Too slow for drafting jobs


i am having major career troubles and need serious advice. Ive been fired for being 'too slow' at work twice and i need to decide whether to quit architecture altogether or if there is a communication issue thats holding me back. 

I started out in marketing and switched to architecture, so part of the issue is i really didn't start out as a cad drafter from a young age. Then i did construction admin and qc. Only after that i did some revit and THEN had to work in autocad. However a lot of people assume i have years and years under my belt in autocad because its standard to have that. Then they get disappointed at my performance. 

I have am well rounded, well educated (overeducated) but am slow in autocad because i didnt get enough practical experience young. Am about to throw in the towel as my last manager treated me as if i am really dumb. I don't know what i can do to speed up but at this point i am getting fired before getting practice. 

I am already in my 30s by the way so i think i am also suffering some age discrimination. Alreasy twice have been let go because a younger and less experienced person (a 'fresh grad') could do the same job more quickly than me. 

I am thinking of 4 options

1-take cad training to speed up. In my years of grad school i seriously never got that. Maybe the third time is the trick. 

2-switch career. I have previous experience in marketing products and have a little coding experience. I was a mediocre architecture student in grad school but excelled at a few niche things (computational design, ecotect, and more analytical tasks). so i think the combination of more analytical and remote work might allow me to put in an hour or 2 of extra work on anything i may need to catch up on without staying at the office, so my 'slowness' might not stick out as much. It also might help me speed up to work afternoon hours when im at my best. Architecture never provides that opportunity. 

3-switch tasks within industry: perhaps construction estimating or working for a contractor is more my speed. That way i wouldn't be responsible for the drawings and my drawing speed wouldn't be an issue. 

4-go to a shrink. Perhaps i have some adult onset ADD i am unaware of. I was the 'smart kid' starting in elementary school and had frequent high test scores (at least when i made the effort) but i also failed at things where i was not able to focus. 

5-learn to fight back more diplomatically. In addition to being slow, I feel as though i am frequently getting railroaded at work by more domineering personalities. I am the type of person that needs to pause and think before answering. Maybe this is what makes me sound slow. this is also unfortunately misinterpreted as being a pushover, im not...but then people get shocked when i snipe back at them and they don't see it coming (after them being pushy or authoritarian for weeks on end). Ultimately i get along with coworkers and i like everyone (type b, like to make connections with others)  but i tend to have issues with the 'office bully')

Ill add this happened to me before architecture jobs but they always kept me around because i was a high performer. As a cad monkey though i am immediately sent packing. 

At this point i dont mind quitting arch permanently if it will fix the issue, but i wasted many years in school and accumulated lots of knowledge in qc, construction methods, computational tools, etc. I just want to make sure im not wasting all that effort before ditching the whole thing. 

May 30, 21 2:04 pm

I can really understand your position, because I have a close friend whose experience is sort of identical to yours. 

In my opinion, you shouldn't quit architecture but find a suitable spot for yourself . Since you are into computation, I would suggest the following:

-Remove 2nd bad job from your cv.

-Start a postgraduate course in computation. 

-Train in time management.

Then come market yourself as a computational specialist, in order to avoid getting thrown in production altogether. When interviewing just make it clear you aren't interested in a production role. 

Finally, if you 've had interpersonal issues ar the office I would suggest seeing a therapist or coach to help you understand why this is happening and also help you with becoming more assertive. 

Good luck! 

May 30, 21 2:39 pm  · 
2  · 

'I am already in my 30s by the way so i think i am also suffering some age discrimination.' 

I am wondering if this actually occurs to people in their 30s in entry level roles within architecture. I am also in my 30s and graduating soon, as I was a mature student in school, so slightly concerned about age discrimination too. 

May 30, 21 3:40 pm  · 
3  · 

NOTE: This post is more directed to the OP... icanet but may apply to others.

Yes, there is some of that and part of it is there is actual discrimination in insurance coverage of employees. Insurance for someone 40 years old is going to be higher than someone at 20. It goes up with age. This plus your hourly rate which will typically go up by some amount over time which means they are going to expect you to do tasks much quicker for the same task as someone at minimum wage. That rule of thumb doesn't quite work out. 

