Many of our motivated members at the Institute for Engineering Career Development are interested in increasing their salaries—who isn’t, right? Unfortunately,in this economy, many engineering companies have lowered their salary increase rates from past years, some significantly. Gone are the days when you could show up to work as an engineer, do your job and get a good raise at the end of the year; now, in order to get that engineer salary of yours to increase, you’ll need to go above and beyond simply excelling at your job.
In today’s economic landscape, engineering companies are expecting engineers to do more than just engineering design work. They are expecting every engineer to be a design engineer, engineering manager and in some cases business development engineer too (if there is such a thing). I think you get my point. You have to do it all these days in order to stand out as an engineer.
Now, I am not one to say that you should go through your career always focused on getting a salary increase, but I continue to get the question “How do I increase my lowly engineer salary?” So here are recommendations for increasing yours.
- Focus on a specific niche. When you focus on a very specific technical niche as an engineer, your industry value increases. For example, let’s say you become a structural engineer who focuses solely on cable stay bridge design. While many people might view this as limiting your career development, it will actually strengthen it. There are probably only a small number of engineers that are really good at designing cable stay bridges, therefore they are in high demand and are probably paid well.
- Become really good at networking and building relationships. Regardless of the engineering job market, most engineering companies can find good engineers; however, finding engineers with networking and business development skills is very difficult. Good relationships, especially ones that can bring business into an engineering form, are worth a lot of money, and companies will pay for them. Building your networking skills and professional network is a surefire way to guarantee that your engineering salary is always higher than the average. In the fall of 2013, we will be focusing many of our IECD calls on the topic of business development for engineers. We also have a previous webinar we did on networking posted here for all engineers to view and utilize.
- Learn how to deal with people. I always tell engineers that one of the first things they should do in their careers is read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. As an engineer, you will deal with a lot of people, consultants, colleagues, clients, etc. An engineer that has great people skills will stand out tremendously. This is another skill that engineering companies will pay for in a big way. They want engineers who can oversee an entire project, from design through construction, and in order to do that, you will need to be able to manage relationships. We will be focusing on this skillset in the coming months here at the IECD as well.
I could probably come up with a few other ways to help you engineer salary increases, but these are far and away the three that stand out on a regular basis when I speak to successful engineers.
We are helping many engineers to increase their salaries through our work at the Institute for Engineering Career Development. Please consider joining us.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
The Engineering Career Coach
Author of Engineer Your Own Success