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16 comments

No Shortage of Engineers After All!

Posted December 12, 2009 8:37 AM

If you've been in or around engineering for any length of time, then you've heard the argument that we just don't have enough engineers in this country. This argument always rang hollow with me. If there was such a big shortage, I reasoned, shouldn't salaries be higher? Well, as it turns out, a new study finds that there's no shortage after all. Instead, many of the brightest engineering graduates are pursuing careers in finance, law, and other non-technical fields. Why? Because they pay better. No big surprise there, eh? So, is there a shortage, or is the pay just too low?

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#1

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/12/2009 10:46 AM

It is a post worthy of discussion. Organizations who are confident of getting returns for pays, boldly go for top brains irrespective of disciplines. Even here in INDIA, the graduates from IIT's, the most prestigious institutions of our country ,follow the same job routes as you have mentioned. It means us to say that smart brains seek their own choice and never depend on their core field to pursue a career.

This is based on the fact on their capability to get immediate adaptability to any field, brain power and potentiality of performance.

It also adds to the another painful feeling of wastage of Institutional and professional learning hours spent mutually by Institutes and individuals concerned. A probable lacuna/ vacuum of potential brains who are missed from the trained core fields.

No restrictions can be placed on such individual choices and it is all left to the free will of individuals. Still, some deserving candidates could have availed the opportunities.

The conclusion is MONEY MAKERS lead the front and engineering and technology based organizations got to go a long way up. MONEY IS THE SOLE DRIVING FORCE.

Comparisons will spoil diversities which are of real worth to social functioning. It is all obvious in the game.

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#2

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/13/2009 8:52 PM

Ok, I am going to get slammed, but here goes.

There is a definite shortage of smart, skilled, high quality, innovative, engineers, especially with good language and writing skills. There is no shortage of number crunchers, procedure writers, and drawing checkers...

So compare apples with apples. Are salaries low for people that do routine tasks like checking drawings? Perhaps, but they are still much better than selling shoes, or managing a Mc Donalds.

Are salaries low for engineers that do innovative work? Nope, and they are in high demand as well. An engineer who knows his stuff and can solve multi million dollar problems is paid like a doctor or a lawyer, or even like a good stock adviser.

An engineer that is satisfied pushing paper around, will receive paper pushing wages, a decent living but nothing spectacular.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/13/2009 9:52 PM

GA, but on the other hand I have never seen any ads for "smart, skilled, high quality, innovative, engineers, especially with good language and writing skills."

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/14/2009 12:04 AM

I have, I get about two or three a week, from a variety of recruiters...

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#7
In reply to #4

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/15/2009 10:22 AM

good for you.

I don't believe that is a good cross section

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/15/2009 6:37 PM

True, for me as well as for Tornado...


But neither of us were engaging in statistics, only in personal observation.

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#14
In reply to #8

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/16/2009 10:02 AM

Yes, and your credentials can carry it. I believe some are only discussing wage comparisons with only a BS.

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#6
In reply to #2

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/14/2009 12:17 PM

"Are salaries low for engineers that do innovative work? Nope, and they are in high demand as well. An engineer who knows his stuff and can solve multi million dollar problems is paid like a doctor or a lawyer, or even like a good stock adviser." Well, it's an iteresting idea - but in 46 years as a professional (initial titles described me as a physicist, reflecting my degree, and all since include "engineer") I have yet to see an example of such a person. Not even one, ever. I have known a few engineers who were reasonably rich, but every single one had made that money either as an entepreneur or in some side area (real estate, stock market, buying/rebuilding/selling houses, coin shop derived from hobby). It has been my experience that a good engineer in a group of same may be promoted to manage the group, and will immediately see 25% salary increase, but is no longer an engineer.

As for "paid like a lawyer" - the only lawyer [patent] whose salary I actually knew, was HIRED straight out of college at a starting salary 35% greater than what I was earning with nearly 40 years experience, multiple issued patents to my name (to address "innovative"), etc. It was significantly higher than the upper limit of the range for engineering salaries where I worked; only mid/upper-level managers and marketing folks could have made more.

