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I am a Mechanical Engineer, currently employed full-time for a large multinational. I am considering the option of leaving my full-time job to do similar work freelance, for various reasons: mostly because I am not doing enough of the type of work that I want to do in my current job and I suspect I may be able to earn more by going freelance.

So, I am wondering how I can gauge how much demand there will be for my skills in the market, before I take the plunge and quit my current job. I have a family to support and mortgage to pay, so I need to have a good level of confidence that I can earn at least as much as I am now, before I could make the jump.

In particular, I am wondering if it would be a good idea to take on some small projects 'on the side', which I could work on in my spare time (whilst keeping my full-time job)? I am a a little concerned that, if I end up not finding enough spare time for them, that it might damage my chances of finding repeat jobs later on, if the work is not of sufficient quality. Also, if my current employer finds out I am 'moonlighting', that they might not like it.

How do I estimate potential income for switching to freelance work, particularly when I don't actually have any contracts yet? Is it realistic to expect that I could earn more working freelance than I am currently full-time?

I have an academic background in Fluid Dynamics and I would like to develop into a specialist in Fluid Dynamics/CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics).

  • Would be nice to know the reason for the downvote .. – Time4Tea Sep 24 '18 at 15:31
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There's no way to gage anything without trying to get work in the market with your skills. You can guess based upon opportunities out there, but just because there are opportunities, that won't reflect the level of competition in your field. You may find there are 200 projects available for a freelancer in your field. However, there may be 5,000 freelancers competing for them and 1,500 of those freelancers may have twice the experience you do. There's simply no way to tell if you can get work until you try to get work.

Frankly, with a mortgage and a family, the only way you should start is with "small projects on the side". And if that creates a rift at your full time job, you might want to even dismiss that util you are in a position where financially you can afford to lose your current job if things came to that.

Related: https://freelancing.stackexchange.com/a/2461/708

  • Thanks, this is very helpful, and the answer you linked to is great as well. I will look for some small jobs I can take on 'on-the-side', and see if that will help me get a feel for the market. – Time4Tea Sep 24 '18 at 15:33

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