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By Jack Ganssle

Embedded Salaries

Summary: Though raises are seriously off, most of us are happy with our career choice.

I haven't done a salary survey for three years, and am rectifying that lapse. Take the very short and anonymous survey at http://www.ganssle.com/survey.html and let's see how we're doing.

As of this writing about 400 people have submitted data. I haven't done any real analysis of it as yet, but have observed a few interesting patterns. It's too early to say anything meaningful about salaries since the data is being reported in many currencies and it will take some time to make sense of it all.

About 10% claim to be "somewhat unhappy" in their career, and one percent simply hate the profession. 53% are reasonably happy, and 36% love the career. I wonder if any other occupation has so many satisfied workers?

During the dot-com implosion I asked a group at the ESC if they'd recommend this career to their kids. Only one (out of about 100) would. The same question at the ESC this year garnered almost the opposite response, even though this recession has been much more wounding than the last.

Half expect the demand for engineers to remain about the same as it is today. Around 10% expect the demand to diminish, while a third expect a strong demand in the future. It will be interesting to sort that result by country, as about 15% expect much more offshoring.

A third of the respondents expect no raise in the next year; another third expect a raise of under 3%. The good news is that a third do expect a more typical raise, which in these days of no inflation (see http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/current-inflation-rates/) means more than it usually would. But, as usual, the disconnect between raises and happiness levels shows we're in this more for the fun than the money.

Also interesting is that the numbers for the last raise are about the same - the groups are split in the same thirds, except for the 4% of respondents who were confronted with negative salary growth.

In the "comments" question some replied with tales of woe, stories of many years without raises, of job loss, of health coverage reductions or "cost shifting" the burden to the workers. Though most of us are happy with our career choice, we face ever-more daunting and challenging times.

What's your take? What's the prognosis for engineering and our wages?

Published November 4, 2009