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Topic Title: Salary Depression/Suppression for MIEE since 1997
Topic Summary: Why choose Engineering as a career in 2010?
Created On: 28 April 2010 02:56 PM
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 28 April 2010 02:56 PM
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macdavies

Posts: 9
Joined: 06 November 2001

It is now late April 2010 and I am very dismayed to see that salaries for Chartered Electrical Engineers have not increased much in over 13 years. (See IEE Salary Survey for 1997 published in1998 giving median (age independent) earnings of around £36,250 (+ or - £250) for all Fellows and Members of the IEE in both Public and Private Sector employment.)

Evidence of the salary depression/suppression can be found from many sources but as an example - A recent advert (Vol 5 Iss 1, 23 Jan 2010 of the IET Magazine) for Senior Airfield Electrical Engineers to work for the MOD at Sutton Coldfield called for those with recently awarded C.Eng or I.Eng status was offering salaries of £33,601 to £35,648. Astonishingly, this '2010' salary level compares poorly with the £36,500 median given in the IEE 1998 survey for managers working at responsibility level 'D'.

The same 1998 IEE salary survey also clearly indicated that median earnings for those in management positions (at responibility Level 'E') were receiving median earnings of £47k8 (public sector) and £46k (private sector) - goodness - it is as though time has stood still for the last 13 years for all those who chose this profession.

I am currently seeking employment as a contractor and have been offered hourly rates of typically £30 to £33 per hour for RF design posts (yes I can still design circuits at 60+) in Herts - this is very poor as I can remember colleagues earning £45 an hour in similar roles as long ago as 1994!

What has gone wrong with our profession and what has our Institute done to monitor this lamentable situation and what is it planning to do about it in future?

I am now painfully close to retirement age (65) and I find myself looking forward to a submedian occupational pension - not even comparable to what a non-graduate, non-technical administrator or office manager might expect - what reward is this for 40 years of dedicated and fruitful design, development and project management as a so called 'professional engineer'?

Maybe I should have demanded to be paid commission of 0.25% on sales for every telecomms product that I designed that ended up working faultlessly for over 20 years in our UK PSTN - or maybe I should have left the private sector and joined the public sector??

All comments and useful suggestions to give some hope to future generations of Engineers gratefully received.

-------------------------
electron_thunder
 28 April 2010 06:19 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

I can understand your point but the market will always set the rate for engineers, for the most part, and no one can know how it will be over the next 50 years. A career is not just about money it is also about enjoying and/or loving what we do and thus I would rather have decent terms and conditions doing the job I love rather than earn a few bob more doing something just for the money.

Your pension may have been devalued somewhat over the last few years but that is not down to engineering because as we know it is down to greedy financial people who came up with blue sky schemes to buy, sell and generally play around with our monies, i.e., loans, mortgages, etc. How governments could have allowed some of these schemes whereby financial institutions could bundle up lots of people's mortgages and then allow others to bet against defaults and such is beyond me. And to cap it all the very same governments then gave £billions to bail these institutions out on which they made even more money.

Regards.
 28 April 2010 08:59 PM
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mbirdi

Posts: 1907
Joined: 13 June 2005

Originally posted by: macdavies
A recent advert (Vol 5 Iss 1, 23 Jan 2010 of the IET Magazine) for Senior Airfield Electrical Engineers to work for the MOD at Sutton Coldfield called for those with recently awarded C.Eng or I.Eng status was offering salaries of £33,601 to £35,648. Astonishingly, this '2010' salary level compares poorly with the £36,500 median given in the IEE 1998 survey for managers working at responsibility level 'D'.

Recently qualified CEngs and IEngs come with substantial levels of experience and responsibility. They're not like recently qualified Doctors still wet behind the ears. So to be paid £35K is a disgrace.

My theory is that industry don't much care for registration and don't distinguish between engineers with CEng/IEng qualifications and those without. It also shows all those management, business & finance and law subjects engineers have to study nowadays are a complete waste of time as engineers haven't benefited from them in the same way as graduates with Business, Management, Economics and Law degrees have.

There are special qualities that a manager must have to succeed in life and current engineering degree courses don't cover these. It's something you either have it or you don't.

Should the new crop of Chartered Engineers with MEng qualifications show no signs of improvement in pay awards over the coming years, we can resoundly call the whole exercise a complete failure on the part of the IET and EC.

