Starting as a Freelance Engineer

Many engineers see freelancing as an attractive alternative to a permanent contract because it offers flexible working hours, the opportunity to be your own boss, a good income, and varied tasks. Working as a freelance engineer can be a great opportunity, especially for those who have a passion for technology, enjoy problem-solving and are fearless in working independently.


If you're interested in starting as a freelance engineer and want to know what skills you need and how to access job vacancies easily and quickly, keep reading. We'll explain everything.


What skills do you need to work as a freelance engineer?

Freelancers are hired as specialists, so they need some experience. Therefore, it is advisable to start freelancing only if you already have a few years of professional experience. It's important to not only have the necessary technical skills but also possess social skills such as negotiation, communication, and the ability to work independently as well as collaboratively within a team. Additionally, it would help if you are able to quickly adapt to the work and culture of various clients.


As a freelancer, you are responsible for your personal and professional development. The market changes quickly, and especially within engineering, keeping your skills up to date is helpful. Therefore, it's beneficial to expand your skills constantly. You can opt for regular refresher courses or become part of a relevant community.


Tax for freelancers

If you start freelancing and register at the KVK, the tax authorities will see you as an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is subject to specific fiscal rules and to benefit from these deductions, such as the self-employed and starter deductions, you must meet certain conditions, including:


  • You must work for your own company for 1,225 hours per year. You can also include work hours that are not billable, such as hours for your administration or your website.
  • You must make enough profit. There is no entrepreneurship if you make little profit or consistently suffer losses.
  • The tax authorities state that being an entrepreneur requires multiple clients, reducing payment and continuity risks.
  • You must promote your business sufficiently by being present on social media or setting up a website.


How do you get freelance engineering jobs?

Many people are discouraged from freelancing due to the fear of not getting jobs and earning an income. However, as an experienced engineer in your field, you do not need to worry too much. The demand for good talent is high. But even as an engineering freelancer, you must actively search for jobs.



Your network plays a crucial role in finding your first job. You can use your direct network, attend networking events, participate in referral marketing to acquaintances and friends, or attend courses and seminars to quickly and easily build a network.


Stay up to date with projects

You can automatically stay informed about new projects in your area and immediately contact them to offer your services through Google Alert. This way, you also stay up to date.


Digital presence

You should advertise your business on platforms where you are most likely to be found. It is crucial to maintain an up-to-date digital presence at all times.


Freelance job portals

You can create a profile, highlight your competencies, and make yourself known within a few minutes. You can also offer to work on interesting job vacancies and contact potential clients.


Talk to a recruitment consultant

When you get in touch with Progressive's recruitment consultants, you increase your chances of finding a freelance engineering job enormously! Our consultants use their extensive network to connect specialists with excellent career opportunities. The most challenging projects await you, both at SMEs and multinationals. Become part of our powerful global network of specialists and accelerate your career!


How do you determine your hourly rate?

Various factors determine your hourly rate. Especially when you are just starting as a freelancer, determining your hourly rate can be a challenge. Remember that setting a price that is too high or too low can discourage a potential client. You can determine the height of your hourly rate in several ways. For example, you can look at what your competitors with the same skills charge for similar work. But also check what the average hourly rate is in your industry. Progressive can assist you with this. We have market information available that can help you determine your hourly rate.


No one right way to be successful

There is no set way to become a successful freelancer. Attracting clients has many facets, and it's worth trying them all. Progressive is here to help you find clients. We specialise in bringing together clients and freelance engineers from all industries. In addition, we have an extensive network that opens doors for leading companies.


Get in touch with us

Whether you're a professional looking for a job or an organisation looking for talent to strengthen your team, the specialists at Progressive are here to help.


"Over the years, I have worked at many great companies via Progressive" – Marien Bakker.

11 Apr 2023

Marien Bakker has been working as an HSE consultant for seven years and is currently working at Nouryon, via Progressive. We spoke to him about his freelance career, challenges and how Progressive has contributed to his career.

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