CAD Manager's Survey 2008 Report

11 Nov, 2008 By: Robert Green

The results are in and they show how market forces continue to change the CAD manager's job.

It's that time again! Time to report the findings of my annual CAD Manager's Survey. In addition to reporting some of my findings, I'll draw some market conclusions from the results. You'll be able to see a more complete version of the survey data on November 18 when the full survey report goes live. There, you'll see charts, graphs, and data for some topics I won't cover in this newsletter.

Survey Timing
I conducted the CAD Manager's Survey in August and September 2008, before the global banking and stock market problems occurred, but well after the construction and housing industries had started their decline. My goal in the survey was to measure a wide variety of job and compensation metrics for CAD managers, and I think the survey has succeeded in that regard. If you'd like to read the survey questions, you can do so at

Show Me the Money
So what do CAD managers make and how do they work? I'll answer in summary form here:

Average compensation (U.S.): $62,425 — up 4.5%
Standard deviation (U.S.): $20,423

This means that 68% of CAD managers surveyed make between $42,002 and $82,848. This is a pretty wide range of compensation levels, and it encompasses everything from senior drafters to senior-level engineers and all points in between. The salary range has become wider every year I've done the survey.

Those receiving profit sharing: 45%
Those receiving bonus packages: 61%
Average value of both: $5,005

It seems that as salary ranges get wider and raises get smaller, bonus and profit sharing plans become more common and higher in value. The bad news is you're less likely to get a big annual raise, but the good news is you're more likely to get some sort of alternate compensation.

Employment Arrangements and Benefits
Are we salaried or hourly? Do we get insurance benefits? Are we part-time or full-time? Below in summary form are the answers the survey revealed.

Salaried CAD managers: 56%
Hourly CAD managers: 44%

Each year I've done the survey, the percentage of CAD managers that are salaried has dropped. Also, the percentage of salaried CAD managers always tends to correlate to those receiving bonus or profit-sharing packages.

Those who receive insurance benefits (U.S. only): 96% For CAD managers in the United States, where health care is not socialized, insurance coverage is a major benefit. Clearly almost all U.S.-based CAD managers are receiving this benefit.

Job Title
Are all CAD managers full-time or are most part-time? What other duties do CAD managers perform? How many IT staffers perform CAD management duties? The answers to these questions help track the job market for CAD managers and are therefore important. Here's a summary of what I found:

Those reporting "CAD Manager" as title: 60% (down from 68% two years ago)
Those reporting "Designer" as title: 13%
Those reporting "CAD Technician" as title: 10%
Those reporting "Engineer/Architect" as title: 10%
Those reporting "IT/IS Manager" as title: 2%
Those reporting "Other" as title: 5%

I conclude, as I have in years past, that fewer and fewer pure CAD managers are out there, and more of us are pressed into double duty as architects, engineers, and designers while also taking on CAD management duties.

So what percentage of CAD managers actually wind up doing full-time CAD management tasks?

Full time: 43% (down from 47% last year)
Part time: 57%

It is very interesting that even though 60% of CAD managers have the title, only 43% of us actually perform the job on a full-time basis. Having the CAD manager title doesn't mean your days of production work are over.

CAD Stations/Persons Managed
These statistics speak for themselves, but I've also included some historical data so you can see how support levels are changing:

Average number of machines supported: 40.1 CAD machines (up from last year's 39.8, but down from 45.8 in 2006)

Average number of users supported: 33.5 users (down from 43.5 last year).

I'm at somewhat of a loss to explain why the numbers for these two statistics are so different. I suspect it may have to do with more CAD managers performing IT support functions, but I can't prove it. This does tell me that I need to survey a bit more deeply on this topic next year!

Hire/Fire and Budget
Want to know how much authority CAD managers really have? Check out these statistics:

Percentage who can hire and/or fire: 19%
Percentage having influence on hire and fire: 16%
Percentage having no influence on hire and fire: 65%
Percentage who can discipline but not fire: 50%
Percentage able to control their own budget: 20%
Percentage having influence over budgets: 15%
Percentage having no control over budgets: 65%

This does not bode well for CAD managers! Simply put, if you control staffing and money, you have power. If not, you don't. However, I am heartened by the fact that more CAD managers have disciplinary authority.

Summing Up
This year's results leave me with mixed emotions. The fact that we have income increases at all during a year with so much bad financial news is a good surprise. Yet, the continued slide away from full-time toward part-time CAD management that is less empowered to hire, control budgets, and be influential in enforcing standards is troubling.

As usual, I've only been able to pass along the core data from the survey given space restrictions. If you'd like more information from the CAD Manager's Survey 2008 regarding software trends, programming skills, frustration items, and more, I invite you to subscribe to CAD Manager's Newsletter and visit my web site where links to more information are located. Thanks again to all of you who participated.

The next issue of CAD Manager's Newsletter will mail in December. In that edition, I'll give you a wrap-up of Autodesk University and any interesting CAD management trends I observe there. Until then.

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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