Are you an aspiring CAD Designer or maybe a seasoned professional seeking new digs? Perhaps you are hesitant to start your search, not quite knowing which geographic locale will offer the best ratio of income to living-expense. Well, here’s a little tip “Go Midwest young man!” (and ladies too). I’m talking Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. And as it turns out among these, Detroit and Niles Michigan are the cream of the crop for stretching a buck! How do I know this you ask? Well, for one, I got the skinny from Modis. Last spring they published the results of a survey aimed to identify the 10 best cities to live and work as a CAD Designer.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I am a living testimony of a designers ability to thrive in the Midwest. I “came of age” right in stride with CAD. And my niche as a Class-A surface modeler has been one of the most lucrative skills in my creative arsenal. Over the years I’ve made some big bucks! And all of my growth and success has taken place in Ohio and Michigan. These states have been very good to me. My wife and I have raised eight children on a single income and we’ve managed to enjoyed a wonderful standard of living! So, when you couple the Modis findings with my testimony, I believe there’s a compelling case to look toward the Midwest for your next adventure in CAD!

For this post I’ll be highlighting the Midwest given how well it fared. For the full report hop over to Modis. Also given the original report was published back in March 2017 I thought I’d do a cursory online job search at Monster and Indeed to see if the sun is still shining on the Midwest. I’ll wrap up with a few current CAD job listing stats.

Without further ado, let’s dig into the survey. Here’s what Modis describes as their aim.

In the creative industries, it can be hard to work out where in the country offers a good standard of living, as well as plenty of job opportunities. We looked at wage and location data from the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) for designers, as well as cost of living scores, and state level investment in technology to find out which cities are a haven for CAD designers.

Top Two Cites Detailed Breakdown

2. Niles, MI

Average wage: $78,300

Location Quotient: 6.55

Cost of Living: -7%

The first of two Michigan cities making up the top two, Niles sits in the West of the state, close to the beautiful Lake Michigan, and has a concentration of design jobs three times higher than 3rd placed Greenville. Furthermore, its cheap cost of living and high wage means it sits comfortably in second place.

1. Detroit, MI

Average wage: $83,990

Location Quotient: 11

Cost of Living: -4%

With the highest concentration of jobs in the country and an average wage a full 17% over the national average for designers, Detroit is the undisputed number one choice for commercial and industrial designers. In addition to its exciting job market, Detroit’s endless list of things to do and see really puts the city on the map. Plus, it has a cost of living 4% less than the national average, so you’ll have plenty of money left over to socialize too.

Current Online CAD Jobs

Wrapping up things here are a few CAD Designer job listing stats from and when I did a search for Michigan.

Looks like the Michigan CAD Designer opportunities still abound. If you are not a Midwest type of person, jump online and see what the other eight destination cities are offering up. Then dust off those CAD models and get ready to hit the road!


Vince has worked as Studio Engineer for consumer and medical product brands such as Whirlpool, Newell and ResMed Ltd. Australia. He's garnered 39+ patents and has designed everything from totes to toasters, and fiddles to furniture. He enjoys all things 3D and has carved out a niche as a Class-A Surfacing Guru. Active in both industry and academia, Vince serves as a Creative and Technical Skill Development Coach providing hands-on training and workshops pertaining to CAID/CAD. Vince relishes opportunities to keep learning and sharing what he's learned!