I started out as a machine programmer then learned CAD Drafting and eventually became a Design Engineer. The thing I really like about being a Designer is the opportunity to create things from scratch. Sure, not every assignment has this ground up design process but all have required some level of creativity. I advanced to Senior Design Engineer after 6 years then Lead Engineer for a group of younger Designers without becoming a manager. My pay went into the 6 digits after 16 years in the field and I was one of a group of Staff Engineers for a time reporting to the VP of Engineering. So as you can see there is upward mobility in the Design career path that does not necessarily mean management. As with any career and life in general, the more you enjoy it the more you get out of it. Many Design Engineers make good Manufacturing Engineers and CAD Drafters. If you cannot find the creative part of Design then you should get out and move on.