(Editor's note: A full analysis of the 2009 EE Times Global Salary & Opinion Survey is available here.)
Engineers in China and India want more--more money, more societal recognition, higher positions at their employers. And they want to establish their own companies, too, conceivably to compete with their onetime employers.
Some of those wishes are already being granted, according to the 2009 EE Times Global Salary & Opinion Survey. Salaries for engineers in China and India have risen strongly over the past five years, at a faster clip than for their counterparts in Europe, Japan and North America. Almost half of the respondents to our survey in China and about 40 percent of those in India said their annual salaries are now much higher or slightly higher than they were five years ago, vs. the 34 percent and 25 percent, respectively, so reporting in Europe and North America.
Competition for engineering talent in China and India has stiffened over the past decade as hardware and software companies have accelerated the transfer of manufacturing and design operations from Western locations to lower-cost parts of the globe. Although both China and India are turning out new engineers by the thousands each year, demand for skilled and experienced engineers is so strong that many positions are going unfilled, forcing companies to raid their competitors for talent. Often, companies offer attractive incentives to secure experienced engineers, only to lose them to rivals after a couple of years.
Although high-tech employers in China and India have indeed been raising compensation for local employees, many engineers in the two countries still earn considerably less than their counterparts elsewhere, and that salary gulf is driving a wedge between employers and employees.
While most of the engineers polled by EE Times seem satisfied with their career choice, many in China and India believe they can do better and do not consider their current compensation packages adequate or equitable with their foreign colleagues' compensation. A disproportionate number of respondents in China (56 percent) and India (61 percent) believe they earn "less than others in the field with the same qualifications and work experience." By comparison, only 44 percent and 34 percent, respectively, of European and North American respondents think they earn less than similarly qualified counterparts.
The result of this real or perceived inequality is that many Chinese and Indian engineers are rethinking their choice of engineering as a career.