Thursday, 21 August 2014
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How much is an engineer worth?

As always happens when yet another report emerges warning of a UK engineering skills shortage, the initial response from vocal readers of The Engineer has been to decry the level of pay that engineers receive in this country.

As one reader pointed out, the 15 per cent wage premium mentioned in the report for those who’ve studied for years to gain an engineering qualification doesn’t seem a lot. However, it’s not the whole picture, so I thought I’d draw out some extra points from the Royal Academy of Engineering-commisioned study.

According to the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey of 163,218 people aged 16–64 in England & Wales between 2004 and 2010, looking at those who had STEM qualifications and those who worked in SET jobs, there was:

  • a 19% wage premium for STEM overall;
  • a 10% premium for science occupations;
  • a 33% premium for technology occupations;
  • a 15% premium for engineering occupations;
  • but hybrid science/engineering occupations do not attract a premium.

This implies that if you work in an engineering job you are likely to earn an average of 15 per cent more than the average person in the UK (but not 15 per cent more than minimum wage, as one reader suggested).

The Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of 2011 found median wage for engineering professionals to be £29,700. The ONS median full time salary in the UK in 2011 was £26,244 – which makes that 15 per cent figure look about right.

These engineering jobs will include technicians and medium-skilled workers. However, if we look at engineering graduate salaries and compare them to those of people with only two A Levels, we see a bigger premium.

Data from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) showed that an engineering graduate in 2009 was likely to earn 32 per cent more than someone with two A Levels. This was also higher than the average graduate premium, which was only 27 per cent above the salary of A Level holders.

The Academy’s report also found that engineers’ salaries rose sharply as they got older, suggesting employers put an even bigger premium on experience than they do on qualifications.

This can also be seen in a June 2010 survey by ERS of registered engineers and technicians, which found the median wage of incorporated engineers was £41,345, and the median wage of chartered engineers to be £52,609.

The other point to remember how are perceptions of typical earnings in the UK are skewed by the vast amounts earned by some company directors and those in banking – a sector often accused of draining talent from the engineering graduate pool by offering salaries that manufacturing firms just can’t compete with.

Some politicians, newspaper journalists and professionals would consider £50,000, £60,000 or even £100,000 to be a middle class salary. And that’s certainly a lot less than the million-pound bonuses available in the City. But if the median salary is £26,000, then there are an awful lot of people out there for whom £50,000 would be a modest fortune.

Engineers who work hard by studying for years, gain desirable and useful skills, and help change the world for the better deserve a substantial reward. Unfortunately, engineering doesn’t always produce the kind of short-term profits that facilitate the bonuses and commissions seen in financial services.

Research and development, product design and building manufacturing facilities require substantial investment and long-term strategy, whereas moving imaginary pots of money around on a computer – while often socially useless or even damaging – can create money almost from thin air.

That’s not to say there isn’t a problem with engineering salaries, or that it wouldn’t be worth engineering firms looking again at their own payrolls if they want to encourage more young people into the sector. But engineers’ earnings are always going to be limited to some degree by the money available.


Readers' comments (66)

  • Question: How much is an engineer worth?

    Answer: I graduated in Engineering over 20 years ago from a highly rated British university. I also have an MSc and a PGCE teaching qualification. After substantial experience working as a Project/Design Engineer in industry I now teach engineering (HNC/ HND/ foundation degree) at a further education college. I earn under £27,000.

    Any young people out there - please take note before borrowing £50,000+ to study engineering.

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  • some good points. Does not explain why graduate salaries are higher in other countries such as Aus, Canada and the US though; as a recent grad engineer I'm off and so are alot of my class mates - we'll be back when the wages get better

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  • I'm not sure where you get your salary figures from. A glance through the job adverts on the Engineer seems to tell a different story.

    As a contract engineer I have forsaken benefits like bonuses, pension, healthcare, sick pay etc. to get a reasonable income but also have to suffer almost permament lack of job security. All of this to maintain an average life style. Like Anonymous above if it wasn't for my family I would be off abroad.

