Power Electronics

Show Engineers the Money

Engineering salaries in the U.S. depend on several variables, such as company location, experience, education, and products produced. An early 2001 study by Design News magazine, whose readers are primarily mechanical engineers, provides some insights into salary structures. Although mechanical engineers formed the majority of respondents, it's likely that much of the information also relates to electrical engineers.

As far as location is concerned, the West Coast offers the highest annual mean salaries of about $70K, with the northern Midwest states offering the lowest. The difference between the two extremes is about $10K per year.

The data also compares the number of years of experience and salaries. For engineers with more than 20 years of experience, the annual mean salary was about $73K, compared with about $45K for an engineer with less than two years experience.

The annual mean salary of the 26 respondents with PhDs was about $81K. Those with a master's degree in engineering earned about $74K, and respondents with a bachelor's degree earned about $66K. Those without a college degree earned $55K.

Company size also affected the annual mean salary. Companies with more than 1000 employees paid the most, about $70K, whereas companies with fewer than 100 employees paid $59K.

The type of industries in the study also brought out some interesting information. For example, defense systems companies offered the highest salaries at about $73K, followed by aerospace, computers and business machines, telecom, medical, automotive, electronics (~$64K), appliances, instrumentation, consumer products, industrial controls, construction equipment, and machine tools.

The figures listed above are only the base salaries — not including benefits, such as medical insurance, stock options, life insurance, 401k plans, etc. These benefits vary from company to company and could add the equivalent of several thousand dollars to an individual's income.

We would like to know if the above information is in the right “ballpark” relating to the power electronics industry. Do you think that salaries based on location, experience, education, and products manufactured are similar to those in the Design News study?

Is it better for an engineer to spend more than 20 years with the same company, or is it better to change jobs every few years? Of course, this also depends on the current economic conditions.

Another question is whether the current economic situation is affecting the way you do your job. Is there more pressure to speed up the time-to-market? Is your company taking any steps to reduce expenses? Do you have any intuitive feeling as to when there will be an economic turnaround? Also, what benefits would you like that you don't get now? Send your comments to me at [email protected].

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