I just perused the September 2014 issue of Autodesk User Group International (AUGI) magazine, which features the annual salary survey of AUGI members and readers.

The AUGI members are fairly representative of the global CAD user community, in my view. They had quite a large group responding to the survey.

I was very pleased to see the average earnings at a surprisingly high level.

Further, the overall economic trends for our industry are on a definite upswing.

Salary survey from AUGI

Salary survey from AUGI

Here is an excerpt from the salary survey report that I found especially interesting. Click on the thumbnail to enlarge:

First, do these numbers seem a bit high to you, overall?  I think I need to up my rates, after reading the article.

This actually confirms what I’ve been saying all along, which is . . .

CAD artists rock!

CAD artists add tons of value to the work that we do.

Every day, our work is becoming more mission-critical to the organizations we are part of.

CAD artists are at the heart of the nurturing of an idea from the conceptual stage, through the detailing stage, to becoming a finished, marketable, built product or facility.

Secondly, I notice that the average pay amount changes very little as you move from the low levels of experience (zero to two years) up to the very experienced level (thirty-one to fifty years).

0-2 years experience average pay:  $47,370

31-50 years experience average pay: $72,714.

I’m not sure why that would be the case.  It may have to do with the readership and membership of AUGI being slanted toward the high-achieving segment of CAD users.

Another possibility: maybe the more experienced CAD artists are not finding ways to benefit financially from their years in the business.

Whatever the reason, this must be good news for anyone just getting started in a CAD career.

There is even less variation between the average pay by education level.

High school / GED education: $61,087

Masters degree: $64,152

Doctorate (!): $75,152

And how much did you say your student loan balance was?

Wow! I find that eye-opening.  I am a huge believer in education as a path to success.  However, I also believe you have to keep an eye on the return on your education investment.

This is another reason for people who are just getting started in a CAD career to be encouraged.  You don’t have to have a master’s degree to do very well.

Not that it’s all peaches and cream for all CAD artists.

You still have to be really good at what you do if you want to succeed.  Build your true value to a high level.

You have to plan your career path intelligently, and negotiate well on your own behalf.

Please post your comments below.  I love hearing from readers!

Here is a link to get your own copy of the AUGI issue with the CAD salary survey:


Keep the faith, and keep on CADDing!   🙂