But whilst we're contemplating the merits of the raised standards for CEng and IEng, let us remember to continue paying our hard earned money in subscription fees. We don't want to put an end to the luscious 5 star life style enjoyed by the bigwigs at the IET and EC do we now? After all we too are hoping for the day when we can be called upon to take our seats on the BoT at the Grand Savoy Palace and enjoy the fruits of ours (and everyone elses) labour.

Edited: 28 April 2010 at 09:17 PM by mbirdi
 29 April 2010 12:04 AM
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macdavies

Posts: 9
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Thanks for your sympathetic response to my rather wordy plea Messrs <westonpa> and <mbirdi> but is it reasonable for 'the market to set the rate' for Engineers in the private sector whilst those Chartered Engineers employed as managers at responsibility level 'E' in the public sector e.g. in local or central government have quite clearly enjoyed steady RPI linked growth in their salaries since 1997 of typically 3% per annum i.e. a 47% uplift over 13 years - whereas those in the private sector have apparently enjoyed near zero growth!

The impact of this on our occupational pensions is understandably astonishing. Those retiring on final salary based pensions - which are still the norm in the public sector, may expect to see a public sector C.Eng retiring after 40 years of service on say 2/3 of 47k8 x 1.47 = £46,844 p.a whereas their private sector counterparts would be lucky to receive just 2/3 of £46k = £30,667 per annum - if their final salary scheme is not already closed and far less if their pension pot is now transferred into a Defined Contribution scheme!

The reader may think this is still not a bad situation but when you consider that the cost of living is rising all the time and that as an example of public sector excess - my Council Tax has increased by an average of 1.4% per annum ABOVE the published RPI for the past 26 years since I moved into my modest Family Home in 1983 and that I now pay more Council Tax than I pay in income tax and that all my occupational pensions have been 'frozen' with no prospect of any annual increases whilst 'under assessment' by the 'so called' Pension Protection Fund - then the future looks rather bleak - unless I can secure some paid work as a professional engineer again.

If readers do not believe that this public - private sector divide has been building steadily over the years then you have only to observe that back in 1979/1980, a 30 year old C.Eng in private industry was typically earning about the same as an MP and where are we now - MPs on £67k and the C.Eng (cited in my headline example above) on £34k. QED..

As it happens I am not bitter about my lot. I have enjoyed a very satisfying career working for six different employers in Radio, Telecommunications, Data Comms, Regulation, and latterly in a Professional Mathematics Institute and then in an Optical Transmission Systems 'start-up company' since graduating back in 1970 and when I was awarded my C.Eng back in 1979, I thought I had really made it with my MPs level of salary and a thriving young Family.

Luckily our two sons have both benefitted from excellent state educations and they are now both successful graduate professionals working in Electronics and Quantity Surveying, married and thriving.

It just seems that many of us in the private sector have been victims of an enormous confidence trick and we now find ourselves unable to keep up with the public sector Joneses!

-------------------------
electron_thunder

Edited: 29 April 2010 at 01:22 AM by macdavies
 29 April 2010 10:12 AM
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rjc3656

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Joined: 10 February 2009

I work as an electronics engineer, and looking at other professions we do seem to have a raw deal.
I have not quite yet acheived my Ceng so I cant comment on that but looking around the ceiling of pay for a permanent electronics engineer seems to be about £35K maybe more for a godlike being with very specfic skills.
The only othe profesion I know a great deal about is teaching, in that my wife is a teacher. She works very hard and long hours and earns around 33K. The interesting thing about her job is that when she started she was on 20K and they get guaranteed pay scale increases every year up to the 30K mark. Now in my job to get to level I am now I have had to move jobs twice and there are certainly no guaranteed pay scales, you may get 1-3% a year if you a re luck but I certainly have been through the past couple of years with 0% pay rises. I imagine this is the same with most public sector positions so how can the country afford these pay scale rises?
Its my view that to earn real money in the private sector you have to have a job where money actually changes hands, ie banking, insurance, sales. Some friends who I went to uni with have fallen into these roles and earn an awful lot of money £40K+ for what I would class as fairly mundane roles using "business skills" and producing fancy powerpoints in these industries. These are just rank and file employees so you can imagine what their line managers are taking home!

