Despite the economic slowdown, the the salaries of engineers working in the U.S., China and England rose significantly, while EEs in other parts of the Far East did not fare as well, according to several surveys.
The salaries of American engineers increased an average $6,200, or 7.4 percent, to $89,100 from 2001's $82,900, according to the EE Times 2002 "Salary & Opinion Survey." And when those figures are compared with the salaries of engineers in other parts of the globe, EEs in the U.S. should consider themselves fortunate.
Americans fared better in overall compensation than their counterparts in Japan, for example, where the electronics industry and the general economy have been suffering from a recession for some time.
According to a poll by the magazine Nikkei Electronics in Japan, the mean total compensation for EEs in 2002 was $62,900, $26,200 lower than the mean salary for U.S. engineers. In addition, half of Japanese EEs surveyed reported that their salary decreased in 2002.
Japanese electronics companies have been in austerity mode over the past two years as they tried to keep a lid on costs in order to deal with the industry downturn. Mass layoffs were not unusual as the industry is generally in a hold-down mode.
Most Japanese engineers in the Nikkei Electronics sample (54 percent) said they believe they are paid less than others in their field with the same qualifications and work experience. In Japan, 14 percent of respondents received more than $100,000 in total compensation, 33 percent reported receiving less than $50,000, 34 percent made $50,000 to $70,000 and the rest were in the $70,000-to-$100,000 range.
In the rest of Asia, salaries are significantly lower than in the United States. According to a survey by our sister publication, EE Times Asia, the average annual salary for engineers in all of Asia dropped $200 or 1 percent in 2002 to $13,344.
Figures varied around the region, however. In China, the average salary increased 16 percent to $8,135 from 2001's $7,033. The rise is perhaps a result of the growing demand for engineering skills in China, a country that is one of the few considered to be an emerging market for electronic products as well as a low-cost site for design and manufacturing.
South Korea had one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia until recently, when slow growth in the United States and volatile financial markets worldwide caused it to lose momentum. So this year the annual average salary in South Korea jumped only 5 percent to $21,492 from last year's $20,500.
In South Asia, however which includes Singapore, Malaysia, India, the Philippines and Thailand the situation was different as salaries were down 8 percent to $15,188. The same trend held for Taiwan, where salaries dropped 18 percent to $18,539.
In England, engineers did better this year than their counterparts in most of the world. Their average salary increased 10 percent to $58,150. That's considerably better than English EEs did a year ago when salaries rose just 4.3 percent.
Most English engineers, 61 percent, also said they received raises and only 5 percent saw their salaries decrease from the previous year. Also, total compensation was up as the average rose to $60,490 this year.