ENGINEERING SALARY SURVEY

May 24, 2011


ENGINEERING SALARY SURVEY

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.

2011 SALARIES BY INDUSTRY

  • 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:

2011 SALARIES BY REGION

  • 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.

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