Engineer Salaries Remain High Despite Concern Over Shortages

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff December 7, 2005

Despite recent concerns about a potential shortage of engineering graduates and the outlook for future engineering jobs, The Engineering Income & Salary Survey, sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), shows entry-level engineers commanding salaries above many of their peers in other professions.

“We’ve heard the horror stories about a potential shortage of U.S. engineering graduates due in part to a perceived decline of job opportunities for engineers,” said NSPE Executive Director Al Gray, Ph.D., P.E., CAE. “But the truth is that engineering continues to be a viable and in-demand profession, and engineering graduates can expect good starting salaries and job opportunities well into the future.”

According to the survey, the average salary for an engineer with less than one year of experience is $46,059. Engineers with one to two years of experience averaged a salary of $48,451. Other factors, such as engineering discipline, geographic location, education and licensure status can also affect entry-level salaries. Licensed engineers with less than one year of experience make an average salary of $51,383 while those licensed with one to two years of experience had starting salaries averaging $55,878.

Entry-level engineers aren’t the only ones enjoying stable salary numbers. A matched sample of over 3,000 engineers was compared from 2004 to 2005. This group experienced a 6.5% increase in average base salaries from $72,779 to $78,211. Total annual income figures (including bonuses and incentives) for the matched sample showed a 7.6% increase from $78,211 in 2004 to $84,130 in 2005. For the more than 50 years in which NSPE has been conducting the salary survey, there has been a consistent increase in engineering salaries from year to year.

Other interesting findings to date:

  • Engineers in the South Central (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana) and Pacific Southwest (California, Nevada and Hawaii) regions earn more than engineers in other parts of the country. In the Pacific Southwest states, engineers earn an average of $87,421 a year, while those in South Central states earn $85,470. By contrast, engineers in the UpperMountain (Idaho, Wyoming and Montana) region earn an average annual salary of $71,513.

  • Nuclear engineers have the highest average annual salary of all disciplines at $119,643, followed by petroleum engineers at $117,004 and fire-protection engineers at $93,343.

  • The average salary of executive-level engineers has declined from $134,194 in 2004 to $129,724 in 2005.

  • The average salary for engineers in training (EIT) is up from $55,302 in 2004 to $56,480 in 2005.

Complimentary reports with salary data for an individual engineer’s level of expertise and geographic region are currently available. Engineers are also welcome to purchase a full subscription to The Engineering Income & Salary Survey .