A glimpse in the Consulting-Specifying Engineer mirror

What does the average Consulting-Specifying Engineer reader look like? Here’s a look in the mirror.

By Amara Rozgus, Consulting-Specifying Engineer June 19, 2014

Studies of a variety of different animals—including human babies—indicate that many species like to look at themselves in a mirror. While some attack the mirror (like birds), some show curiosity or even mimic their own actions to watch. Humans’ sense of self is very strong; just think of a teenage girl in the United States always looking at herself in a mirror.

Professionals are no different. We’re always literally or figuratively looking at ourselves, trying to improve our work, find personal flaws, or compare ourselves to the person next to us. Self-improvement frequently falls high on the top of our to-do lists, whether we know it or not. In many cases, self-improvement is required through continuing education (for a license or certification, for example) or to move up a rung on the career ladder.

In May, Consulting-Specifying Engineer held up a mirror to its audience and asked you to take a long, hard look. Thanks to all of you who answered the 50-question survey—it gave us a glimpse into the everyday life of our audience. Here’s a snapshot of what we learned:

  • Nine out of 10 of you are men. According to the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), that’s a bit lower than the standard number of engineers in the workforce in the United States. SWE states that 11% to 14% of engineers are women. (This number includes all engineering specialties, however, including chemical and biological specialties.) 
  • Six out of 10 of you are older than 50, and 19% of you are older than 65. An aging workforce has some obvious issues: the need for succession planning, a loss of knowledge and experience that must quickly be replaced, and a shift in the way consultants are employed and paid (read: semi-retirement).
  • Four out of 10 of you work or bill 41 to 50 hours per week. Another 23% of you work more than 50 hours per week. Most employers nationwide consider a standard workweek to be 35 to 45 hours; hourly employees are often paid extra for any time worked over 40 hours. This points to two things: First, even after the Great Recession has technically ended, employers still are not hiring. Second, there are not enough quality engineers to bring into new positions that may be open at engineering firms.
  • You’re using the content we offer. Seventy-nine percent of you find trade publications (like Consulting-Specifying Engineer) highly or moderately valuable. Along those same lines, you also find useful: white papers, how-to articles, and case studies (68%); webcasts (66%); and trade publication websites (64%). Not surprisingly, social media falls very low on the usefulness scale.

Share your own thoughts with me on this topic. Send a glimpse of your work challenges and opportunities to me at arozgus@cfemedia.com.