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Skills, Rates and collective mania fueled by Rum and Coke

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New member
Hi all,

I wanted to get a reaction from the community regarding a recent exchange I had about rates and skills.

First, I need to qualify myself. I am speaking as a twenty year design engineering veteran, ten of those years running a Product Engineering business built upon Pro/E. I have employed dozens of Pro/E people over the past ten years. I would say I have a good understanding of the skills required to complete a given engineering and/or design job. I would call myself Old School when it comes to my lack of acceptance and appreciation of people that call themselves designers without the necessary skills and background to complete a job independently.

Recently I took aim at a person for his response I received after I was asked rates I charge for Pro/E Designers. I did this after very large Captain and Coke....it struck a nerve and unlike me, I gave him a smarta** response. However, this has prompted some interesting questions for me. I am wondering if I would have received the same type of response from more of the community.

I was asked to quote Pro/E Designers. I employ only Pro/E Design Engineers. My rates range from $45 to $65 per hour per resource depending on the complexity, urgency and visibility. The response was...Too rich for me! No Thanks!

There was no negotiation opportunity and no relationship building opportunity whatsoever. Keep in mind, this work would have been done in my facility, with my machines, with my Pro seats, with my desks and chairs by my employees. This was proposed to me as a Pro/E conversion job. I was given no other information than that. So I have no idea as to the complexity. However, I was struck by the horrific response to my rates.

Now to the point...In your minds, what makes a person:

A Designer?

A Pro/E Designer?

A CAD modeler?

A Draftsman

What relative rates would you, if you were a business owner responsible for payroll, compensate each of the people I have asked about?

Is a person sitting in their basement running a cracked license of Pro/E considered competition?

Is this what I need to do to win projects these days?

I look forward to thread.


New member
A couple of points (but not all, I dont have enough time today.

The guy who changes the sparkplugs on my VW makes 75 an hour.

I just finished a book by Alan Weiss that says anyone who charges hourly as a consultant is an amateur.

I would be careful about using the description designer ( other than starting the whole felt tip fairy thread again, the word is used a little too often to describe people that simply pump cad).

What does the cost of a license of pro break down to per hour?

Probably less than 7 dollars I would guess, so I dont think the guy with the cracked copy is going to kill you by simply not paying for pro.



New member
I would be careful about using the description designer ( other than starting the whole felt tip fairy thread again, the word is used a little too often to describe people that simply pump cad)

This comment interests me. No, you didn't offend me I am just curious as to what your definition of Designer is and a cad pumper?



New member
In response to the first two.....


Idealized reference material like Mr. Weiss' is just that...ideal. When I am asked to quote an hourly rate by a customer I must respond to their cost structure. I assume no 'amateur' status working hourly as opposed to fixed. It is in response to filling a customers needs. Secondly, $7.00 only covers a license of basic Pro...what about my employee cost burden, taxes, the coffee machine, snow removal, lease payment, workers comp and medical insurance and so on and so on? I'm afraid you are way off base as to the costs of running a legitimate business. Not that I am turning this thread into a cracked license thread. However, it does play into the total picture. The issue is you have not answered the original questions...


It sounds like you and 'miked' are friends from a time past. :) So no fighting. Please keep this to my original questions...thanks


Common industry feelings and/or misconceptions about the titles...

Engineer : Degreed Professional, designs, analyzes, writes specs, test prcedures, etc and may also model/draft the product. 50k + US DOE (Direct employee)

A Designer: Degreed professional BS or better, designs /analyzes, and models and or drafts the product.40k + US DOE (direct employee)

A Pro/E Designer: Degreed or Non degreed professional AS or tech cert. Pro/E specialist, so they can do what you want in Pro, not do SOlidworks, export it then make a dumb Pro/E part for you. 30-40K + US DOE as a direct or 20-75/hr depending on job location and job shop.

A CAD modeler: Generally non degreed but experienced in 1 or more CAD products. 12-25/hr (contract)

A Draftsman: Generally non degreed, doesn't model much but pumps out 2D drawings from models made by designers or engineers. 12-25/hr (Contract)

Of course each of these definitions depends on the company doing the hiring and wether they are looking for a direct or contract employee. Also the rates vary depending on the type, location, and duration of the job as well as the years experience and number of hours on Pro. Job shops like to see 10K + hours on Pro E, that way they know they can sell you.

Last but not least, your particular skillset in specialty packages and your negotiating skills will generally get you a better deal. If you know, and I mean know, not know of, things like Piping, Cabling, Pro/MOld, Mechanism design and dynamics, etc. you can command a higher salary.

a cracked Pro/E license has no value whatsoever in a consulting business, it's overhead and should be depreciated over the long haul making it a non-issue in bidding for work. the yearly maintainence is rthe only real cost to defray and for Flex3C it/s arouond 5k a year or like 2.50/hr. If you can't generate the kind of revenue needed to support that then maybe you need to find a direct job, or move to a new area and chase the money. The initial cost (around 20k) could be depreciated over a longer period, 5 or more years, therby rendering it a non-issue.(20k$/10k hrs) = 2$/hr

Kepp learning new skills and your rate will increase. Do good work and you will stay employed. Look for ways to make your job efficient, automate the process so you can create and or change your models quickly. This is what impresses employers, fast turn around of a quality model, not the guy who can do it in the least features, or with the most complicated set of features.

Impressions from my 8 yrs. as an Engineer/Consultant.


i dare say the shock of relevant pricing is often found from the possibliity of outsourcing to overseas countries.

at my preiveous employment i we had no tooling or machinary just pro-e. everything was outsourced. one day someone mentioned getting quotes made in asian countries

Instantly our pricing for manufacture 1/2. thats even including postage and handling import taxes, etc.

via experience i've found that most places prefer a locally designed and made machine, and are willing to pay up to 50% extra for local goods. but what if its design locally and made overseas?.

this opens up a big bag of worms. and really comes down to how much people love there country of employment. Larger co-orperations whom expect to pay peanuts for work, will soon find themselves shot in the foot when they find all local industriy is closed.


New member

Thanks for the inout. I agree, in principle, in your descriptions although I feel the rates are about 10-15% low. Regardless we share some of the same perceptions.

I wanted to clarify your statement about the costs of licenses. Let's say I buy five seats of Pro at 20K....that's 100K. Add in the maintenence at 10-12%...that's an additional 12K. Forego any training and I'm $112,000 behind the eightball before I make one feature in Pro. Using your logic, to cover the cost of the software in one year I need to charge an additional $56 dollars PER HOUR over the usage of five seats. More realistic is, as you mentioned, to depreciate over a longer period. A five year payback is $3.2 per hour added to the hourly charge. However, that's assuming EACH machine is working 2000 hours per year ALL five years. That's tough to do.

You also said it's important to have other competencies like Piping, Mechanism, Mold design to command a higher rate or entice clients wot use us....who pays for that? I'll tell you...ususally the employer...that's me. Have you looked at the prices of training lately? :) Now, add that into the mix I just described above and you begin to realize the real costs of running and maintaining a legit biz.

Again, not that I'm turning this into a cracked license thread, BUT it does play in. Please do not diminish it's impact.

Thanks for the exchange.


New member

My post had no intention of creating a fight. I even stated that his comment did NOT offend me. I was merely curious how he and others define these different titles.

Furthermore I do think it ads to your post. It defines what type of people (skill set) we are talking about here.


Thanks for the definitions.


New member

It's all good. I was just mediating what I thought was an old wound from a previous post. Please take no offense. :)

Thanks for taking the time.
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