I started working as an engineer in the CAD industry at a pretty measly wage. I didn’t know it at the time. I was happy just to have a job in an area I was actually going to school for. One thing I wish they taught more in school is the business aspects of career life. But it usually boils down to Student Services giving you a personality profile.

While some will pawn off advancement to luck or experience, these five actions can get you on the road to making more money.

  1. Get involved
    The biggest hindrance to growth is trying to decide why not to do something. When most people try to push work off on someone else, take the opposite action and do it. While people are muddling through the possibilities of advancement, you’re getting involved. This doesn’t mean to go after everything. When I first started working, the department needed someone to test out some new software called SolidWorks. BAM. That one action lead to a lot of opportunity.
  2. Go Freelance
    Some call it consulting. Not that consulting will get you more money though. It generally will. I did it once overseas. $32/hour all expenses paid, $150/month for insurance. I worked 6 months and took 3 months off. The benefits are pretty obvious, but when I looked for a job back in the states, having the freelance experience got me a position in a startup with a even better salary than I had previously.
  3. Step it up
    Go talk to your boss right now. Tell him you see how he works, admire it and want to know how to get to the same spot. It works; I’ve done it. I didn’t know it would move me along, but I wanted to do something and let someone know. Some people get places faster than others. Sometimes it’s because there’s no one else willing. If you get nervous, so what. That turns into excuses. Take a swig of coffee and go chat.
  4. Call the company
    There’s a lot of businesses out there. Guess what, they need help. If you already have a company or are starting one, you’re in a good spot to help another company. They’re usually looking for something specific, but they still need help. Call and make an appointment to talk to someone in your area of interest. You’ll go in, and maybe be unprepared. You’re doing something though.
  5. Put on a new face
    Are there new ways out there of connecting with people? Heck yeah there are. Start at LinkedIn if you haven’t. There’s an online group for just about anything you’re interested in and it doesn’t have to be work related either. Two guys I work with are part of a long-distance shooting club. One just started this year and placed #6 in the nation. Plus, they’ve developed some products they’re selling online.

Turn it into an Action
People generally leave the actions above as “good ideas” or “recommendations”. That’s gives a real nice warm-fuzzy feeling, but turning them into actions will actually give you something to wrap your hands around. The best thing you can do is take one of those good ideas or recommendations and turn it into an action.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.