Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

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Tamales
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by Tamales »

Of course the more interesting data in many respects would be the detailed compensation data from the company you currently work at. But that would really irritate about 70% of the employees and result in countless lawsuits and morale issues and unanswerable questions about compensation differences.

So we're left with ambiguous and unauthenticated nationwide data as the only public source of information. And even though we shouldn't, we draw (non-analytical and biased) conclusions from it.

At least at megacorps, HR always claims they share compensation databases with "peer" companies, and from that they judge how much they should pay each job category and experience level, and what financial benefit levels to offer. But those claims aren't subject to audit or any form of public inspections so who knows how they are used (and whether their definition of "peer" is cherry-picked to give the answer they want)..
Last edited by Tamales on Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
Tamales
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by Tamales »

deleted. duplicate post
investingdad
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by investingdad »

Chris001122 wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:32 am I agree with the folks that say the average or fair salary will not be arrived at by looking at this thread. First, there will be a bias where people who have fabulous salaries will be more likely to share those salaries. They are not wrong, just happy they are making more.

Also, statistics already show the average salaries, so use those. Median pay for a ME is 87,000 a year (base). https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-an ... ineers.htm This is not website data but the US government data.

I've seen threads on sites like Blind that are similar to this where someone says "what do you make" and various people respond with the total amount going higher each post. There is some type of psychological bias going on with that. That also seems to be happening here to a degree. Also, some people may simply be fabricating some of the numbers. Who will verify it? No one.
I suspect there is a lot of truth to this.

There are a lot of engineers working at small and medium companies across the country that are not commanding the high salaries shared on here.
Tamales
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by Tamales »

investingdad wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:35 am There are a lot of engineers working at small and medium companies across the country that are not commanding the high salaries shared on here.
Yes, and state/local governments, and the biggest "company" of all, the federal government. I think, but am not sure, that federal employees all know what their peers are making. Maybe that partially explains why their compensation ranges are more compressed.
thx1138
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by thx1138 »

GT99 wrote: Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:22 pm Because the demand for software engineers is so much higher than the demand for other types of engineers and the barriers to entry are lower, you get a wider spread of skill levels. But there are very few people who are really, really good at it, and they are worth multiples of the average or below average. I think in other engineering fields the bottom 25% is much better than the bottom 25% of programmers because you can get a CS degree pretty much anywhere now, and you can get into programming pretty easily without a degree in it. Not so for other engineering degrees - it happens, but it's far, far less common. So people who aren't good at it still get jobs because the demand is so high.
Yes, this. The spread on SWEs is absolutely huge compared to most other engineering fields. And this is precisely because the barrier to entry at the low end for a SWE is ludicrously low. You can spend a dedicated month Googling StackOverflow questions and string something together that appears to work well. Look under the hood and it is a disaster of course and is utterly worthless code but from the externals it appears to work.

Compare to a EE that actually does circuits (this is just a small sub-field of EE of course, EE is extremely broad). It actually takes a lot of learning and experience to put together a circuit in which all the "magic smoke" stays inside the components where it does its job. First rule of circuit design, magic smoke is what makes everything work and if you let the magic smoke out of the components things stop working.

So the barrier to entry to calling yourself and EE that does circuit design is actually pretty high. So the bottom end of circuit design EEs is quite a bit higher than the bottom end of SWEs.

On the top end if you are really good at SWE there is very little that limits your productivity. Again comparing to the EE circuit designer the poor EE has to wait for boards to be fabricated and stuffed not to mention the endless nightmare of lead times on critical components. The very best circuit designer can really only go so fast without running into the limits of development and production schedules. The SWE not so much.

So yes SWEs have an unusually high dispersion in skill and productively level while all being able to call themselves "Software Engineers". In many other fields of engineering the range is much narrower.

(FWIW, I am not a SWE but as a EE I've worked with many over the years and indeed I'd gladly play the excellent SWEs a huge multiplier over the worst. In fact you'd have to pay me to even use the lower end of SWEs - they are a net negative.)
KlangFool
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by KlangFool »

Tamales wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:15 am Of course the more interesting data in many respects would be the detailed compensation data from the company you currently work at. But that would really irritate about 70% of the employees and result in countless lawsuits and morale issues and unanswerable questions about compensation differences.

So we're left with ambiguous and unauthenticated nationwide data as the only public source of information. And even though we shouldn't, we draw (non-analytical and biased) conclusions from it.

At least at megacorps, HR always claims they share compensation databases with "peer" companies, and from that they judge how much they should pay each job category and experience level, and what financial benefit levels to offer. But those claims aren't subject to audit or any form of public inspections so who knows how they are used (and whether their definition of "peer" is cherry-picked to give the answer they want)..
Tamales,

At my megacorp, just to standardize the reporting the same as California's requirement, I am told every year as per my job specification, what is the prevailing wage for my job specification in my region. It includes the median, average, and range. So, I know that I am underpaid. And, I am under the average and the median. That information was only provided to the new hire. But, now it is extended to existing employees too for the annual performance/salary review.

