10 Side Hustles for Civil Engineers – A Bridge to Financial Stability

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Your civil engineering expertise in planning, designing, and construction has equipped you with sought-after skills. But, despite being in a relatively high-demand and well-paid industry, the pinch of living expenses and economic uncertainty can create a need to shore up your finances.

Or maybe you're just looking for some extra income to get ahead.

So, if you've been searching for a civil engineer side hustle to add structural integrity to your wallet and a little variety to your life, you’re certainly not alone.

With countless side hustles ranging from buying and selling to renting property, it makes sense to find one that uses your strengths as a civil engineer. By tapping into your existing knowledge and experience, you can dive deeper into your industry and expand on an already impressive toolkit.

So, this list of side hustles for civil engineers is tailored to your specific skill set. But before diving in, let's quickly go over the benefits of taking on a civil engineer side hustle.

Benefits of Side Hustles for Civil Engineers

As mentioned, there are many side hustles you can do, and some worth exploring, but there are specific benefits to choosing one that’s related to your industry.

  • It can help you establish a network of valuable industry connections.
  • Provides additional income streams that reinforce your financial situation, something everyone needs during these increasingly unpredictable times.
  • Introduces you to new skills and experiences relevant to the civil engineering industry, making you a more versatile and valuable professional.
  • Exploring a range of projects in your spare time (not that you have actual “spare” time) could ignite your creativity like being a kid again, leading to an even more fulfilling civil engineering career.

Another potential benefit is that your side hustle could grow into a full-time business.  

But starting and growing a side hustle requires more than technical expertise. You may need industry connections and, in some cases, additional certifications. You’ll also need to know how to market your side hustle and attract clients.

As we unpack this list of gigs, I'll also provide resources and tips to help you take those first steps.

Please note that the starting budgets and any income potential mentions provided in this article are only rough estimates and can vary significantly depending on various factors. These factors may include but are not limited to your location, experience level, competition, target market, marketing strategy, and overall economic conditions. The figures mentioned are not guaranteed and should be used for informational purposes only.
We encourage you to conduct thorough research and consult with professionals in your field to gain a better understanding of the costs and potential earnings associated with your chosen side hustle. For additional information on income potential, you may refer to resources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Glassdoor, and PayScale, which provide salary and income data for various professions and industries.

Side Hustles for Civil Engineers

1. Freelance Drafting

Wouldn’t it be nice to use your civil engineering skills to create detailed plans for clients from the comfort of your own home? Freelance drafting allows you to do just that.

Of course, finding consistent clients and keeping up with your day job can be a bit of a challenge. But the freedom to choose your own projects (and maybe improve your drafting skills) makes it worthwhile.

And who knows… if you land enough clients, you might turn this side hustle into a full-time gig. As someone who works from home full-time, I can say it’s certainly something worth chasing.  

You can charge per project, offer package deals for larger projects, or even consider retainer agreements for long-term clients.

To get started, master drafting software if you haven’t already, and then build a portfolio by doing discounted work or favors. With a portfolio and a small roster of clients, you can start promoting your services at regular rates.

Freelance platforms are a great way to get work and tap into your existing network for word-of-mouth business.

Starting Cost Estimate: $1,000 – $2,500. This includes the cost of a computer capable of running drafting software if you don’t already have one, the software (AutoCAD, for example, which is now knocking on $2,000/year), and marketing costs to attract clients.

Resources: Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer

2. Structural Inspections

This may be a gig you’re trying to get away from, not run towards. But, as a civil engineer, structural integrity is one of your most important objectives. So why not use your knowledge to ensure the safety of non-public buildings in your community?

Structural inspection can be a busy side hustle with the right marketing efforts, even though certification and dealing with clients who don’t like your assessments can be a pain.  

For homes, you can charge a fee per inspection or offer package deals to companies that require multiple inspections.

Certification is an obvious place to start. Then, you can market your services through word of mouth, on job boards, social media, and through paid advertising methods (targeted Facebook ads, for example, or Google pay-per-click).

