Engineering jobs are still one of the most coveted jobs in the United States labor market. Thousands of aspirants apply at engineering and architecture firms to become a practicing and licensed engineer. One of the reasons for this is the lucrativeness of the field. Engineers are one of the highest-earning professionals in America. Here, we find out how much aspiring engineers can expect to earn, once they start practicing.
Factors that affect engineering salaries
There are 6 important factors that determine the salary an engineer will be paid in the United States. These factors include:
- Demand for engineers
The fundamental factor that decides any salary or payment is demand. As long as there is demand for engineers in the US labor market, you will continue to be paid well. The great thing is, the US is at the helm of cutting-edge engineering developments. Engineers across the fields are generally in high demand and are reimbursed generously.
According to Occupational Employment Statistics, 4.9% of the US’s total employment pool constitutes engineers, which is steadily growing.
- Academic background
To be an engineer, you need to study engineering. But where you study and what specialization you take up, also determine how much you earn. Students from Ivy Leagues and top tier universities will earn much higher when they start working. Additionally, those who have completed their Master’s in engineering will also get access to better-paying jobs, compared to people who have only completed their Bachelor’s.
Engineers who’ve worked previously will be rewarded for their expertise. But it isn’t just your tenure as an engineer that is important, but the type of projects you undertake.
Engineering projects that require a greater degree of technical skill and creativity will add a huge value to your resume and make you eligible for higher salaries. Additionally, your earning potential increases if you’ve worked or interned with the country’s leading engineering and architecture firms.
- Company background
The size of the company, the type of clients it serves, the prices it charges for projects and the geographical location all determine how much salary an engineer can expect to make.
Reputed companies with a long heritage in the field tend to pay better than other companies, purely because they have so many clients. But even smaller companies that get large orders can also pay high, because of the limited staff they hire. Additionally, states like California, Washington and New York, have a very lucrative real estate industry and engineers can expect to earn very well here.
- Technical certifications
If you have completed additional certifications, apart from your academic courses, you will earn much higher than engineers who don’t have such certifications. Any additional skill sets, new learning and expertise in technology will give you a competitive edge over other engineers.
- PE Licensing
Professional Engineers (PEs) are specialist engineers who can oversee the work of other engineers. In order to become a PE, engineers must first get themselves licensed in the respective state licensing board. PEs earn more than regular engineers because their jobs are more specialized.
Median salaries of different engineering jobs
There are numerous disciplines in the field of engineering. you can consider some of the following engineering fields/jobs:
- Survey engineering – Engineers who survey the landscape and plan the pre-construction activities.
- Architectural engineering – Engineers who work on residential and commercial builds
- Civil engineering – Engineers who design and develop civic amenities like roads, bridges, water systems etc.
- Structural design engineering – Engineers who design the foundational structures of new builds.
- Materials engineering – Engineers responsible for developing and implementing cutting-edge materials in residential, commercial and industrial builds.
- Construction management – Engineers responsible for managing end-to-end construction projects.
- Electrical engineering – Engineers in charge of designing and building electrical components into buildings.
According to estimates by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the salaries that the following engineers can expect to make.
|Job||Entry level salary||Mid-level salary||Top level salary|
|Construction managers and general contractors||$55,795||$103,110||$161,510|
Based on a study by Career Explorer, electrical engineers earn $62,048 for entry-level, an average of $97,011 in mid-level positions and $151,673 at the top tier.
Professional liability insurance for engineers & architects
As an engineer constructing or renovating a building, it is your job to advise your clients about their new build. During this time, your clients may have a certain expectation from you, which may not be very realistic. Or, something may go wrong due to uncontrollable circumstances and crisis and you may be unable to match your clients’ expectations.
In this case, your clients may sue you on grounds of omitting certain services or making errors in the design and development. Your team may be charged with negligence or using bad quality materials. This can cause damage to your reputation and your future earning potential.
The professional liability insurance, also called the errors and omissions insurance, is a great way to protect yourself and your team from such claims.
What if I’m in a non-architectural engineering job?
Even if you’re not directly involved in architectural design and construction, you will still greatly benefit from professional liability insurance. All engineers – mechanical, industrial, chemical, aerospace, survey etc. – work on buildings and other construction projects in some capacity. As someone who consults with companies, industrial plants, and civic authorities, you are still at risk of being sued by your clients for errors, omissions, negligence, non-performance and poor quality service.
Having professional liability insurance can help you get protected from such claims. You will be able to safeguard your reputation.