KlangFool
epargnant
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by epargnant »

This thread is really interesting, because we did not join Bogleheads until we made significant money, so I think it’s natural the salaries skew high. My DH made over $270K the last 3 years as a computer system engineer with a megacorps. This includes base salary- $135000, $20K bonus, $1500 HSA, 2% 401K match, and his RSUs which went up spectacularly, bringing in the rest. Now that his company stock has cooled, he’s at about 200K total. He is very good in his field & went from 80K (first megacorps job) to 125K in about 3 years, then job-hopped to get to the next megacorps that was same base salary but had bonuses & RSUs.

I did not look into finances much until he switched jobs & we broke about 180K. We are a single income family, were paying off student loans, saving for a house, added to his 401K onlu up to the match, & auto contributed a few hundred a month to his roth. Once we bought our house, finished student loans, & landed the better job, THEN I started looking into how best to save, & ran into Bogleheads. I think those with lower salaries should be proud to be such good savers/investors already.

(For COL reference, we have a $400K ( probly worth $500K now), 1960s 2000 sq ft house).

So... I guess I feel like many Bogleheads probably have higher than average salaries in their fields, so those with lower salaries shouldn’t get discouraged. 10 years ago we would have reported 80K with 7 years experience in higher-ish COL area. But we weren’t Bogleheads then!!

Some reasons people make more:
- Shift work/on call work
- Security clearance
- Very talented at their jobs/go above & beyond
- Willing to work in LCOL area where it’s hard to recruit, so salary is higher
- Live in NYC region/Bay Area
- Luck with company stock
- Good contacts/networks
- Going into management
Tamales
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by Tamales »

epargnant wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 10:09 am Some reasons people make more:
- Shift work/on call work
- Security clearance
- Very talented at their jobs/go above & beyond
- Willing to work in LCOL area where it’s hard to recruit, so salary is higher
- Live in NYC region/Bay Area
- Luck with company stock
- Good contacts/networks
- Going into management
I would add to that, LOTS of travel for many of the highest earners.
retired early&luv it
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by retired early&luv it »

It has been my general observation over the years that Mechanical Engineers were in the middle of the pack, Chemical Engineers at the top and Civil Engineers at the bottom of the engineer salary scales.

In some fields and with some categories of employers, having the Professional Engineer license could give you a nice pay bump, but with some others that was just one nice looking certificate to hang on your office wall.

I am specifically excluding Computer engineers in my comparison, as they often are not from an ABET certified engineering department.

I am a retired Geological Engineer, retired in 2010 so my past salary not pertinent as I have no clue what I would be making now, a decade after my retirement.
tigermilk
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by tigermilk »

Tamales wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:54 am
investingdad wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:35 am There are a lot of engineers working at small and medium companies across the country that are not commanding the high salaries shared on here.
Yes, and state/local governments, and the biggest "company" of all, the federal government. I think, but am not sure, that federal employees all know what their peers are making. Maybe that partially explains why their compensation ranges are more compressed.
Yes, you can look up most federal employees (some departments/agencies are not available, in what I assume would be national security concerns (i.e., don't want foreign entities knowing as that could lead to some security issues)). However, the data is at least 12 months out of date. Likewise, I know at least some states have employee salaries available. Sadly, those at the top of such lists are usually head football coaches at state schools. For example, the top 4 state salaries are all athletics. Engineers are well down on the list, with full tenured professors making the most.
Valuethinker
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by Valuethinker »

jharkin wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:45 am Bs.ME here, but I never worked in the field. I ended up in software working for a couple different companies that make technical software engineers use.

23 years in I am now in a program management role making just shy of 150k + bonuses that have the potential to eventually reach 1/3-1/2 of base, 6% 401k match, HSA match and very cheap health premiums. And a lot of the other perks typical to the software industry (subsidized food, company travel, discounts on all kinds of stuff, etc) HCOL.

Edit to add: commute is 20-30min and 40hr/week with real lunch hour is typical. Very laid back.

I'll second a couple comments that we really need to separate "traditional" engineers - Mech, civl, elect, aero, checmical, etc - from software developers. The latter can make FAR more money but that is a very recent development since the rise of the FAANGs. Basically only people who graduated AFTER the dot com implosion take such software salaries for granted. Remember it wasnt all that long ago that the industry was hemmoraging jobs and Apple needed a bailout from Microsoft to avoid bankruptcy.

I could in theory jump to a FAANG and make a lot more than I do right now, but Ive been there and done that with public companies and hated the stress. Company I'm at now is privately held, laid back and the job security is infitely better. Plus the stuff we work on is so much more interesting (and impactful to society) than the next social media time-suck.
God is the last part important particularly as you age.

My father built power plants as a civil engineer and genuinely believed he was making the world a better place. He always lived a modest lifestyle but provided educations for me and my siblings. We never felt we wanted for anything. My mother is comfortable in her very old age. He would never have made more than say 120k USD a year in his life in today's money.

The nuclear plants he built have done more for saving the world than all the fancy Kyoto treaties put together (so far). He died suddenly but I did manage to tell him that before his demise.