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  • I too graduated in engineering electronics. Although in 1987 we were lucky in not only having no fees to pay, we actually got a grant! I was lucky enough to be sponsored at Warwick University by Lucas (remember them?) and following a couple of years as a junior designer realised there was more money to be made selling electronics than designing products. in the years that passed I moved into engineering PR and then set up an agency. We now employ 20 people (half of them with electronics/engineering backgrounds). But, there is an issue. We were recently trying to recruit an additional technical writer and an account director and even though we were offering £60,000 plus we really struggled to find anyone!

    I guess what I am saying is that maybe for straightforward engineering salaries are restrictive, but if you are prepared to look beyond that and use your experience and qualifications in a different way, rewards are there without having to go abroad or prostitute yourself in the city.

    Some may say that by doing technology PR you have already done that - but when you see that 70% of our turnover comes from companies outside the UK, we are helping the UK economy.

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  • I've an MSc in Electrical Engineering and 7 years experience.

    My younger sister has half the experience and a BSc in hospitality.

    She now earns more than I do.

    I recommend science and engineering as disciplines to anyone but not as careers. No respect in society, little opportunity for career progression, near disdain from the state, poor RoCE and long working hours.

    I should quit and study dentistry. At my age I still have enough time to forge a far more profitable career from it and make a difference to people's lives rather than shaving fractions of a percentage off costs for clients wanting to make yet larger profits.

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  • When managers and sales people stop treating Engineers as a resource to be exploited, only then will Engineering become more valued.
    At the age of 43 I am constantly told my skills are out of date, yet the people they hire instead don't know pin 1 from 14 on an IC?
    The Engineers aren't being fooled!

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  • What you can earn in Engineering is limited only by your skills, what you are prepared to do, the responsibility you are prepared to take, how you are prepared to develop your career, the opportunities presented and a side order of luck to be in the right place at the right time.

    Not unlike many other careers. Better paid than most, less than some others.

    I don't want people in my team who believe they can earn vastly more elsewhere. However, I'll probably take them back once they find out it's generally not true.

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  • I'm 25, Graduated in 2010 with a BEng in Mechanical Engineering, I only recieved a 3rd class honours due to personal issues affecting my work.

    I managed to get a job (luckily!) just through knowing someone in the construction industry, and now work in a design office just outside of london for £28k... I consider myself EXTREMELY lucky with this job, and am currently undertaking a part time masters in control systems engineering on the road to chartership with IMechE.

    Unfortunately, the quality of education and engineering institutions far outweigh the quality of, and respect for engineering careers in this country, with salaries comparitively meagre compared to our contribution to society as a whole.

    So next year I will be looking to move abroad as soon as my chartership goes through. Perhaps America, Canada or Australia, where salaries for a similar position to my own can by upto 3 or 4 times as much.

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  • Inventors are undervalued by society, with many inventors working long hours for little return. The stereo type inventor with a propeller spinning on top of his hat is very much a minority.

    Have you ever wondered what an invention is worth, what is involved in inventing, applying for patents, and having patents granted, producing prototypes, performing research and development, and getting an invention into production ?

    The time has never been better to embrace new technology, with the carbon pricing started, and the increasing cost of electricity, and focus on the environment.

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  • This will run and run… but there’s an issue of fairness and equality here. Inevitably the market is not ‘fair’ – take a worker in a care home, in general their pay is pitiful when looked at as the measure of a ‘living wage’ i.e. to pay a mortgage, have a holiday or two, go out for a meal or two a month etc. I certainly would not want their (or lots of other) low paid jobs, but they are clearly ‘deserving’.

    There is a problem with attacking bankers & city workers through the prism of ‘fairness’ (and I agree they do get more because they are working in a sea of money, and there are problems there), in that it works its way down the tree too. By concentrating on what is fair, the argument can be turned back on any of us because there is always someone more deserving of us and so it ends up being equality downwards. By any of us asking for more we can be presented as being a bit greedy. After all what are we going to do with that extra cash, buy a bigger better car, go on a holiday abroad, by a bigger TV, eat out more & become obese?

