2013 Salary Survey:
Engineers Ride the Wave


With global health and energy challenges rising, the demand for engineers continues to grow, and thanks to an improved economy and a declining unemployment rate in the U.S., engineering salaries continue to rise as well. For the third consecutive year, respondents to the 2013 Engineering Income and Salary Survey, conducted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), reported an average increase in salaries over the previous year.

A total of 10,627 engineers from the U.S. responded to the online salary survey between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, providing insights into salaries and the job market. The survey data revealed that the average total annual income, including bonuses, for an engineer in the U.S. was $104,303, nearly 0.8% higher than the $103,497 figure reported in the 2012 survey and almost 4.5% more than the $99,738 figure reported in the 2011 survey. That’s a nearly 5% increase over three years.

According to the 2013 survey, about 75.6% of all respondents indicated a base salary increase in the past year. Out of 10,627 respondents polled in the survey, 1,777 engineers (16.7%) said they changed employers and 1,892 (17.8%) got promotions.

Income by length of experience (full-time salaried only).

Job Experience

The engineers who saw their salaries increase consistently were those with increased engineering experience. The median income of full-time salaried respondents increased regularly from $55,000 for those with under one year of experience to $130,000 for those with 25 years of experience or more.

Also, engineers who continued to pursue higher education received higher compensation. Full-time salaried respondents holding doctoral degrees in engineering have a median income of $118,000. Those with an M.S. in engineering earn a median of $95,000 and those with a B.S. in engineering earn a median income of $85,276. Those holding a doctorate in engineering earn a median 38.0% more than those with a B.S. in engineering. Finally, full-time salaried survey respondents holding an M.B.A. or an M.B.A. and an M.A. or M.S. have higher median incomes than those holding an M.S. in engineering.

Job Location

Like the last two years, engineers in the Pacific Southwest States took home the highest median salary of $110,000. The South Central States ($105,000) were second, followed by the Upper Mountain States ($98,005). The lowest full-time salaried median incomes were found in the Central Plains States ($87,525), the Pacific Northwest States ($90,000), and the Great Lakes States ($91,000).

10 highest incomes by metropolitan area (full-time salaried only).

Per metropolitan area, the highest full-time salaried median income was found in Wichita, KS ($129,500); Albuquerque, NM ($127,000); Ventura, CA (126,000); Bakersfield, CA ($125,386); and Houston, TX ($124,000). The lowest full-time salaried median incomes found were in Fort Lauderdale, FL ($59,125); San Luis Obispo-Atascadero-Paso Robles, CA ($68,250); Des Moines, IA ($68,300); Nashville, TN ($70,081); and Duluth-Superior, MN-WI ($71,100).

Job Discipline

Job discipline played a key role in what salary engineers took home and like last year, respondents working in ocean engineering received the highest full-time salaried median income ($137,763). This group is followed by those in minerals and metals ($133,500), offshore ($132,258), petroleum ($130,000), computer ($124,000), fire protection ($123,000), and nuclear ($119,000). Mechanical engineers reported a median income of $100,000. At the other end of the full-time salaried median income spectrum are those employed in optical, plumbing, corrosion, geotechnical, civil, and agriculture (all between $68,354 and $80,000).

The highest full-time salaried median incomes of the 27 industry groups studied were received by respondents employed in petroleum/natural gas products ($120,000), communication services ($120,000), utilities – pipelines ($119,050), and food, beverage, and tobacco products ($112,349). Those receiving the lowest full-time salaried median incomes are employed by a state government ($76,000), transportation services ($76,900), private practice ($80,000), local government ($88,000), and fabricated metal products ($88,590).

Engineers with a P.E. license reported a median income of $104,132, up more than 4% from 2012. Engineers with no professional registration or certification reported income of $98,000. For engineers who reported an additional license or certification, such as environmental or land surveyor, median income was about $5,000 more than a P.E.

Job Skills

Overall, ASME’s Engineering Income and Salary Survey showed that 2012-2013 was a good year for mechanical engineers. As the world’s population increases, so will the demands on the next generation of engineers to provide solutions for global challenges. Mechanical engineers will be at the forefront of solving these problems.

According to ASME’s President Madiha El Mehelmy Kotb, to show that mechanical engineering is an exciting career, “We need to communicate the things engineers do and the impact they have on everyday life. There is a footprint of mechanical engineering in almost everything we do in life. It’s important to remember that and celebrate that.”

Kotb’s advice to young students considering a career in engineering is: “The future is waiting for them. Billions of jobs, well-respected and stimulating job opportunities are waiting for them to conquer. It takes hard work to succeed in anything that we do and the engineering profession is no exception.”

Download the executive summary of the report and look out for new additions, including a salary calculator, in ASME’s 2014 salary survey.

It takes hard work to succeed in anything that we do and the engineering profession is no exception.

Madiha El Mehelmy Kotb,
President, ASME


Want to comment?

  •  (Energy)
    Has the 2014 Salary Survey results been published? I can't find them anywhere.
    Jul 16, 2015 at 09:29 AM
  • Financial Representative (Engineering & Industrial Management)
    Charles - Great observations and testimonial. You are spot on. Let me tell you that based on my experience you and your wife are the exception to the rule. Love reading about stories like yours!

    I am trying to position myself as a financial resource to engineers and related professionals primarily in the oil & gas industry. It is a pleasure when I can help engineers establish a great foundation like you and your wife have done.
    Jul 10, 2014 at 02:40 PM
  •  (Energy)
    Its funny you ask the question about young engineers and their financial acumen.
    As I read the article, I was think about how bad most young engineers are with finance and how I should develop a course about that for them.
    When I got out of school, I witnessed most young engineers buy a new car, new appliances, stereos and such all on credit. Within a few months they were no better of that when they were in college except now they were working 40 hour weeks just to pay their debt.
    40 years latter, they were still in the same boat.
    My wife and I grew up as kids together and were used to scrapping by just to go see a movie.
    We saved and saved and saved. Within a few years we had saved several years salary. That allowed us to have the capital to start our own engineering company.
    Most engineers live pay check to pay check on twice the money other people have. Once they get pay check to pay check, they lose any flexibility to take advantage of opportunities that come along.
    Jul 10, 2014 at 01:53 PM
  • Financial Representative (Engineering & Industrial Management)
    This is a most interesting report as I have a son who is studying ME. Lately I have been doing some market research about the engineering community. I wonder if engineers are able to manage their financial affairs as well as they manage their engineering careers. For example, I would love to know what the average savings rate is and how steadily net worth is growing over time.
    Jan 23, 2014 at 05:21 PM

Please describe the type of abuse:


Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

January 2014

by Chitra Sethi, Managing Editor, ASME.org