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Engineering Salary Trends 2012-2013

Posted by Kaitlyn Brown on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 @ 10:04 AM

engineering salary trendsIt’s not a bad time to be an engineer. In fact, according to Thomas G. Loughlin, Executive Director of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), it has never been a better time to be an engineer. In the past year, engineering salaries have been on the rise, engineering professionals receiving bonus payouts have increased, and 6 engineering majors dominate the list of the 10 college majors with the highest starting salary.

Let’s take a look at the engineering salary trends from 2012 to present:

Salaries on the Rise

According to the 2012-2013 Dice Tech Salary Report, tech professionals in the U.S. are enjoying the biggest jump in their salaries in more than a decade. 59% of Dice survey respondents reported an increase in compensation, 31% reported no change, and only 10% reported a salary decrease. The majority of those who experienced an unfavorable change in their paycheck said it was due to changing employers. That explains the decrease – but what about the increase? It may have something to do with the fact that the tech unemployment rate is down to 3.8% - that’s about half the national average. Tech professionals are a dime a dozen these days, and employers are doing everything they can to maintain their tech talent pool.  

Starting Engineering Salaries

For those of you who have the opportunity to become an engineer (i.e. you have the brains and haven’t yet picked a college major), I firmly suggest you take engineering into consideration. After all, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 6 of the 10 college majors with the highest starting salaries are in some branch of engineering. Intrigued? I thought you might be. Here are the 6 majors in the top 10 and their starting salaries:

1. Computer Engineering - $70,400

2. Chemical Engineering - $66,400

4. Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering - $64,000

5. Mechanical Engineering - $62,900

6. Electrical/Electronics and Communications Engineering - $62,300

7. Civil Engineering - $57,600

(Click here to see all 10 of the majors with the highest starting salaries.) 

Increased Engineering Experience

Did you like the sound of those starting salaries? Good news – It only gets better. According to an engineering salary report by ASCE, The median income of full-time salaried engineers increased regularly from $55,000 for those with less than one year of experience to $127,800 for those with 25 years of experience or more. Looks like if you stick with this profession, it may just be worth your while.

Increased Engineering Education

Experience isn’t the only thing that can add a few more zeros to your paycheck. Earning another degree or two won’t just increase your knowledge, but also you bank account. According to ASCE, professionals holding a doctorate in engineering earn an average of 35% more than those with a mere bachelor’s degree. Here are the median salaries for engineers per degree:

B.S. in engineering - $85,900

M.S. in engineering - $95,576

D.Sc. in engineering - $116,000

Gender Salaries: Men vs. Women in Engineering

Although there is still a difference between compensation for men and women engineers, there have been many improvements during the past 20 years. The median income of female engineers these days is $76,984, while their male counterparts are getting paid a median of $96,000. The good news for women engineers is that this gender gap is closing. According to John E. Goossen, vice president, Innovation Hub and SMR Development, Westinghouse Electric Company, "When I graduated, we were 54 in the class and only one woman engineer. When I look around today, we are hiring many outstanding young women engineers." Better watch out men, these women may just be taking your jobs one day.

Regional Engineering Salaries

While gender, education and experience are big factors in determining how much dough you’re bringing home each year, where you live can also influence the weight of your paycheck. Here are the median engineering salaries per region in the United States: 

Pacific Southwest States - $104,061

South Central States - $101,000

Middle Atlantic States $95,000

Central Plains States - $88,000

The Great Lakes States - $86,067

The Upper Mountain States - $80,878

Engineering Salaries By Discipline

The last and perhaps the most important factor that could determine what you’re worth (financially, of course) is the actual field of engineering you specialize in. According to the ASCE 2012 salary report, here are the median engineering salaries per discipline:

Ocean Engineering - $169,000

Cost Management - $129,500

Petroleum Engineering - $127,043

Safety - $125,000

Minerals and Metals - $121,000

Fire Protection - $116,000

No, it's certainly not a bad time to be an engineer at all. And while a big payday is always an exciting part of a job, it is certainly not the only factor that makes engineering a worthy career path. Engineers are essential to building and improving the world we live in. According to Loughlin, “In November 2011, we surpassed 7 billion people on the planet and it's going to be engineers who create an environment that we can all live on this planet and share resources in an effective and meaningful way.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Results from surveys like the ones Dice and ASCE conducted are always interesting because you're able to get some insight into what other professionals in your field are experiencing. At ExactSource, we think it's very important for career development to collaborate with other professionals across the country who are doing the same things, working towards the same goals and walking similar paths as you. That's why ExactSource created a community on LinkedIn for engineering professionals to do just that. Our Professional Engineers Network is a great place for professionals interested in developing, discovering, and sharing information and solutions revolving exclusively around the field of engineering. Our goal is to help develop the careers of individuals, while working towards progressing the entire engineering profession as a whole. Click here to join our Professional Engineers Network! 

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PEN is a blog from ExactSource, a leading provider of talent solutions for Architectural and Engineering firms across the country.

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