Starting Cost Estimate: $500 – $2,000. This includes the cost of getting certified (which can vary greatly depending on the program), basic tools, and marketing costs.

Resources: International Code Council, InterNACHI

3. Become a Civil Engineering Tutor

You probably remember how challenging civil engineering concepts were when you first started learning them. Or maybe it was math or physics.

Whether school was a struggle or not, you can still use your expertise to help alleviate that struggle for others.  Tutoring can be a fulfilling side hustle, even if explaining complex concepts in a simple way can be tricky at times.

You can charge per hour or offer package deals for a set number of sessions. You can also join local and online tutoring platforms to get started, which may have set rates and commissions already.

In addition to tutoring platforms, you can reach out directly to local schools and universities and build a relationship with the engineering department. Maybe revisiting your own school is the best place to get started.

Starting Cost Estimate: $0 – $500. This is relatively low-cost to start, especially if you're doing it online. You might want to invest in some textbooks or resources to aid in your teaching and possibly some advertising to attract students.

Resources: Tutor.com, Wyzant

4. Start an Engineering Website/Blog or YouTube Channel

Sharing your knowledge and experience online can be a great way to connect with a global audience and position yourself as an authority in your field.

Imagine applying for a new job with a successful civil engineering website or YouTube channel on your resume. Provided your content is good, this gives you a significant advantage over other applicants, even if it’s just to stand out from the crowd.

But more than that, it proves to potential employers that you really know what you’re talking about.

Of course, creating consistent content and building an audience can be challenging (I’ve done it and can verify that it’s not easy). But the opportunity to establish yourself as an expert in the field and build something that has real value (and websites and YouTube channels do have real value) is incredibly rewarding.

You can earn income through ad revenue, affiliate marketing, sponsored content, lead generation, or selling your own products and services. To start, identify your specific approach, create a website or start a YouTube channel (both are easy), and start producing content.

Starting Cost Estimate: $100 – $1000. This includes the cost of setting up a website (domain name, hosting, etc.) or a good-quality camera and microphone for YouTube. Don't forget about marketing costs to attract viewers.

Resources: Wealthy Affiliate, YouTube.com (Starting a YouTube Channel)

5. CAD Design Services

Offering your CAD skills to clients who need custom designs can be another great way to leverage your civil engineering skills.  

Like other side hustles (or any business), it can be tough to find consistent clients, but again, the opportunity to choose your own projects and make some extra money doing what is probably relatively easy for you can be worth it.

Freelance platforms are an easy way to get started. Simply set up your profile so potential clients can find you and search for job postings. In most cases, it’s better to work with local clients, but you can do both.

Starting Cost Estimate: $1,000 – $2,500. Like freelance drafting, you may need to upgrade your computer and personal CAD software. Marketing costs to attract clients can also add up, depending on how aggressively you advertise your services.

Resources: AutoCAD, SolidWorks

6. Green Building Consulting

Another area you may be an expert in is sustainable construction practices, and your knowledge can help clients make their buildings more eco-friendly.  

Staying up on the latest green building standards and convincing clients to invest in eco-friendly options could be challenging, but sustainability is a growing field with increased investment.

As a green building consultant, you could offer comprehensive packages that include an initial assessment, recommendations, and follow-up evaluations to ensure the recommendations are implemented effectively.

You could also offer workshops or training sessions to construction companies or architects, teaching them about the latest green building standards and techniques.

To get started, you'll want to immerse yourself in the world of green building. Attend seminars, read industry publications, and consider getting certified in a recognized program like LEED.

Once you're confident in your knowledge, start networking and offering your services. You could even offer a free initial consultation to attract your first clients.

Starting Cost Estimate: $0 – $2,000. Costs include time and money learning about green building standards and certifications. A marketing budget to attract clients may also be required.

Resources: LEED, EPA

7. Provide 3D Printing Services

With consumer access to 3D printers, you can use your expertise to create physical representations of structures for clients who need this service. Yes, the initial investment in a 3D printer can be high, and finding clients such as architects and construction companies.

