Good news for every engineering student out there: All that time spent bent over your laboratory notebook is going to pay off better than you expected. There have been lots of news stories over the last few years about wages staying stagnant and not adjusting with inflation, but that’s not the case in the engineering field. Indeed, salaries for engineers are actually going up.
Why are engineering salaries on the rise? How high can they be expected to go? We’ll take a look at these questions – and provide some answers – below.
Why Are Engineering Salaries Rising?
There are several factors that could be contributing to engineers’ average salaries increasing, even when the economy has been less than stellar. One of the reasons is education. As a general rule, people with higher-level degrees (Masters, Doctorates, etc.) make more money than those who don’t. Since many people who work in engineering fields go on to pursue advanced degrees as part of their professional training, the average salary for engineers will rise as more people in the field obtain more advanced degrees.
Another reason that engineers are being paid more is that there is generally perceived to be a shortage of engineers in the U.S. Even as far back as 2010, there has been concern that there are too few engineering graduates coming out of U.S. universities. As such, those who do graduate college with a degree in engineering are in high demand, which has led to an increase even in the salaries for entry level positions in engineering fields.
How Much Can Engineers Expect to Make?
Salaries vary between different engineering fields, but according to recent labor statistics, all engineering fields can expect to be well paid. According to said data, the mean annual salary for the different engineering fields is as follows:
- Biomedical Engineering – $91,760
- Civil Engineering – $87,130
- Computer Engineering (Hardware) – $110,650
- Computer Engineering (Software) – $106,050
- Chemical Engineering – $103,590
- Electrical Engineering – $95,780
- Environmental Engineering – $86,340
- Geological Engineering – $100,970
- Materials Science and Engineering – $ 91,150
- Mechanical Engineering – $87,140
For some perspective on how the annual income for engineers has grown over the last few years: According to a 2012 survey, the average annual income for engineers across all fields was $103,497. The year before, that number was $99,738. Between 2011 and 2012, the average annual wage for engineers (including commissions and fees) jumped 4%.
According to that same survey, wages for engineers also varied across geographical region:
- Pacific Southwest – $104,061
- South Central States – $101,000
- Mid-Atlantic States – $95,000
- Central Plains States – $88,00
- Great Lakes States – $86,067
- Upper Mountain States – $80,878
Will engineering wages continue to rise? While it’s impossible to predict the future with 100% accuracy, the simple fact is that there’s no reason to think this trend will reverse itself. Engineers will always be in demand, and, if even an economic downturn the likes of the 2008 crash couldn’t make a significant dent in average income across the industry, the chances that engineering students can’t look forward to earning an impressive salary right out of college are very, very small.
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