Great Recession's Impact on Process Automation Professionals

Feeling It: The Effects of the 2008-9 Economic Implosion Ripple Through Our Latest Salary Survey

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Profile of a Process Engineer

The people who answered our survey

  • Earn more than $60,000 a year (72%)
  • Work 40 to 60 hours a week (72%)
  • Do not get overtime pay (75%)
  • Get three weeks a year or more vacation time (82%)
  • Are over 45 (53%)
  • Are male (95%)
  • Live in U.S. (60%), Asia (15%), Europe, (13%), Canada (6%), Latin America (5%)
  • Are Caucasian (72%), Asian (15%), Hispanic (5%), Black (3%), other (5%)
  • Are married (81%), with children (78%)
  • Have a college degree (72%), have an  advanced degree (23%)
  • Have degrees in everything from electrical engineering (37%) to such diverse fields as accounting, marketing, food science and psychology.
  • Work in engineering, design and construction (40%), plant maintenance (17%) or production and plant operations (14.5%)
  • Have worked for no more than three companies during their career (66%)
  • Have been in process control longer than 10 years (67%)
  • Works in the oil and gas (19%), chemical (12%), food and beverage (8%) or other industries.

Perks and Bennies Down Too

Benefits also are not what they were. This year 90% of respondents reported having medical benefits, down from 98% last year, and 71% said they had dental coverage, down from 89% last year—an 18% drop. Life insurance coverage is down 13% from last year at 75%, and disability insurance is down 19% from 77% in 2009 to 58% this year, although these numbers may reflect, in part, a larger group of respondents from outside North America.

Only 44% say their companies offer pension plans, down from 48% last year, and only 55% say they have a 401k plan, down from 90% last year.

As for other perks, a few folks report everything from company cars (13%), flex time (27%) and tuition reimbursement (40%) to overseas housing allowances, an on-site gym, and the intriguing entry "meat." 

One unexplaned anomaly is the 12% who say they can telecommute, while only two respondents report having a company-supplied cell phone and laptop.

The Demographic Bomb

Demographic Bomb

Figure 6. Hidden in plain site in our profile of a process engineer is the demographic bomb. Nearly 53% of the respondents to our survey are over 45, and 20% are over 55. At the other end of the scale, only about 2.5% are under 25 and another 18.5% under 35.

The Skills Gap

Skills Gap

Figure  7.  Our basic skills survey reflects that anxiety about skills. Fifty-four percent of those surveyed said they were either unhappy with the level of their basic skills (15%) or only "sort of" happy, believing that their basic skill level could be better (39%).

The complete Salary and Basic Skills surveys are available online at and

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