CAD Manager Career Advice

Veteran CAD manager Curt Moreno takes you through the steps you need to take to become a CAD manager extraordinaire.

My grandfather passed away when I was young but he had instilled the responsibility of hard work. To him “having a job” was the most important thing, but I think if he had lived longer he would have come to believe as I do, that having a job is not enough; you need a career.

On that note, I didn’t start my career until I was 28. That is when I realized what had once been just a job was actually my career, and as such, I had to advance.

At that point I was a production CAD drafter at a civil engineering firm. Things were good, but while I was busy, I wasn’t really challenged. It didn’t seem like I was going anywhere; I just came in, produced plan sheets, and went home. Rinse. Repeat.

That just wasn’t going to be enough.

I wanted more responsibility, more interesting projects, and greater challenges. More money wouldn’t hurt either. I decided to move up and become a CAD manager. I knew that was the right move for me, and maybe it’s the right move for you, too! Let’s find out with some CAD manager career advice.

Prepare for Change

One does not simply become a CAD manager. No, you must prepare to make this move. The first step in preparing for your new role as a CAD manager is to begin by examining your skill level.

You may be thinking “My CAD skills are sharp. That’s what makes me good at what I do!” Fine, but ask yourself this: Are your current skills enough to make you a good CAD drafter or are they enough to be a good CAD manager?

Are you up to date on your training? Are you using all the tools that your company provides for you? Are you taking full advantage of all the career and skill enhancement programs your company offers? Are you currently “managing” your own workload in a way that gives confidence that you could manage others? If not, why not?

These things will not only prepare you for management, they will serve you well in your current role and make you more valuable.

Look Forward

There is no doubt you are good at what you do. That is a position that can make you very happy where you are. So, before you leap, think about where you will land.

You know all about being a CAD drafter in a production role, but how much do you really know about being a CAD manager?

CAD management is more than just CAD. It involves people skills, settling disputes, lots of meetings and planning, and tons of patience. Are these deal breakers for you? These are important factors because this will be your new life.

“The grass is always greener…” is a cliché for a reason. It’s easy to only see the benefits of this new position without knowing the not-so-great aspects. Take some time and do your research. Talk to your current CAD manager or go to an online forum and ask what it is like to be a CAD manager. Make sure this is the right move for you and not one you are making because it is the “next” step.

Ask for the Job

You will never get a job you don’t ask for. It’s just that simple. Prepare to ask for your new job.

Chances are that you will be looking to move up in your current company, so you will probably not need a resume. But you should still have a list of your accomplishments, certifications, milestones, and project history ready. This is the list that enumerates all the ways that you create value for your company. Don’t forget to also have a short list of ways you can create even more value in the new role of CAD manager. This will show you understand your worth and are looking forward.

Once you have your ducks in a row, it is time to make an appointment with your boss to march those ducks down the hall.

Curt Moreno: CAD Manager Career Advice

Sit back in the chair and calmly let the boss know that you would like to discuss your role in the company. Share some of your past successes and contributions to remind her of your current value. Make it clear to her that you think you have the potential to do more and that you would like the opportunity to gain more responsibility. Then share some of your ideas on ways to create added value if you had a new position.

Keep the meeting focused, polite, and end it with a smile.

After Visiting the Boss

It almost always takes time for management to decide on filling positions. And it may be that the position you seek is not currently open.

That’s fine. You are on the right track whether you get the job today, tomorrow, or next month. What is important is that you have positioned yourself to make the move and you let your management know you are ready to move.

You Are Set for Change!

However, if you feel that your desires are going unnoticed, or if you are rejected do not give up. If you feel certain your skills and talents are better fitted to be a CAD manager, then don’t give up. It is time to look elsewhere.

Whether your new position is with your current firm or a new one, what is important is that you are ready to move from someone who is “managed” to someone who “manages.”

Good luck on the road to your new career as a CAD manager!

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