The opportunity to work on innovative projects and bring your designs to life would be an incredibly rewarding side hustle.

Charging per project may be the easiest way to monetize, but you could also partner with architects, construction companies, and other clients to offer special rates for ongoing work.

You'll first need to invest in a 3D printer, and there are many online resources, tutorials, and communities in this niche. Start by having fun printing your own designs and showcasing your work on social media or a personal website. With examples, you can then advertise your services and reach out to potential clients.

Starting Cost Estimate: $200 – $3,000. The cost of 3D printers can vary greatly depending on the quality and size of the printer. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, you'll also need to consider the cost of materials and marketing.

Resources: All3DP, Artec3D

8. Technical Writing, Fact Checking, Editing, and Proofreading

If you have a knack for writing and editing, your civil engineering knowledge can be used to write technical articles, manuals, and guides.

Many general freelance writers are now struggling to compete with artificial intelligence, but technical writers are still in demand. And a growing opportunity related to this side hustle because of AI-written content is fact-checking.

Publications are increasingly leaning on AI to write their content, but before they publish, they need experts to review the work and make sure it’s accurate.

There can be limited opportunities for some technical writing gigs if it’s a narrow niche, but because the combination of expertise and writing ability is somewhat rare, it usually pays well. Technical writers can often earn $0.50 – $1.00 per word.

You can also charge per article, per hour, or per project, depending on your publisher's needs.

To get started, hone your writing skills, and build a portfolio of articles, guides, tutorials, etc. Starting a blog or an affiliate niche website is a great way to build your portfolio while publishing articles and guides that you can monetize in other ways.

With work to show, start pitching to industry publications, related blogs, magazines, textbook publishers, etc.

Starting Cost Estimate: $0 – $500. This is another low-cost start-up. You might want to invest in reference books, style guides, or writing courses.

Resources: How to Become a Freelance Writer

9. Sell 3D Printed Models and Crafts

Instead of providing a 3D printing service for clients, you can also create and sell 3D printed crafts or models. Use your civil engineering skills in a fun and creative way.

The initial investment for a 3D printer can be high when you don’t yet have a product to sell, so this may be a side hustle that starts out as a hobby. A fun hobby.

Of course, finding a market for your products can be challenging, depending on the type of products you create. But you can also sell (just) your designs on sites like Shapeways and CGTrader.

Or, instead of selling individual items, consider creating themed collections or integrated custom designs specific to various industries.

You’ll obviously need a 3D printer and materials to get started. As mentioned above, it might be good to treat this as a hobby when starting out and just experiment.  

Show off your creations on social media, and once you get some interest and followers, set up an online shop on a platform like Etsy or Shopify, or sell directly on social media.

Starting Cost Estimate: $200 – $2,000. Similar to the 3D printing service, the cost of 3D printers can vary greatly. You'll also need to consider the cost of materials, as well as a platform to sell your products and marketing costs.

Resources: Etsy, Shopify, All3DP

10. Landscaping or Gardening

If you love the outdoors, why not use your knowledge of soil and terrain for landscaping or gardening services?

The physical demands of this side hustle, along with unpredictable weather, can be a bit daunting, but the demand for landscaping services is relatively strong and easy to capitalize on.

It’s also a positive change of scenery and an opportunity to work outdoors.

You can charge for individual services or offer seasonal packages that include various services throughout the year. Consultation services are another possibility, providing advice and plans for clients who want to do the work themselves but could use your civil engineering insights.

You'll need some basic gardening tools to get started and perhaps a more granular knowledge of plants and soils. But once you're ready, start offering your services to neighbors, friends, and local businesses. Word of mouth can also be a powerful marketing tool in this industry.

Starting Cost Estimate: $500 – $3,000 +. This includes basic gardening tools, possibly some plants or seeds, and marketing costs to attract clients. I added the plus (+) because you may need a truck for this side hustle.

Resources: Better Homes & Gardens, Almanac

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