Learn About Electrical Engineering Consulting Costs, Services, and Pricing in Firms

electrical engineering consulting costs

This post will tell you more about electrical engineering consulting costs, services, and pricing for firms. Public and private sectors and individual clients can hire consulting engineers, including those specializing in electrical-related works, to help with any project. Some are part of a firm or company, while others act as independent agents.

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Regardless of how they offer their services, consulting engineers are responsible for finding the best solution to any problem within their specialty and the project’s scope. They offer expertise throughout the design process, from the idea phase to implementation and completion. Although their role primarily oversees the design and installation of electricity, they must work together with other experts involved.

Electrical Engineering Consulting Firms

Almost every consulting firm is a privately owned business and comprises a team of engineers, each with a specific discipline. Even a small firm has at least half a dozen employees, including administrative staff and a few or more qualified consultants of various educational backgrounds and experience levels. Few are large integrated companies with hundreds of employees offering a wide range of services on a national scale. If needs be, you can hire a single firm to oversee the entirety of a project. The advantages include more accessible communication and more seamless collaboration among the team.

The cost of hiring sole practitioners, such as freelancers or other independent professionals, as opposed to a firm, is likely more affordable because you pay only for the services and not additional overhead like office space, rent, or maintenance. 

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Electrical Engineer and Consultant

Every electrical engineering consultant must be an engineer, but not every engineer performs the consultant role. The electrical engineer carries out their functions from a purely scientific approach. On the other hand, a consultant has to be able to handle the technical side of the job and the managerial aspect of it. Depending on the project type and the client’s preference, it is also possible that a consultant might only offer supervisory services. 

The scope of electrical engineering comprises all generating, transmitting, and utilizing electricity in isolated hardware (such as electromagnetism in a product) or a system consisting of multiple instruments (e.g., electricity in a building). The jobs may include the design of electrical or magnetic circuits and the technical control and operation of electrical gear. Consultants have a broader role as they are concerned with their work’s research, economic, and organizational aspects. 

An electrical engineer consultant’s most critical roles are conducting project oversight and performing their duty as advisory professionals. The oversight function may encompass a design analysis of an electrical system and equipment testing. Based on analysis and test results, a consultant can suggest improvements and offer solutions to clients. When a project is big enough to require professionals of diverse backgrounds, the consultant is at the forefront of the collaborative effort to get the job done most efficiently.

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Not every project requires an electrical engineering consultant, but one will come in handy if your project has a specific goal or needs a problem-solving idea from an expert. For example, an architect you’re hiring to design and build a new house faces a technical challenge with installing solar-panel or underground power lines: to ensure everything is safe, the architect asks for professional advice from an electrical engineering consultant. The engagement may also concern energy efficiency, compatibility issues, detailed analysis, or structural support.


An electrical engineering consultant provides valuable feedback regarding your preferred design. The analysis will often expose potential weaknesses and limitations, eventually leading to optimization. Whether you are in the preparation stage of a new system or a rebuild of an existing one, collaboration with a consultant helps make the goals easier to achieve and the final product more cost-effective to operate. Some specific services an electrical engineering consultant offers include:

  • Feasibility studies
  • Design analysis
  • Investment evaluation
  • Preliminary engineering works
  • Supervision and inspection of progress
  • Asset allocation and management
  • Technical assistance and advice

Input from an expert improves your chances of developing an innovative product with a practical design that positively impacts end-users while maintaining profitability. 

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The Cost

According to a 2000 survey by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), the average cost to hire consultants in the United States is as follows:

Experience levelHourly rate
Fewer than 15 years$150
From 20 to 24 years$175
From 25 to 34 years$163

Contributing factors affecting the cost

Apart from experience, education levels also affect the cost a great deal. Consultants with an MBA or Ph.D. usually charge as much as $43 higher than those with Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees. The 90th percentile of consultants charges an average hourly rate of $360. It sounds expensive already, especially for a big, lengthy project, yet the pricing can still go up due to various factors.