After 20+ years of helping financial institutions play zero sum games with their clients and competitors it is a relief to go to work every morning knowing that ordinary people might benefit.

And some of the things we do might save future generations.

Just going to your grave saying you made a lot of money and added "stickiness" to social media websites ...
Last edited by Valuethinker on Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
jayk238
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by jayk238 »

BanquetBeer wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:20 am
jayk238 wrote: Thu Jan 16, 2020 9:58 pm The average engineer makes about 50k in europe would you guys live in europe for that salary?
The average engineering salary in the US is probably much lower than on bogleheads. I know plenty of engineers making under 100 salary.

That said I have 4 data points.

ChemE 11 yrs exp, mechanical job(oil related). 135k + 20-25% bonus + 7% match (above avg technically, below avg people skills)

EE 12 years, oil and gas, $215k base, 10% match, 15% bonus (high flyer) + ~2-5k/yr awards

ChemE 12 years, manager in technical services (oil processing related), $155k, bonus is always promised at 10% but always comes in around 3-4%, will verify 401k

ChemE 6 years, oil and gas, $145k, 10% bonus 9% match

MCOL gulf coast.
I know the median engineering salary in the usa is approx 95k. So while its true the bogleheads is higher i still know that approx salaries here are double that of europe!!
Broken Man 1999
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

GT99 wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:32 pm
Unladen_Swallow wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:18 am I am amused by how the word "Engineer" is so loosely used here. This is a regulated profession, like architects, physicians, etc. There are licensure requirements by State to practice.

If this were a thread started by a doctor, it wouldn't be so ambiguous as to what a doctor meant.

Anyone can call themselves anything I suppose. And they do. Which is the very reason why States require licensure to practice.
Not quite. As someone else pointed out, engineering is an extremely broad term. Mechanical engineers and roadway engineers have less in common than Plastic Surgeons and PCPs. There are certainly engineering specialties that require licensure, but I went to an engineering school and a large percentage of my friends are engineers - I'm quite sure less than 50% hold a license of any type - the ones that do are mostly in a civil engineering fields.
Very true. I had "Engineer" in my title a few times myself. Companies sometimes give titles such that one can be compensated at a higher level than a title more appropriate to the skill-sets/duties of an employee. Seems to be a way to thwart HR, and, I was OK by that! Last salary for this "Engineer" was $108,000 in 1999. I never took an engineering class, way too much math. I liked Finance because you could round-off $$$ figures to the nearest thousand/million/billion. The accounting folks could make the figures balance exactly.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven then I shall not go. " -Mark Twain
inbox788
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by inbox788 »

GT99 wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:32 pm
Unladen_Swallow wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:18 am I am amused by how the word "Engineer" is so loosely used here. This is a regulated profession, like architects, physicians, etc. There are licensure requirements by State to practice.

If this were a thread started by a doctor, it wouldn't be so ambiguous as to what a doctor meant.

Anyone can call themselves anything I suppose. And they do. Which is the very reason why States require licensure to practice.
Not quite. As someone else pointed out, engineering is an extremely broad term. Mechanical engineers and roadway engineers have less in common than Plastic Surgeons and PCPs. There are certainly engineering specialties that require licensure, but I went to an engineering school and a large percentage of my friends are engineers - I'm quite sure less than 50% hold a license of any type - the ones that do are mostly in a civil engineering fields.
You can say that again. To me, a traditional engineer is a handful of professional disciplines, but I've come across dozens of new terms I'm unsure how to evaluate. Environmental Engineer; Information Engineer; Building Engineer; Software Engineer; Financial Engineer; Industrial, Process or Systems Engineer, etc. In come countries, HVAC Engineer begin in the repair department. Some countries like India, Russia, and Iran graduate many engineers, but I think they include some fields that aren't counted in other countries.

Plenty of folks with doctor titles aren't physicians (some are engineers), and many without those titles are doing doctor-like jobs (assistants, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, alternative treatments, etc.). And there's the pharmacist or chemist, depending on where you are, and either can sometimes be mistaken for a doctor, degree or not.

FWIW, it all comes down to the definition of the job title, skills required, importance of job, supply/demand balance, size of market, etc. Given all the dynamics, I see good prospects for those technically inclined and interested in Nuclear Engineering and Battery Engineering (and Bio/Process Engineers), but you have to be willing to travel or move to where the jobs are. Demand for these niche sub/super specializations can suddenly peak or die off if people are wrong about needs, so it helps to have a broader specialization to fallback on.
mdavis
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by mdavis »

Computer engineering at any big mega-corp. in medium cost of living geo.
recent college grad: ~100k
senior engineer: ~150-250k
staff/senior staff: ~200-300k
PEs: ~300-400k
SPEs: ~400-500k
Fellow: ~500-650k
BanquetBeer
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by BanquetBeer »

jayk238 wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 12:51 pm I know the median engineering salary in the usa is approx 95k. So while its true the bogleheads is higher i still know that approx salaries here are double that of europe!!
I agree. In the USA it is great to be highly compensated and sucks to be at the bottom. Europe is more equal across the board. Anyone making $$ will want to stay here and anyone closer to avg income would do better over there.

