say 2009 was a difficult year for most economically and in terms of employment would be considered a "sky is blue"
statement. That is, it would be difficult to make a more obvious statement.
Despite the bleak realities encountered across the board in the past couple of
years, results from Design News' most recent survey of
subscribers clearly indicates that the scene for design engineers is improving.
responses to the survey also indicated that plenty of work-related pain
remains. The good news is that the bright spots were just as readily apparent.
particular bright spot is salaries. Forty percent of respondents received
salary increases in the past year; while 51 percent saw their salaries remain static.
Considering that salary reductions, furloughs and other such cost-reduction
tactics were making major news last year, the fact that such curtailments were
encountered by less than 10 percent of our subscribing engineers is certainly a
positive indicator, given the persistent economic circumstances.
Even with such a large number of respondents receiving
salary increases, the static nature of design engineering salaries is reflected
in an average salary of $89,597 - which is less than 1/10 of a percent lower
than last year's average. On the bright side, bonuses are way up. Compared to
last year's results, bonuses increased by 47 percent to an average of $9,025.
This indicates two likely reasons: engineers are having increasing amounts of
pay tied to performance and/or many companies had better-than-expected results
at year end 2009, with bonuses increasing commensurately.
terms of what industries tended to pay the most for engineering talent, the
highest paying industries were computer/peripherals, semiconductor and
communication systems, in which salaries averaged out at about $103,000. The lowest paying industries were
instrument/test equipment, machine tools and contract manufacturing, with an
average salary of $74,000.
interesting point to ponder about these industry-related salary figures is
whether these salaries are more tied to the industries themselves, or where
most of them tend to be located. Consider the evidence: The regions with the highest salaries were
the Southwest and Mountain areas, which are well-known for high-tech computer,
semiconductor and communication industries. Conversely, the Pacific Northwest
and Midwest were the regions with the lowest salaries; both of these regions
represent a large number of instrumentation, machine tool and contract
manufacturing providers. The question this raises is a real "the chicken or the
egg" type of conundrum. Are salaries lower in the Midwest because of the
industries principally located there or because of general cost of â€…living issues? Likewise, are salaries
higher in the West because of all the leading-edge industries there
vying for talent or the cost of living?
salary is clearly a leading indicator - if not the leading indicator - of job
satisfaction, if your work environment is miserable, your salary is likely to
be of little consolation.
the majority of design engineers, this issue is not a problem. Fifty-nine
percent of respondents say the role of the engineer in their company is well
respected and 63 percent say they personally feel appreciated at their jobs.
However, 49 percent feel underpaid and overworked and only 44 percent feel they are fully using their engineering
those who are most satisfied with their jobs, the principal reasons are that
their work provides them a sense of accomplishment, and the freedom to design
and make a contribution to the company's viability. Those who are somewhat or
not satisfied most often cite offshoring/outsourcing as the primary reasons for
their discontent, as well as company politics and bad management.
proportion of respondents either completely worried or definitely not worried
about the safety of their job was the same - 29 percent are not at all
concerned about losing their job, and 29 percent are extremely or very
concerned. Those most concerned about losing their jobs cited the economy,
outsourcing and canceled orders/projects leading to downsizing/layoffs. Of
those who are not concerned, most claimed to work for stable companies with
good management and/or are in well-performing market sectors. These respondents
also feel they have unique skill sets and are seeing older engineers retiring
soon, thereby providing more opportunity for younger engineers.
comments to the survey reflected the disparity of opinions over job
satisfaction and security. One respondent said, "I was already laid off and
found a new job. I am not highly concerned that this new job will go away
because they are currently trying to hire more people." Another noted that "If
you are a skilled and proven engineer, there are always jobs out there."
the other hand, responses of this type were not uncommon: "All companies are
downsizing. It is only a matter of time before it happens here unless economic
conditions change soon."
respondents also noted the "short-term attitude of their company" adversely
affecting their jobs and that the "attitude toward engineering as a profession
has been shifting. Engineers used to be respected and had a voice. Now they are merely viewed as the grunt
the not-insignificant number of engineers unhappy with their current job situation,
only 10 percent said they are actively seeking other employment. Of those
engaged in a job search, most are relying on word of mouth/peer
recommendations; 33 percent use job websites; and 28 percent are turning to
social networking. The social media site most cited for job use was LinkedIn.
The most telling statistic for any product, service
or job lies in how many of those currently involved with it would recommend it
to a close friend or relative. When it comes to design engineering, 70 percent
of respondents said they would recommend their field of work to a son, daughter
link to the full survey.
to view more related charts and graphs.