work whilst you are working for them. What you should be doing is just trying to build up a good relationship with customers as a core part of the job. Then there's a possibility that once they know you are leaving they may choose to bring you back without you really pushing the point. Even if that doesn't eventuate, they will still be a good reference for you.


          At the moment am more like in a company which gives work to engineering consultants.

          • +4 votes

            @Ehty: As someone that works for an international Engineering consultant, would not recommend this route for standard Eng disciplines like Civils, Structural, Mechanical Engineering etc. Engineers are a dime a dozen, thousands grads churn out of Uni every year and your PI and experience would never be considered suitable risk to take. Exception is made for elite experienced verifier consultants for bit-part support work.

            However, this changes drastically for very niche disciplines and sub-disciplines that larger organisations do not have in-house capability, capacity nor appetite to do so for various reasons.

            I would recommend thinking about what specialisms you may want to focus on and market instead. Here's a couple that may help:

            • Fire Life Safety
            • Fire Proof Engineering
            • Acoustics, Noise & Vibration
            • Heritage Interpretation (Eng interface with Architects)
            • Industrial Design (Eng interface with Architects)
            • Planning approvals specialist (Eng focus)
            • Durability
            • Reliability, Availability & Maintenance
            • Safety Assurance
            • Systems Engineering (Huge immaturity in Aus market right now and ripe for development)
            • Security & Blast
            • Tunnelling & Tunnel Ventilation
            • Risk Engineering
            • Environmental Engineering
            • Earthing & Bonding
            • Human Factors
            • Signalling & Comms
  • +3 votes

    Only because it hasn't been mentioned in your post, but do you have all your business admin / registration / recognition /insurance etc all setup? I expect you'd need capital and/or investors too, particularly if you're looking to hire staff to cover the engineering areas you're not familiar with.

    I run my own engineering consultancy along side my full time engineering job.


      I am working for the ABN right now, but not sure why I would need capital and investment since it’s just a small WFH set up to start with.
      I would also hire staff on casual basis depending on each job I receive in the beginning.
      Saying that I have already an engineering setup overseas with a website but the jobs I done was mostly overseas. Different regulations here which I need to get aware of.
      Also I will find it difficult to work along with my full time engineering job till the consultancy is established (hopefully).

      • +1 vote

        If it's a design consultancy then you need professional indemnity insurance - lots of it.

        Also, government departments are going through a tightening up of qualifications and experience for engineering consultants at the moment. So somebody with 1 years experience will get an angle bracket to design (more or less).

        I know when the guy at work put out the draft paper he didn't make it clear that it was fore externals and half the office crapped their pants (me included until I realised they'd have to pay me out).

        Sorry to be vague but when I realised it didn't affect me I stopped paying attention.

  • +1 vote

    Best bet is to stalk email linkdin people that could potentially be requiring work in your area.

    Without an active network this really is the only way. And yeah, taking clients from your current business will be frowned upon and may even be against your contract (non-compete clause) so will open you up liability wise.

    tbh in perth the engineering consultancy market is particularly hard to break in as the major players start to move design work offshore and can cut down significantly on costs, leaving less money for the little guys.