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By Jack Ganssle

EE Times Engineering Survey

Summary: A recent survey illustrates some cultural differences between engineers.

Embedded systems are the ugly stepchild of the computer world, which is puzzling, since 98% of all processors wind up in our creations. Few outfits study our field, so I am always on the lookout for survey data.

Recently EE Times completed a Salary/career survey, which has some interesting data. Here are some highlights.

Engineers in North America by and large love their jobs and their careers. 65% report being satisfied with their career and employer. 17% are looking for a better boss. Only 5% report that they are actively looking for a career change. I would have been fascinated to see which age group is trying to defect from engineering; are newbies unhappy when confronted with the real world or are the oldsters just fed up?

The numbers are similar for Europe, though those engineers are not as content as Americans. Satisfaction in India is half of that here.

In China everyone hates their jobs. Only 26% report being satisfied with their career and employer, and 41% are actively seeing a new career. I'm astonished, as one would think engineering a path out of abject poverty or an escape from manufacturing jobs in Foxconn conditions.

What's hot? Westerners and Indians tag nanotechnology, embedded processors and SoCs. Chinese engineers like 3G wireless, SoCs and RFID.

A quarter to a third of engineers in all regions want to end their career as a senior engineer. Except in India, where the number falls to 7%. Folks in that country want to be an entrepreneur, CTO or president, suggesting a looming hotbed of innovation there. Only about half as many Americans and Europeans want to be in management or start a business.

Fully 70% of Americans, Europeans and Indians will recommend engineering as a career for their kids. Only half as many Chinese will, which correlates well with their general unhappiness with the field.

Bonuses are good even in these times: Americans averaged $8k, Europeans $5.5k, Chinese $2.6k and Indians $5k.

The survey can be purchased via

Published March 30, 2011