Business of Engineering

How will jobs change during COVID-19?

While many things have remained the same year over year, the pandemic promises to upend portions of the engineering industry

By Amara Rozgus November 30, 2020
Courtesy: CFE Media and Technology

Most people would say they’re not paid what they’re worth. Whether it’s a minimum wage job or a highly paid CEO position, everyone is always clamoring for more money, bonuses, health benefits and vacation. Every aspect of a job is worth something, whether it’s paid time off, on-site childcare or cash in the bank.

This year’s respondents are made up of a diverse group, as usual. When asked about primary job function, 40% indicated they were engineers, 35% said engineering management and 20% said senior administration. Of the 252 respondents, 11% were owners.

This bunch is an educated one, with 60% holding a bachelor’s or dual bachelor’s degree, and 26% holding a master’s degree. The largest group (44%) indicated they studied electrical engineering, and following that trend, 39% said they primarily specified electrical/power systems. Six in 10 respondents hold a professional engineer’s license in one or more locations.

Interestingly, 55% have worked for their current employer for less than 10 years, with 36% working at their firm for less than five years. The number of people who have worked for their current employer for 10 years or longer was 48% for the last reporting period, which down slightly from the report before that. This is starting to look like a trend of individuals changing jobs more frequently.

COVID-19 also may have an affect on job changes, salaries and other job-related issues. Fortunately, 72% indicated that the coronavirus pandemic has not had an affect on their salary. But 10% reported that their salary had been decreased 20% or more, which does not bode well for the industry if it extends to a reduction in force or some other workforce changes. Some firms have a backlog of work or have diversified to change focus during this crisis, while others are hurt extensively by the economic downturn or by the loss of work in certain building types.

Looking at the reporting period, which encompasses data from 2019, the average number of projects each respondent worked on was seven. With the economy fluctuations and the intense bidding for new projects, it will be interesting to see whether that number rises or falls during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Firms looking to obtain new work or branch out should pay close attention to specialties that respondents indicated were subcontracted during the reporting period. The top five:

  • Fire/smoke systems design: 29%
  • Electrical systems design: 28%
  • Acoustics: 26%
  • Commissioning: 24%
  • Security systems design: 22%

To learn more about whether you’re earning a salary and bonus on par with your peers, view the salary survey article.


Amara Rozgus
Author Bio: Amara is the Editor-in-Chief/Content Strategy Leader for Consulting-Specifying Engineer.