But also there are areas where the US engr get paid a lot (gulf coast oil, calif tech) and I’ll bet it is similar for Europe. I have a friend who quit his job in oil at $120k to move to Berlin for robotics - don’t know new numbers but don’t believe it was less.

Of the people I know, only 1 has a PE. Technical engr salary in oil and gas tops out around ~$200-300k total comp; from there you move to management or IC technical advisors/ reviewer type positions (no longer doing the technical grunt work).

I do remember my salary increased from 80 to 120 in 3-4 years from starting.
iamlucky13
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by iamlucky13 »

Unladen_Swallow wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:18 am I am amused by how the word "Engineer" is so loosely used here. This is a regulated profession, like architects, physicians, etc. There are licensure requirements by State to practice.
It is very widespread practice in the US for mechanical and electrical engineers (and I assume some of the other fields I'm less familiar with) to do engineering work under the supervision of a PE who reviews the portions of their work requiring stamping. Although legally, that portion of the work is the product of the licensed engineer, the skills are largely comparable between the licensed and unlicensed contributors to this sort of work.

While about 70% of civil engineers are licensed, it's only about 25% of mechanical engineers and less than 10% of software engineers.

And while we need to be careful about the terms in legal contexts, it's basically universal for job postings for these positions to use the term engineer.
MathIsMyWayr
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

iamlucky13 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:23 am It is very widespread practice in the US for mechanical and electrical engineers (and I assume some of the other fields I'm less familiar with) to do engineering work under the supervision of a PE who reviews the portions of their work requiring stamping. Although legally, that portion of the work is the product of the licensed engineer, the skills are largely comparable between the licensed and unlicensed contributors to this sort of work.

While about 70% of civil engineers are licensed, it's only about 25% of mechanical engineers and less than 10% of software engineers.
Is this the way engineering work done in 1920?
Starfish
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by Starfish »

jayk238 wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 12:51 pm
BanquetBeer wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:20 am
jayk238 wrote: Thu Jan 16, 2020 9:58 pm The average engineer makes about 50k in europe would you guys live in europe for that salary?
The average engineering salary in the US is probably much lower than on bogleheads. I know plenty of engineers making under 100 salary.

That said I have 4 data points.

ChemE 11 yrs exp, mechanical job(oil related). 135k + 20-25% bonus + 7% match (above avg technically, below avg people skills)

EE 12 years, oil and gas, $215k base, 10% match, 15% bonus (high flyer) + ~2-5k/yr awards

ChemE 12 years, manager in technical services (oil processing related), $155k, bonus is always promised at 10% but always comes in around 3-4%, will verify 401k

ChemE 6 years, oil and gas, $145k, 10% bonus 9% match

MCOL gulf coast.
I know the median engineering salary in the usa is approx 95k. So while its true the bogleheads is higher i still know that approx salaries here are double that of europe!!
Very often - but not always - salaries in Europe are net.
There are countries where nobody ever talks about salary before taxes.
iamlucky13
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by iamlucky13 »

I prefer to keep my own financial information private, although I do appreciate those who share theirs. I will say I work in mechanical engineering and my pay is slightly below median for my experience level compared to others at my employer, but slightly above median for my experience level in my area.

Based on what I have seen of salaries through multiple avenues - Conversations with friends and associates, survey results from BLS and ASME, salary data companies like Payscale, job offers, and data provided by some of my employers - this thread does seem to skew the perception upward compared to reality.

When I started making a partial count of the some of the salaries and experience levels shared, I realized I was also experiencing a reading bias - the highest paid responders were standing out to me more than the number of such people in this thread merits.

The majority of people responding seem to be in the expected ranges based on the data sources I've mentioned.

Since European pay was mentioned: At my previous job, we had access to the pay scales for the same jobs at our UK office (from time to time, people transferred one way or the other). The pay in central England was about 2/3 as much as for the US office. I would say the the US office is in an upper MCOL area, and the UK office in a lower MCOL area for their respective countries.
iamlucky13
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by iamlucky13 »

MathIsMyWayr wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:48 am
iamlucky13 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:23 am It is very widespread practice in the US for mechanical and electrical engineers (and I assume some of the other fields I'm less familiar with) to do engineering work under the supervision of a PE who reviews the portions of their work requiring stamping. Although legally, that portion of the work is the product of the licensed engineer, the skills are largely comparable between the licensed and unlicensed contributors to this sort of work.

While about 70% of civil engineers are licensed, it's only about 25% of mechanical engineers and less than 10% of software engineers.
Is this the way engineering work done in 1920?
I'm not sure what you're asking.

It is the way a significant portion of engineering work has been done for at least the last several decades that I'm familiar with.
BanquetBeer
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by BanquetBeer »

iamlucky13 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:19 am
MathIsMyWayr wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:48 am
iamlucky13 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:23 am It is very widespread practice in the US for mechanical and electrical engineers (and I assume some of the other fields I'm less familiar with) to do engineering work under the supervision of a PE who reviews the portions of their work requiring stamping. Although legally, that portion of the work is the product of the licensed engineer, the skills are largely comparable between the licensed and unlicensed contributors to this sort of work.

