The economic recovery has been gaining steam throughout 2012, and now it appears engineers may have the most to be thankful for this holiday season. After years of ceilinged salaries, engineering salaries have now risen for two consecutive years, according to a recent survey conducted by Design News.
What's more, increased salaries are just the beginning of the improved work environment for engineers, with the average bonus also rising, and job satisfaction at its highest level ever. In 2012, the average engineering salary hit $96,813 per year, compared to 2011's average of $93,465. This came as 69 percent of engineers saw a rise in their base annual salary compared with last year, with only 2 percent of all engineers reporting a drop in pay - down even from last year's 4 percent who said the same.
Another 29 percent said their salaries stayed level with last year's.
A job well done
The good work done by engineers, who are working to create a more efficient industrial environment across the country, is not going unnoticed. This year, the average bonus is expected to rise to $11,906 - up from $9,440 last year. The survey found 16 percent of engineers say they expect some form of bonus increase this year.
The design engineering sector, which has an average employee age of 48, provides varying salaries around the country. Anyone thinking about getting into the field may want to head to the sunny Southwest states of California and Nevada, where the average engineering salary of $110,101 helped buoy the national average. If the Pacific and sun aren't as appealing, New England boasted the second-highest average salary for engineers, at $106,854.
In fact, only two regions - the Southeast and the Midwest - offered average salaries that were not in the six figure range.
According to the survey, the biggest factor in the amount of money engineers make is the job discipline they venture into. Electrical engineers, for example, have the highest annual salaries of any discipline, with total salary and bonus resulting in $110,782 every year. Software engineers, which power the ever-growing market for phone apps, computer programs and business technology solutions, are close behind with $110,661.
But it's not only money that is driving many people all over the country to become engineers. These workers obviously took Confucius' words to heart when he said "choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
The survey found that 55 percent of engineers say they are "extremely or very satisfied" with their decision to enter the design engineering field. When you live for problem solving, technical challenges and the opportunity to be creative, engineering quickly becomes a highly rewarding career, the study found. What's more, survey respondents said that a job in engineering allowed them to continuously learn, make real, applicable products, experience cultures from other countries, and create products that have the potential to truly help people.
Together, these factors led to extremely high job satisfaction, the survey noted.
What may be most exciting about the survey's results is that there was a direct correlation between engineers who are paid the highest and those who flat-out love their jobs. Respondents who said they are extremely or very satisfied with their jobs are also bringing in the highest annual salaries, with an average of $101,773 and a bonus of $13,389.
So with such high reports of job satisfaction, and not to mention income that more than doubles the national average, you can bet entering the design engineering space could be a good career decision. For more information about the survey, click here.