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Who says ‘No Big Bucks’ for mechanical design engineers?

Information Technology (IT) engineers always get big bucks. What about mechanical design engineers? If you believe that ‘career as a design engineer is not that financially rewarding’, it is a complete myth. As a design engineer one can make an excellent and financially growing career. Here is small chart which shows the career growth. Let us discuss what it takes to pursue it.

DesignationCAD EngineerSenior EngineerProject EngineerEngineering Manager
Experience0-2 years3-4 Years4-6 Years6-10 years
Reported ByCAD EngineersSenior EngineersProject Engineers

Becoming a Better CAD Engineer

Let us take a case of a design engineer hired in an organization. His first task is to create engineering drawings. Any suggested changes or corrections to the drawing come back to him from quality checker as markups.

As he starts gaining experience with drawings, the next step towards improvement is to get less and less number of markups every day and finally reaching to a state of zero markups. Once he achieves this ‘no-markup’ condition, he has become capable of doing a design quality check/review himself.

Now he can start checking the drawings created by the junior members from his team. And he has become a better design engineer who is ready to shoulder more responsibilities.

Becoming Senior Engineer

Now the design engineer starts understanding more nuances. He slowly starts developing more knowledge about tolerancing and GD&T, how to do packaging, which surfaces are important, which finish is required? where to apply oil? which surface needs grinding? why a component needs surface finish? And so on.

When he sees the drawing of any part, he can imagine where it fits in the assembly. The drawing is just not a print, but it appears to him as a working component. And he can now jump to the next step of learning called an assembly analysis.

Consider that there is a request or ECN(Engineering Change Notice) from manufacturing to increase tolerance of a component. Now the design engineer needs to go and check in the assembly following things:

  • Which is the mating component?
  • Why so much clearance is required?
  • What would happen if we reduce or increase the tolerance?
  • If this tolerance is accepted, would leakage increase? By how much?
  • Will this change affect any aspect of GD&T like form tolerance?

With such incisive questions, he has already on the way of becoming a senior engineer. He starts developing an eye and acumen for which ECR should be approved or which should not be. He can suggest his manager not to accept a particular ECN/ECR based on data of reliability testing completed in the product development phase. Now he understands that he is responsible for the performance and his responsibility is not limited to just to create and make changes in engineering drawing.

Now Project Engineer

Now he becomes a potential candidate for the next step to start handling projects. He understands assemblies, which change can cause interference, what is the impact of a change on the overall envelope, and so on.  Hence, he can process assembly or product level changes. He can do data interpretation in the form of performance. He collects data from various sources, doing tolerance stack analysis and making judgement based on the available data from reliability testing.

He starts learning product design. He studies why a particular part is designed like this and with this material only. So, he focusses on stresses, materials and failures. He learns testing of the product. He should be able to set up labs, execute given test plans and troubleshoot them. Now he has grown to a project engineer. One additional skill a project engineer must have is interviewing human resources. He should be able to select a proper resource either from internal team or vendor. With experience he can take progressive steps like an engineering manager, AGM/DGM reaching to V.P. Engineering.

On the Career Growth Path…

Someone who has started with his career as CAD engineer can grow up in the ladder as shown in the diagram. One can grow to the level of DGM or VP engineering. This is long-lasting career based on solid foundation of few skills which you learn in graduation and then in first five years of your job. These skills are drawing reading, understanding assemblies, GD&T and tolerance stack analysis and material properties.

While doing graduation, some of these crucial skills are not given due importance and focus. Now that you are aware of what it takes to pursue a successful design engineering career, you must bridge the gaps that exist today. The most easy and guaranteed way of doing it to take help from somebody who is expert in this like CADCAMGURU. If engineering design is your passion and want to see yourself as a successful design engineer, take the first step and enroll for the training.