CAD Manager's Survey 2011 Goes Live

28 Sep, 2011 By: Robert Green

The annual survey is back — and it needs your input to succeed!

Over the past decade, I've been surveying the CAD management community to report on salary trends and various other factors that reflect job conditions for CAD managers. Each year, I ask for your help so we can all learn where we stand and how conditions compare with previous years.

In the past three years we've seen a lot of volatility in the economy, and resultant changes in the compensation and duties for CAD managers. There have also been profound technology developments — including BIM (building information modeling) adoption, cloud computing, WAN (wide-area network) challenges, and self-paced training tools — that have conspired to change the tools we all use to manage CAD in our environments. So in this year's CAD Manager's Survey, I'll be asking some new questions to help quantify how the CAD management landscape is changing.

Please take a few minutes to read through the content of the survey and the descriptions of the analyses I will perform, then log on and participate in the survey. The more replies we get, the more useful the survey will be. After the results are tabulated, I'll digest and analyze the data and draw some conclusions that I'll report to you in future issues of the CAD Manager's Newsletter.

Here goes.

Compensation and Demographics

The number-one thing I'm asked is how much CAD managers are making, given the experience and educational credentials they bring to the table. I'm seeing a rift growing between 2D and 3D/BIM managers, so questions to measure these trends have been added this year. I'm also tracking gender and age information to determine how the CAD manager role is changing in terms of average age and male-to-female ratio.

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?
  • What is your total pay?
  • Are you salaried or hourly?
  • If hourly, do you receive overtime pay?
  • Has your pay been cut in the last year?
  • Has your pay been frozen in the last year?
  • Did you get a raise in the last year?
  • Do you receive profit-sharing benefits?
  • Do you receive an annual bonus?
  • Do you receive company-paid health insurance? (U.S. respondents only)

Economic Uncertainty

In order to correlate industry performance and compensation, I'll be asking some questions about the business environment of your company. Since all these questions will refer to the past year, we should get an accurate picture of whether our companies are emerging from the global recession, staying the same, or experiencing worsening conditions.

  • 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?
  • Is your company purchasing new hardware?
  • Has your company allowed software subscriptions or licenses to lapse?
  • Has your company training budget been cut?

Software, Hardware, and the User Environment

These are the basic figures required to compute the hard metrics of CAD management like support ratios, product knowledge, and IT involvement. Additionally, software, hardware, user counts, and technology platforms allow analysis on how software is actually used to complete projects within the company.

This year I've expanded the coverage to delve much more deeply into how 2D and 3D are being used and how software is being customized. To simplify the analysis I'm "de-product-izing" the survey this year to reference software types (mechanical 3D, BIM, 2D drafting, etc.) rather than keep track of product counts. I hope to compile a new analysis of 3D adoption and usage rates after the survey is completed.

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 total CAD software packages do you manage?
  • Do you manage rendering/visualization software?
  • Do you manage analysis/simulation software?
  • Is your company totally 3D, totally 2D, or a mixture of the two?
  • If it's a mix, what percentage of your users are 3D?
  • Are you investigating new 3D technology?
  • Do you collaborate with customers/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?
  • Do you use/can you program Visual Basic?
  • Do you use/can you program VBA (Visual Basic for Applications)?
  • Do you use/can you program .NET?

Company Size and Coverage

More and more big companies are located in small places, or are distributed all over the globe. Instead of correlating compensation to the size of the city, I've become more interested in finding out how parameters like discipline focus, size, and geographic coverage determine compensation. I'm also very interested to learn how many companies are using technologies like remote access, clouds, and WAN acceleration to simplify coordinating multiple offices.

Questions will include the following:

  • 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? If multiple, how many branch offices does your company have?
  • Do you run any CAD software from the cloud? If so, are you doing so to speed network transport of data?
  • Do you use any synchronization tools to replicate data to branch offices?
  • Do you use any hardware buffering devices to speed data rates?
  • Do you use remote graphics to access software on WAN servers?

Job Factors

Having observed the number of part-timers increase over the past few years, I'm eager to find out how much CAD management we're actually doing, and under what circumstances. I also want to take an "attitudinal pulse" of the job environment to draw some conclusions about the work environment CAD managers operate in.

Questions will include the following:

  • Are you a full-time CAD manager? If part-time, how much time per week do you spend on CAD management?
  • Do you want to become a full-time CAD manager?
  • Do you feel pressure to be "billable" while you CAD manage?
  • Are you ever told to stop doing CAD management and do "real work" instead?
  • Do you feel supported by your senior management team?
  • What department do you report to (engineering/IT/architecture/etc.)?
  • 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?

Standards, Budgeting, and Authority

Like it or not, CAD standards and budget planning are part of the job. Success with CAD standards is usually dependent on a variety of factors that include managerial support, perceived authority, and willingness of employees to follow along. Success with getting the hardware, software, and IT resources you need is also a function of authority — budgetary authority. This year I'm writing questions to help measure these factors.

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?
  • 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, how hard is it to enforce CAD standards? (1 is easy, 10 is impossible)
  • 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?


Most CAD managers are responsible for training in some form or fashion. But training is changing rapidly as new computer-based training tools replace older styles of training. My goal in this survey is to gauge how training is being conducted, by whom, and to what extent. Since training budgets have taken a big hit in the global recession, I'm uncertain about what the responses will indicate.

Questions will include the following:

  • How many hours of training do your users receive per year?
  • Has training increased or decreased since last 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?
  • Do you use classroom training?
  • Do you provide books/self-study resources to users?

Tabulating the Results

The survey questions will be formatted with multiple-choice responses in most cases, a Yes/No option in cases where that's appropriate, and input boxes for numeric values. This approach makes the survey much easier to deploy, sort, and cross-correlate. In all cases I will have an N/A (not applicable) response should you wish to skip a question or an entire section. There are a lot of questions, but it shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes to input your values.

I certainly hope as many CAD managers as possible will participate, so we can gather a better sample to analyze. To take the survey now, click here: CAD Manager's Survey 2011.

Summing Up

The CAD Manager's Survey 2011 should yield a better picture of how CAD management is changing so we can all make better educational, career, and technology decisions for ourselves and our companies. The information gained will be shared with you throughout several issues of the CAD Manager's Newsletter this fall. If you have any suggestions about the survey, please contact me via my web site,

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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