Payback time

The best-paid engineers and technical professionals answering our 2007 Salary Survey are growing more numerous and collecting bigger bonuses, while their lower-paid colleagues are decreasing.

By Jim Montague

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By Jim Montague, Executive Editor

2007 Salary SurveyKa-Ching! The rich get richer—and a bit older. After making some collective gains in compensation and other job-related areas last year, process control engineers and other technical professionals answering CONTROL’s 17th annual Salary Survey appear to be fracturing into a few have-a-lot-mores and many have-a-bit-lesses. They add their companies are doing more hiring, handing out more promotions, raises, bonuses, and vacations, as well as making fewer layoffs. They also report being slightly less worried about job security.

However, while higher overall salaries may mean increased pay for some, they may also indicate an older, more experienced pool of respondents.

The 2007 survey’s negative results were that control engineers and their colleagues are earning less overtime, and that their firms are continuing to increase outsourcing. Though it doesn’t indicate an economic downturn yet, 2007’s respondents also are receiving slightly fewer employment benefits in many categories.

Salaries Shifting
The 691 respondents to 2007’s e-mailed salary survey reported a huge jump in their numbers only in the highest salary category compared to the year before (See Figure 1 below). Basically, respondents earning salaries above $100,000 increased to 27.9% in 2007 from 19.2% in 2006, while those in every pay range below this decreased slightly. Meanwhile, those receiving bonuses of 11-15% of their salaries or more than 15% increased almost five percentage points each.


Similarly, while those receiving four weeks of vacation increased to 30.6% in 2007 from 28.2% in 2006 and those taking more than a month off per year jumped to 28% in 2007 from 24.6% in 2006, those receiving three weeks decreased to 27.3% in 2007 from 33.2% in 2006 (See Figure 2 below).   

(% of respondents in each age range)

Likewise, slightly fewer of 2007’s respondents reported receiving many of the standard-issue benefits than the year before. These small declines occurred in medical and dental insurance coverage, life insurance, disability, tuition reimbursement, pension plans, profit sharing, and company cars. Slight increases were reported by those participating in 401k plans, flex time, stock options, and telecommuting.

Demographic Constants
As usual—though hopefully not eternally—process control engineers remain overwhelmingly white, male, U.S. residents, who are married with children. However, a five-point decline occurred among respondents identifying themselves as married, down to 85.5% in 2007 from 90.5% in 2006.

Though respondents with four-year undergraduate degrees also remained pretty much constant at 54.1% in 2007 from 53.2% in 2006, the most prevalent academic category again shifted back to “other, mostly mechanical engineering” at 37.1% in 2007 from electrical engineering at 38.3% in 2006 and “other, mechanical” at 36.3% in 2005. The next most popular area of study, chemical engineering, increased to 20.4% in 2007 from 18.4% in 2006.

Meanwhile, those in the “engineering, design, and construction” job category increased to 45% in 2007 from 38.1% in 2006, while those in both the “production and plant operations” and “plant maintenance” categories” increased in 2007 to just over 22% and 23%, respectively, from 18.5% each in 2006.







$71-80K (17.3%)

more than $100K (19.2%)

more than $100K (27.9)

Hours per week

41-60 (78.9%)

41-60 (81.3%)

41-60 (80.8%)


yes (61.7%)

yes (63.4%)

yes (68.4%)

Paid overtime

no (73.5%)

no (73.4%)

no (78.2%)


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