Whereas "freelancing" only applies to writing, performing, and programming (by definition), is there some equivalent job title for an electronics designer/engineer who is self employed? Such a person may design and test circuitry for tech startups, and possibly act as a sort of outsourced quality-control for electronics manufacturers.

To perhaps clarify the question, I have extensive knowledge and unprofessional experience in electronics design, electronic test equipment, and all the necessary mathematics. The only problem is that I never went to college, and have no degree to to speak of. Because It is hard to find a decent job in the engineering field without a diploma, I am trying to go into business for myself; you could say I am in the "brainstorming" phase of making a company. I simply want to know what to call myself when I advertise.

All suggestions appreciated. Thanks

  • 1
    Would "consultant" work? You could also ask this question at english.stackexchange.com Jan 27, 2015 at 22:19
  • I was tossing around the idea of "consultant" for a while. However, my services would include "hands-on" work (if I might use the expression), such as designing data sheets for electronics manufacturers. These kinds of things require testing and measuring using tools. While "consulting" certainly would be an aspect of the job, I'm afraid the name "consultant" would drive away clients interested in a circuit troubleshooter or thorough component tester.
    – S. Mullin
    Jan 28, 2015 at 2:41
  • I use the word "consultant" and I'm doing "freelance graphic and UI design" right now. I have a BSEE degree and I know of several people who do EE work on a consulting basis. The biggest obstacle I see for you is convincing people that your skills are of a high enough caliber to do the work you are contracted to do.
    – Voxwoman
    Jan 30, 2015 at 16:31
  • However, I also know people without the appropriate degree who are doing quite well as EEs (full time and consulting). They manage to do this by having people who already know them and their work bring them into a company. So your network of previous employers are going to be of paramount importance in establishing your credibility.
    – Voxwoman
    Jan 30, 2015 at 16:32
  • '"freelancing" only applies to writing, performing, and programming (by definition)' -- by what definition? Definitions I see are usual not industry specific (e.g. "Self-employed and hired to work for different companies on particular assignments" as per Oxford online).
    – Jules
    Feb 1, 2015 at 9:39

1 Answer 1


An Independent contractor, according to Wikipedia, is

An independent contractor is a natural person, business, or corporation that provides goods or services to another entity under terms specified in a contract or within a verbal agreement.

This is a more formal, more industry broad version of freelancer.

As an aside, the word freelancer is also supposed to be industry broad (" a term commonly used for a person who is self-employed and is not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term"), however depending on the culture of the region on which it's used, it may imply inclusion in a specific group of, usually creative, fields.

I'm a freelance Electrical Engineer and I generally tend to describe myself as a freelancer in an informal setting (between friends) and independent contractor in a business/tax setting (talking to an accounting firm) because independent contractor is how I am seen in a business and tax context but it feels too formal for general use.

  • I know it's against the forum rules to expand on a topic question in a comment, but there doesn't seem to be any private messaging system and you seem like a valuable resource (so please excuse me here, moderators). How did you figure out what you needed to do to become a contractor? The system seems so overwhelming that I don't even know what to google.
    – S. Mullin
    Jan 28, 2015 at 2:49
  • There's always chat for those kinds of conversations. chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/8874/freelancing Are you referring to Electrical Eng freelancing in specific or freelancing in general?
    – user152
    Jan 28, 2015 at 3:30
  • Specifically electrical engineering. Were you required to get some sort of competency certification like the CET? I know that's for technicians rather than FPGA firmware designers, but I'm sure there's some equivalent. What I'm afraid of, to clarify, is that I will start doing work for people only to realize that it was illegal because I was missing some sort of government approval.
    – S. Mullin
    Jan 28, 2015 at 3:43
  • While I do have a EE qualification, I'm not registered as a Professional Engineer. What this means varies with region, but it's often only necessary to be registered as a Professional Engineer if the application is "safeguarding of life, health, property, economic interests, the public welfare or the environment." That's taken from peo.on.ca/index.php?ci_id=1813&la_id=1, as an example. So as long as I don't call myself a Professional Engineer and stay away from jobs that meet that description, I'm ok. Usually a client who needs a PE or CAT certified contractor will ask for one.
    – user152
    Jan 28, 2015 at 4:48

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