1660602042181 Cg1407salarysurvey2014

2014 Salary Survey: Perks Aplenty?

Sept. 15, 2014
Factors Other Than Salary and Perks Motivate Our Readers to Come to Work Daily and Do Their Best
Salary Stackup

Overall, it seems the engineering profession is a well-paying one. Almost one-half of our respondents earn over $100,000 a year (45.8%). That said, there are ups and downs even for these high earners. In 2013, 43% of our respondents were $100,00+ earners, with other years showing 39.9% for 2012, 35% for 2011, 27% for 2010, and 36% for 2009. Although more workers earned over $100K in 2014 compared to previous years, results were less straightforward for those who earned under that amount in 2013 as compared to 2014. Here is how those salary ranges stacked up in 2013:
$91 to 100K...12.4%; $81 to 90K...6.5%;
$71 to 80K... 11.6%; $61 to 70K...9.0%;
$51 to 60K... 6.8%; $41 to 50K...2.8%;
$30 to 40K...2.7%; and
Under $30K... 5.5%

This year's salary survey took a snapshot of how our readers see the process automation world in terms of the paycheck they get, the benefits they enjoy and even the pain points they feel. Overall, it shows a picture of the process engineering profession as one where members are well-paid, with a large number of our respondents earning more than $100,000 a year. That said, benefits have remained fairly stagnant over the last two years. What follows are more detailed results of this year's picture-taking.

Of course, compensation entails more than a paycheck. Our respondents seem to enjoy a fair number of perks and receive benefits such as medical (90.8%), dental (79.5%), life insurance (77.9%), disability (65.9%), pension (46.8%), 401K (68%) and tuition reimbursement (39.6%). Other common perks include stock options (13.6%), profit sharing (18.4%), car (9.9%), flex time (33.0%) and telecommuting (14.8%). Under the "Other” category, respondents mentioned flex spending accounts (FSAs) and wellness programs.

What About Older Workers?

That "boomers" are retiring in droves isn’t news, but this year’s salary survey shows slightly more wiggle room. Thirty-six percent of our respondents say they are more than 55 years old. Another 36.3% range in age from 46 to 55 years. Add the data, and it’s easy to see that almost three-quarters of our respondents, a whopping 72.4%, are veteran engineers still in the ranks. The problem is that only 27.7% of workers are under 45, leaving a big hole to be filled in the next decade or so. 

That said, this does seem to be an area where the numbers are staying fairly flat over the last two years. For example, in 2013, just a slightly smaller percentage of respondents reported getting medical (89%), dental (77%), life insurance (77%), disability (65%), pension (45%), 401K (67%), stock options (17%), flex time (32%) and telecommuting (16%). However, note that several of these numbers dropped significantly from our 2009 survey results. For instance, in the categories of medical, dental, disability, life insurance and 401K, numbers often fell by 10% or more.

Industry Interests

Topping the list, a total of almost a third of our respondents work in the chemical and the oil and gas industries (29.2%). Between 3% and 7% each work either in pharmaceutical, pulp and paper, textile, or food and beverage, while 9.6% work in the energy field. Responses from the "All Others" category indicate that the entrepreneurial spirit in engineering is probably alive and well—a total of 8% said they are allied with independent engineering firms. 

In addition, with 42.9% getting a salary bump from last year of only $2,000 to $4,000, there are bound to be those who want more money. But this complaint was likely assuaged by the bonus that 65.5% of the respondents received. About half of them got anywhere from 2% to 10% of their salary as a bonus. About three-fourths of our respondents (73.8%) do not get paid for overtime.

Engineers don't necessarily find salary and benefits the biggest enticement. Many respondents (44.2%) pegged challenging work as the most important factor in providing them with a sense of job satisfaction. Other appealing factors included job security (10.1%), opportunity for advancement (8.9%) and appreciation (13.5%). Some respondents also mentioned they find it important to like the people they work with.

