Engineers are nearly four times less likely than the average American to be completely satisfied with their jobs, according to an informal EE Life poll you’ve filled out in recent days.
The anonymous online poll received 1,035 responses from March 23-28. Just 13 percent of you responded that you were “completely content” in your job. A Gallup poll conducted last summer found that 48 percent of Americans were completely satisfied with their jobs, with much higher satisfaction rates for particular aspects of their jobs, such as safety and coworker relations.
At the other end of the response spectrum, 9 percent of you are so unhappy with your jobs you’re contemplating a career switch. The bell curve in the middle shows that 47 percent of respondents “mostly” are content with their career and 31 percent are “not really” content but consider it “a living.”
The results, sought as part of the post "Are you happy?" can be taken in a more positive light: 60 percent of engineers are somewhat or very content with their jobs. But the 40 percent who aren’t is disconcerting in a profession that’s undeniably vital to virtually any culture or economy.
A vast majority of you (90 percent) are employed fulltime; 6 percent are consulting and 4 percent are unemployed, under half the national average but again perhaps skewed by the universe of respondents.
This is an unscientific poll designed to get a top-line notion of engineers’ feelings about work; defining “happiness” is subjective. The poll was done only online, required no names or email addresses, and, as reader Rich Krajewski points out in the comments of the earlier post, it may not include unemployed engineers who are busy trying to find work and don’t have time to read EE Times and take polls. In addition, the comparison to Gallup is intended in general sense, since the methodology and phrased questions are different (Gallup's for instance counted responses from only fully employed or part-time employed workers and asks about job "satisfaction").
But consider it a data point in our continuing conversation about the nature of engineering work:
Why do engineers feel unappreciated?
Why do revere entertainers and sports stars and not engineers? And so on.
You’ve inked in the color on this painting in comments in that earlier post, which itself was based on the post “Why can’t you get hired?”
“I would advise anyone entering college to definitely NOT study to become an Electrical or Computer Engineer… I sacrificed too much of my personal life for my profession and I now very much regret it. You lose valuable experiences with your family and your employer doesn't appreciate any sacrifice you make for your job or the company.”
"The golden age of engineering is over. Engineers once were content to take home smaller saleries than other professionals because the work was interesting and you felt you were appreciated. Not any more. Engineers are expected to put in long hours and get no recognition for what they design. Reporters, writers, actors, and other artists get recognition for their work. With engineers, you can't even place your name on a paper you wrote any more!"
Still others rose to the defense of the profession and the career choice. Wrote Joshxdr:
“To say that electrical engineering is a dead field is just plain wrong. If you get a charge out of computers, radios, guitar amps, teeny tiny accelerometers, etc. then EE is the field for you.”
Readers gave trenchant advise to the new generation as well:
Be open to change, learn a breadth of engineering skills,
Be prepared for and don’t fear layoffs—you’ll experience at least four of them in your career.
Start your own company
Understand that good engineers will always be in demand
Here are the answers to the question: "Are you happy in your engineering work?"
As a roofing contractor, I am really happy with my work. I love and enjoy doing the construction of roofs over buildings, homes and others.I think happiness is a choice and it comes from within. I am really satisfied with my employer and just in case you need to have a new roof, here's something to read:
I too have been at it for 30+ years.
The past was exciting. I started at the dawn of the microprocessor revolution. I knew my career would involve putting these smart little devices into just about everything. And I knew it would change the world.
But as good as the past was, the present and future WILL BE even more exciting. The pace of technical change is getting faster.
When I look back at the pre-Internet, pre-cell phone, pre-WiFi, pre-digital TV, pre-Information Age world it seems quaint.
I do agree that the best engineers are those with a passion. I know I always had that curiosity and passion. I had a father that encouraged me to know everything and to be able to make or build or fix anything.
Unfortunately, these days I am unemployed. The company I worked for refused to listen to the engineers that tried to bring change that would make the 90 year old company relevant. The management that was non-technical just did not have the vision. Now I find that I canít even get interviews for jobs in my profession, partly because of where I live, but probably because I am over 50.
So true. You are not going to tell the boss you're happy and risk getting more work piled on and you are not going to tell the boss you are unhappy or he will figure you cannot do your job and replace you. That leaves this blog to vent else you may cause the boss to "think".
Sadly this is the truth. It is a very globalised profession and supply is higher than demand. Engineers should take their destiny into their own hands, get trained in business management and set up their own businesses.
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