The parable of engineering low pay

Engineering graduates dominate the highest ten listing of highest-paid diploma holders. However that’s not the entire story.

I attempt to preserve a level of scepticism every time I’m advised engineering graduates are excessive earners. Firstly as a result of so many engineers will inform you that they’re underpaid. And secondly as a result of the figures used to assert salaries are excessive are normally damaged down by the topic studied at college not the precise job being achieved.

Figures launched this week by the Instances Good College Information fall into this class. They present that six of the highest ten highest incomes topics based mostly on beginning salaries are engineering disciplines.

Chemical engineering graduates incomes on common greater than anybody besides dentists, with a imply beginning wage of £29,582. This was adopted by common engineering, mechanical, aeronautical and manufacturing, electrical and digital, with civil coming backside of the pile (however nonetheless higher off than virtually all non-engineering topics).

engineering low pay

Nevertheless, these figures undergo the identical limitations as many who have come earlier than them. Merely put, engineering graduates could also be among the many highest earners however that doesn’t imply engineers essentially are.

We all know that solely round 70 per cent of those that examine engineering go on to work for an organization whose main exercise is engineering (in accordance with the Increased Training Statistics Authority). That would imply that many graduates go into greater incomes sectors but in addition that others work for engineering companies in non-engineering roles similar to enterprise, administration and even gross sales. And imply figures like these within the Instances information might be skewed by a small variety of very excessive earners.

However, additionally launched this week was one other figures that counter this argument. The annual What do graduates do? report from the Increased Training Careers Service Unit (HESCU) discovered that common salaries for engineering graduates are usually above these for different topics as a result of of the bigger proportion of graduates working in full-time engineering roles.

Amongst mechanical engineering graduates, for instance, 64.2 per cent surveyed have been working as engineering professionals (not simply in engineering corporations) and solely 22.9 per cent have been in different skilled roles, with simply 8.4 per cent in enterprise, finance or administration in contrast with 13.2 per cent for all graduates.

engineering low pay 2014
Employment locations for mechanical engineering graduates

This follows what we all know in regards to the proportion of engineering graduates who really swallow the blue capsule and enter the monetary companies business: it’s simply 2-3 per cent – half the graduate common.

There are after all those that will view the typical beginning wage of a mechanical engineering graduate of £26,076 as low, or at the least not comparatively excessive. In spite of everything, it’s about the identical because the median wage for the complete workforce – and much lower than £40,000-plus provided to some graduates in finance.

However a part of the issue right here is that our view {of professional} salaries is massively skewed by the very small variety of individuals (lower than 1 per cent of earners) in finance and administration who obtain greater than £100,000 a yr, and even the 5 per cent who earn greater than £50,000 a yr (which incorporates many engineers).

Massive corporations within the Metropolis could sometimes provide a small variety of graduates way more than £26,000, however the common graduate beginning wage in accordance with HESCU is simply £18,615-£22,785 – considerably lower than the typical obtained by those that examine engineering.

And whereas it’s generally believed that the opposite professions sometimes pay way more handsomely than engineering on the whole, a take a look at the figures means that for most people this isn’t true.

In line with the Workplace for Nationwide Statistics’ Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, the median wage of an engineer is £38,428 whereas for solicitors it’s £38,271 and for chartered accountants it’s £34,745. Even architects, who sometimes prepare for twice so long as engineers and doubtless obtain twice as a lot status, obtain a median wage of simply £35,000.

What none of this solutions, after all, is the query of whether or not the salaries obtained by engineers mirror their degree of coaching, the demand for his or her experience and the social worth of their work. Engineers and solicitors could earn the identical on common, however you don’t hear common complaints that there’s a scarcity of legal professionals.

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