ENGINEERING SALARY SURVEY-2012

August 4, 2012


 It’s that time again.  As you know, the magazine “Design News” publishes yearly a study detailing the results of a questionnaire sent to working engineers relative to the following areas:        

      Results this year are based on 1,684 usable replies.    At a 95% confidence level, these results are accurate and projectable within a + or –2.4% margin of error.    I don’t know if you are comfortable with statistics but a 95% confidence level means there could be a + or – 2.5% error relative to the sample size.   This actually is excellent correlation and makes this study one which can be believed.  I would indicate all of the data used in this document is provided by Design News including the graphics.    The text and descriptive information is mine.  I definitely hope you enjoy the study.  Here goes.

 Let’s first take a look at a general overall presentation as to where we stand by region within the United States.   These are average salary levels.

As you can see, the New England region once again wins the prize for having the highest average salary; then the Southwest, then the Pacific Northwest.  As a point of reference, when I entered the engineering work force in 1966, I was offered a $15,000 annual salary by Pratt and Whitney.   That sum was the “going rate” for graduating mechanical engineers.  EEs were higher with industrial engineers bringing up the rear.  From the standpoint of averages, let’s take a look at several conglomerate numbers:

You can see from this chart the “average” annual salary is about $97K.  The stat that blew me away was the 46 hour work week.  I certainly wish I had supervisors who believed in less than 50 hours.  Most of mine thought you were just getting warmed up around 40 to 45 hours.  My, how times have changed.    We are going to delve deeper into the various elements of the profession as we try to highlight certain responses that indicate basic demographics. 

 When considering base salary with no bonus factored in, we see the following:

Please keep in mind, entry level starting salaries will be the lower figures AND differing disciplines AND differing industries will have averages and starting salaries commensurate with industry standards.  For instance, the average salary for a mechanical engineer in the appliance business will be lower than the average salary for a mechanical engineer working in engineering medicine or aerospace.   The complexity of the product dictates the level of compensation to a great degree.   Please note also, the chart above is a “bell-shaped” curve, as it should be with 56% of the salaries being between $60 K and $110K.   Very few true engineering types make north of $ 150 K per year and I suspect these would be individuals having P&L responsibilities in addition to managing teams of people.  (Now you see why there are more doctors, lawyers, bankers, etc than engineers.)

 As mentioned earlier, the discipline and its complexity dictate to a large degree the salary brackets.  You get a feel for this fact with the chart below.

I consider manufacturing engineering being one of the most important engineering fields and yet it always seems to be the “anchor-man” relative to compensation.  Manufacturing is tough with seemingly fewer resources to do a specific job. 

Classifications are further broken down into education levels as follows:

 

Those individuals with PhDs usually work for educational institutions and not industry or manufacturing.  Theirs is the world of R&D and teaching.  The overwhelming ranks are filled with bachelors of science and masters degrees.  In my day, the thing to do was obtain a BS and follow up with an MBA.  With this economy, just finding a job within your field can be quite challenging.  If we further breakdown education vs. age, we find the following:

As you might suspect, greater the years of service, greater the compensation.

 

One of the things we find with engineers–they are not “job hoppers”– with the average length of service for any one company being 13 years.  I find this to be fascinating.  I will let you draw your own conclusions here, but for me it says that most engineers are fairly satisfied with the companies they keep.

The relative company size also has a definite bearing on compensation.

When I retired from GE in 2005, my total compensation package was $93K.   This is after 18 years with the company.  As you can see from the next chart, this is right in line with the Design News data, even for appliance manufacturing.

 Let’s look now at the likes and dislikes of the profession at large.  Most engineers do like their jobs.  This is evident by the next chart.

Job satisfaction was not too difficult to achieve.

One slide that is very telling is given below: I can definitely identify with this chart, although when the word engineer is used, most people think of a guy who drives a train and not a graduate problem-solver or designer.  We certainly have a long way to go with educating the general public as to what engineers really do.  When we discuss fully using engineering skills and overworked and underpaid, don’t we all feel that way at times?  These two categories are definitely objective and certainly based upon an individual engineer’s “feel” for the job.

 

One definite “downer”:

Engineers, like most professionals, feel very uncomfortable about the future and what might happen.  Only 42% indicate they are not very concerned at all.  The chart above is supported by the feelings indicated by the following:

This write-up is definitely not meant to make a political statement but it is an election year and elections do determine the future of our country.   If you read the individual statements beside the pie-chart, you will get an indication as to some of the responses.

I would like to thank Design News for doing another marvelous job and I give them all the credit for putting together the data from which this blog is developed.   Let’s hope 2013 is a year of prosperity for all professions and we can present “great reviews” next August.

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