Having said that , I enjoy my work and enjoy the interesting techncial challenge, its what keeps me going.
 29 April 2010 12:12 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

The real issue is not at the lower or middle levels but at the upper levels whereby top managers, financial people, business leaders, council leaders, etc., have been awarding themselves extremely good wages and terms and conditions and yet at the same time avoid paying their fair dues in taxes which go to fund many things in the UK. And to justify some of the large wage increases on the basis of we 'need to get the best people' is just plain pathetic. What does that mean, everyone else on a lower wage is somehow not the best person? Also we had the likes of Sir Fred Goodwin on an extremely good wage, like so many other top bankers, and yet they were proven not to be the 'best people'.

I think we all have a reasonable understanding of what is fair and what is not fair and there are a lot of people at the top of all organisations who have lost the plot and become arrogant and greedy beyond belief. That said there are equally some very good people so I do not want to tarnish all with the same brush.

Regards.
 10 June 2010 11:00 AM
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drumbold

Posts: 102
Joined: 08 May 2002

Interesting Topic

I have often had this discussion with my Father. He is a retired GP. It took him around 9 years from the end of his A-Levels to train and qualify as a GP. It took me around 9 years from the end of my A-Levels to train (Master Degree, Work Experience aspect and responsible work aspect) to obtain (not sure qualify is the right word) my Chartership. Should we both be paid the same?

I'm more than happy that he was paid more than me, due to the responsibility that he held compared to me. But to me the bigger issue is that as his career went on, ,he was still doing what he a) trained for and b) enjoyed doing. That is namely looking after people, treating illness etc. If I want my salary to increase in the same way, I have to give up doing what I a) trained for and b) enjoy, by taking up a more managerial role within the company.

That said I'm happy with what I am earning, in fact I am earning more than I ever thought I would do growing up. Although that may be due to the fact I grew up in a small village in the countryside, so most jobs around were very low paid and assumed I'd end up doing something equally as low paid.

I think though that in general (and even in engineering companies) the engineer isn't valued. And from most of what I have seen there is almost zero point in being Chartered in the UK. In fact I would go one step further from my experience and say for the last 5 is years whilst I have been Chartered I would have been better off (financially) not being Chartered as the company doesn't pay for the membership fees. That said having achieved it I am loathed to stop paying for it on the off chance that it helps me in the future, after all it looks good on the CV. I expect that many others are in the same boat.

Originally posted by: westonpa

A career is not just about money it is also about enjoying and/or loving what we do and thus I would rather have decent terms and conditions doing the job I love rather than earn a few bob more doing something just for the money.


I agree and would say that if you are one of the very few that really and truly love your job, and the terms and conditions allow you to have the lifestyle you want than fantastic. I would love to truly enjoy my job, terms and conditions are great (like I have said before earning more than I ever though) but at the point when you are not enjoying it then you wonder if doing something else you were not interested in, but paid more actually starts to make sense. Lets face it most of us go to work to earn money to live, we don't live just to go to work - well no-one I know does anyway..

How many have left engineering to follow other careers and why?

Maybe the question we should be asking is 'Are we paid enough such that we stay doing what we are doing, rather than go off and leave engineering?'
 10 June 2010 08:35 PM
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mbirdi

Posts: 1907
Joined: 13 June 2005

Originally posted by: macdavies
Those retiring on final salary based pensions - which are still the norm in the public sector, may expect to see a public sector C.Eng retiring after 40 years of service on say 2/3 of 47k8 x 1.47 = £46,844 p.a whereas their private sector counterparts would be lucky to receive just 2/3 of £46k = £30,667 per annum - if their final salary scheme is not already closed and far less if their pension pot is now transferred into a Defined Contribution scheme!

Within Universities (USS) pension scheme it would be 1/2 of 47K8 = £23,900 plus large lump sum or 2/3 of 47k8= £31867 plus a large lump sum if they made additional voluntary contributions (AVC). I don't know if this applies to private sector, but in the public sector if times were hard and cuts needed to be bade, then early retirement is generally offered to those who wish to take it voluntarily, provided they are close to retirement and company can afford it to offset the cuts.

Use the calculator to work out retirement with 40 years service:
http://www.uss.co.uk/SchemeGui...s/Pages/Pensions.aspx

Finally, if CEngs and IEngs are earning around £34K or even £55K, they shouldn't be on the CEng or IEng register in the first place. I don't see how they can justify being able to: understand the commercial aspects of business and combine business with technology to deliver innovation and yet can't manage their own career to achieve top pay award. I think the ECUK-Spec is a complete load of Bolx. Only those on £100k plus should be on the register of engineers. Even that's not good enough compared to other sector workers.