    Many people (and ironically it is often the comfortably off metropolitan commentators who say this) say we should all be consuming less, travelling less, even eating less. These are all pressures against aspirations for a better (financial and material) life on all of us, engineers and careworkers etc. This causes problems for anyone of us who wants a better life for the vast majority, irrespective if there are a few decadent ‘super rich’. Picking on a small set of financial workers & MDs ultimately does us no favours. If that did happen – then the next rung down the ladder of relatively well off professionals would be the next target- and that might be us. In addition, the financial/city pay issue is a distraction from the real problems of a need to restructure the whole economy, financial services and manufacturing to produce real growth and wealth, to pay for increases in all our pay.

    Rather than being distracted by a few rich city kids, would we not be better demanding better pay and aspirations for everyone, in all sectors of life, rather than try to make ourselves a special, ultimately devisive case? Equality up, not fairness down.

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  • I also disagree with the findings on salary, I've worked in the railway for over 20 years, I've seen graduates come in into finance etc and regular pull in over £40K whilst us mere mortals of degree qualified engineers are lucky to recieve £29K and are treated with contempt by managers

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  • Seems we're still suffering from the "man in oily overalls" syndrome.

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  • I got out oof the UK Engineering sector 20 years ago having got fed up of the lack of job status and poor remuneration. Reading this article and the comments above I see it was and is still the correct decision. British engineers are respected the world over - except in the UK. I wish all those firmly rooted in the UK the best of luck

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  • I studied Electrical/Avionic engineering & left the industry as the wages were pathetic.

    In the UK engineers garner no support or recognition from successive governments.

    I now work in software engineering with a better benefits package with less stress.

    I have also left the IET as I felt that membership offered absolutely no benefits.

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  • Have had an Engineering Degree for 20 years! We are the pople who drive companies, just most of us dont capitalise on it! Push for more money. I have several Engineers working for me and pay them accordingly! I have been all over the world and would never say dont go, however the grass is not greener. In the US you could get x 2 pay, however will be a slave to the company 14 days holiday per year and expected to be on call 24hrs p/day, and will burn out by 35. Keep your skills updated (eg CAD) get yourself into the centre of 'any' business, you will be running it in 5 years time, learning Sales and Business is easy if you can work out Stress equations!

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  • I have been in Engineering for over 30 years, in varying degrees of management. I have found the further away you tread from 'Engineering' but staying in the sector the more you can earn - nonsense and short sighted. The abroad thing makes sense. My son 12 months ago graduated with a masters geotechnical Engineering went to Oz and earns twice my salary (£100K at 23!!) again short sighted of this country.

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  • It would be interesting to hear people's experience of whether engineering jobs in other countries are better paid across the board or only in specific sectors such as oil and gas or mineral mining, where you'd expect resource-rich countries like Australia and Canada to offer more.

  • With over 45 years of various engineering post its true to say in GB engineering has been run down drastically, unqualified Sales reps are more likely to obtain higher Salerys. In Europe however Skilled engineers are paid more than managers in the same companys.

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  • Are there any more british engineers out there working in Aus, US or Canada who can share their experiences on whether it was the right choice?

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  • I have a 2:1 in Integrated Engineering, I got his as a mature student, qualifying in my early 30s. Before getting the degrees I'd had 11 jobs in 10 years, since getting the degree (17 years ago now) I've had three jobs, leaving them all for better opportunities at a time of my choosing.

    I earn mid 30s per year, including my bonus, so I'm not 'wealthy' but I do have a comfortable lifestyle thanks. I also get to go to sleep at night knowing I'm doing something to improve the environment and keep manufacturing jobs in the UK.

    I've recently changed focus from Process Improvement to Environmental Management and H&S, my engineering skill set is most useful and will help me to gat chartered status with the relevant bodies.

    I suppose I might have been lucky but I know a few folk from my Uni days, not engineering students, who earn less than I do and have not had the employment security I have enjoyed.

    Yes, I would recommend engineering as a career, even if only because it does give the option to go abroad and seize well paid opportunities.

