Designer vs. Design Engineer

Hello All,

Over the past few years, I have been approached by a couple of recruiters (both corporate and independent) about “Design Engineer” positions at various places. In your experience, what is a design engineer and how is it different than being a designer? How is it different than being a straight-up engineer?

My first guess was that it’s a case of a company needing both a designer and an engineer, but not wanting to pay for both.

Any thoughts?

Design Engineer = CAD Monkey

Thanks for the reply, but I have to say that in my experience, designers and engineers are also largely relegated to the role of CAD Monkey…of course there are exceptions, but they are just that - exceptions.

I’ve been offered a job as a design engineer (studied BA Prod Des) and most of my duties will be ‘new product innovation’ - very little CAD (I went to the interview showing off my CAD skills and they were more interested in the other parts of my portfolio).

CAD will be done by the ‘new product developers’ who take the concepts further along the development cycle.

As designers of any kind, we can’t escape CAD just as most junior positions become CAD Monkeys to some degree or another but for any job you need to look past the title and ask about the duties the role requires which will change from company to company.

Good question. At my firm, we employ one such ‘Design Engineer’.

Our Design Engineer is a technically savvy designer who spends more time on CAD than on paper or interviewing users, program management, etc. In his case, he has migrated to more of a ‘translator’ between the world of the pen sketch and up to the point at which parts are detailed for manufacturing release. Typically, he will ideate in Solidworks, and enjoys developing mechanisms for devices.

Hope ths helps.


design means so many different things to many different professions.

Designer in engineering typically means non degreed engineer that uses CAD more

Design Engineer is the more technical engineer that uses CAD more sort of like above.