Edited: 10 June 2010 at 10:26 PM by mbirdi
 11 June 2010 10:33 AM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: mbirdi
Finally, if CEngs and IEngs are earning around £34K or even £55K, they shouldn't be on the CEng or IEng register in the first place. I don't see how they can justify being able to: understand the commercial aspects of business and combine business with technology to deliver innovation and yet can't manage their own career to achieve top pay award. I think the ECUK-Spec is a complete load of Bolx. Only those on £100k plus should be on the register of engineers. Even that's not good enough compared to other sector workers.

Managing our own career is about achieving the career we want. For some this may be a high salary, for others it may be a job they love and for others it may be something else or a mixture of things. Thus someone could be doing a job and not be earning £34k and yet still be considered to have managed their career very well indeed. There are many people who 'understand the commercial aspects of business and combine business with technology to deliver innovation' who do not earn the salaries quoted and thus in that respect the argument is flawed. I agree that the spec is 'bolx'.

There are plenty of good salaries and jobs out there for engineers but equally there are plenty of engineers after them.

Regards.
 11 June 2010 11:04 AM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
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Originally posted by: drumbold
I would love to truly enjoy my job, terms and conditions are great (like I have said before earning more than I ever though) but at the point when you are not enjoying it then you wonder if doing something else you were not interested in, but paid more actually starts to make sense.

I appreciate that due to commitments we sometimes have to stay in a job that we may no longer want for a while longer than we want. However most people seek to trade up in terms of salary regardless of whether they think they will love the job or not....thus they look salary 1st and job 2nd. Each to their own choices and I can respect this. I have traded down 3 times because I thought I would like the job more and thus each time I was able to leave my current job just as it started to go stale and then move to something better. Because of this trading down I had to live within my means of course. However to a certain extent I have been lucky because those jobs could have equally turned out to be less enjoyable....it was only a guesstimate that I was able to make because I could of course not be 100% sure how things would turn out.
Lets face it most of us go to work to earn money to live, we don't live just to go to work - well no-one I know does anyway..

Can you please explain how the millions on benefit who do not work are able to live?
How many have left engineering to follow other careers and why?

However, many more have come into engineering.
Maybe the question we should be asking is 'Are we paid enough such that we stay doing what we are doing, rather than go off and leave engineering?'

Which will provide another opportunity for someone to come into engineering which is a good thing.

You made some good point and I enjoyed thinking about them.

Regards.
 15 June 2010 12:37 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: mbirdi

Originally posted by: macdavies

Those retiring on final salary based pensions - which are still the norm in the public sector, may expect to see a public sector C.Eng retiring after 40 years of service on say 2/3 of 47k8 x 1.47 = £46,844 p.a whereas their private sector counterparts would be lucky to receive just 2/3 of £46k = £30,667 per annum - if their final salary scheme is not already closed and far less if their pension pot is now transferred into a Defined Contribution scheme!


Within Universities (USS) pension scheme it would be 1/2 of 47K8 = £23,900 plus large lump sum or 2/3 of 47k8= £31867 plus a large lump sum if they made additional voluntary contributions (AVC). I don't know if this applies to private sector, but in the public sector if times were hard and cuts needed to be bade, then early retirement is generally offered to those who wish to take it voluntarily, provided they are close to retirement and company can afford it to offset the cuts.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/politics/10305817.stm

Regards.
 15 June 2010 01:09 PM
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mbirdi

Posts: 1907
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The Universities USS pensions are considering moving away from final salary scheme to average salary over the course of a career. This would result in lower pension payouts.
 15 June 2010 01:26 PM
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westonpa

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I see bigger issues ahead for universities than just their pensions because they have spent the last 10 years expanding like there was no tomorrow and thus in an unsustainable way.

Regards.
 03 November 2010 07:13 AM
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dvaidr

Posts: 519
Joined: 08 June 2003

Originally posted by: westonpa

I see bigger issues ahead for universities than just their pensions because they have spent the last 10 years expanding like there was no tomorrow and thus in an unsustainable way.



Regards.



Exactly right. Growth should be targeted and controlled. Chaos theory tells us that and it stands to reason anyway. Many educated people in the business world think accelerated growth is fantastic. Doh!
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