Process manufacturing salaries in 2015 continued their slow rise from a low point in the recession of 2008, with more than 44% of respondents to the 2015 Control Salary Survey reporting that they earn more than $100,000. Process manufacturing companies remain frugal with pay increases, however, with close to 41% of respondents reporting they received no pay increase or an increase of less than $1,000. Overall, aftershocks from the recession continue to affect the process manufacturing profession, with poor perception of job security, stress caused by rapid economic and technological changes, and a looming retirement brain drain taking their toll on process automation professionals.
This article provides a brief summary of the Control 2015 Process Manufacturing Salary Survey results. You may also access the full data and analysis to get a complete picture.
Every year, Control's Process Manufacturing Salary Survey outlines the state of earnings, benefits, training, job satisfaction and more. This year, in addition to the 2015 results, we are publishing a retrospective of the past five years in order to provide some context on how the profession has fared under stormy economic conditions.
Overall, salary data are fairly even with the 2014 Salary Survey, but significantly improved over 2009, when the economic recession wreaked havoc in the industry. This year, the number of respondents earning more than $100,000 dropped just more than 1 percentage point since 2014.
In addition to the 44.2% of process manufacturing professionals earning more than $100,000, 15.3% say they're taking home more than $140,000. Another 36.6% make between $41,000-$100,000. That 44.2% number taps the brakes on the slow recovery from 2010, dropping a little more than 1 percentage point from 2014.
The percentage of workers who received no raise or a raise less than $1,000 rose to 40.8% this year. This represents a hefty jump over last year's 33.9% and the highest percentage to receive no raise since 2010. About two-thirds of respondents received bonuses.
The good news? As in past year, respondents say salary is not the most important criteria in defining their job satisfaction. Most respondents say challenging work remains the big draw, with 39% of respondents citing this factor as the best part of their job. Salary and benefits came in second, with "appreciation" posting third.
Our respondents' comments cast light on a profession in transition, in which rapid change is creating a great deal of stress. Another pain point is also money-related—the apparently relentless pressure to make do.
"We're being asked to do more with less," is a common refrain. "My company runs way too lean," says one respondent. "Well over 60% overtime and a lot of travel." Another says, "We're constantly challenged to cut costs, which in our facility is primarily salaries, so we're continually absorbing headcount. It's costing us in the quality of installed equipment and installed ‘projects,' but management doesn't look at those costs; they just beat up maintenance and engineering to ‘make it work.'"
And then there are the all-too-common laments; "I get two weeks' vacation, but I haven't had time to use it in seven years," and "There's too much work for the time allotted to get it accomplished."
Off-shoring has remained a sore point with many over the years. "Our company is replacing experienced older engineers with outsourcing or younger, cheaper workers," says one respondent. Others say, "Management thinks we can off-shore engineering to low-cost countries," and, "Much work in the USA is going to lower labor force as dictated by Big Business. If they need labor rates from foreign countries, it shouldn't be at the cost of American workers."