How does your salary stack up?

Consulting engineers share information about compensation, accreditation, age, retirement goals, and business development via a national salary survey.


Figure 1: While the year-over-year comparison didn’t shift much, the age of consulting engineers continues to skew older, with those 50 and older making up the bulk of the workforce. All graphics courtesy: Consulting-Specifying EngineerThe second annual Consulting-Specifying Engineer salary survey of mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), fire protection, and lighting engineers shows that the average base annual salary in 2015 was $99,283 and the average non-salary compensation was $14,378. Non-salary compensation was up 13% over 2014 numbers. These numbers are based on the anonymous responses of 374 people from a variety of engineering disciplines and at different levels in their professional career.

Of these respondents, 93% are male. The largest age groups responding include 50 to 54 years old (13%), 55 to 59 years old (13%), and 60 to 64 years old (19%).

Younger staff, defined by the U.S. Department of Labor as 40 or younger, equate to 20% of survey respondents. On the flip side, 45% of respondents are 50 to 64 years old, which should be a concern for several engineering firms as these seasoned engineers move out of the workforce and retire. See Figure 1 for the comparison of age groups between this year and last year.

The good news is that the economy continues to grow, and total compensation has grown for all respondents. As shown in Figure 2, compensation increased 1% to 4% for 52% of respondents, 5% to 9% for 21% of respondents, and 27% or more for 13% of respondents.

Figure 2: In 2015, compensation increased for all respondents, though most of it was in the 1% to 4% range.Respondents with professional accreditations earn the most. For instance, certified energy managers (CEM) earned $160,278 in total compensation (salary and non-salary) in 2015. Next on the list are commissioning experts (CxA or CxP) at $138,019, followed by fellows in professional organizations, such as ASHRAE and the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. The highest non-salary compensation in 2015 went to CEMs, earning these experts an additional $29,378 on top of their base salary.

The annual survey also records information about the size-based on total revenue-of the firms at which respondents work. Firms with total gross revenue of $10 million to $20 million pay the most, with salary and non-salary compensation equaling $148,096 for individual employees. Next are the slightly smaller firms ($5 million to $10 million), with total compensation at $128,647.

When looking at what people specified, those who primarily specify mechanical systems had the highest salaries in 2015, with total compensation coming to $118,314. The other core systems specified include electrical/power systems (earning $108,818), fire/life safety ($106,049), and lighting ($69,192). See the compensation tables for a more detailed breakdown.

Compensation tables

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