Engineering Salaries Continue to Rise Despite Concern Over Shortages

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Stacey A. Ober
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Friday, August 6, 2010

Despite recent concerns about a potential shortage of engineering graduates and the outlook for future engineering jobs, The Engineering Income & Salary Survey, produced by the National Society of Professional Engineers, shows a steady rise in both entry-level engineer salaries, as well as those across the profession.

"We realize the job market for engineers has gotten a lot of attention lately, whether it be a perceived shortage of engineering graduates or questions about the future of the profession," said NSPE Executive Director Lawrence Jacobson. "But the truth is engineering continues to be a viable and in-demand profession. Both engineering graduates, and the profession as a whole, can expect good salaries and job opportunities well into the future, and well above their peers in other professions."

According to The Engineering Income & Salary Survey, the median salary for an engineer with less than one year of experience is $55,160. Engineers with one to two years of experience earned a median salary of $58,000. Other factors, such as engineering discipline, geographic location, education, and licensure status can also affect entry-level salaries. Engineers with less than one year of experience and a bachelor's degree in engineering earn median salary of $54,225. That figure increases to $58,500 with a master's degree and to $79,500 with a doctorate. Those with one to two years of experience and a bachelor's degree in engineering can expect $57,000, while those with a master's degree earn $60,960 and doctorates can expect $78,125. 

Entry-level engineers aren't the only ones enjoying stable salary numbers. A matched sample of over 4,000 engineers was compared from 2008 to 2009. This group experienced a 4.7 percent increase in median salaries from $85,983 to $90,000, while a matched sample comparing salaries over the three years from 2007–09 showed a 16.9 percent increase in salaries. For the over 50 years in which NSPE has been conducting the salary survey, there has been a consistent increase in engineering salaries from year to year—a clear indication that engineering is indeed a viable and sustainable profession.

Other interesting findings to date:

  • Licensed engineers make an annual median salary of $99,000 while those with no license or professional certification earn $94,000 a year. The median salary for engineers in training (EIT) is up, from $61,500 in 2008 to $65,500 in 2009.
  • Engineers in the Pacific Southwest (California, Nevada, and Hawaii) and South Central (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana) regions earn more than engineers in other parts of the country. In the Pacific Southwest states, engineers earn a median salary of $102,800 a year, and those in South Central states earn $99,000. By contrast, engineers in the Upper Mountain region (Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana) earn a median annual salary of $81,220.
  • Petroleum engineers have the highest median annual salary of all disciplines at $130,000, followed by corrosion engineers at $119,500 and minerals and metals engineers at $118,250.
  • The median salary of executive-level engineers has increased from $129,000 in 2008 to $135,405 in 2009. 

NSPE has conducted salary surveys since 1952 and updated its survey format in 2004. The Engineering Income & Salary Survey is a continually updated, searchable database providing real-time salary information directly online and is produced in partnership with other engineering societies. The survey tracks salary information by nine different categories: length of experience, level of education, professional responsibility, branch of engineering, job function, industry, licensing or certifications status, level of responsibility, and geographic location.

NSPE members participating in the survey receive free, unlimited access to the complete salary survey data. For those members who choose not to participate, or for nonmembers interested in the salary data, subscriptions are available for purchase. With the purchase of an unlimited access subscription, both corporations and individual engineers have the option of purchasing a printed report for their reference containing minority, gender, bonus, layoff, organization structure, benefits reporting, and much more. Also included is a look at salary and benefit trends from previous years. More information can be found on the NSPE Web site at

Additional Notes: 

The National Society of Professional Engineers is the national society of licensed professional engineers from all disciplines that promotes the ethical and competent practice of engineering, advocates licensure, and enhances the image and well-being of its members. Founded in 1934, NSPE has been promoting professional excellence for over 75 years. NSPE serves more than 43,000 members and the public through 53 state and territorial societies and more than 500 chapters. For more information, please visit

EDITOR'S NOTE: Complimentary survey data and results are available to credentialed members of the media.