Where Do You Fall on the Pay Scale?
Rushing, a Seattle-based integrated engineering and sustainability services firm, reports its average annual engineering salary at $110,443. Regardless if an engineer has five days, five months, or five years of experience, the firm works diligently to offer competitive salaries across the board, said Sara Young, director of business services.
“While we currently do not employ any entry-level HVAC engineers, our average salary for an engineer at that experience level would be closer to that industry average of $82,500,” she said.
McClure Engineering is a 67-year-old, St. Louis-based mechanical and electrical consulting engineering firm that boasts a staff of more than 80 mechanical and electrical engineers and designers. The entry-level salary for a new engineer right out of school with no prior experience ranges around $60,000-$65,000.
“Candidates who come to us with some prior experience will see a slight bump and are compensated in a range of $60,000-$81,000,” said Mike Contrera, HR director. “Our experienced engineers are compensated in line with the range of salaries featured in Figure 1, and engineers who are managing projects are often compensated at the higher end of that range.”
SmithGroup is a multidiscipline firm employing more than 1,200 people across 15 offices, ranging from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Shanghai. A number of factors, including location, responsibilities, and experience, influence the amount the firm pays an engineer at each of its locations, said Cindy Cogil, principal, director of engineering.
“We tend to apply the Dietrich salary survey and pay particular attention to the regional differences,” she said. “We use a lot of metro regional information as well as national averages. For a firm of our size, each region is different. We've been growing engineering in certain parts of the country where we didn't have that service before, so the compensation makeup within those locations can be really skewed high or low, depending upon where we are at in our growth process.”
For new hires, SmithGroup evaluates the average salaries offered to outgoing students from the university or school where they studied.
“We tend to use data from universities spanning back a couple of years, paying attention to salaries across each area of specialization,” continued Cogil. “This helps us understand the demand for students in various engineering options as well as what constitutes a competitive offer for salary and bonus.”
Among those schools is Kansas State University, which graduates 50-60 engineers annually. According to Ray Yunk, professor, architectural engineering and construction science, about half of all graduating students choose HVAC as their specialty.
“Our students are finding jobs with salaries averaging just under $65,000 per year,” he said. “In addition to this $65,000 base salary, their average signing bonus is around $2,500, ranging from zero to $7,500.”