While about 70% of civil engineers are licensed, it's only about 25% of mechanical engineers and less than 10% of software engineers.
Is this the way engineering work done in 1920?
I'm not sure what you're asking.

It is the way a significant portion of engineering work has been done for at least the last several decades that I'm familiar with.
The majority of people with an engineering degree are not licensed/professional engineer. Some positions require it but the majority do not.

To me, an engineer is someone who holds an engineering degree (BS) from an accredited 4 year (or obviously more advances) university. Who is also working in an engineering position (or a position that required you to be an engineer).

So engineering or technical sales could count. Whereas an engineer who decided to call it quits and move into finance is not what I would consider an engineering job.
jdilla1107
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by jdilla1107 »

I have hired 100s of software engineers over my career. The ones who report "making 600k+" last year, usually break down something like this:

- Salary of $180-220k
- Exercised stock options last year from X years of stock appreciation for $400k

It's a lot like CEOs "who made $30M last year" or sales execs who had a huge run. It's all dynamic compensation. This type of compensation ends up acting like the proverbial golden handcuffs, because very few employers are going to offer an individual contributor a straight $600k salary.

The trick to making a lot of money is to get profit interests in a business that is growing like a weed. If your company is growing at 2% a year, no one is getting rich.
Last edited by jdilla1107 on Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
MathIsMyWayr
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

iamlucky13 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:19 am
MathIsMyWayr wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:48 am
iamlucky13 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:23 am It is very widespread practice in the US for mechanical and electrical engineers (and I assume some of the other fields I'm less familiar with) to do engineering work under the supervision of a PE who reviews the portions of their work requiring stamping. Although legally, that portion of the work is the product of the licensed engineer, the skills are largely comparable between the licensed and unlicensed contributors to this sort of work.

While about 70% of civil engineers are licensed, it's only about 25% of mechanical engineers and less than 10% of software engineers.
Is this the way engineering work done in 1920?
I'm not sure what you're asking.

It is the way a significant portion of engineering work has been done for at least the last several decades that I'm familiar with.
You must be referring to engineering work related to public safety or public works such as buildings or bridges. Outside the narrow area, very few engineers will understand "engineering work under the supervision of a PE who reviews the portions of their work requiring stamping."
TheEternalVortex
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by TheEternalVortex »

Software Engineer in the Bay Area w/ 10 years experience (well-known large tech company). Last year my W-2 income was $850k, which breaks down as $260k base salary, $80k bonus, and $510k vested stock (I sell immediately, so same as cash). This year I expect it to be slightly higher if all goes well, although I also might leave to pursue another opportunity that will not pay as well, so there's that possibility.
beehivehave
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by beehivehave »

Like all such "surveys", this one is tilted toward posters with higher incomes.
No one is going to admit they make less than $100K.
There have been threads on this year's returns, net worth and now annual income.
What's next, IQ or SAT scores? (Mine are 180 and 1600. Prove otherwise.)
snowman
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by snowman »

rich126 wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:24 am The numbers here aren't going to mean a lot.

Commercial sector or defense? You can make big $ in the commercial arena, especially if you can cash in the stock options but it can also come with high living expenses, lack of job security, sometimes long hours, etc. In defense if you can get a high level clearance you are almost guaranteed a job for life. Government (federal) tends to top out around $160K. There are some jobs that go beyond that, and some will also pay varies bonuses. Private defense contractors (I'm referring to programming & cyber jobs) with 10+ years of experience can definitely make $150-220K depending on your skill set. Those are for strictly technical, non-management type jobs, 40 hrs a week with solid vacations.
Not an engineer, but my son is, and this post caught my attention as it relates to my son's intended career path. He plans on going to private defense contractor when he leaves AF with high security clearance. I know those people make good money, but I always thought defense sector is highly cyclical. So I was surprised to read that one is "almost guaranteed a job for life". Can you, or anyone else, explain that to me? Also, are most of these jobs located in DC metro area, or are they spread out all over? Just curious, that's all. Thanks.
rich126
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by rich126 »

snowman wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:29 am
rich126 wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:24 am The numbers here aren't going to mean a lot.

Commercial sector or defense? You can make big $ in the commercial arena, especially if you can cash in the stock options but it can also come with high living expenses, lack of job security, sometimes long hours, etc. In defense if you can get a high level clearance you are almost guaranteed a job for life. Government (federal) tends to top out around $160K. There are some jobs that go beyond that, and some will also pay varies bonuses. Private defense contractors (I'm referring to programming & cyber jobs) with 10+ years of experience can definitely make $150-220K depending on your skill set. Those are for strictly technical, non-management type jobs, 40 hrs a week with solid vacations.
Not an engineer, but my son is, and this post caught my attention as it relates to my son's intended career path. He plans on going to private defense contractor when he leaves AF with high security clearance. I know those people make good money, but I always thought defense sector is highly cyclical. So I was surprised to read that one is "almost guaranteed a job for life". Can you, or anyone else, explain that to me? Also, are most of these jobs located in DC metro area, or are they spread out all over? Just curious, that's all. Thanks.
I'm simply referring to the area I know, the Intelligence section. I'm talking about NSA type clearances that are Top Secret/SCI and require a polygraph. A standard Secret level clearance is pretty basic (still useful) since you usually only need to be a USA citizen and not have anything serious on your record. They still can take a while to get, at least currently I heard from management it can take 8-12 months. A TS/SCI clearance is taking forever to get now. It can easily be 1-2 years and more than a few never pass all the hurdles.

