Seeking advice about jumping from ID to CAD position

Let me start off by saying I want to be purposely vague with my situation since I’m still employed and considering another position right now. I will say that my current employer is generally considered a leader in our industry, but we are experiencing a sharp decline lately. I had envisioned myself staying within this particular industry and modeling my career around it. Now I’m not so sure. I’m doing product design work right now, but I’ve been looking into a primarily Solidworks driven job. The job description is actually calling for a Mechanical Engineering degree, but they are apparently still interested in talking to me although my background is a BFA in Industrial Design. I’m expecting to conduct a phone interview with them soon.

What I’m wondering is:

How does the pay scale for Solidworks or Pro-E software people compare to ID? Any particular idea of what post people with 3-4 yrs experience would make?

How is the stability of the market for that type of job position?

Is there a strong network of temp agency or contract firms who staff CAD Designers?

I’m looking at this as a step down in my mind from doing ID work, but in all likelihood, if I were to be laid off (which is still possible at my present company), I would be doing more 3D modeling software training and focusing on finding employment in that market. It’s the most logical use of my education if things went sour for me. I’m not sure how I’d feel about taking that leap initially, but I’d feel better about it if the market for employment as a Solidworks or Pro-E Designer has better stability then ID right now. I’d rather be doing something less “glamorous” or “exciting” and be regulated into designing mechanism assemblies, etc. instead of being out in the cold. It looks like a terrible time to be unemployed right now. This may be a pre-emptive move for me, but if it gives me a job with greater security it may be worth it.

take a look over here:

I’m not sure if the payment or security is necessarily going to be any better. I really suppose it depends on the company. I think the general perception is that CAD jockeys are kind of just there to grind gears, not think creatively and analytically. That means if they can find a college kid to do the same CAD work for half the money they could hire them.

If you think your job now is in jeopardy and this would be more secure then go for it. But most good businesses should recognize that ID is what differentiates them and brings them good product - so throwing overboard the people with the buckets is a bad way of trying to float a sinking ship.

I agree. Our CAD guys tend to either be new college grads or guys that have a certificate with a particular CAD software and no college education. I have been a CAD guy before, as probably most of us, and it is very boring tedious work. You start to get sick of it real quick. I also look at this as a real step back. I don’t know that it will be good for you when the economy does pick up and you want to get back into ID.

Unless you’re about to be out of a job as an ID’er… don’t do it.


If you enjoy thoughtless, uncreative, highly technical, highly detailed work… go for it.

I agree with NURB

My first job after graduating is CAD and it is monotonous, uncreative, and a PAIN! Especially since I have parts whose company was bought out five times and I have to track down specs that are similar.

Agreed. Don’t throw in the towel.

This world needs more designers and fewer CAD workers.

Most of this decision is going to hinge upon what they offer me for salary. If they meet what I’m asking for, which is a pretty solid increase over what I’m making now, then I may lean towards it.

I guess my concern is I’m not positive that I have solid job security right now. I passed the first round of job cuts (across all areas, manufacturing, sales, engineering, etc), but that’s not to say that they won’t have to make more down the road. I’m the only on staff Industrial Designer, and as such I’m kind of an “bonus asset”, but I don’t necessarily have a hand in doing work that is vital to keeping the business going. They aren’t really fully utilizing my full potential either. I’d say at least half of my time is making minor changes to production drawings in AutoCAD (make this 2" longer and move those holes"), or prepping project proposal drawings.

If I get laid off from this job, I’m gonna be stocking shelves at Home Depot. Doing a quick search on coroflot, monster, and careerbuilder, there are 3 positions listed in the surrounding 4 STATES! My last two job searches took 6 months (when I graduated in 04), and 9 months (while still employed in 07). I can only imagine how long that would take today.

I think if I did get laid off I would be looking to take additional training in SW and Pro-E and looking for that type of job anyway. Maybe it’s not exactly what I’d like to do, but it’s something that could keep me going until times are better. Especially if it pays more and it’s stable. I’ve been told by the recruiter that they are hiring for multiple positions right now. The company I’m looking at does produce a product that has some merit from a design stand point as well, and it would give me knowledge of plastics and metal manufacturing that I’m not learning now. I’m guessing that they are interested in talking to me because of my design background, and I’m hoping that it would get me involved in more design orientated duties.

I’m still interested in getting some advice on this though, I’d really appreciate some insight from anyone who may have done the same or is more aware of that job field.

If your ID job currently sucks its not a bad idea to study Pro/E or Solidworks as a good backup plan. I broke into ID by being a CAD jockey first. Luckily it was for only 6 months but I managed to pull $35 an hour which was nice. It is totally freakin boring though.

However…I use Pro/E as a design tool and there is simply nothing better. I’ve gotten so fast at proving form that I often skip sketching completely. There have also been several occasions where I’ll email a model maker and get SLRs made directly from my files. I think it ups your value if you can help bridge the gap between design and engineering. Learning Pro/E will help you do that. (or Solidworks, but there are still way more manufacturers that use Pro/e)

It never hurts to add more weapons to your design arsenal.