What field is thriving?

Now approaching the 30 mark, I have come to a crossroad. I have been with the same company since I graduated from college. I have been with this company for close to 6 years. I have been stressed with the thought that if I stay with my current job for much longer, I will be labeled as a specific type of “designer” (if I have not already?!?!). I also feel that I am limiting myself in terms of growth as a designer as well as keeping myself surrounded in an environment that is creatively stimulating. I am in a small group that I feel just doesn’t understand or care enough about design as a process and just wants a pretty picture and cad model, without any real thought process.

It really is starting to become mind numbing and my heart knows I need to get out.

So the crossroad…

Option A
I have an opportunity to start a small start up (in a sense), which is actually a stripped down versions of an existing company that has a focused business plan and a very small (4 ppl) group. I will again be the sole designer of a product line, which is in the same field that I am currently in. Again, the previous thought of being labeled comes to mind which could have some serious effects on my future as a designer.

Get another job.
Jobs are far and in between these days. I keep my eye on the Coroflot posts on a daily basis but think it is about time to start cold calling/submitting a portfolio to potential employers. So looking through the boards for a new job made we wonder…

What areas of the market do you see doing well in this economy? Who is taking advantage of our current economic situation?

Groups designing medical devices comes to mind.

My wife works in the medical field and I love the fact that on a weekly basis, she literally saves a persons life or changes it for the better. She feels good about it and so do I. Its a rewarding thing to be a part of! The business is BOOMING and she constantly gets offers for new jobs. Now I love design and would never change my focus, but it seems natural that design studios focusing in this field (i know this is a broad category) could be doing very well at the moment? I could also be wrong.

What other areas of design do you see thriving these days?

Personally I think anything going forward related to focusing on the growing baby boomer/elderly population could be very big if done right.

You have a group that as they age are going to have a unique set of physical needs, and the most disposable income out of just about any group. I look at all of my friends parents and see a lot of opportunity especially at how they use (or dont use) technology.

Bbarn, I seem to be in the exact same boat you are in. Although I don’t have as much experience as you, so that limits my possibility of starting my own company successfully, I need to find something new before I make a scene in my office.

To your question, creating something more rewarding, such as medical products defiantly hits the right cord with me. I have often thought of joining a firm or starting my own that deals with a child’s education. It seems like the possibilities as well as the satisfaction from doing so would be endless.

Two pieces of advice:

  1. If you are a good designer, it doesn’t matter if you have a lot of one product type in your portfolio. I think you work in lighting, right bbarn? Unless you want to jump over to cars, I don’t think you need to worry about being pigeon-holed.

In other words, just go for it. Apply to every somewhat interesting job you see.

  1. If you start your own company, I recommend doing it the hard way. Start the company while you still have your steady job. I know this means forgetting your life for 6 months to a year, but from what I’ve seen, it will pay back in the long term. Plus, you don’t have to worry about paying bills, just getting more work.

As for fields, in the case of starting your own consulting business, I recommend the opposite of what I said in “1”. Push your knowledge base. The reason people will hire you is that you are an expert. If you tell your clients you aren’t an expert in anything, they will keep looking for a person who is! Also, work your contacts. After 5+ years, you probably know some suppliers and other people in the industry.

As we (I’m a boomer) continue to age, “medical” will not be the only area opening up. I would throw in that as folks age their personal requirements change; sight, hearing, motor skills, clothing, furniture, lighting, mobility, access, … the gamut of human need.

I would argue that the field is near saturation right now, leaving other areas deficient.

Yep, I am currently in lighting, which would be the new business as well.

As for fields that are thriving… I was thinking more in terms of business that I could apply to that might not have posted a job opening, but may be more inclined to possibly make room due to a growth in their given specialty. (not for me to start a consultancy in that field)

914, thanks for the advice

not sure when, but awhile ago someone asked the same question and after not getting a clear answer they went through the last 3 months of coroflot’s job posts and produced a list of how many postings were in each category of ID…?

bbarn: I see! That’s a harder question to answer. I think it depends more on where you want to live than what is growing. Certain areas have certain industries. Boston seems to have a lot of medical companies, whereas Montreal doesn’t (we have big pharma, but not a lot of medical products). Having said that, anything to do with construction seems to be very steady work: tools, lighting, heating, ventilation, controls,electric supplies, plumbing, gardening, etc. There is a brick company in Montreal that has a couple designers on staff! These might be an easier transition as you can argue that you know the trends and understand the industry.

This is a pretty good article I read the other day. Its mostly about what to do to avoid being laid off, and what to do if you are laid off, but there is also some good advice on how to be a better employee in general, and info at the end about which fields are still doing well.


I have been doing medical for quite some time and I absolutely love it. The research is the best part, there is so much to learn and it is always changing. If you really enjoy increasing your knowledge at all times, I would completely recommend the field.

