SketchUp as a Career?

@Explore3D, That’s an interesting keyboard solution, I can see how useful it would be in a variety of situations. I think there is a lot of room to develop new business methods that better utilize the strengths of people to create better business “fit,” and in that would include autism’s variety of strengths. I have to say I don’t know anything about 8A loans though. How do you envision SketchUp being used by autistics?

@apalexander76, I appreciate you sharing your path, and designing rock climbing walls sounds like a lot of fun. I also find myself mocking things up and making videos or animated GIFs to send so that they can see why I’m concerned about a given design. How did you find the jobs as you moved from one company to another?

GIS, BIM contracts for GSA

if anyone runs with this idea… i need a job :slight_smile:

re: autism
NSF Grant could be utilized for Autistics to learn how to build components for SketchUp and add meta data, earning a paycheck.

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My previous job was the one where I introduced SketchUp to everyone. I was there for 9 years, and a couple years after I started was when I learned it and got them to buy me a copy. When I was on the hunt for another job, the job posting mentioned “SketchUp and Autocad” as the software of choice. So they already knew the power of it, they were just losing their only draftsman, and needed to fill his position. So I was especially lucky to find this job, especially since we had just uprooted our lives and moved from Canada to Australia.

In my experience, co-workers, managers, and bosses are not always familiar enough with CAD software to really understand how one program differs from another. They like, however, to see results on screen, and SketchUp allows me to very quickly draw and change things almost as quick as they speak, so there’s a huge wow factor in it, and it wasn’t that hard to get them on board.


I actually work for a large firm in daily bases, but do SketchUp training and 3D visualization on the side as a freelancer. This takes a bit of time. Often I struggle for the time management as I can’t be at two places at once.

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@josephkim626, of course, and it’s common to have to cut back on freelancing an side work when the demands of the day job and family come first.

I often want to create a site to allow people to pick up SketchUp work on the side, but I worry about commoditizing 3d modeling and visualization the way graphic arts has become commoditized by those without the knowledge of how much their time is worth.

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yeah. There are some freelancing websites available, but they hardly every pay you the quality that you bring on board. I suppose if you are just starting off, you will be able to get some experience there.

@josephkim626, There’s a saying that is used to describe my personality type, “the difficult we do every day, the impossible takes a little longer.” I think this is one of those problems. I would like an opportunity for those with the ability to do high quality work to earn a reasonable rate. They should be able to do that by creating clear expectations and commitment to a project through 3d visualization which saves money throughout the project. In many cases it should lead to closing deals as well, so the money is there.

We see it in forward thinking firms right now, which currently gives them a competitive advantage. I definitely think that those that aren’t using it will soon do so or find themselves irrelevant.

I’m really thankful that LayOut only works with SketchUp Pro, and that some of the features are kept to the Pro level. That should reduce the effects of commoditization, since there is a value tied to “getting into the game”. There are alternatives out there that are free, but I don’t see them catching on the way (pirated) photoshop did for garage graphic artists. Still, it’s hard to convince people of their worth. Especially when they legitimately need any money they can get.


Hey Alex,
Which climbing company out of curiosity? I’ve seen some from Walltopia, but I rarely see detailed drawings.

I work for a company called The Highgate Group. In addition to building our own climbing walls, we sell Entre-Prises walls in Australia, and we are the exclusive provider for Clip and Climb, which comes from New Zealand.

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ah cool! I asked because I use to work in climbing gyms and always wondered what the wall companies were using to design their walls.

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I used to go to climbing gyms, and always wondered the design process of those walls as well!

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I have been a construction superintendent for 35 years or so now. Very high end custom homes in So Cal. I’m an impatient type, so many years ago I started working in 2D CAD, when I could not get details or revisions to details from the architects I needed to conform to actual site conditions. I’d send these to the architect to review and approve, and was able to really improve the process in the manner. A few architects took issue, but most were very pleased to be working with someone that could talk their language.

I started investigating SU 7 or 8 years ago, slowly developing the knowledge and skills of it. On my most recent project, still under construction, I modeled the entire structure in SU. All of the structural aspects of it - foundation, structural steel - and then worked the mechanical systems and plumbing waste through the structure. It worked out even better than I could have dreamed. I was able to approach the structural engineer and architect with revisions to the structure to accommodate the MEPS systems before we built anything in the field. This has saved an incredible amount of money and time, not having to re-work things already built. A number of times I was modeling some aspect of the structure and thinking I was wasting my time, only to find out that the structural details were not going to work and needed to be modified. 15 or 20 minutes of modeling saved weeks of time and thousands of dollars! The people I’m working for are blown away. Now, I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.

So now, I’ve moving onto modeling finished interior spaces so that we can all talk knowingly about any particular aspect of the design. We’ve gone through a number if iterations of the kitchen now, getting it just the way we want it. I’m starting to dabble in rendering…

Sketchup is an incredible tool. Every time someone asks why I don’t learn revit, I laugh. Why would I want to spend that much money and time…


@bobshinja, That’s outstanding. I’m not sure that Revit would even allow you to model all of the aspects of the construction they way you are doing it, but perhaps someone with more experience can comment.

Working in highly custom construction does seem to be a great use of SketchUp, where do you think that level of modeling should happen, at the Architecture or Engineering firm, or the construction level?

Have you posted any of your work here on the SketchUp Forum?

gosh, Jesse, sorry about the very late follow up but I just noticed the message count above my “badge” and saw your message! I think of the modeling I do as building, not architecture or design, so at the construction level. I’d be happy to post images of the model, or the model itself if you think anyone would be interested. Its rather large at 140 megs…

Thanks for your comment!


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Even though design is the primary focus of most of my models, I think it is very important to use the model as a construction tool as well, particularly if it’s a complex structure. I think many folks on this forum could appreciate seeing the modeling effort you describe. Because of the large file size, it may be practical to post a link to the model itself, perhaps using a site such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, etc. to host your file.

My models sometimes approach file sizes of nearly 100 mb and when I disseminate this data to clients and consultants, I typically break the model into several distinct models for later reassembly (Each related submodel will have the same common origin point to allow for pasting in place to recompose the original model at the recipient’s location.)

I’m an Audio/Visual systems designer and I use SketchUp for 3D images of what a room will look like with our equipment in. See below:


I second wanting to see your work, sounds impressive.

@danieltimms, That looks nice, what renderer did you use for that?

Also, what size company do you work for? Is your sole job the design of systems, or to you install as well?

@jesse_s I used Kerkythea for this render, in my opinion its not the best rendering system, but its still good. I’d probably recommend Raylectron though. (see below a render of a potato masher)

The company only employs around 60-70 people, but we see the entire projects through from sales to design to project managing and install, and then we service equipment when it goes faulty.masher

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@danieltimms, how did the company come to use SketchUp?