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  • It is said that an engineer is someone who can build something for $1 that any fool can build for $2. That is the worth.

    I'm outside the UK(Texas, USA) at a petrochem facility for the past 20+ years. We've heard and had the same "shortage" thing told to us, sometimes true and sometimes just to increase the number of "visting, lower-paid foreign engineers(H1B). In the end, if you don't ENJOY engineering, you're in the wrong field.

    PS: Oliver Heaviside is one of my heroes.

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  • After completing a 5 year apprenticeship in tool making, and then progressing in to an Aerospace company and staying there for 15 years (on Shifts inc nights) before taking redundancy, i am now teaching students from the same areas as i have my industrial experience, to get to this point i have had to go through the pain of PTLLS, CTLLS and finally my DTLLS, i am only just earning the money i was on 7 yrs ago, do i feel anyone who has come from the workshop floor is paid enough? NO and i am sure many lecturers feel the same!

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  • To those thinking of moving to Canada for higher wages, don't bother unless you're going to Alberta to work in the oil sands. The average starting engineer in Ontario makes about $45000 a year. And now Professional Engineers Ontario is making it mandatory to be a registered Professional Engineer to practice engineering in Ontario. So make sure you do your research first.

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  • I have said it before and repeat it:
    as soon as we start charging the same way as our apparent betters do -ie we give no indication at the start of any project how much it will cost, are guaranteed payment no matter how many mistakes we make, how deceitful we are and how slowly we operate, and by doing so make work for five other 'sets' of our profession -(four sets you ask: two sets of solicitors and their hangers-on, two sets of barristers and theirs and one set of court officials -poachers turned game-keepers) we shall become the richest profession on the planet!
    Go for it!
    Best
    Mike B

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  • “Unfortunately, engineering doesn’t always produce the kind of short-term profits that facilitate the bonuses and commissions seen in financial services.”

    What is even more unfortunate is that those bonuses and commissions are “earned” from the manipulation of pensions painstakingly saved by the masses on median and lower salaries. Being one of those chartered engineers who benefits from the “modest fortune” described, I find myself nevertheless resentful towards the traders whose bonuses in a single year accrue a pot that will exceed my lifetime pot by a considerable multiplier.

    As a representative example of chartered civil engineers specialising in potable water and public health engineering, there is little doubt that our output, man for man, is intrinsically more valuable than that of the market traders or even, as testified by friends in medicine, of doctors. But none of them would get up in the morning for my modest fortune.

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  • I am 73 still I have to work for meagre state pension and ocupational pension in Mechanical Engineering sector.

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  • I hold BSc, MSc and PhD in electrical engineering from a top British university and I can't even get a *job*, let alone a poorly paid one. At age 50 it looks like I'm done. I will not encourage my son to study engineering - it's ruined my life.

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  • I'm a member of the STEM as a science and engineering ambassador. Having just managed to creep over the 30k mark, to go into schools and colleages to help students decide (influence?) on a future in science/engineering, i cant help feel that the students should not follow my steps.
    I get satisfaction in my job, but no respect, my views are often overlooked, then 2-3 years down the line, they are deemed the way to go. Respect of skills and knowledge is a great problem in this country.
    Would i advise students to follow my footsteps, no, not if they want a comforatble lifestyle.

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  • I am a chartered engineer with 6 years experience, vast amounts of ambition and still lots of energy and desire to "change the world". I am fascinated with engineering but not with the attitudes of the industry - engineers are not appreciated, and they are perceived as less important than the guys dealing with money directly. I earn 30k, and I don't foresee my wages increasing in near or further future unless I go into project management. I am ok now with 30k but if and when I have a family, I guess that won't be enough. How many people out there with heart for engineering and great skills go into less fulfilling jobs (e.g.project management) just to be able to support themselves and their families? It's nonsense.

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  • "JohnK | 1 Oct 2012 3:04 pm

    I'll repeat what I've said here a few times now. Make all Science related university education free and charge the full rate for all 'art' related courses."