Interestingly, many engineers have chosen to remain among the rank and file (or is it that they haven't had the opportunity to move up?) as evidenced by the respondents' years of supervisory experience. Results are fairly evenly spread among engineers with two to five years (17.1%), six to 10 years (16.9%), 11 to 15 years (14.0%), 16 to 20 years (11.2%), and more than 20 years (15.4%) in the big office.

Working Hard?
It's no secret that engineers are unafraid of hard work. The bulk of our respondents report they work full time (63.6%), and the gung-ho chargers (a total of 18.1% of our respondents) work from 51 to over 60 hours per week. But 89.8% have accrued at least three weeks or weeks vacation time. Whether they feel free to take it is a question we didn't ask.

Happy Is as Happy Does?
When we asked engineers if they were happy in the automation profession, more than three-fourths (78.1%) gave a resounding "yes.” Job happiness is also evidenced by the number of the respondents (83.5%) saying they would encourage their children to go into automation.

More Pluses and Minuses
When we asked our readers how the economy has affected the profession, comments ranged from "No change” and "Not affected” to more dire remarks, such as "Our plant will close this year,” "Projects are on hold,” "Wages are stagnant,” and "Company is not hiring.” Other respondents discuss the "difficulty of finding talent” and say, "College grads' expectations are way too high.”

Happy All the Time?
In addition to many engineers saying they are happy in their profession in general, more than three-fourths of the respondents (75.5%) say they are happy with their basic skills and knowledge. However, a fairly large group (19.9%) say they could be happier, and 4.6% are downright unhappy. Other results show that of those respondents who get additional training in basic skills (69.2%), the majority study on their own (42.2%).

On the other hand, one reader comments, "Advancements seem to go to the younger generations with less experience, and the higher turnover rates in senior management raises concerns. All the metrics are on short-term gains and not long-term success. The focus seems to be on quarter-to-quarter gains.”

As far as more workplace pluses, one respondent says his company is "a good place to work,” and another reports that he "just got a promotion.”

Heading for Florida?
The "What About Older Workers?" chart shows that almost three-quarters of our respondents are older engineers still actively working in the field. But evidently, few intend to retire any time soon. In fact, a whopping 65.2% say they are planning to retire in 10 years. A bit more than one-quarter of our respondents plan on retiring in five years (28.1%), with only 6.7% planning to hit the Florida beaches or the Arizona golf courses in one year.

On the other hand, complaints are not rare, ranging from "The company goal is to do more with fewer people,” to "Engineering is being treated as less of a profession and more of a commodity.”

About Leslie Gordon
Leslie Gordon is Senior Technical Writer on Control, Control Design and Industrial Networking magazines.

Another chimes in saying, "Management talks about improving quality and productivity, but does not back it up with money,” while another suggests that companies should provide career guides to entry control engineers. "The guide should provide practical knowledge and skills for each industry.” Yet another respondent comments, "In the past two years, my company has landed few large, long-term projects, and the stress level is high. Retention bonuses promised by our president after a major layoff in 2013 never materialized. We know that things are going badly, but upper management says nothing.”

On the upside though, one respondent says that to reflect changing times, the survey should add salary categories above a base of $150,000. He also says, "My company is also trying to attack the skills gap by encouraging us mid-50s guys (and gals) to stay around via future incentive pay.”

Complete survey results are available at http://www.controlglobal.com/assets/14WPpdf/CG-1407-SalaryResults2014.pdf

Sponsored Recommendations

Measurement instrumentation for improving hydrogen storage and transport

Hydrogen provides a decarbonization opportunity. Learn more about maximizing the potential of hydrogen.

Get Hands-On Training in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment

Enhance the training experience and increase retention by training hands-on in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment. Build skills here so you have them where and when it matters...

Learn About: Micro Motion™ 4700 Config I/O Coriolis Transmitter

An Advanced Transmitter that Expands Connectivity

Learn about: Micro Motion G-Series Coriolis Flow and Density Meters

The Micro Motion G-Series is designed to help you access the benefits of Coriolis technology even when available space is limited.