Electrical engineering consulting costs – factors

1. Taxes

If your company hires an electrical engineer to fill the role as a consultant—temporary and on a necessity basis instead of a full-time employee—the engineer is not on the payroll. Your company doesn’t have to handle the tax management, so there is no burden on the administrative costs associated with the process. Consultants make all the calculations and payments independently; these taxes are added to the existing base hourly rate. In the United States, the applicable taxes for consulting engineers are Medicare, social security tax, state income tax, and federal income tax. Self-employed professionals can be subject to city-specific taxes, too.

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Some individual consultants hire the services of accounting and legal professionals to handle all matters related to the job, yet outside the engineering fields of expertise. Such an organizational system allows consultants to focus on their core duties. The hiring cost is just one factor of the operational cost and an overhead billed to the clients. 

2. Equipment

No professional can effectively perform the job without a set of quality equipment. Laptop computers and workstations are getting more affordable these days. However, specialty tools can be required for a specific field of expertise, i.e., electrical instrumentation services. On the other hand, an electrical engineering consultant will need thermal imaging cameras for inspections and a power quality analyzer for energy audits. Each can cost thousands of dollars, excluding the software packages to visualize the data. If you plan to provide such equipment, you must purchase or rent it. Otherwise, the consultant will have to take the equipment’s prices (as well as the cost of operation and maintenance) when determining an hourly rate.


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3. Travel expenses

If possible, it is best to hire a local electrical engineering consultant. Travel expenses are unavoidable when the client or project site is in a different city. Even when you work with a consultant through any particular firm—in which case the firm covers work-related expenses—the client pays those bills as one of the project expenditures.

If the consultant must travel, the client assumes the cost of lodging, transportation, and meals. That said, qualifications still matter the most. Just because there is a local electrical engineering consultant, it does not necessarily mean that person is best for the job.

For example, hiring a remote consultant and freelancers offering their services online removes travel expenses. However, it only makes sense if the job doesn’t require the consultant to visit or be at the project sites daily. It can be ideal for smaller projects where you only need preliminary design analysis or advice on known technical difficulties.

4. Little to no downtime

Engineers working under the umbrella of a consulting firm receive a fixed salary regardless of the workload. They also receive paid vacations and sick leave. Independent engineering consultants have no such benefit. When business is slow, they must assume a temporary pause in income. For every project, i.e., they charge a little more to compensate for any potential business slowdown. 


At a glance, hiring an independent agent or freelancer seems more expensive because the clients have to cover benefits otherwise provided by consulting firms, but this is not always the case. Once again, the firm bills those expenses through its pricing strategy, so clients still contribute to providing the benefits at the end of the day.

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Compensation Methods

Electrical engineering consulting rates can be determined using any of the following methods:

Direct labor times multiplier, or (overhead plus profit)
Hourly rates
Applicable when the precise scope of the project is not clearly defined. Consulting engineer’s cost is calculated by how long it takes to get the services done, not the type of services provided
Cost-plus a fixed feeA clear project definition is necessary, yet the pricing is likely more negotiable and flexible to accommodate changes.
Percentage of total (or estimated) project cost
Cost is based on specific services provided, so both the client and consultant need a well-defined project scope.

Contributing factors affecting the cost

The scope of work and time alone is often inadequate to estimate the cost accurately. Technical issues and external factors (such as sub-consultants, travel expenses, and design changes) may affect how much an electrical engineering consultant will charge for their services. A consultant can switch from one compensation method to the other as the nature of the project changes.

The guidelines shown above must be seen as a starting point. The range of services they provide and the actual cost of the contract are the results of a negotiation between the client and the electrical engineering consultant.

How Cad Crowd can help

Not sure what you are looking for or how to begin? Check out some of the electrical engineering services our freelancers offer, from PCB design, Product engineering, Reverse engineering, Electronic product design, and many more. Contact us today and receive a free quote from a friendly representative.