At your age, you'll be a project architect or job captain or something along that line because a person working at $12-$15 an hour doing CAD work is going to reach that optimal performance at their pay rate because CAD monkeys tends to not have a high increase in pay rate in their first 5 years. If they are working 5 years full-time, they are already at practical optimum for the amount of performance increase in using AutoCAD to do the work that needs to be done at lowest pay.. when you run the pay by performance productivity. After say.... 10 years, your pay rate will increase especially as you are moved from CAD work to work like project management. In the OP's case, the OP's salary is kind out outpriced for the CAD work. Salary and benefits and indirect labor cost per hour is too high to be someone the CAD draftsman. There's probably no sensible reason for the OP to be the CAD technician in a firm that is more concerned about costs bottom line because there is an unlikelihood the OP could possibly improve his or her work performance that much to be equal to or less than the cost it would be to have someone with 3-7 years experience CAD technician would possibly be able to do. One, a typical person with 3-7 years experience in CAD as CAD Technician for architectural firms are going to be in the realm of $20-$23/hr. is about optimal. 

This is directed more to the OP than anyone else: If your firm's staff in that experience level is only making $15/hr. then the metric your firm is going to look at is what they get done at that pay. So if you are at $20+ an hour compared to them, you are not going to likely be able to improve holistic performance of every task by 33% or more. What it says is the firms that fired you are likely comparing your cost to the cost of someone at a lower pay than you not necessarily you're performance which maybe unrealistic expectation. They think, it you are getting a 33% increase in pay that you would be increasing performance (doing the given tasks at 33% less hours or even less amount of time than that. You can't increase performance on CAD on a linear basis. It doesn't work that way. You'll gain the most performance on CAD in the first 3-7 years and after that, you aren't going to draw lines on CAD any faster 20 years from now than you do today. You may make better performance of CAD using scripts for some type of work (computations?) which will outperform manually drawing some stuff. If you have a grid, of columns on-center, you can make use of arrays to layout column blocks. 

There are things to improve performance by thinking smarter about how to use the CAD software and its features. Using time-saving features and reusable blocks will save a lot of time than some n00b that doesn't have that and doesn't use them or doesn't know to use them. However, you will reach optimal performance performing a task but if you think about how you do the steps and methodically plan how you are going to do the task in front of you, you will be able to increase performance except if you are already doing that and therefore are not likely to improve much. However, if most of your fellow younger CAD workers are already making optimal use of CAD for the task in front of them and have some experience, there is no way you are going to cost the firm less because you'll only match them in terms of how quickly the task is done with very little possible improvement in performance but if your pay rate is substantially higher, the firm is not going to be doing themselves any favor keeping you on CAD monkey tasks because you're billable rate is not ideal for that role comparable to others in that role for a lower rate. 

For a bean counter, their goal is to minimize cost and maximize the net profits that goes to the firm owners making them more rich. If you are someone they are paying $25/hour and the cheap CAD monkeys are $12.50 an hour to $15/hour then how can you realistically perform up to twice as fast (or faster) as that $12.50 CAD monkey on everything? I don't know if that is realistically possible in every project. Some projects lends well for some clever optimization like using arrays and scripts. Some projects.... not so much. If you're being fired because you are "too slow"? Are you really? Are you really performing as slow or slower than a fresh out of architecture school graduate with no formal education in how to use CAD? How are they measuring your performance? Is the performance determined by someone who actually knows how to use CAD? Are you being evaluated by someone who knows how to use CAD as to the ins and outs of how to use the software and its features optimally? Are you optimal? Maybe not but are those others at a lower pay rate optimal? Are they getting canned or are you being canned because you're pay rate? Are they being fair and reasonable? Sadly, their response would be along the lines of... the world's not fair so why should we? The world would be fair if people just be fair to one another. There is no such thing as a legitimate excuse for being a jackass.... or.... asshole. In my opinion, if they think they are paying too much in having you do CAD work, why don't they have you do something else like construction administration and QC type work. 

