Career as an Engineer
By Diane Turner
Engineers are responsible for analyzing problems and designing a plan that will help make improvements. The engineer average salary will vary based on the type of engineering that these individuals perform. Mechanical engineers will be responsible for creating tools, engines or other devices that will improve a situation. Chemical engineers will focus their efforts on creating solutions that can be applied to a variety of circumstances. Computer engineers will develop software or hardware solutions that will better address computing needs. There are a variety of other examples that can be applied to this profession depending on the specific nature of the industry which is employing these individuals.
Engineers can work in a wide variety of environments based on the nature of the work they do. Many work to create instruments or navigational supplies. Others primarily within medical or agricultural pursuits creating devices that will better address the needs in these industries. Most engineers will work in a laboratory or manufacturing setting with standard operating hours. While overtime may occasionally be necessary to manage a major project that has come in, most engineers do not need to work holidays or late hours. The average salary of an engineer that is required to take on these additional responsibilities will typically be compensated with overtime pay.
At minimum, engineers are expected to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering. It takes around 4-5 years to finish this degree. Some engineering students opt to earn a secondary degree as well. Those that earn a higher degree can typically expect to earn a higher salary for an engineer. These programs must be accredited with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Some states also require engineers to earn certification in the field where they hope to work.
Engineer Average Salary
The engineer average salary is $78,160. This can vary greatly based on the type of engineering work these individuals take on, the level of education or experience these individuals have or the industry where the individual has been employed.
Engineer Salary Factors and Influences
The average engineer salary you can expect to earn will vary greatly based on the industry you enter. There is a great deal of variation between different types of engineers, so it can be difficult to predict how the industry will move as a whole. For example, computer engineers are seeing more demand as the industry grows, but areas like mechanical engineering are not seeing the same level of growth they once did.
The industry that is employing the engineer will also have a strong impact on what an individual can expect to make. The average salary for an engineer working in a very competitive industry such as pharmaceuticals can expect to earn more than those that are employed by smaller industries like industrial machinery manufacturing.
Engineering work is changing to better address the needs of the community. Those that are working in up and coming industries like green technology may currently see a lower salary for an engineer today, but as these industries continue to learn what innovations are the most practical the industry is expected to see more of a pickup. The government is also starting to require businesses to focus more on energy conservation and environmental practices, and as these requirements continue to become more strict, these industries will be turning to their engineers to better determine how to meet them. Those that work in areas that focus on opportunities to better harness alternative energy are also expected to see a significant amount of growth in the long term.
Engineer Salary Compared To Related Fields
An engineer’s salary is generally larger than many other positions in the industry, though there are other careers that see more growth than a standard engineer. This will vary based on the type of engineering work that these individuals have, but you can manage generalized figures based on how the industry is growing over time.
Average salary for an engineer: $78,160
Average salary for drafters: $47,880
Average salary for mathematicians: $99,380
Average salary for mechanical engineering technicians: $50,110
Average salary for architectural and engineering managers: $119,260
Much of what influences the salary of an engineer compared to other industries is the level of education these individuals need. While many engineers continue to earn a more advanced degree, it is not required for many positions while those that expect to work in management or as a mathematician will need this advanced education to get into the industry. Those that make a point of advancing their education can expect to earn significantly more than those that do not.
Engineer Salary by State
The engineer salary by state will vary significantly based on the location where these individuals are employed. The specific industries located in these areas will help to determine the demand for engineers as well as the type of work that they will be doing. To begin this discussion, compare the salaries for areas known for offering the top salaries for engineers.
Engineer salary in Alaska: $103,840
Engineer salary in California: $94,420
Engineer salary in Rhode Island: $92,820
Engineer salary in Texas: $92,470
Engineer salary in Maryland:$92,020
These areas tend to have larger manufacturing industries and have strong ties to both the medical and petroleum industries, which tend to employ many engineers to manage their growing needs. These individuals will need to have a very specialized education in order to address the needs these industries have, which increases the demand for very highly trained individuals. Areas that require a large amount of engineers to help manage their needs tend to offer less competitive salaries. To compare, note the salaries for the areas that are known for the highest employment levels for engineers.
Average salary in Michigan: $86,280
Average salary in California: $94,420
Average salary in Texas: $92,470
Average salary in Illinois: $91,050
Average salary in Ohio: $75,350
These areas tend to have a wider variety of manufacturing jobs available. Michigan in particular is an epicenter for the automotive industry that employs more manufacturing engineers than most other industries. Because there is such a high demand for people to fill these positions, there is often a shortage of people to fill these positions. This, in fact, drives down the cost of labor because these areas tend to recruit directly from colleges in the area to address their needs, allowing them to employ more individuals at a starting salary. To further compare how these figures impact the industry, note the salaries for the states with the highest concentration of engineers.
