Engineer Consultant Salary

by Aurelio Locsin

For companies that need engineering services, one way to cut costs is to hire consulting engineers. In exchange for paying a fixed hourly rate temporarily, they avoid spending for benefits and taxes that a permanent employee would need. As with engineers on full-time employment, the salaries of consultants vary by job level and engineering discipline.


Engineers use scientific principles in physics, chemistry, biology and math to create machines and processes that solve practical problems. They also install, test, maintain and train users on their creations. As of May 2012, engineer consultants averaged $94,380 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This compared to the mean $74,440 earned by all workers in the consulting industry. Becoming an engineer consultant requires at least a bachelor’s degree in an engineering field and usually several years of experience. Those who offer services directly to the public also need a professional engineer’s license.


The highest-paid consultant engineers were petroleum engineers who averaged an annual $131,950. They specialize in extracting oil and natural gas from underground and converting it into fuel. The lowest-paid were materials engineers at a mean $72,580 yearly. They focus on manufacturing materials for use in specialized products. With 10,890 positions, environmental engineers formed the largest consulting group, averaging $84,500 per year. They create systems to mitigate environmental damage, such as by reducing air pollution. The smallest group belonged to nuclear engineers. While an estimate of their numbers wasn’t released, they made a mean $120,830 annually. They use nuclear science for such industries as nuclear power and medicine.


Many companies that hire more than one consultant may need the services of engineering managers to coordinate the efforts of individuals and ensure that projects finish according to schedule and under budget. Consulting engineer managers averaged $136,720 per year, compared to the mean $136,950 yearly made by all consulting managers. Engineering managers have at least a bachelor’s degree because many start as engineers and then work their way up in increasingly responsible positions. They also gain administrative skills by getting a master’s in engineering management or business administration.


If an organization needs help for their employed engineers and scientists, or wants to do relatively low-level tasks, it hires engineering technician consultants. They averaged $51,320 per year. The highest-paid technician discipline belonged to aerospace, averaging an annual $57,310. The lowest-paid was environmental engineering, averaging an annual $42,220. Although serving primarily as assistants, engineering technicians can also independently set up experiments and processes, check and maintain equipment, run tests and report on any findings. They need a two-year degree in engineering technology but can also receive training in the Armed Forces.

About the Author

Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.

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