I have regularly received recruiting calls, mail, & e-mails for many years. When salary ranges are listed, perhaps one in ten has had an upper limit shown higher than the company where I was at the time, and those typically called for 10+ years of specialized experience in some very specific field. "Innovation" would not seem called for as much as troubleshooting and diagnostic abilities.

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#5

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/14/2009 8:12 AM

"or is the pay just too low?"

Maybe I just haven't been out of school long enough, but the thing I have always loved about engineers is that most of us are engineers because we want or like to be. Most engineers I know engineer outside of of their jobs.

Personally, I would take a pay cut to get on cooler projects that what I am on now (although I love what I have now).

I think the real problem is that children aren't exposed to science and engineering enough while they are young. The more people we have starting engineering programs in college means more engineering graduates. More engineering graduates means more engineers that use their education for engineering.

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#9

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/15/2009 6:43 PM

So let us step back a moment....

What is a good salary for an engineer? What kind of salaries would reflect a shortage? What is considered too low as far as pay?

The OP is formed in terms of generalities, and each of the responders has replied based on their interpretation of the general question. Some might be happy with 40,000 USD others with 80,000 USD, and still others with 100+. So what is the definition of good pay for engineering work?

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#12
In reply to #9

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/16/2009 8:42 AM

"What is a good salary for an engineer?"

My response has always been (not to employers but to friends) enough money that I don't have to worry about getting the next paycheck but I don't need so much that I can live an extravagent lifestyle.

Personally, I like being an engineer so I like my salary where it is. That doesn't mean I'll turn down a raise though. I'd rather have good work and a good work environment over good pay, and most of the engineers I've worked with feel the same way.

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/16/2009 9:56 AM

My response has always been (not to employers but to friends) enough money that I don't have to worry about getting the next paycheck but I don't need so much that I can live an extravagent lifestyle.

I have felt that way also, most because I enjoyed my work. Probably because I compared it to farming.

Problem with that is, as an engineer comes responsibility. Would you be willing to turn your back on a professional crisis at work (1-2 days) so you can have a good lifestyle at home, for that 1-2 days.

My answer to that is no. After that, these crisis turns out to be 2, 3,4,5.......

One can get caught up in it.

Engineers have value, do not undersell it, there are people that will take advantage of it.

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#10

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/16/2009 12:33 AM

So to add fuel to the fire.....

At this link you will find a US national wage survey from the US Beureu of Labor Statistics.....

http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ocs/sp/ncbl0910.pdf

Now I admit the data is a bit dated. The report is 2007, but if you look at engineering side by side with say lawyers, we are not far different based on Mean and Median salary. If you look at Doctors/surgons, they are indeed significantly higher on the mean and the median.

So, is the pay really too low? Or is it as I have claimed before that in the US people that can do Math are a rare breed and so not too many take up engineering.

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/16/2009 8:30 AM

I guess that if an offset of 15 - 30% is considered insignificant, that's true (lawyers vs. engineers). As for me, a change of 5% to my income could make or break me absent substantial revisions to my lifestyle! In my experience - admittedly limited - law firms are FAR more likely to hand out bonuses than places employing engineers, further changing the apparent comparison. I have never seen a bonus given to an engineer at any place I've worked, but I'm aware of lawyers who've seen an additional 10 - 20% of their base given as year-end bonus.

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#15

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

12/28/2009 11:51 AM

Its been said that when a Doctor screws up, one person dies and when a Lawyer screws up 1 guilty person walks (or vice versa), but when an Engineer screws up, Hundreds or Thousands of lives may be on the line. In that light, I think we don't think it is unreasonable for us to expect to be viewed in the same light as doctors and lawyers.

My naive view suggests to me that we are a considerably more invisible proffession. (If you need help seeing this point compare the number of Medical Dramas on TV to the number of Engineering Dramas.) I think our proffession could really benefit from more vocal, outspoken members and from a little image marketing in the public eye. I personally don't even like the question "so what do you do?" simply because I feel like I need to set aside a seminar block to explain enough back story to adequately answer the question.

Jason (since I'm not registered)

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#16

Re: No Shortage of Engineers After All!

09/21/2010 3:06 PM

Same goes for any type of degree.

Only 40% of people who start college ever graduate and only 40% of college graduates ever get a job in their 'major'.

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