    I agree. I’m part of the generation where we have been told from a young age that you must get a degree, in anything, to get a decent job.
    When I started my BEng degree in 2006, I was surprised at the amount of arts students on campus (art, fashion, journalism, graphics, film studies, drama etc), and felt some resentment towards those courses as they seemed to be getting the lions share of funding. While the university neglected the eng & tech side.

    I'm aware it's a 'supply & demand' issue, and uni’s are run more like businesses then educational centres, however do students really need to go to uni for 3 years and spend thousands of pounds a year on 'soft' courses.
    I believe the government should step in and reduce the number of people going to uni, thus reducing the cost for the 'value-adding' courses.
    As the sheer cost of courses (even a basic parametric modelling course at a local college-come-uni) is putting off people such as my self from re-training/skilling-up.

    Also, I'd like to add the industry needs to play a big part in training up the next gen of engineers. They need to be realistic, senior engineers with 5 years experience in your niche area, can't be brought in on a whim, on the last minute.
    Higher Apprenticeships are the best way to go for employers and employees (practical skills, experience & a sponsored degree), unfortunately these are few and far between, and would ‘involve long term thinking’.

    If engineers are leaving for other industries, then obviously employers need to make engineering more attractive (+ wages, career prospects, respect etc).

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  • Sol.

    Thanks for that.

    For interest, I was once allocated a Degree educated worker to my team. This person was without doubt the most stupid person I have ever met in employment. I asked him what his degree was, and how he obtained it. He said it was Philosophy and to get a degree he just turned up to 40% of the classes. Nuff said!.

    A degree has to be a discriminator between ordinary and excellent otherwise higher education itself becomes meaningless.

    As you rightly say, it will require Government intervention to make a degree once again a desirable and valued attribute.

    I know of a senior Recruitment specialist who says a lot of companies are now avoiding 'art' degree graduates as they expect high wages for no business skills whatever.

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  • Please take this in the spirit it is given:

    Engineers should be on Tap but never on Top!
    All management know this: Real engineers want to get their hands dirty not push paper around desks all day. The management feel they are doing you a favour allowing you to pursue your chosen profession.

    After forty plus years in engineering it is the truth.

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  • What does the thread going through these comments tell you?
    In Britain skilled and well educated engineers and allied workers are undervalued and under paid.
    What’s the surprise?
    Have you any idea what the average age of a toolmaker is nowadays? In their fifties it’s the same for many skilled trades. And why are those people still doing those jobs, they can’t afford to leave them because at their age they won’t get another job.
    Who comes up with these figures of pay scales?
    It’s been like that for years stop talking about it do something the clock is ticking and it’s nearer to midnight than you think.

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  • I agree with the major thread that engineers are in general undervalued. This is echoed by the Government who think a Chief Engineer post is not necessary to advise them.

    I too have been told my ideas are worthless only for someone else get the kudos of coming up with them some time (as little as a week is the record!) later.

    Did anyone else hear the comment on The Archers this week when Kirsty was telling Fallon that Alice has (finally) got a job? "It's a Design Engineer in an aerospace firm - she'll be on a huge wage"

    I nearly fell off my stool! Perhaps we should all register on the Archer Blog and put the script writers straight!

    For those who don't listen, Alice did a 3 year Engineering BSc (sic) at Southampton Uni (I checked: SU don't offer one of those) and then wondered why she couldn't get a job. She's done an MSc in Aeronautical at the fictional Felpersham Uni. The interesting thing is to see what those well paid arts graduates think of engineers! And how little research they do into their story lines.

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  • I'm a bit surprised at many of the comments here. It looks like the survey was more-or-less "on the money" (if you'll excuse the pun!) in my case. I got BEng nearly 25 years ago. I'm chartered and work in the automotive industry for just under £50k - not quite the £52k median quoted, but not so very far off it, I guess.

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  • It's all so different in Japan, where engineers, proper ones, are regarded and paid more than other professions.
    I worked in Japan with a large International manufacturing company where almost ALL jobs, even in HR and Finance, were held by University graduates in engineering. It was a pleasure to work in such an environment.
    It is a vastly different World out of the UK.

