A Preview of the CAD Manager's Survey 2010

8 Sep, 2010 By: Robert Green

Reader feedback helped create this year's survey, which is almost ready for your input. The topics will include demographic data, CAD standards, training, and much more.

In the last issue of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I mentioned that I wanted your feedback about the upcoming CAD Manager's Survey. As a result, a good number of you replied, sharing some great ideas that will be included in this year's survey.

In this issue, I'll describe the structure of the survey so you can start thinking about your answers, and I'll give you one last chance to share your ideas for improving it. Here goes.

Personal Data

I've received many requests for details about the educational background, age, experience, and gender of the average CAD manager, so I'll gather that information in this survey. Questions will include the following: 

  • Are you male or female?
  • What is your age?
  • How long have you been a CAD manager?
  • Do you have a two-year, four-year, or advanced college degree?

Compensation and Economics

This is the area that I receive the most questions about; it seems that everyone wants to know how their pay and benefits stack up against those of their peers. This year I hope to examine not just CAD management compensation, but also how poor global economies have affected job security for CAD managers. My hope is to draw some conclusions about how pay and economic indicators are linked so I can better predict future CAD management trends.

Questions regarding compensation will include the following:

  • What is your total base pay?
  • Has your pay been cut in the last year?
  • Has your pay been frozen in the last year?
  • Are you salaried or hourly?
  • If hourly, do you receive overtime pay?
  • How many hours per week do you normally work?
  • Do you receive profit-sharing?
  • Do you receive an annual bonus?
  • Do you receive company-paid health insurance? (U.S. readers only)

Questions on current economic conditions will include the following: 

  • Has your company had layoffs in the past year?
  • Have your weekly hours been reduced? If so, how much?
  • Is your workload increasing, decreasing, or staying the same?
  • How secure is your current CAD management position?
  • What has happened to the number of CAD users in the past year?
  • Has your company stopped purchasing new hardware?
  • Has your company stopped renewing software subscriptions?
  • Has your company's training budget been cut?


Compensation is often dependent on location, so I need to know where CAD managers live. Of course, the industry you work in also plays a role in your compensation, so I'm expanding the questions about employer characteristics.

I get a lot of questions about salaries in particular regions, so my mission will be to correlate pay to geographic factors. I hope to get enough response from outside North America to draw some conclusions about international markets as well.

Questions will include the following:

  • What country do you work in?
  • Are you from a big city, a small city, a rural area, or an industrial area?
  • What is your ZIP or postal code?
  • What industry do you work in?
  • Are you a prime contractor, subcontractor, or product supplier?
  • Does your company operate internationally?
  • Does your company have single or multiple locations?

Job Details

Of course I want to know all about the full-time, part-time, and managerial positions CAD managers work in.

Questions will include the following:

  • Are you a full-time or part-time CAD manager?
  • Do you feel pressure to be "billable" while you work?
  • Do you feel supported by your senior management team?
  • What department do you report to (engineering/IT/architecture/etc.)?

Questions just for part-time CAD managers include:

  • Do you think your company needs a full-time CAD manager?
  • Is CAD management a recognized part of your job?
  • Are your opinions on CAD issues respected?
  • Do you want to become a full-time CAD manager?

CAD Standards

CAD standards are always a topic of vigorous discussion. Based on my experience, I believe that enforcement and management support for standards are the most problematic parts of the standards equation, so I want to be sure I evaluate CAD managers' problems in these key areas.

Questions will include the following:

  • Are you responsible for writing CAD standards?
  • Are you responsible for enforcing CAD standards?
  • Do your users see the need for CAD standards?
  • Do you train your users to apply your CAD standards?
  • Does your senior management see the need for CAD standards?
  • Does your senior management help you enforce CAD standards?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is easy, 10 is impossible), how difficult is it to enforce CAD standards?


It is easier to manage when you have authority. And authority, in my experience, is a combination of control over staff and control over money. I will contrast this year's results with historical norms to see whether CAD managers are gaining or losing authority.

Questions will include the following:

  • Do you specify hardware/software for purchase?
  • Do you specify your company's CAD budget?
  • Do you have "signature authority" to purchase items without approval?
  • Do you participate in staff hiring?
  • Can you fire staff?
  • Can you discipline staff?


Many CAD managers have training responsibility, but no clear methodology for getting training results. I therefore want to determine how CAD managers are using new training technologies, whether they're using outside resources, and how they approach the process of training.

Questions will include the following:

  • Do you have a training budget?
  • How many hours of training do your users receive per year?
  • Do you perform some, none, or all of your own training?
  • Do you use outside resources to help you train?
  • What methods of in-house training do you use?
  • Do you write your own training materials?
  • Do you use audio/video for training?

Software/Hardware/User Environment

This is the section of the survey where I address the nuts and bolts of CAD management, including software, hardware, user counts, and technology platforms. I'm very curious to learn what the economic downturn has meant for advanced 3D/visualization and simulation software adoption rates, in addition to how support burdens have changed.

Questions will include the following:

  • How many CAD machines do you manage?
  • How many CAD users do you support?
  • Do you specify hardware, or does IT do so?
  • Do you support hardware? If so, how many hours per week?
  • What's your main CAD software?
  • How many CAD software packages do you manage in total?
  • Do you manage rendering/visualization software?
  • Do you manage analysis/simulation software?
  • Is your company totally 3D, totally 2D, or a mix of the two?
  • If it's a mix, what percentage of 3D users do you have?
  • Are you investigating new 3D technology?
  • Do you collaborate with customers or vendors using 3D models?
  • Do you use 3D visualization or prototyping to assist in design?
  • Do you customize your CAD systems?
  • Do you use/can you program AutoLISP, Visual Basic, or .NET?

Tabulating the Results

I'll format the survey questions with multiple-choice responses, so taking the survey will be quicker for you and tabulating the results will be easier for me. In all cases I will have a "Do not wish to reply" response, so you can skip questions that don't apply to you.

I promise to make taking the survey as easy as possible. I hope you'll all take the time to participate, so we can get a large statistical sample from which to draw conclusions.

Summing Up

The CAD Manager's Survey for 2010 will be my biggest survey undertaking yet, with more job and economic context than anything I've compiled thus far. The information collected will be shared with you throughout several issues of the CAD Manager's Newsletter this fall. If you have any additional input on the survey, please drop me an e-mail (reach me at with any suggestions you have for making the survey better.

And get ready to take the survey soon, because I'll provide the link for it in the next edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter. Until then.


About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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