Average salary in Michigan: $86,280
Average salary in South Carolina: $85,600
Average salary in Connecticut: $82,800
Average salary in Indiana: $74,360
Average salary in Illinois: $91,050
As you can see, there is a significant dip in the salaries available. These areas employ engineers to work in very specific industries that are powerhouses within the state. Because these areas offer so many jobs to those hoping to enter the industry, they tend to set the average engineer salary for the area. Fortunately, this tends to increase competition to help ensure that the top industries can employ those that are at the top of their field to address their needs. Those that take the time to advance their education can expect to earn more than those that are new to the industry.
Engineer Types of Salaries
Engineer I:Average Salary: $59,266
Entry level engineers will be responsible for implementing, analyzing and developing design plans for systems and technical products. They will evaluate these designs and may be asked to recommend specific design or development procedures that will fit a specific situation where they are employed. These individuals can work on a wide range of projects. These individuals may need as much as 2 years of experience in the field as well as a bachelor’s degree.
Engineer II: Average Salary: $69,333
These engineers are responsible for analyzing technical systems and products to design, implement and develop specific solutions for these industries. They may be asked to work on a variety of systems based on their training and experience. These individuals may be asked to recommend necessary alterations for products or existing designs to encourage productivity. This position requires at least 2-4 years of experience as well as a bachelor’s degree in the field.
Engineer III:Average Salary: $84,741
Engineers at this level will perform evaluations of varying designs on a wide variety of products. They will be asked to implement design strategies as necessary. They may also be asked to design alterations to existing systems that will improve the function of these products or their procedures. They must be familiar with the procedures used within this industry to perform successfully. These individuals will need a bachelor’s degree in engineering as well as a minimum of 4-6 years of experience in the field.
Engineer IV: Average Salary: $97,773
These engineers will use their expert judgment to create design plans for systems and products. They will be asked to perform advanced research on complex technical issues and make alterations to existing systems to both improve function and avoid potential issues that may occur. These individuals will need a great deal of experience in order to accomplish their goals on the job. These individuals will require a bachelor’s degree in engineering as well as 6-8 years of experience in the field.
Engineer V:Average Salary: $114,928
Engineers at this level will be consulted as an expert regarding an implementation, design or development of products or systems. They will be considered a leader and technical resource. They will recommend any enhancements to existing systems that will encourage additional product development or productivity. Those that plan to work in this field will require at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering as well as 8-10 years of experience in the field.
Stationary Engineer:Average Salary: $49,538
Stationary engineers will be responsible for maintaining any stationary equipment including air compressors, refrigeration equipment, boilers and the like. These individuals will need to complete an apprenticeship or some sort of professional training so they can learn how to implement the particular procedures, practices and concepts necessary on the field. These individuals will need to rely on their experience and judgment to accomplish the tasks they face on the job. These individuals are encouraged to earn a high school diploma or equivalent before applying for their training.
History of Engineers
Engineers have been creating new concepts to aid humans in technological development since ancient times. The earliest engineering developments included such basics as the wheel, pulley or level. In the middle ages they were responsible for maintaining technology such as pumps or clocks for well to do individuals. During the renaissance the first electrical engineers appeared, studying the proper ways to harness electricity. During this time there was also a rise in steam engineers that maintained engines. In the 18th century, engineering was officially considered a profession. From this point on specific training programs were created to teach these individuals about a specific engineering practice. They were encouraged to learn about a specific trade such as chemical, mechanical, aviation or electrical engineering. In the 1990s computer engineers joined this list. Each is encouraged to earn a formal degree as well as specific educational pursuits that would make them an expert in a specific field.
Engineer Salary Outlook – Conclusion
The engineering field is expected to grow by approximately 11 percent over the next ten years. This is slightly lower than the job market as a whole, which is expected to grow by 14 percent. The average salary of an engineer is expected to remain fairly steady in spite of this increased competition within the field. The rate in which the engineering field will grow is directly tied to the industries that are employing engineers. Many industries regularly employ a set amount of engineers that helps to hold the industry steady while others are moving away from manufacturing and into standard production. Companies that are still working on innovating new products or improving current models such as automotive or pharmaceuticals are expected to see more growth than production houses.
Some of the highest growing industries for engineers are the medical and agricultural industries. Medical dispensaries are requiring additional precision to better treat the larger amounts of patients these individuals see each day. Agricultural and manufacturing industries are encouraging engineers to help manufacture processes that are green and more environmentally friendly. Those working in the pursuit of alternative energy can expect to see a significant increase in the salary for an engineer, particularly as new legislation is passed that requires industries to better address these issues.