Engineers’ salaries took a battering in the recession. Then something exciting happened.

Official data shows some encouraging news for engineers – especially those with Chartered status.

It’s well known that salaries aren’t what they used to be. The recession put a major halt on pay rises and some people were even forced to accept wage cuts. All the while the cost of living kept on rising, meaning everyone was left feeling a little poorer.

Given the much talked-about skills shortage, you’d expect engineers to have not done too badly when it came to maintaining their pay packets. But when The Engineer took a look at the data, we found some surprising results.

From the start of the recession in 2008, engineers’ median salary increases were less than the national average. And in 2010, the median engineering wage actually fell, meaning the so-called cost of living crisis had a particular impact on many engineers.


What has happened since, however, tells a much more encouraging story. While in 2011, the national median salary was flat, engineers got an average boost of over two per cent. And last year, this increased to around four per cent – double the rate of inflation. So engineers should finally start to be feeling richer.

The big question that remains is how are engineers doing now compared to the 2007-2008 peak. Since that time, the cost of living has gone up by around 16.2 per cent, according to the RPI measure of inflation that includes housing costs.

The national median salary has only gone up by 12.4 per cent – less than the cost of living increase – meaning most people are now poorer. The median for engineers is only a little better at 13.4 per cent.


But what about those engineers who have completed accreditation schemes, which purportedly offer a significant salary boost. According to figures from the Engineering Council (which regulates accreditation), Incorporated Engineers haven’t kept up with inflation either, with a median salary increase of just 12.5 per cent.

Chartered Engineers, however, are on to a winner. They’ve seen their median salary rise by an inflation-busting 25 per cent since 2007, from £48,000 to £60,000. So while most people, including most engineers, have become poorer, those with Chartered status are much better off.

Data sources:

Average national and engineering salaries – Office for National Statistics (ONS) Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings , 2007-2013.

Incorporated and Chartered Engineer salaries – The Engineering Council 2013 Survey of Registered Engineers and Technicians .