home |
About |
Contact Us |
Editorial Info |



 search archive


reader feedback
  search by date
also in this issue
Career Focus: Circuits & Systems
Cogent Communicator: How to Listen
Backscatter: Toys for Techies
Lessons of the Internet Age: The International Telecommunications Union and the Internet Society
NCEES Model Law Revisions Impact Professional Licensure Education and Experience Requirements
Free IEEE-USA E-Books for Members in December 2014 and January 2015
Your Engineering Heritage: Which Stimulates Innovation More, War or Peace?
World Bytes: American Ingenuity Awards
Tech News Digest: December 2014
other career focus pieces

Jul 14
Career Focus: Tips for Effective Skype Job Interviews

Jun 14
Career Focus: Quality Assurance Engineering

May 14
Career Focus: How to Get Started as a Consultant

Apr 14
The Internet of Things: The Next Big Thing for Technology Careers

Mar 14
Career Focus: Biometrics



Is Your Salary Competitive? Find Out with the Latest IEEE-USA Salary Survey and Calculator

By John R. Platt

We all have questions about our salaries and benefits: Are we getting paid what we're worth? If we switch jobs or move to a new city, what should we expect to earn? Or if you're getting ready to hire an employee, how do you know if you're offering a competitive salary?

Well now you can have your answers: The latest research on engineering salaries is available in the 2011 IEEE-USA Salary & Benefits Survey the latest version of this annual resource and its popular companion, the IEEE-USA Salary Calculator.

There are other salary reports out there, but the IEEE-USA salary survey is the longest-running of its kind, and one of the largest in terms of number of responses, says Scott Grayson, Associate Managing Director for IEEE-USA. "We received a record high number of responses this year," he says. "It's the largest I'm aware of in the engineering world."

This year, 17,030 IEEE members provided their salary data for the survey and calculator, including 12,877 members who were employed full-time in their primary area of technical competence (PATC) in 2010.

"The strength of the survey is how many members respond to it, which makes it both accurate and representative of the profession," says Ed Kirchner, chair of the IEEE-USA Employment and Career Services Committee. "If you compare this to similar tools that are available from similar organizations, this is by far the most robust."

The Data: Made Possible by IEEE Membership

The information for the salary survey and calculator is gathered every year through a survey emailed to all U.S.-based IEEE higher-grade members. Each higher-grade member who responds receives five complimentary uses of the online salary calculator.

"IEEE has an amazing amount of resources that are available to members, but it also requires some participation on the part of the members," says Kirchner. "If you respond to the survey with your information, it unlocks the salary calculator tool for you. It's a dual benefit we benefit from the participation of our members and they get a tangible benefit back."

In addition to a high participation level, the survey and calculator are both highly valued by IEEE members. "I've used them both in the past and found them very valuable in keeping track of where I was in my career," says Kirchner.

A New Partner

This year, IEEE-USA has a new partner -- eNetrix, a division of Gallup, Inc. -- which sent out the survey, analyzed the data, and hosts the online salary calculator. "You won't notice much change as a user, but behind the scenes it's a much stronger engine," says Kirchner. "It is much faster."

"As always, the salary calculator and written report provides a very granular analysis," says Grayson. The salary calculator contains detailed information based on technical fields, geography, years of experience, level of education, gender and race, work satisfaction, and nearly a dozen other factors, all of which can help a user develop an extremely accurate and customized portrait or what their salary should be or could be in the future.

"This is my first year chairing the Employment and Career Services Committee, and it's been a fascinating learning process to see how much goes into putting the survey and the calculator together," says Kirchner. "It really shows what IEEE-USA does for its members."

This Year's Key Results

According to this year's data, engineering salaries are on the rise. For members working full time in their PATC, median pre-tax income in 2010 was $122,000. That's up more than 3 percent from last year's median of $118,000. Unemployment remains high, but that's not something that this particular survey measures, says Kirchner. "The bright spot in the current economy is that for engineers who are employed, it's a growing field and still a good way to make a living."

Management salaries are also rising. The survey found that the median primary income for members working in management earned $42,000 more than those outside of management. This compares to a $39,000 difference last year. "The more an engineer puts into his or her career in terms of education and responsibility, the more it pays off," says Kirchner. He suggest members try using the salary calculator as a "what-if" tool to see how their salaries might change if they add certain skills or education to their profiles.

The gender gap remains a challenge in the engineering world. Women's salaries actually slipped a bit this year, earning $17,000 less than their male counterparts. Last year's difference was $15,000. Approximately 7 percent of this year's respondents were female, up from just over 5 percent last year.

The PATC fields with the highest median incomes include Communications Technology ($136,050); Computer Hardware ($124,000); Nuclear and Plasma Sciences ($125,000); Signal Processing ($126,000); and Systems, Man and Cybernetics ($140,000).

The metropolitan areas with the highest median salaries included San Jose (CA) ($155,000), Nashua (NH) ($148,296) and Orange County (CA) ($140,625) and Monmouth and Ocean Counties (NJ) ($140,000).

Outside of salaries, health and fringe benefits continued the trends that have been observed over the last few years. More than nine in ten companies offered basic health insurance, with employer contributions continuing to be low. The number of companies offering paid attendance to professional conferences continues to drop (now down to 68 percent), while the number of companies offering paid maternity or paternity leave continues to rise (currently 55 percent).

New Ordering Options

This year, the Salary Survey and Salary Calculator are available in two new packages. The IEEE-USA Salary Survey Package offers the last three years of the report in PDF form ($125 members / $225 non-members). The salary calculator is a one-year subscription service, offering unlimited use plus access to the salary reports ($495 members / $595 non-members). For more information, visit https://ieeeusa.gallup.com


John R. Platt is a freelance writer and entrepreneur, as well as a frequent contributor to Today's Engineer, Scientific American, Mother Nature Network and other publications.

Comments may be submitted to todaysengineer@ieee.org.

Copyright 2011 IEEE