GARDEN CITY, N.Y. -- Last year was a good year for most, but not all electrical engineers. Salaries for EEs rose 3.85% on average in 2015, but gender and racial gaps in salaries widened, according to an annual survey published this week by the IEEE.
EEs earned a median pre-tax income of $138,285 last year including base salary, commissions, bonuses and net self-employment. Strip away overtime pay, profit sharing, and other supplemental earnings, and the 2015 figure drops to $135,000, up from $130,000 in 2014.
The rise was slightly less than the 4.25% gain the IEEE reported in 2014, but significantly better than gains in the prior three years. Electrical engineers historically see annual salary gains that range from 0.5 to 5%.
Systems and control engineers reported the highest 2015 earnings growth of 8.72 percent. Engineers employed in communications continue earning the highest median wages, while energy and power engineers remain at the bottom. Human environment engineers experienced the only net loss with salaries down 5.25 percent from 2014.
Comms engineers continue to bring home top salaries. (Charts: IEEE)
Gender income disparity widened by approximately $5,000, reaching a median income difference of $18,529 between men and women of equal experience. The salary gap among Caucasians and African-American engineers also expanded, with whites earning $20,800 more than African-Americans, an increase of $4,500 since 2014.
Last year’s survey showed gender and racial gaps narrowed from 2013. An IEEE representative said the survey is based on a different set of respondents each year and may not be a statistically accurate representation of overall or historical trends, he said.
“We’d like to see the gaps narrow such that it’s not a topic,” he added.
Salaries varied widely sector. Defense industry engineers accrued the highest primary income, while lowest wages belonged to positions in teaching and training; operations, construction and maintenance; manufacturing and production; and engineering support.
The gap between entry-level and upper-management continues to lengthen. Those in the highest level of responsibility earned up to three times more than entry-level employees. General management positions accrued an extra $38,000 in wages compared to the median salary of all other positions, with technical, marketing and sales management roles also doing well when compared to the whole.
The IEEE surveyed 9,637 members for the report, 7,391 of which are considered full-time employees in their primary area of technical competence and therefore the most relevant group as a point of comparison.
The typical survey participant was a middle-aged male in his late forties, possessing an advanced degree and about 23 years of professional experience. The typical participant reached the fifth or sixth of nine possible levels of professional responsibility and was working in a supervisory role. – Rick Merritt contributed to this report.
Last year marked the second relatively large raise in a row for EEs.