In an era of economic uncertainty, engineering, computing, and technology professionals are still well rewarded by the market, according to a comprehensive survey conducted by IEEE (News - Alert)-USA. And the engineering profession’s diversity is increasing and pay gaps are decreasing, new data show.
Our annual IEEE-USA Salary and Benefits survey, the most comprehensive and accurate survey to date, provides insights into these trends, quantifies the value of advanced degrees, and identifies the best-compensated areas of technical competence.
This latest survey found that the median annual income for respondents is about $133,000, up 3 percent over last year (and up from $129,000 in 2013), at a time of negligible inflation. More than nine in 10 full-time respondents are offered employer-sponsored health insurance.
Our analysis shows that compensation varies by academic degree, job function, area of technical competence, and region.
A professional with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering or computer engineering degree makes an average of nearly $128,000 annually. This compensation steadily increases with a master’s or PhD degree ($138,000), an MBA ($140,000), or a JD (juris doctor or law) degree ($178,000).
As usual, members whose roles emphasize management lead all others in compensation: general management earned a median of $165,000 in income from primary sources, while technical management earned a median of $157,100.
The communication sector is most highly compensated ($152,000, on average), followed by computers ($149,619), aerospace ($140,200), petroleum/chemical ($140,000), electrical/electronic manufacturing ($132,000) and utilities ($113,378).
We also found regional differences in median income among engineers working in their primary area of technical competence, with the highest being the West ($144,000), then the Northeast ($135,000), the East ($131,225), the Southwest ($129,980), the Southeast ($120,000), and Central ($113,200).
The respondents in this digital, online survey numbered 12,199, of which 10,215 were employed full time and 9,044 were employed full time in their primary area of technical competence. The typical respondent is male, in his mid-forties, with an advanced degree and 20 years’ experience. This is a somewhat predictable profile that mirrors other technical professions in the U.S. workplace and one that we’ve seen in our prior surveys.
Each survey, however, is merely a snapshot, and by comparing the new survey to prior ones, we see positive trends occurring in terms of diversity and pay equity.
While pay equity issues remain among men and women, the good news in this regard is that the pay disparity between men and women engineers dropped by 18 percent over the past year. Women’s salaries trail men’s by an average of $13,635, and that gap is down $3,000 from 2013. The pay disparity between white and African-American engineers dropped more than 11 percent over the past year. Salaries for African Americans trail Caucasians by an average of $15,482, and that gap is down $2,000 from 2013.
As we look back over the span of surveys, we note that in 1972, white males comprised 92 percent of all IEEE members; today they represent 77 percent.
A little background on the annual IEEE-USA Salary and Benefits survey should establish the accuracy and reliability of our findings.
We invited more than 100,000 IEEE members in the United States to participate, and 11.8 percent responded, which is a solid rate that delivers meaningful data. The survey has been online since 2001 and digs into a significant level of detail, thus the granularity of our findings. We used widely accepted best practices in terms of data collection, handling, and statistical analysis.
The results paint a positive picture of the engineering profession as a career. And year-over-year trends establish that historic compensation disparities by gender and race are rapidly disappearing.
IEEE-USA uses this data to create two compensation calculators. One of the calculators allows users to set filters to access only the specific data they desire. The other calculator employs a regression model and is predictive in nature based on 14 different drop-down windows. These calculators assist members in benchmarking their salaries with colleagues and human resource professionals in setting appropriate compensation packages for their technical employees. The IEEE-USA Salary Service can be found at ieeeusa.org/careers/salary/.
Jim Jefferies is 2015 president of IEEE-USA (ieeeusa.org).
Edited by Kyle Piscioniere