I've had clearances off and on. In 2012 I was lucky to go from not having one (mine had expired years earlier) to getting one in 90 days. That no longer happens (from what I know). Once you have one, if you stop using it, it fully expires in 24 months (meaning you have to completely start over). You can get it reactivated within those 24 months but it can take several months to do so.

Note that many military clearances lack the polygraph and are either Secret level or TS w/o the poly. I worked with a number of military (active) officers who had to wait to get the full clearance.

Getting and maintaining a clearance can be a huge pain (polygraph retesting, financial disclosure forms for government folks, security paperwork, disclosure/approval of foreign travel. etc.) but it does provide exceptionally good job security. You may have to change contractors if they lose contracts but if you are semi-competent technical person (and even non-techies) you can find another job, especially in the MD/DC/VA area.

Good luck.
HawkeyePierce
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by HawkeyePierce »

jdilla1107 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:11 am I have hired 100s of software engineers over my career. The ones who report "making 600k+" last year, usually break down something like this:

- Salary of $180-220k
- Exercised stock options last year from X years of stock appreciation for $400k

It's a lot like CEOs "who made $30M last year" or sales execs who had a huge run. It's all dynamic compensation. This type of compensation ends up acting like the proverbial golden handcuffs, because very few employers are going to offer an individual contributor a straight $600k salary.

The trick to making a lot of money is to get profit interests in a business that is growing like a weed. If your company is growing at 2% a year, no one is getting rich.
IME we don't quote the value of all shares sold in a year, we quote the FMV of all shares vested in a year. Of course, for those of us who sell immediately, it's the same thing. I have a sell-all order on my RSUs, which are about half my total comp.
beehivehave
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by beehivehave »

snowman wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:29 am
rich126 wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:24 am The numbers here aren't going to mean a lot.

Commercial sector or defense? You can make big $ in the commercial arena, especially if you can cash in the stock options but it can also come with high living expenses, lack of job security, sometimes long hours, etc. In defense if you can get a high level clearance you are almost guaranteed a job for life. Government (federal) tends to top out around $160K. There are some jobs that go beyond that, and some will also pay varies bonuses. Private defense contractors (I'm referring to programming & cyber jobs) with 10+ years of experience can definitely make $150-220K depending on your skill set. Those are for strictly technical, non-management type jobs, 40 hrs a week with solid vacations.
Not an engineer, but my son is, and this post caught my attention as it relates to my son's intended career path. He plans on going to private defense contractor when he leaves AF with high security clearance. I know those people make good money, but I always thought defense sector is highly cyclical. So I was surprised to read that one is "almost guaranteed a job for life". Can you, or anyone else, explain that to me? Also, are most of these jobs located in DC metro area, or are they spread out all over? Just curious, that's all. Thanks.
A high security clearance is worth a great deal in that area.
A job with the Federal Government offers life time security. While the benefits are great, salaries for skilled employees like engineers are less than in the private sector, for unskilled workers probably higher. In the private sector, techies tend to hop jobs to follow the contracts, but there are always jobs for engineers with a clearance and defense contracts tend to be large and multi-year. Almost all the jobs are concentrated in the DC area, mostly the Northern Virginia suburbs.
Glockenspiel
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by Glockenspiel »

Civil Engineer - Bachelor's degree, PE, 12 years experience, live in MCOL city in the Midwest, work for small consulting firm, made $88k in 2019, not including benefits.
snowman
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by snowman »

rich126 and beehivehave, thank you both for taking your time to reply.
klondike
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by klondike »

mdavis wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:22 pm Computer engineering at any big mega-corp. in medium cost of living geo.
recent college grad: ~100k
senior engineer: ~150-250k
staff/senior staff: ~200-300k
PEs: ~300-400k
SPEs: ~400-500k
Fellow: ~500-650k
Good to know that I'm not overpaid. I heard the term "Megacorp" many times. Can someone provide some example what "big Megacorp" are?
HawkeyePierce
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by HawkeyePierce »

klondike wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:08 pm
mdavis wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:22 pm Computer engineering at any big mega-corp. in medium cost of living geo.
recent college grad: ~100k
senior engineer: ~150-250k
staff/senior staff: ~200-300k
PEs: ~300-400k
SPEs: ~400-500k
Fellow: ~500-650k
Good to know that I'm not overpaid. I heard the term "Megacorp" many times. Can someone provide some example what "big Megacorp" are?
There's no official definition—the term comes from a scifi novel anyways. I think we can roughly define it as any company with thousands+ of employees. My employer has about 2000 engineers.
jayk238
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by jayk238 »

Starfish wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:56 am
jayk238 wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 12:51 pm
BanquetBeer wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:20 am
jayk238 wrote: Thu Jan 16, 2020 9:58 pm The average engineer makes about 50k in europe would you guys live in europe for that salary?
The average engineering salary in the US is probably much lower than on bogleheads. I know plenty of engineers making under 100 salary.

