Since 2012, when Machine Design published its first salary and career report, we have seen an increase of salary growth for engineers: From 2012 to 2014, the average salary was around $90,000 a year. In 2015, the salary jumped to $98,000 a year. This is promising for the engineering community as 56.6% of engineers responded that they expect their salary to increase in 2016. Over the last five years, engineers have been satisfied to extremely satisfied with their work, averaging a satisfaction rate of 90%. They also feel challenged at work over the last five years with 56% answering they are sufficiently challenged and 35% saying they feel somewhat challenged.

These trends of salary and job satisfaction are encouraging for the engineering profession. However, the average age of engineers is pushing more to the right. In the last five years, the percentage of new engineers has decreased and engineers as a whole are getting older. For engineers under 25, the percentage is below 1% for 2016. Engineers between the ages 30 to 39 comprised as high as 11% in 2013 of the engineering community and have declined to 8% in 2016. The same goes for other age ranges. The 40 to 49 age group has decline from 21% in 2012 to 15% in 2016. Engineers from 50 to 54 were at 20% in 2012 and dropped to 15% in 2016. The older age ranges have seen the most increase. Ages 55 and older have increased from 45% in 2012 to 59% in 2016.

Profile of a Typical Engineer

According to the 2016 survey, the majority of our readers are white males and 74% of our readers are age 50 and older. A little more than half work as a design & development engineer at 58%. This percentage is a bit down from last year (61.7% in 2015). Engineering and operational management comprise 19.3% of current principal job functions. These engineers have the job title of chief, senior, executive, or lead engineer. At least 55% of our readers work 40 to 50 hours a week. The average salary for engineers this year was $99,933.

Outlook on New Technology and Standards

Developments in technology and the changing environment have led to the rise of new standards. More than half (52%) of engineers said that standards and regulations have become more stringent over the last year. When asked about their opinions on the evolution of new standards, 63% said that it will cause companies to cheat when designing their products and only 32% agreed that they should be more stringent on software or hardware products. Overall, engineers felt that the new green initiatives and new efficiency energy standards would not affect design and manufacturing process or job security. One engineer’s response elegantly stated, “Standards are always evolving and changing. As soon as one standard is adopted, work begins on the next release. It helps to provide a level playing field for all manufactures. In general, product safety is paramount. Without such standards, some manufacturers could/would cut corners resulting in product safety issues, and poor product performance.”

The Future of Engineering

The future of engineering is still bright in the eyes of many current engineers. Over the last five years this view point has not changed as a strong 91% would recommend engineering as profession. When asked how they feel the engineering field is changing, one engineer spoke to our the fields of engineering are merging. “The lines are currently blurring between mechanical and electrical engineer. Increasingly we are specifying electrical components required to accomplish motion. It is becoming important to have a basic understanding of the limitations of control systems and their impact on the mechanical systems being designed.” As the world of IoT continues to expand, we will see more of how the engineering worlds combine.