Highest paid engineers are in mobile tech

Engineering salaries are still rising, but not as fast as in the good old days

WASHINGTON -- Engineers working on communications technology were paid a a median salary of $135,087 last year, the highest in the profession, according to new IEEE-USA survey data.

The lowest paid engineers, with a median salary of $107,820, specialize in energy and power engineering, the survey found.

This data was collected from more than 10,200 IEEE-USA members in an annual survey.

Overall, engineers in electrotechnology and IT, which includes electrical engineering, the survey had a median income of $120,000 last year, according to the survey.

Ed Kirchner, who chairs the employment and career services committee at IEEE-USA, said "communications technology" label is broad and reflects the fusion of computers and mobile tech. "It is literally everybody who would fall under the umbrella of electrical or computer engineering," said Kirchner.

By job skills, the category would include circuit designers, software engineers, computer engineers and network engineers, he added.

"The breadth of engineers who can work in that technology has really spread out," said Kirchner, an IEEE-USA volunteer and works for a communications company as a project engineer and deputy program manager.

The growth of the smartphone industry has been explosive, said Kirchner, and engineering salaries are directly tied to the financial performance of the companies they work for.

Engineering and IT salaries increased by 1.7% last year, less than half the rate of the prior year, reports the IEEE-USA, in its latest salary survey.

"I think it's very good news that salaries are still rising. The fact they are rising at a smaller rate reflects the fact that raises are smaller, bonuses are smaller," said Kirchner.

In normal economic times, the raise budgets are more on the order of 6% or so, he said.

Some other median levels for engineering salaries include: circuits and devices, $129,000; signals and applications, $127,000; industrial applications, $110,000 and systems and control, $112,000.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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