SEP-OCT 2017

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INTECH SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 13 COVER STORY On the flip side, if you are really trying to make a six-figure engineering salary, you should probably avoid the water/ wastewater industry. A major plus for U.S.-based engineers is that every single industry saw a rise in average salary in 2016, so in whichever field you operate, you were probably due a raise. Experience is everything By far the biggest salary differentiator remains experience. It stands to reason that a 30-year automation veteran would make far more than a rookie wrench turner, and the numbers bear that out. Those hitting their fourth decade in the industry would likely have double the salary of a factory floor newbie, to the tune of over $60,000 more. Again, this is common sense, but this is also where we saw the most significant red flags in our survey. As we mentioned earlier, automation professionals with fewer than five years of experience suffered significant drops in average salary. The biggest jump in salary was seen in those with 11–15 years of experience (up $10,509 from last year). Does this mean that companies are paying entry-level employees less and less as they enter the field? Maybe or maybe not, but here is a crucial fact. In the 2016 survey, some 31% of respon- dents were 30+ year veterans. In the 2017 survey, that percentage dropped to 18.8%. When you consider that our response totals varied by only 24 re- sponses between 2016 and 2017, that may indicate that the older generation of engineers is retiring, and the skills gap worry is a legitimate problem. If it is, then businesses should not continue the trend of underpaying new talent. Overall job satisfaction high Like every year, we asked respondents to tell us if they are seeking other op- portunities, as a relative insight into job satisfaction. Positively, the number of those who are actively seeking new opportunities dropped from 8.8% of re- spondents in 2016 to 8.4% in 2017. Pay again seems to be a significant factor. Active job seekers had an average salary of $95,000—nearly $18,000 less than the average, and a $3,000 drop from 2016. Passive job seekers made up 38.5% of respondents, whose average salary was $111,099—less than $2,000 below aver- age. Those not seeking new opportu- nities (53.1%, a 1% increase over 2016) were making $117,260—more than $4,100 above the average salary. Recipe to maximize your salary We always conclude the salary survey with a recipe* for maximizing your sal- ary. Like any great recipe, we tinker a bit, but the main ingredients have not changed much over the years. l Get your bachelor of science degree (any type of engineering will do). An advanced degree improves results. l Move to the West South Central re- gion of the U.S. (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, or Texas). If that is not your ideal locale, New England and the Pacific Coast pay almost as well. l Work in the oil and gas industry seg- ment (for pay, not for job security). Pharmaceuticals and consulting are also well-paying options. l Show off your leadership attributes and get into management. Manage- ment gets paid. l Become indispensable to your man- agers and company. Become an ex- pert on useful, new technology, and show where automation and integra - tion can cost effectively enhance op - erations. l Stick with your profession—engi- neering is not the career to switch out of. You can potentially double your salary over your career, with sig- nificant six-figure earning potential. l Advocate for yourself. Any profitable organization's priority is the bottom line, which means the person who will best look out for your bottom line is you. Showing your boss another offer is still a classic tool to get your raise. *Results may vary depending on at- titude. n ABOUT THE AUTHOR Cory Fogg ( is the content editor at View the online version at Average salary by job function Job function Average salary Percent respondents Automation/ control engineering $110,577 37.6% Consulting engineering $126,653 4.2% Design engineering $107,409 5.3% Engineering management $150,149 9.7% General or operations management $127,812 3.6% Operations and maintenance $94,409 14.2% Process/plant/ manufacturing engineering $103,378 3.9% Project management $123,277 4.8% Sales – business development $123,417 7.0% Other $95,281 9.7% Average salary by industry segment Industry Average salary Percent respondents Chemicals $118,066 9.7% Engineering con- sulting or systems integration $119,423 20.9% Food and beverage $104,375 5.7% Industrial machinery and equipment $104,406 11.4% Oil and gas $135,362 12.4% Pharmaceuticals $124,927 4.4% Utilities – electri- cal, natural gas, nuclear $118,104 7.7% Utilities – water/ wastewater $90,795 8.5% Other $101,797 19.3%

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