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  • Engineers in Canada (P.Eng licensed) will make on average £65,000 per year and should expect to be around £100,000 plus for a senior engineer. If one is in engineering management then the expectations is up to £175K plus and in broader executive management the skies the limit - easily £250K plus. The UK has always been a disaster for the engineering profession because it's policies are dictated by politicians who have never delivered productive work and are from Oxbrdge politics philosophy and economics background. They are wrecking the country on all levels.

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  • It's not all doom and gloom out there, quick story: I have arrived to where I am now using another route.

    Small Toolmaking and Aerospace company, UK.
    Full Toolmaking apprentiship, 1981-1985,
    Toolmaker, plastic and rubber injection moulds, 1985-2007.
    Senior programmer, Delcam 2000-2007.
    Senior EDM specialist, 1991-2007.
    Director, 2001-2007.

    Left engineering to run a motorcycle workshop, achieved 35% increase in turnover with little extra cost, just applied what I know from engineering to good effect.

    Recruited back to manufacturing this year as a contractor from a 4 year old CV left on the web, very good renumeration, and also turn down about 2 serious UK offers a week for programming. (Solidworks, Edgecam, Delcam and Autocad.)

    But I live on my wits, knowing if I screw up, I won't be invited back. Keeps you on your toes.

    The work and the money is out there. £40 or even £60 an hour is not unheard of. But you need a business brain and an engineering brain to tap into it.

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  • In resposne to Ray Edwards, what this list of winges tells me is that many Engineers are as bad as the Public Sector in quite undeservedly feeling hard done by.

    As with the public sector shirkers, feel free to go forth and find these vast salaries.

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  • Interesting and surprising comments here, I left university just 3 years ago and it looks like my wage is already higher than a few of the commenters. I am working in an engineering company but not in a engineering role - project management, wonder if that makes a difference?

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  • I am a qualified Mech Engineer and to be honest, I recognised very early in my career that I was never going to get rich from an engineering role. That said, some of the problem is what I would say is down to who can be called an engineer. I worked in various countries over the years and in the USA to be called an Engineer, means you had to be qualified. The same cannot be said in the UK, too many people are called engineers and do not have any qualifications to back the title up. Engineers are held in high regard in the USA, Canada and just about every other Country, so why not the UK. My view is simple, Engineers should be held in high regard and shown respect and not looked down upon, unfortuneatly this is not the case in the UK. Too many people have no qualifications to be called an Engineer and this devalues the title and affects all Engineers. This is a UK problem and the Chartered Institute of Engineers needs to fight their corner. The UK was built on the back of good engineers and sadly not too many youngsters want to get into Engineering and as a result, Engineers are a disappearing breed. If Engineers were held in the same light as an Architect, then maybe the salaries levels would improve to match the skill sets they undoubtedly bring to our Country.

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  • Looking at the person who teaches engineering and who only earns 27 k well are you not in education and education is not engineering after all, so what do you expect. Compare your salary to you colleagues in teaching and not engineers. If I remember teachers get lots of holidays and are divorced from the day to day demands of making a profit. Further, if you are so good why did you leave engineering? Good engineers are hard to find and are gradually being recognised and rewarded for there expertise and knowledge.

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  • "If I remember teachers get lots of holidays and are divorced from the day to day demands of making a profit."

    I am a college lecturer (not a teacher) and your assumptions are out of date.
    I get 35 days holiday and for your information further education colleges do run as a business and strive to make a surplus - hence the falling salaries. Like most lecturers I spend some of my evenings and weekend preparing learning materials, planning and marking; all unpaid to keep college costs down.

    Who educates technicians and engineers? Answer: Engineers who moved from industry to education because they think teaching the next/current generation is important.

    Without us there will be no technicians or engineers in the future!

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  • When I was at college, we had quite a leftie lecturer who insisted that "..one day, you engineers will be valued and paid what you're worth and you'll be running the country" That was 30 years ago, and it ain't happened yet.
    The comment above, on getting a degree for turning up for 40% of the lessons, doesn't surprise me either. We've been dumbing down the entire education system for too long now.