Icanet, how close are you in completing licensure pre-requisites like AXP and degree? If you are close to finish on that then consider getting through licensure because at some point, you don't have to work for these other individuals and work for yourself and your client. The main thing isn't exactly how many hours you spend a week but meeting deadlines agreed between you and your clients and you can spend time learning where you can optimize or improve performance. The closer you are to finishing your licensing, the less I would recommend giving up all the hard spent time already done to get this far. You seem frustrated but I don't think you really want to throw the towel and give up on architecture and licensure.

May 30, 21 6:35 pm  · 
1  ·  1

CAD monkey, really? Are you 17

Jun 1, 21 1:44 am  · 
2  · 

I don't know who you are based on your user name. CAD monkey isn't an official job title but a colloquial term used to refer to any range of job positions where you are principally working on CAD work nearly all the time such as a dedicated role.... such as CAD or CADD Technician (or Drafter). Larger firms tends to pigeon-hole people into very specific roles. It's the formula of how any relatively large company in any occupational field. The scope of duties are narrow and specific. Small firms usually don't have such pigeon-hole situation because people are expected to do and work on different kinds of tasks.

Jun 1, 21 2:59 pm  · 
 ·  1

The preferred term is "BIMpanzee"

Jun 1, 21 4:27 pm  · 
2  ·  1

See my reply about the industry ;-)

Feb 6, 23 2:10 am  · 

Maybe you just need to find a different employment setting, and/or spend some time practicing CAD on your own? 

I learned CAD by doing an unpaid internship (politically incorrect I know) where an architect really set time aside to teach me, and after that I was prepared for other jobs. It might be unrealistic to get a position like that if you already have experience, but there might be jobs where you'd take on a range of roles which could include less expectations of CAD production work and more time to develop your CAD skills than your most recent ones.

Having experience with the construction admin side of architecture also has value, and is in some ways harder to obtain than CAD experience.

May 30, 21 5:25 pm  · 
4  · 

Does CAD work bore you? If that is what's leading to slowness not much can be helped with that. Taking medication won't make you like it more. 

If these firms treat you like a drafting machine just there to crank out CDs there is zero growth and probably a blessing they canned you. At these sweatshops just fill up your CD hours for the AXP and bail. Go back construction once you fulfill all the AXP hours that need to be done at an architecture firm. Or UI/UX with your marketing background. 

May 31, 21 9:32 am  · 
2  · 

Thanks these have been great answers. 

I do think I needed to improve my speed by about 25%, but realistically, it also makes me feel better to know that they ARE asking for a lot, because i cannot accelerate 2x or 3x to justify whatever rate they find ideal. There does seem to be something about the business model that is unsustainable to me at this point. 

Really great advice, thank you. 

May 31, 21 12:17 pm  · 
1  · 

Sounds like the firm was understaffed more than you were too slow.

Jun 1, 21 10:45 am  · 
1  · 

Or simply change to a non-cad office...

May 31, 21 3:10 pm  · 
2  · 

to clarify...I don’t have Autocad listed as software I’m proficient in on my resume and don’t apply to jobs where it is required ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

May 31, 21 3:11 pm  · 
1  · 

> I am already in my 30s by the way so i think i am also suffering some

age discrimination. Alreasy twice have been let go because a younger and
less experienced person (a 'fresh grad') could do the same job more
quickly than me.

You said so yourself you got fired because you're slow, that's not age discrimination that's you being bad at your job. Someone who can do your work faster is not less experienced if you said you don't have much experience doing CAD.

I know a drafter that started at 50. Stop making excuses. You're not "overqualified" if you fail to do one of the basic requirements of your job.

You have two choices: practice in your free time or switch. But stop making excuses.

May 31, 21 4:08 pm  · 
1  ·  1

I think you're reading too much into this. The OP has said that they are slow at AutoCAD due to a lack of experience with it. They aren't making excuses.

On a side note, I'd change your aggressive tone if you want to avoid the metaphorical retribution you'll receive here. 

