Engineering Consulting is a portable career
John Hayes posted on May 01, 2013 |
Mechanical engineer takes advantage of career flexibility

Quick Facts:

Name:                   Mark Cambria

School:                 Stevens Institute of Technology

Degree:                 B.E. in Mechanical Engineering 1998

Designation:       Professional Engineer, LEED AP, CCP

Job Title:              Founder 

Fusion Systems Engineering

Industry:              Consulting Engineering

Compensation: $100,000 - $150,000

“I’m never bored,” says consulting engineer Mark Cambria.  “I could never tell you what I do in a typical hour, let alone a typical day.  It’s always changing.”

What does a Consulting Engineer do?

On any given day Mark says he might:

  • ·         Bid on new business
  • ·         Commission building systems
  • ·         Deal with personnel issues
  • ·         Manage invoicing
  • ·         Troubleshoot HVAC installations
  • ·         Research building practices
  • ·         Design mechanical systems
  • ·         Supervise other engineers and review their work


Junior engineers typically start with compensation in the range of $50,000 - $60,000.  Managers in consulting engineers earn in the range of $100,000 - $150,000, while partners can range from $150,000 to $500,000 or more depending on their industry and client base.  

Mark’s Career Path

As an undergrad studying Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology, Mark wanted to work in the automotive industry.  But as graduation approached, he realized that the great automotive engineering jobs were mostly in the Detroit area.  He loved living near New York City; a city with a big construction engineering industry. 

That led Mark to sort of “fall into” a job with AKF engineers, a consulting engineering company that grew to 200 employees in only 8 years.  As he began to raise a family, his love affair with NYC cooled and he and his wife decided to leave the city. 

Mark worked for a few years at ME Engineering in Albany, where as a Group Manager he was able to stay excited and encouraged by the wealth of different activities in his job. 

As he moved up the ladder from engineer to manager, Mark found himself spending up to 20% of his time on the business aspects of running the practice.  Mark estimated that he spent around 40% of his time on design work and supporting the junior staff and the balance of his time on client and project management.  That said, there is an element of engineering in everything that he does.

Mark said that the typical path in consulting engineer in the construction field requires a junior engineer to learn the applications like sizing pipe and ductwork.  As they progress they learn about other components of the systems like pumps and fans and eventually move on to tackle sizing entire systems.  The next step on the learning ladder is to take on responsibility for pieces of projects under the guidance of more senior engineers. 

Recently Mark left ME Engineering to pursue his dream of opening his own Consulting Engineering firm.  It’s a stressful leap of faith, but Mark is confident that he’s got what it takes to succeed. 

How education prepared Mark for this Career

Mark emphasizes that the engineering skills aren’t the only thing you’ll need to succeed in consulting engineering.  The soft skills of management and team building are just as important.  He credits his time at Stevens for helping develop his work ethic, pride in accomplishment, and how to resolve conflicts. 

Mark’s advice to anyone who wants to pursue a consulting engineering career is to check their ego at the door.  He discovered quickly that the more experienced engineers truly did know more than the newbies and “the sooner you get over yourself the sooner you can open your mind to learning and become truly professional.”

Read another engineering career success story: 

Sales career leads to fulfillment and financial rewards for this computer engineer

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