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  • Sad to hear that engineers are so undervalued in the UK. *Starting* salaries in the US are over $50,000 USD/yr, and that's for someone with a basic Bachelor of Science degree in almost any engineering field. In more specialized fields like Aerospace and Chemical engineering, the baseline salaries are higher.

    I guess to summarize, while I agree that that engineers aren't compensated enough for their contribution to society, at least here in the US we're able to earn a solid, middle-class, living wage. I'm able to keep a roof over my head, food on my belly, clothes on my back, maintain multiple cars in the driveway, and have enough left over to put a little away in the bank.

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  • 15% on wages doesn't mean anything in lifestyle. It is also because of egalitarian/socialist wage/benefits discrimination.
    Let's say engineer earning 30k, 3kids at home, with added cost of driving 1hour to work, mentally fully engaged, with work-stress lasting over the leisure time is in fact in no better situation than a person doing simple job locally or pulling the benefits!
    What motivation we're talking about?

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  • I have graduated in 2006 from a US University in Electrical Engineering. I moved back to the UK when I could not find a job quickly enough. My first job in the UK as an Automation Engineer started at £18000, but grew to £24K within three years. In addition the company gave me extra and I was on £27.5K by the start of the 4th year. I have now moved companies as I realized I would stagnate myself and now earn £32K as a software/electronics engineer.

    My point is maybe shifting every so often will help push your career on (I think there is another article I saw on this subject). I still think that my salary now is not good enough and I am still looking for ways to grow it. That may in reality mean having to leave engineering all together!

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  • I've now got 8 years experience, and have a 2:1 in Aerospace Engineering 4 A-Levels @ Grade B or above. I can't say this surprises me, when I've been through the forms for Chartered Engineer, there's a section that asks what you do to promote the profession?? I can never bring myself to do it....

    I spend long amounts of my time looking at large amounts of tedious data in infinite detail, rarely have the privilege to do anything interesting and earn a little over £30K.

    I've been subject to paycuts, and long hours (sometimes weekends too) citing the phrase...."to return the company to a more profitable state" the company recorded £400m in profits that year, it bites a bit that directors and shareholders manage to squash innovation by first lining their pockets. If I had my time again, I would of gone into something far more lucrative, as Engineering is right at the bottom of the food chain, I continually vote with my feet something that seems to get me a payrise. My quality of life suffers as I have moved 3 times in 6 years just to get rise. In one instance I'd asked for a £2k payrise to have it refused, and that position remained unfilled for over a year, it really shows how unwilling companies are to support the very talent that helps it to thrive. Many companies seem much happier to honour accountants, shareholders and solicitors.

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  • The comments on this page ring true.

    Short-term decisions by cynical managers have ruined the department I work in. Despite having a masters, doctorate and CEng (with only ever grudging support from any company I have worked for), I now feel condemned to a life of Dilbert-esque futility. Contracting now seems like the best option - ability to change jobs when you get bored / have done too much of the same thing, better hourly rate, massively reduced amounts of politics and meetings...

    Some non-sensical quotes and my translation from the tubby suits that run my sector of the engineering 'profession':

    "We don't support chartership - once people finish the graduate scheme the rest is up to them" (i.e. we don't have a systematice development scheme here)

    "We don't support chartership as it's hard enough to find engineers already" (i.e. you're more likely to leave once you're chartered)

    "As a customer we don't make chartership a requirement [for signing off drawings] as [your] products already cost too much" (i.e. you already try to screw us with the skills argument - the rest is up to you)

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  • I have worked in many countries during my career and know that being an engineer in some countries has a status equal to doctors and politicians. For me, being an engineer still has the infectious desire to learn and understand more but more importantly being given the opportunity to question theories and designs. The world through an engineers eyes is one of simplistic solutions and the ability to understand why. You cannot put a value to this, the engineer lives to be continually challenged, pity this is with salary and the challenge is survival. Wouldn't change my profession at all, I am an engineer and proud of my decision to become one.

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  • This is why no one wants to do engineering. The salary is terrible.

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