That said I have 4 data points.

ChemE 11 yrs exp, mechanical job(oil related). 135k + 20-25% bonus + 7% match (above avg technically, below avg people skills)

EE 12 years, oil and gas, $215k base, 10% match, 15% bonus (high flyer) + ~2-5k/yr awards

ChemE 12 years, manager in technical services (oil processing related), $155k, bonus is always promised at 10% but always comes in around 3-4%, will verify 401k

ChemE 6 years, oil and gas, $145k, 10% bonus 9% match

MCOL gulf coast.
I know the median engineering salary in the usa is approx 95k. So while its true the bogleheads is higher i still know that approx salaries here are double that of europe!!
Very often - but not always - salaries in Europe are net.
There are countries where nobody ever talks about salary before taxes.
The median listing here is pre tax.
Starfish
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by Starfish »

jayk238 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:15 pm
Starfish wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:56 am
jayk238 wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 12:51 pm
BanquetBeer wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:20 am
jayk238 wrote: Thu Jan 16, 2020 9:58 pm The average engineer makes about 50k in europe would you guys live in europe for that salary?
The average engineering salary in the US is probably much lower than on bogleheads. I know plenty of engineers making under 100 salary.

That said I have 4 data points.

ChemE 11 yrs exp, mechanical job(oil related). 135k + 20-25% bonus + 7% match (above avg technically, below avg people skills)

EE 12 years, oil and gas, $215k base, 10% match, 15% bonus (high flyer) + ~2-5k/yr awards

ChemE 12 years, manager in technical services (oil processing related), $155k, bonus is always promised at 10% but always comes in around 3-4%, will verify 401k

ChemE 6 years, oil and gas, $145k, 10% bonus 9% match

MCOL gulf coast.
I know the median engineering salary in the usa is approx 95k. So while its true the bogleheads is higher i still know that approx salaries here are double that of europe!!
Very often - but not always - salaries in Europe are net.
There are countries where nobody ever talks about salary before taxes.
The median listing here is pre tax.

It does not make any sense.
Taxes vary widely between countries and also are split in different proportions between employee and employer.
Very few countries have eve the notion of pre-tax income. If you ask anybody about their pre-tax salary in many countries they would not even know.
How do you even define pretax?
HawkeyePierce
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by HawkeyePierce »

Pretax is just your gross income. You have a gross income, some amount is withheld for your taxes, the remainder is your net. Net is different for each person.
MathWizard
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by MathWizard »

To add another data point, perhaps not at the high extreme

I know a recent grad, chem & bio engineering:

$44K.
mdavis
Posts: 36
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by mdavis »

HawkeyePierce wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:13 pm
klondike wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:08 pm
mdavis wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:22 pm Computer engineering at any big mega-corp. in medium cost of living geo.
recent college grad: ~100k
senior engineer: ~150-250k
staff/senior staff: ~200-300k
PEs: ~300-400k
SPEs: ~400-500k
Fellow: ~500-650k
Good to know that I'm not overpaid. I heard the term "Megacorp" many times. Can someone provide some example what "big Megacorp" are?
There's no official definition—the term comes from a scifi novel anyways. I think we can roughly define it as any company with thousands+ of employees. My employer has about 2000 engineers.
Companies like:

Amazon
Google
Facebook
Microsoft
Intel
Netflix
NVIDIA
Apple
AMD

-mark
Starfish
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by Starfish »

HawkeyePierce wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 6:14 pm Pretax is just your gross income. You have a gross income, some amount is withheld for your taxes, the remainder is your net. Net is different for each person.
Is that easy?
What about health insurance, company's share of taxes, retirement/pension, employer provided automobile and so on? what about rent control, is it gross income?
Your assumptions are true only in US because we know the rules, but the definition of gross income varies by country.
Also the tax system where even normal employees you have to spend money and time to prepare your taxes and deduct expenses is not that common.
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unclescrooge
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by unclescrooge »

klondike wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:08 pm Can someone provide some example what "big Megacorp" are?
Gigacorp?
bantam222
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by bantam222 »

Senior Software developer at mega corp in Washington state

Total comp around 245k per year

Graduated college with computer science degree in 2013. Started at around 135k total comp my first year and worked my way up.
BanquetBeer
Posts: 489
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by BanquetBeer »

mdavis wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:43 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:13 pm
klondike wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:08 pm
mdavis wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:22 pm Computer engineering at any big mega-corp. in medium cost of living geo.
recent college grad: ~100k
senior engineer: ~150-250k
staff/senior staff: ~200-300k
PEs: ~300-400k
SPEs: ~400-500k
Fellow: ~500-650k
Good to know that I'm not overpaid. I heard the term "Megacorp" many times. Can someone provide some example what "big Megacorp" are?
There's no official definition—the term comes from a scifi novel anyways. I think we can roughly define it as any company with thousands+ of employees. My employer has about 2000 engineers.
Companies like:

