10 Best Places to Be a CAD Designer

Written by: Cat McClintock

Study ranks US cities for wages, cost of living

Are you a CAD designer in Michigan? You’ve got company. Detroit, MI is currently the hottest market for CAD designers according to a top 10 ranking of cities to live in for the profession.

The official ranking, released by IT and engineering recruitment experts, Modis, was topped by two Michigan cities, with Detroit leading the rankings and Niles coming in second.

Graph showing top 10 cities and how they ranked on wages, investment, and location score.

Michigan comes in first – and second –for the 10 best cities for CAD designers in the U.S. Source: Modis

Cities on the list were ranked using a number of factors, including the concentration of jobs in the area, the average wage of the profession in each city, and the level of investment in tech talent in their state.

Three of the top five cities have a population under 100,000, and although a few large cities did make it into the top 10 (New York, NY, San Francisco, CA, and New Orleans, LA), they lost some points due to their inflated cost of living. The rankings also revealed:

  • Bloomington, IL (4th) has the lowest cost of living in the top 10, 9% below the national average. San Francisco, CA (8th) has the highest cost of living, 63% above average.


  • Greenville, SC which was recently named as one of the top 10 fastest growing cities in America, has the highest average wage after Detroit, MI (13% above the national average)

  • Michigan has seven of the top 10 most concentrated areas for CAD designers in the country

“It’s a good time to be a CAD designer,” said Matthew Ripaldi, senior vice president at Modis. “Over the next few years, we’re anticipating job creation above the national average in both the IT and engineering industries, so highly skilled talent, like CAD designers, are positioned to take advantage of competitive opportunities. Our current best cities ranking is a great starting point for today’s CAD job seekers, and we look forward to seeing continued demand for this niche across the country.”

Annual salaries for CAD designers. Source: Modis

For the full results and more information visit the Modis blog here.

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About the Author

Cat McClintock

Cat McClintock edits the Creo and Mathcad blogs for PTC.  She has been a writer and editor for 15+ years,  working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she edited science journals for an academic publisher and aligned optical assemblies for a medical device manufacturer. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics. She loves talking to PTC customers and learning about the interesting work they're doing and the innovative ways they use the software.