Jun 1, 21 10:31 am  · 
3  · 

It's not really because they can do it faster. It is because they will likely do it cheaper so even if they spend more hours, their pay is usually low so they can spend more hours without necessarily costing more especially if they are higher underpaid and they have enough experience to do the work relatively efficient. They might not be fresh out of college. However, if they have a few years already working with CAD on a full-time level, they'll probably be able to do some stuff fairly efficiently. More importantly, they do it at a lower pay rate.

The bean counters of firms are not explicitly concern with how many hours but how much your labor cost is going to do to perform tasks. Yes, how many hours you take will be a factor in computing cost but so is pay rate. Someone paid $8/hour is going to be able to take nearly twice as long as someone paid at $15 to $16 an hour so that person at $16 an hour would be expected to do the same task as the $8/hour person for 1/2 as much time if not less than that because they don't want a more higher paid person to cost them more to perform the tasks than a lower paid individual.

Jun 1, 21 3:03 pm  · 

RCZ - only a foolish bean counter would assume that the amount of time it takes to do something goes down in proportion to how much experience you have and what you're paid. Sure things will get done faster, however at a certain point you can't reduce the time needed for a task. If this wasn't the case then a principal billing out at $150 an hour would take 1/10th the time to put together a set drawings than a drafter at $15 an hour.

Jun 1, 21 3:19 pm  · 
3  · 

I would agree but sadly, some of those "bean counters" knows nothing about the work and time required to do a task. The issue is those in charge of financial resource management thinking the work takes too much time is possibly unreasonable in their expectations because we both agree that you can't at some point reduce the time needed for a task any further and those that are more concerned about $$$$ than they are about applying good sense will cause people getting laid off for excuses like "the employee is too slow"? Are they really? or is it really just unrealistic demands. For example, I wouldn't task someone paid $150/hour to do something that would be better and financially smarter to have someone paid at $15/hour but I think you understand my overall essential point. I was illustrating but it isn't whether they demand a person working for twice much dollars an hour for half the time. That is not as important but that illustration is to point out the unrealistic expectations of reducing the amount of time to less than is possible to be done. This is because of their foolish priority. You and I would likely agree and not be so foolish. Sure, I am more willing to pay someone more even if they are a little bit slower at delivering the tasks because we see more value in the employee than just numbers. There are more than one metric for measuring the value of an employee. Sadly, some employers and management doesn't think that way.

Jun 1, 21 4:07 pm  · 

What I'm saying is that NOBODY actually believes that the more experience / pay you have is directly proportional to the amount of time it takes to do a task. This is just means to try and get staff to work more hours for free.

Jun 1, 21 5:38 pm  · 

"learn to fight back more diplomatically. In addition to being slow, I feel as though i am frequently getting railroaded at work by more domineering personalities."

Currently I'm in a similar position and would agree on this. Assert and assure that you get the proper training, feeling shame because you can't keep up with the work is not your fault in anyway. This could be attributed to the offices' mishandling of onboarding you their standards along with proper shadowing. In my case, I was hired for my all Revit-BIM experience however I was immediately stunted by given purely CAD based work. It's a struggle considering the workflow and mindset yet the office won't always be a support. It's taunting, let alone feeling alone or even overwhelmed but regardless, put in some extra time outside of work. Practice, get some exercises done and make a cheat sheet for yourself. Ask your coworkers if they can show you archive projects or if they have preferred keyboard shortcuts. Practice, Practice PRACTICE!!! Best wishes and hope it gets better from here on out!!! :) 

Jun 1, 21 2:18 am  · 
2  · 

Same i get hired for other experience but the bulk of work in most arch offices is cad. Thats what makes me think it might be better for me to let it go. Just exhausted.

