CAD Manager's Newsletter (#273)

14 Dec, 2011 By: Robert Green

Editor's Note: The CAD Manager's Newsletter will take a holiday hiatus until January 11, 2012. Look for coverage of Autodesk University, and further exploration of the CAD Manager's Survey results, when the newsletter returns. Happy Holidays from Cadalyst!

:: CAD Manager's Survey 2011

The results are in, and they show that job conditions are moving in a positive direction once again.

Once again it's time to report the findings of my annual CAD Manager's Survey. This year's survey was deployed via my web site from September 28 to October 12, 2011. We used Cadalyst e-newsletters and various social media outlets to encourage user response. We received 276 unique responses; 84.8% were from the United States, 7.6% from Canada, and the remainder from the United Kingdom, Australia, and other locations. Nearly 37% of respondents said they work in AEC, 21.4% in civil engineering, and the remainder in manufacturing and other disciplines.

As in the past, my goal was to measure a wide range of factors that affect CAD managers' jobs. Happily, the news is better this time around than in the past few recession-racked years. Here goes.


This year's results show a substantial increase in compensation from last year's survey. Of course, there is uncertainty in running a survey from year to year, but the general upward trend is clearly good news!

  • Average total compensation: $66,114 (up 8% from $61,176 last year)
  • Standard deviation: $21,907 (down from $25,381 last year)

The narrowing of the standard deviation in salary means that 68% of CAD managers surveyed make between $44,207 and $88,021 (as compared to $35,795 and $86,557 last year), showing dramatic improvement in compensation at the lower end of the CAD management pay scale. I also asked about types of compensation this year, which break down as follows:

  • Salaried CAD managers: 57% (down from 62% in 2010)
  • Hourly CAD managers: 43% (up from 38% in 2010)

Last year's survey showed a trend toward more salaried CAD managers, but this year shows a return to ratios nearly identical to 2007/2008 prerecession numbers. Interestingly enough, a higher percentage of hourly CAD managers (who are almost always eligible for overtime compensation) has always predicted higher total compensation for CAD managers.

Of all CAD managers, 8.7% reported a lower salary; 35.2% no change; 52.2% a higher salary; and 3.9% did not respond. 56% of CAD managers (up from 51%) reported receiving some sort of bonus compensation in the past year. Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox: Start Your Own Lunch-and-Learn Program

In this tip, BIM educator Tim Kramer provides a checklist for running training meetings in your workplace.

The lunch-and-learn technique has been very successful for me and my employers. But before I go into detail, a little history: Back in the early days of CAD, it was not uncommon for companies to permit regular CAD user group meetings internally. Employers would sponsor weekly or biweekly meetings, because they knew that their CAD users were more productive as a result. In these meetings, the users would exchange ideas, tips, and suggestions as to what was working best. This type of collaboration was valuable, but one thing lead to another and project deadlines slowly eliminated the meetings over time.

External user groups continued to provide an avenue for dedicated users to continue meeting regularly, but it wasn't quite the same when attendees came from all types of backgrounds and were not on the same page with regards to standards or workflow. What's nice about the lunch-and-learn approach is that all attendees share a common goal, and the instructor/leader can focus on the particular topics that plague the company. Read more »

Do you have a question or tip for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at; if I use it in the newsletter you'll receive a cool Cadalyst prize!

:: Resources

New IMAGINiT Technologies Portal Includes Resources, Software, Training
Rand Worldwide's IMAGINiT Technologies division has launched ProductivityNOW, an industry portal that includes e-seminars, tips and tricks, webcast recordings, discussion forums, blogs, and whitepapers. Although some content is exclusive to IMAGINiT customers, the portal is open to the public.

Aras Releases Free PLM File Converter Application
Aras, an open-source PLM (product lifecycle management) software provider, has released the free File Converter Framework application for the Aras Innovator PLM platform, developed by T-Systems International. The file converter automatically translates files into a wide range of formats for viewing, collaboration, and inclusion in PLM workflows within Aras.

:: Events

Leveraging Teamcenter UA with Site Consolidation
December 20, 2011
9:30 a.m. ET
Join Geometric for a webinar as PLM specialists discuss the Teamcenter UA PLM application. Read more »

Oil and Gas Equipment Designed Better in Solid Edge CAD
January 24, 2012
2 p.m. ET
In this Solid Edge webinar from Siemens PLM, leaders in the United States oil and gas industry will discuss design success in the oil and gas sector. Read more »

Fiatech 2012
April 2–4, 2012
Miami, Florida
The theme for Fiatech's Annual Technology Conference and Showcase is "Fiatech Heat: Innovation That Builds the World." Read more »


For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

:: What's New at

CADspeed Blog Post:
AutoCAD WS for Facilities Management – Part 1: Collaboration in the Cloud

Now available on the App Store for Apple devices and native Macs as well as the Android Market for Android devices, AutoCAD WS gives a massive scope to CAD users and facilities managers alike. Read more »

CADspeed Blog Post:
CAD Workstation Storage, Part 2: Guidelines for Choosing HDD or SSD

Now there's no one answer that fits all when it comes to choosing any piece of hardware, so let's boil down all those distinguishing characteristics to yield some useful guidelines for outfitting your workstation's disk storage. Read more »

Executive Perspective: Successful PLM Starts with the End in Mind
Business objectives — not the effort to deploy software — should guide your system implementation. Read more »

Break Down the Barriers to Global Product Development
PLM connects processes with technology to make successful GPD a reality. Read more »

Autodesk University 2011
Didn't have time to see everything that interested you at this year's AU? Check out this multipart series to fill in some of the gaps. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

Add comment

Note: Comments are moderated and will appear live after approval by the site moderator.

AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD Video Tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter, and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!

Follow Lynn on TwitterFollow Lynn on Twitter

Do you use social media — such as Facebook or Twitter updates, YouTube videos, or discussion forums — for work-related purposes?
Yes, I regularly use such resources for work-related purposes.
Yes, but on a limited or infrequent basis.
No, because my employer frowns upon or prohibits doing so.
No, because I don’t have the time or interest.
Submit Vote

Download Cadalyst Magazine Special Edition