The good news is engineering salaries are up. The bad news is engineers feel they don't get the respect they deserve and are concerned about losing their jobs to offshore outsourcing. The Machine Design annual salary survey polled over 900 readers about their salaries, bonuses, work week, and level of job satisfaction. Compared to last year, average base salary for engineers increased $2,600 to $68,000. The reported median salary is $66,400, up more than $4,400 from the depths of the economic recession in 2002. (See MD, 03/06/03, pg. 46.)
For 56% of engineers responding to our survey annual salaries increased between 1 and 5%. An additional 27% say their salaries remained the same. And this seems to be enough to keep them satisfied with their current position. A majority of participants, 57%, say they are not considering a job search, 33% are considering a change in scenery. Another 9% are actively looking, and 1% are unemployed and actively looking for a job. (Readers should note, however, that unemployed engineers are probably underrepresented in the survey. This is because we solicited responses from active subscribers. Active subscribers are more likely to be employed than the general population of engineers.) Forty-four percent claim to be "somewhat satisfied" with their jobs, and 23% are "very satisfied."
The gender gap rears its head among those polled, but the disparity is smaller than national averages in other professions. The survey found that women earned 90% of what their male peers made. Average salary for women is $61,700, and $68,200 for men.
Would you tell your kid, "Grow up to be an engineer."
We asked survey participants if they would recommend engineering to their children or friends, and a whopping 78% of them said yes. Those who would recommend engineering tended to say it was interesting and challenging. Those who would not recommend engineering felt there was low compensation, no room for advancement, and no job security because of offshore outsourcing.
Here are a few samples of respondents' comments:
Eighty-two percent of respondents work between 40 and 49 hr per week. For 76% this is the same as last year, but for 10% the work week increased 1 to 5 hr a week.
Factors that give you the most job satisfaction as an engineer
Factors that displease you most about your job
Bonus and special compensation
Fifty-six percent of participants say they received a bonus last year, most receiving between 1 and 5% of their base pay. For most, bonuses were awarded based on a combination of company and personal performance.
Is engineering fun?
"Engineering rocks." That was one respondent's comment when asked this question. An overwhelming majority of survey takers, 91%, feel that engineering is fun. Their reasons include the chance to tackle challenging problems and something different every day.
"I like solving problems, being the hero."
Sources of information you find most helpful
Reasons you use the Internet at work