I started in consultancies and now I am in corporate. Last year we increased 15% and this year looks like an easy 10% increase. Really the only change in the census has been in elective surgery, that is down. Also, big capital expenditures are down. I would guess large imaging companies like GE, Siemans, etc. are feeling it a bit.

If you are into IT, you will only see massive growth with information systems and the electronic medical record. Epic Systems is booming.

If you want in, I think your best bet is through a consultancy. Corporate is going to want to see experince in the field and they will want experience with the quality system - the Design Plan, ISO 13485, etc. The consultancies will recoginize your value as an IDer more quickly. There you will get the experience needed with the quality systems, the quantitative research and the general knowledge needed to jump into the corporate job.

While there will always be industries that are expanding and those that are shrinking, every single industry in this country needs to keep moving forward if they want to survive. Too many companies are “sitting and waiting it out.” They’ll find themselves way behind by this time next year, when they belatedly realize that they should’ve spent money on development NOW.

Now is an excellent opportunity for new companies to swipe huge market shares from old and cautious ones. Granted, the banks may be difficult to get a small business loan out of, but there are always a lot of financial risks when you move forward. Designers are great entrepreneurs, so this is a good options right now.

If you’re out of work, why not write up a business plan/proposal? why not start tracking and working on all of those “little ideas” that pop into your head all day? It’ll keep you fresh if nothing else. And, if you have this positive and solution-based mindset, companies will hear it and WANT it when you meet with them. Request meetings even if they’re “not hiring.” It’s amazing how a little energy sitting across the table can suddenly change minds and open up doors.


From the spam we’ve been hit with, I would say the porn industry looks strong.

Русский * приготовление пищи * … … Да?!

Russian cooking … … Yes? :wink:

gotta love Google Translate!

A few reasons why you should not quit your current job to start your own company:

1: If you feel your current company has not used the full bandwidth of your talents that also means you’ve not yet gained critical working experience in those other skills. You can still do those other things, but they are second-rate to the ones you are now doing comfortably at work, and not at the level you should present yourself in a start-up.

2: The rewards of ‘doing your own thing’ may seem tempting, but you’ll actually spend a heck of a lot of time doing things you don’t want to do (and far from design). In the long-term it can become rewarding, but there are some better options for you right now.

3: Many many people don’t have a job right now and are forcibly setting up their own businesses too. The competition for small, creative start-ups has never been greater.

So I would advise you identify what those other talents/skills may be (based upon what you are good at now), and get working experience on someone else’s payroll to practice them. Two options for this:

a) identify which area is related to what you do now but offers a wider spectrum of work. They will recognize your existing talents and know how to relate them to what they do. For instance, if you do lighting now, furniture or houeswares would be a great next step. Whereas you’d have a very hard time competing against other more relevantly experienced applicants in the medical field -especially as you’d be applying for a non junior position.

b) talk it through seriously with your boss. You’ve been there six years so he knows that moving on must be on your mind. Let him know what would keep you there -you could suggest to do your own special background project to explore optional new directions for the company.

Sorry for the uber-post. In a nutshell: understand what you CAN do well (related to what you do now) and find a way to do it. DON’T risk the start-up until you have UNIQUE working experience in exactly the type of work you want to do.

Medical, Ortho, Dental, all good bets. What about applying your lighting knowledge base towards technical solutions in other fields (such as the aforementioned)?

Well said, y’all!

I have a full-time job (firefighter), a perfect wife who looks after our little rocket-stink (17 month old boy) and a “side” business. While I’m not a card carrying ID’er, I make decent money with my softgood side business… mostly by being scrappy and hustling.

I can’t stress #2 enough. I have WAY, WAY more “things-I-don’t-want” to do then “things-I-want” to do. Right now, I’m doing everything by myself, which includes, but is not limited too; Books, SOP’s, Call’s, Ordering, Tax prep, expenses, COLLECTING, Research, More call’s, More collecting, More expenses/receipt sorting, Biz dev, More accounting prep for the accountant and so on…The Wife used to help with the books, but the rocket-stink is a full time gig for her for the time being. I have thought about hiring, but its a very scary step… I digress.

I’m working both to have a fall back plan as it would be a little hard to make it on the money from the side gig. Mr-914 is spot on here, imo. It does suck from time to time, but the peace of mind (steady income) and tax benefits (everyone who pays taxes should have a small business) outweigh the suck ten fold.

There is a lot of very important items that go into setting up a proper small business. Its not for the faint… you’ll need some gorilla academic skills to get up and running. Or you can do it like me and just stumble through it learning from your mistakes along the way, which is another added bonus of doing while you have a job.

Either way, I think you’ll be fine… so long as you have a small business to write stuff off. :smiley: