Consultant to Contractor Making the move

I have spent the past two years recruiting within the building service market here at TRC and during this time I have seen numerous changes within the industry and new challenges that have arisen for both clients and candidates. In this article I will tackle the subject of consulting engineers looking to make the move to the sub-contractors in the market and hopefully shed a bit of light and insight for any engineers looking to make this transition in the near future.

The move from consultancy to contractor is certainly not a new path and has been travelled by many in the past. Recently, with the increase in Design and Construction projects, more and more engineers from consultancies have been making the move. Consultancies of all shapes and sizes have lost good quality engineers to the contractors as sub-contractors look to boost the number of professionals within the design teams. The question then arises: what challenges are faced by those looking to make the transition? Although the fundamentals of engineering will remain the same, the focus and more importantly, the clients focus, will change.

Whilst speaking with professionals from both the HVAC and Electrical disciplines that have made the transition, one key word has stood out....BUDGET! A stronger focus on the financial aspects of the project is always at the forefront of most sub-contractors minds and developing your design to ensure that it is both innovative and within budget is a tough challenge that consultants have sometimes found hard to adjust to. In my opinion, approaching your new position with this in mind is a key to helping with the transition. 

Depending on the level of position that you move into, you may also lose the amount of face time with clients that you have been used to in your current consultancy. I enjoy speaking with engineers on a daily basis and hearing about what they enjoy most about their job. When you speak with me you may find it strange that I tend to focus on what you enjoy rather then what you dislike about your current role. The main reason I do this is to get a good understanding of what makes you tick and what makes you get up in the morning to go to work. 

The answers that I receive are varied but tend to focus around two areas, projects and client interaction. Many engineers that I speak to have said that this client interaction is an area that they sometimes feel is lacking in the sub-contractor roles. With that in mind, I would say that if this is the part of the role that you enjoy the most then you may need to think about whether it is actually a good move for you.

Let's face it, there are always positives and negatives to switching your career focus out there in the market. Moving to a sub-contractor position will certainly give you a better 360 degree view of the whole process and there really is no better way to gain this knowledge. A more thorough and technical understanding of the entire discipline will increase and as a result, will put you in a better position to develop your career in the long run.