Engineering Salary Trends for 2012

December 8th, 2011

When President Obama recently indicated as part of his American Jobs Act speech  that we need to push for more engineers to help recover the US industrial infrastructure, many technical and engineering schools around the nation began positing themselves for the onslaught of new engineering students. Engineering is one of the top paying careers with the average earnings in the US hovering around $91,628, according to most recent figures from, a popular industry salary watchdog.

Traditionally, the US is somewhat behind other developed nations in the number of engineers we produce annually, with approximately 70,000 US engineers vs. 400,000 or more coming from China and India alone. According to Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel and an active member of President Obama’s “Council on Jobs and Competitiveness”, who recently stated, “A chronic shortage of engineering students threatens America’s role as the world’s leading innovator and continues to impede our nation’s fragile economic recovery.”

It’s obvious that engineering jobs will continue to be in demand and will be some of the top paying jobs in the USA going into 2012. Here is a review of what’s looking to be some trends in engineering salaries and jobs for the coming year.

A recent CNN report on the “Best Jobs in America 2011”, listed engineering jobs in two of the top ten spots, with salaries of $110-113K and a 24-30% expected job growth in the next ten years. The most popular engineering jobs fall under the civil engineering and environmental engineering categories, not surprising as these are the areas related to the rebuilding of America’s infrastructure. There are, however, debates about the pay rates of engineers vs. public figures like celebrities and politicians who are bringing in hundreds of thousands more annually for very little real skills as evidenced by a recent article on

The Department of Labor Statistics indicates that the top paying engineering jobs exist in Aerospace, Computer Hardware, Nuclear and Petroleum, with earnings of between $92,500 to $108,000 on average annually. The highest paid engineers are earning nearly $150,000 per year in the energy sector, which is not surprising given the urgent need for more energy resources and development in the USA. Additionally, IT engineers who hold advanced certifications are likely to earn the most, according to a recent industry survey of over 700 professionals in this field.

For new graduates of top engineering programs, such as those found at prestigious universities such as Stanford, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and UC-Berkeley, the odds of finding a well-paying job in any area of engineering are very good. Stanford’s Career Development Department Director, Lance Choy, was quoted in a recent post that engineering student starting salaries for 2009 grads were up to $120,000 per year, with over a 70% placement rate within 4 months of searching. “Choy cited market demand and the recruiting process itself as the main determinants of job-search success.”

Look for great opportunities as we head into 2012 in terms of opportunities in engineering roles across all industries. To increase your odds of landing a high paying engineering job, consider getting signed on with a quality engineering placement agency like Stark Talent today!