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Mechanical Designer or Project Coordinator career path?

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 11th, 2021 7:54 am
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jun 5, 2018
184 posts
281 upvotes

Mechanical Designer or Project Coordinator career path?

Hello, I recently started a mechanical designer position at a engineering consultant firm. I've been working there for a month and the people are great but I'm not sure of the career advancements in the long term.

Last week, I received a letter of offer from a mechanical/construction firm for the role of a project coordinator position. I don't have a ton of experience coming out of college (2yr. Mechanical Engineering Diploma) but it seems interesting as I would be at the construction site managing multiple workloads and interacting with many people.

My question is, should I stay at my current position, work for a year and then re-apply in the future with more experience? Or go straight into the Project Management path (long term goal)? Both are about the same salary for reference. Any advice is appreciated!
3 replies
Deal Addict
Jul 18, 2005
1693 posts
102 upvotes
It would be valuable to get engineering design experience at the consulting firm - but make sure you move on quick.

Spend a year, year and half tops, at the consulting firm and then move out

I see a lot of the coordinators and project managers these days have cursory understanding of how mechanical systems work. Having extra depth of knowledge of the details will help you in commissioning projects, and also chasing change orders by being able to better identify gaps in scope ;)

Working at a consulting engineering firm isn't great though, which is why I advise you keep your resume at all times.
Sr. Member
Dec 15, 2017
832 posts
937 upvotes
very different roles, I've been doing PC work for quite a few years now. Construction is faster paced, you will be busy and a lot of stress but room for quick advancement if you are good. I've seen PC move up to junior PM role with 2-3 years. With a lot of construction companies the PC is the do everything role, so you may be doing time entry, scheduling, procurement, project controls, receiving, QA/QC, field engineering, etc. They usually dangle the PM carrot in front of you to get you to put in overtime and work your ass off. I found out after a few years that middle management was not what I wanted. But luckily the experience in construction meant I was able to transition to a different role such as QC.

And what a relief it is to get paid the same amount but be able to stay inside my "bubble". IE How much does it cost, when is it getting here? Don't ask me, I'm QC.

Whereas for the PC you'll be asked, what's the cost? what was the budget? did you order it? what drawing revision is it from? did you update doc control? What's the QC spec? Is it in our scope? did you do the change order? Did your receive it?
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