Amazon
Google
Facebook
Microsoft
Intel
Netflix
NVIDIA
Apple
AMD

-mark
For oil and gas that would be:
Exxon
Shell
Chevron
BP

(In order of compensation as far as I know; upstream pays more with lots of volatility. Midstream is very stabile, pays less, downstream pays about the same as mid but is so dirty/cheap that i would recommend you avoid)

Connico
And maybe Oxy after taking over anadarko might almost qualify but not quite.
GoldenGoose
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by GoldenGoose »

bh7785 wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 1:45 pm This thread is depressing. You think you're doing well until you go and read posts on the internet. Damn. I feel like a lot of these "engineer" salaries and benefits are what the executives at smaller companies are making.
If you are content at your current employment and knowing that your pay is not as much as some of us posting here, ask yourself why you are not making the move. In some cases, money is not everything. For me, time worth more than money.
GoldenGoose
Posts: 320
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by GoldenGoose »

Nathan Drake wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:48 pm
spae wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:44 pm
Nathan Drake wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:38 pm
spae wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:21 pm What does difficulty or stress have to do with compensation? This is like saying, "if the job involves eating fewer bananas...why does it pay that much?"

My friends who studied biology worked a lot harder than I have at any job and they make less than I made before I switched to software.

The ones who are still trying for tenure track jobs are putting in 60+ hours a week in poorly paid post doc roles. The ones who dropped out work a more intense job than I ever have, as lab techs or another job that's skilled but stressful menial labor.

On the other side, I've had multiple friends take home eight figures due to a nice acquisition or exit. Some worked hard and some, by their own admission, did nothing at all.
Businesses like to make money. If a task is easy, yet pays a lot, there are numerous highly qualified people that could replace you for a fraction of 750k
Ahh yes, the efficient market hypothesis of employment.

If you look at the hours people put in at big tech companies outside of Amazon and some groups in Apple, it's easy to see that people aren't working harder than their counterparts who are mechanical or civil engineers.

We can also observe that barriers to entry are lower. People get hired out of coding bootcamps and make "senior" after a few years if they're lucky, after six or seven if they're not. Target comp $350k/yr, $500k today due to stock appreciation.

My company as well as half of the other major tech companies are so desperate to hire that we have apprenticeship programs where we take people who cannot code and turn them into programmers. Starting comp for a new grad is a touch below $200k/y and they'll make that rate after a six months to a year.

I've provided examples where it appears the market appears to not be efficient. You've provided nothing but naked assertions, in this thread and others. What's your explanation for my examples and what evidence do you have?
I’m not saying you’re wrong, but if the labor market is that wildly inefficient then this party isn’t going to last.
Agree. Usually when the time comes to downsizing, those with a higher salary are usually the first ones to go.
Stormbringer
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by Stormbringer »

Software engineer in MCOL area. I've worked as an independent contractor for the past 25 years, which has allowed me to make more than I would as an employee somewhere, but comes with its own challenges. I typically average $250-300K in raw income depending on what projects I get. My wife's job provides the benefits.
"Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe." - Albert Einstein
KineticSync
Posts: 21
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Re: Engineers - What are you making?

Post by KineticSync »

GoldenGoose wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 9:47 am
bh7785 wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 1:45 pm This thread is depressing. You think you're doing well until you go and read posts on the internet. Damn. I feel like a lot of these "engineer" salaries and benefits are what the executives at smaller companies are making.
If you are content at your current employment and knowing that your pay is not as much as some of us posting here, ask yourself why you are not making the move. In some cases, money is not everything. For me, time worth more than money.
As is, for some of us, not having to supervise others. Did it once, never again. And just saying no when pressured to do so does have a financial cost. Which I'm just fine paying.

Also, I saw this same type of software engineer salary inflation in the 80's in telecom during deregulation and the implementation of the intelligent network. Crazy salaries and we couldn't hire enough qualified people. That too passed.
JasonMc
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by JasonMc »

bantam222 wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:16 am Senior Software developer at mega corp in Washington state

Total comp around 245k per year

Graduated college with computer science degree in 2013. Started at around 135k total comp my first year and worked my way up.
I graduated college with computer science degree in 2008. Started at around 30k my first year and have worked my way up to around 125k. I did pretty much goof off in college though.
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MilleniumBuc
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Location: Florida

Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by MilleniumBuc »

Civil engineer, Transportation field. 16 yrs exp, MCOL (FL), about $120k full time (45 hrs). No advanced degrees.

Megacorp. Design work, supervising designers and young engineers. Have been asked to go into PM work, but avoid it for my sanity. No bonuses in this role other than project bonuses. 50% match on first 6% of 401k. Blah on other benefits.
Williams57
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Re: Engineers - What are you making? ($$$)

Post by Williams57 »

Mechanical Engineer, MCOL (Denver, CO).
9 years experience, 7 relevant. $79k + benefits.
Been able to max out my 401k, HSA, Roth last year, and hope to do so going forward.
Locked