Jun 1, 21 2:35 pm  · 

ALL architectural offices involves the uses of some form of computer aided design/drafting whether that is with AutoCAD, Revit (BIM) or other tools. This is because the principle work of architects is a service of designing and preparation of technical submissions. This is what architects do. However, that is not to say that is all architects do. It is the point that architectural services are commissioned for. I'm a building designer so my services are reworded for obvious legal reasons but fundamentally similar. This doesn't mean a firm can't appropriately apply your skills to the work you are competent in. However, if you want to know more about CAD and improve your knowledge and ultimately skill.... there are often CADD courses often taught at community colleges and technical schools. While you may have learned some of it already but you may learned more stuff and with practice... improve your efficiency. The courses on computation that tyth suggested may be of some interesting value to do some things with modern CAD/BIM and related tools.

Jun 1, 21 2:55 pm  · 
1  · 

I don't understand:

1) why are you doing drafting work with no experience.  It sounds like you should stick to CA and QA.  To work as a draftsman is a pretty large step backwards.  

2)  why are you getting into arguments with these people?  If they are your supervisor, just do as they ask, problem solved.  I can certainly understand their perspective if you suddenly "snipe back at them."

Jun 1, 21 1:53 pm  · 
2  ·  2

Unless you are well connected in the industry, either you know someone who's in a high position and can bail for you whenever he can as long as you're doing your job, you're not safe. You can tell by some of the not-so-intelligent comments that the industry has plenty of individuals that think someone doing a CAD/Drafting job is not considered intelligent. Also, It is not enough that you are doing your job; they want you to go above and beyond your duties, even it if means you'll burn out in the end.

 I've been in the CAD Design industry for a while; this has nothing to do with you. I'm sure you are good at what you do or probably excellent at doing CAD drafting/design. I've seen amazing to mediocre designers suffer because, in the end, it makes no difference to those above you; whether you're good or bad at what you do, they will criticize you and get rid of you if necessary. This is a thankless abusive field infested with individuals with overblown egos, and it applies to every discipline related to infrastructure. You can't have an opinion or backbone, make mistakes, or even take your time to ensure there are no mistakes in your designs. They will criticize you behind your back and will question your performance because they can, and because to them, you are just a number that can easily be replaced by next week. Remember, we do not have unions like nurses, teachers, and other industries. We are at the mercy of these fckers, unfortunately. You can be the best or the not-so-good at your job or have been doing it for years. Still, the minute they feel you are no longer necessary because you're slow and/or you can't keep up with their unreasonable deadlines, standards, and high demands, they will put HR to work and find ways to make your departure official in a blink of an eye. Also, take a good look around the attention...notice all the engineers and architects who are still doing the same jobs for years, for the same company, regardless of how old fashion, outdated methodology, and mentalities are, or even how much older they are in comparison to you; and the reason is that they need them.  It will take many mistakes and many problems to get rid of one of them. Unlike the poor drafter, who they will cut out without a second thought, layoffs statistics are much higher for drafters than others in the industry.

CAD Drafters are just at the bottom of the barrel; there are just too many of them out there. It's not like it was 20-30 years ago when the skill was in high demand and few knew the software. My advice to you is to walk, wait no,  to run fast and far away from the industry because if you do not have connections or friends in high places, it is best and healthier to move on because it is improbable you'll have a financially secured future in the field.   

Or Just switch careers, do something else that's related to the industry to keep you away from the low pay and unjustified bickering scene. Do the research and go back to college, get a different degree that pays better and is on-demand or train for another industry that treats their peers fairly and with respect…  Or try Freelance design, you will be 100% in control on how much you are willing to do, and no one can tell you how slow you are, most free lance jobs do not come with tight deadlines and unreasonable demands plus they pay the same and some cases even more, and you will gain more experience as you go, enriching and providing value to yourself and not to some @shle who thinks you're not good enough or a CAD monkey who can't keep up with their ridiculous demands. So get out while you can you still have a future … I'm in the process of leaving this field behind for good too…this career is just like crime. In the long run, it doesn't pay to keep doing it; I will never recommend this to anyone, it begs repeating it is a thankless, worthless field in an industry that's full of irrational, egotistical individuals. 

Feb 6, 23 2:03 am  · 

Zombie thread .... as always I wonder what happened with the OP.

Feb 6, 23 2:27 am  · 
1  · 

Me too hope he found a better position or a healthier career to be in.

Feb 6, 23 12:10 pm  · 

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