Data for this document was taken from “Machine Design”, April 21, 2011.  The comments relative to the data are mine. Sometimes stinging but definitely mine.

Every year the “Machine Design” magazine publishes a salary survey for practicing engineers and engineering managers.    This survey provides basic compensation averages for various engineering disciplines relative to geographic locations within the United States.   This year, 1126 respondents answered the questionnaire providing the basis for comparison.    We have good news in that engineering salaries and employment rates were on the upswing and certainly better than 2010. At this writing, the unemployment rate was approximately 8.8% with engineering unemployment around 7%. The average engineering salary, for all disciplines, was $83,767.00.  This figure is approximately 4% higher than the $80,760 for the 2010 year.    Salaries rose for 56% of the respondents with the majority receiving between 1% and 5% increases.  Only 6% experienced a salary drop.  Let us take a look at salary averages by job title:

  • System Engineers:: $78K
  • System Engineering Managers:: $81K
  • Senior Engineer::$90K
  • Consulting Engineer:: $82K
  • Department Head::$115K
  • Project Engineer::$70K
  • Team Leader::$111K
  • Software Engineer::$70K
  • Software Manager::$120K
  • Manufacturing Engineer::$70K
  • Manufacturing Manager::$70K
  • CEO, President, Owner::$114K
  • QC, Evaluation Engineer::$65K
  • R&D Director::$100K
  • Test Technician::$65K
  • VP of Engineering::$112K

Please keep in mind that these are composite averages for all engineering disciplines.  Now let’s look at what specialties and regions get the big bucks.


  • Computer and IT Technology::$90K
  • Electrical Equipment & Component:: $82K
  • Fabricated Metal  Manufacturing::$82K
  • Machinery Manufacturing::$79K
  • Medical Equipment::$95K
  • Transportation Equipment::$81K

Several states in the New England area win the blue ribbon for highest regional salaries:


  • New York and Pennsylvania::$80K
  • Intermountain States::$81K
  • VT, MASS, RI, NH::$99K
  • Pacific Coast States::$90K
  • Coastal Southeast::$80K
  • Southeast and Southwest::$81K

I am stating the obvious when I say engineering is not the highest paying profession on the planet.  I am stating, as a working engineer, that it is the most rewarding profession on the planet.  (Of course I’m more than a little biased in that opinion.) It can be a very very exciting way to earn a living simply due to the act of continuous discovery.  The big “downer” is the movement of R&D, manufacturing and invention “offshore”.  There will come a time when our great country will realize that we can no longer do anything.  Look at the technology that has “drifted away” over the past two decades:

  • Textiles
  • Leather goods; i.e. shoes, belts, handbags, etc.
  • Production of electronic “chips”
  • Memory devices and storage
  • Cameras
  • Sound equipment, i.e. tuners, amps, speakers, etc
  • Television sets
  • DVDs
  • Toys
  • Tools and dies

The list does go on and on.  We are even in the process of relinquishing our dominance relative to manned space craft.  In a few weeks we will be relying on the Soviets to haul equipment and people to the space station.   Next will come medical equipment, then publishing, then legal—the list goes on and on.  For the very first time in our country’s history, the number of government employees (22 million) exceeds the number of manufacturing jobs.  We are moving into an era in which it will be necessary to talk a good game instead of play a good game.   Who knows, maybe we are there already.

Dear Friends,

I would like to issue a correction to a recent blog I posted relative to the tornado that hit Chattanooga, Tennessee and the surrounding area.  I mentioned in my blog that the Northwest Georgia bank in Ringgold, Georgia had been destroyed.  This is not correct !  I received a message from a gentleman in charge of communications for the bank and he indicated that the information I issued with the posting was in error. There are several branches of the bank in Ringgold and the surrounding area and some were damaged but none destroyed.   I certainly wish to apologize and correct my error.  Actually, I got the information from a local radio station, WGOW 1150, two days after the EF4 moved through our area.  I don’t feel this is an excuse on my part.  I should have checked the information prior to publishing the blog.  One thing I really really try to do is provide factual information AND sources for the material I provide. 

The good news is, the bank is up and running and providing services to the public.  Again, my apologies for the error.

Take care.

Bob Jackson


It’s been a really tough week for the home team.  On Wednesday, 27 April 2011, tornados ripped through the southeast leaving thousands homeless and 226 dead. There were 142 killed in Alabama alone.  My city, Chattanooga, lost 12 people.  Seventy-eight people died in Chattanooga plus surrounding counties.   Four “waves” or fronts moved through our area, the first at 1030 hrs Wednesday morning and the last around 2130 hrs Wednesday night.  The last front was definitely the strongest and spawned the EF4 that created the majority of the havoc and destruction.  The winds were clocked at 192 miles per hour.  I have never witnessed, on a personal level, the devastation caused by this “act of God”.  The houses in the “hood” look like a scene from a war movie and yet, my family is very very lucky relative to some in the region.  We lost power, cable, internet, phone service for eight days, one roof, gutters, downspouts and three trees.  No injuries at all.  There were 112,000 houses without power and just about all of the commercial establishments.  “The morning after”, we all surveyed the damage and started the cleanup.  That cleanup included picking up fiberglass insulation, roof shingles, pieces of metal, paper, fabric from a bed sheet (we think) and associated items we can’t even name.  One individual I know received a very distressing phone call from a cousin.  He was in the process of removing a fallen tree when he discovered a body lying a few feet from that tree.  Our great neighbor next door, Sue Whited, came over and showed me a check from a gentleman in Meridian, Mississippi.  She found this in her front yard; sent it back to the address on the check that very day.  Let’s hope it found a home still standing upon arrival. 

One city in our area was particularly hard hit, Ringgold, Georgia.   Ringgold is a town of about 7,000 people and lost the following establishments:

  • McDonalds Restaurant
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Waffle House
  • Three service stations
  • Bi~Lo Supermarket
  • Ringgold Middle School
  • Ringgold High School
  • Northwest Georgia Bank
  • Chow-Time Restaurant
  • 120 Automobiles were severely damages at the Chrysler-Dodge Dealership

It is estimated that a full one-half of all commercial establishments were either destroyed or damaged by the storms.   

Crews from Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Florida worked in our city and the surrounding area to restore power.  A crew from North Carolina “got our family going” again.  That occurred at 2130 hrs this past Thursday.  I am forever in their debt and certainly want to thank them, all of them, for their concerted efforts. 

It’s been a tough week.

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