August 24, 2013

We all would enjoy knowing if our compensation package is comparable with others within our profession.  Each year, Design News Magazine conducts a survey to determine the “state” of the engineering profession relative to salary, demographics and overall satisfaction for practicing engineers.    In June of 2013, the Design News team sent an e-mail invitation to 190,341 North American members of the Design-Engineering community.  A firm called Explorations and Insights, LLC designed and executed the study; Research Results, an independent research firm, tabulated the data.   The survey conducted and evaluated compensation and job satisfaction relative to the following areas:

  • Current salary and bonus as compared to one year ago
  • Length of employment
  • Engineering disciplines
  • Level of job stress as compared to one year ago
  • Reasons for job stress
  • Impact of economy
  • Level of supervisory and/or budgetary responsibility as compared to one year ago
  • Average number of work hours per week
  • Level of satisfaction as a design engineer
  • Reasons for  job satisfaction or dissatisfaction
  • Challenges of the job
  •  Size of company
  • Company’s major product line

The results are based upon 2,125 usable survey responses.  At a 95 % confidence level, the results are accurate and projectable with a + or – 2.1% margin of error.

Since the results of the survey are lengthy, I will to divide the results of this survey into three (3) parts as follows:

Let’s look at salary first with demographics and job satisfaction to be addressed in future posting.

Region of Employment

We get a first-hand look at salary relative to regional influences.  As in years past, the Southwest leads the pack with the South coming in as a fairly close second.    It is not surprising, due to unemployment in automotive and heavy industry, that Midwest engineering salaries are somewhat less than the other regions.    If we look at current base salaries, we see the following:

Current Base Annual Salary

As you can see, the average salary is $100,664 with a median salary of $95,097.  These numbers actually represent an increase over the 2012 year.  In looking at 2012 vs. 2013:

Annual Salary Comparison

Sixty-nine (69%) of the respondents indicated an increase in salary relative to the previous year whereas twenty-nine (29%) indicated their salary package remained the same.  Only two (2%) stated a decrease in salary.

I was very surprised as to the bonuses given in 2013.  The average bonus, when given, was $10,537.  Please note, this does not include base salary.

Bonuses and Comissions

If we look at bonuses and salary combined, we see the following:

Bonuses and Salary Increases

It’s always very interesting to me to see compensation relative to demographics; i.e. industry, experience, level of education, etc.  Let’s take a look.

Age does seem to dictate, to some extent, the compensation package given.  This, in my opinion, is perfectly logical.

Compensation Vs. Age

It was gratifying to see the 65+ age group is not much different than the 45-54 age group.  This tells me experience is valuable regardless of age.  This is borne out by the following chart:

Compensation Vs Years of Experience

In looking at those industries that provide the greatest salary and bonus packages, we see the semiconductor industry definitely leads the engineering profession with compensation almost $120K.  This has not changed over the years.  The EEs always lead technology segments with higher salaries.  Contract engineering and temporary jobs are the lowest pay grade since these jobs are generally project oriented as opposed to full time positions.

Compensation Vs Industry

Manufacturing engineering is always at the lower end of compensation even though that field is critical to the commercialization of any product.  This has always puzzled me but that’s the way it is.   Take a look.

Compensation Vs. Industry

The level of education has a very definite effect upon compensation as follows:

Compensation Vs. Level of Education

I think it’s very important to note that individuals with two year degrees can earn significant pay within the engineering profession.     These degrees are extremely valuable and provide technical services such as lab technicians, equipment repair specialists, equipment calibration specialists and many more.

I don’t think salary is the total clue to job satisfaction but as you can see, it does not hurt to feel adequately compensated for your efforts.

Compensation Vs. Satisfaction

The next post will involve engineering demographics, but I would like to indicate where we are going with Demographics and Job Satisfaction.  Please come back for a visit to take a look at these two fascinating categories.

The Design Engineer



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