on July 7th, 2015

I noticed this morning an announcement from some senior government bureaucrat saying that (young) engineers should be paid more - the same as merchant bankers receive, she reckoned. I agree.

Dear Colleagues,

I noticed this morning an announcement from some senior government bureaucrat saying that (young) engineers should be paid more - the same as merchant bankers receive, she reckoned. I agree. In addition, governments throughout the world have been making agonising cries about the shortage of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professionals and the need for more people working in these areas (and presumably the need to pay them more).

You are Surely Underpaid
Without a shadow of doubt, whether you are an engineer, technologist or technician, you are probably convinced you are underpaid. And so you should feel this way. 

As engineering professionals, we do work in a very challenging technical environment requiring ferociously good quantitative (and project management) skills; and thus deserve more money. But as you know – that is not how the world works. ‘The market’ ultimately determines what you earn and that is what matters.

Apart from witnessing the long gone boom in Western Australia, where engineering salaries were excellent and especially anyone (yes, anyone) working in engineering merely had to work up on site to start with a minimum of $200,000 to $250,000 (although sometimes working on these sites is a prison sentence, so one deserves huge compensation).

Announcements from governments and head of engineering boards makes not one iota of difference to one’s wages. The market determines what you will earn and doesn’t care about pronouncements from government or engineering organisations.

How to Earn More 
In my opinion as an engineering professional, there are a few sure-fire ways to earn more (apart from running a crack lab):

  • Work in a horrendous or dangerous part of the world (e.g. Iraq or in Siberia)
  • Ensure you have a unique skill in a niche area (e.g. subsea shutdown valves)
  • Combine your engineering skills with management or law (e.g. patent attorney)

However, ultimately the best way, is to combine your engineering talents with some entrepreneurial skill. You only need to see these remarkable companies set up by engineers (many of these companies are not in engineering) to see singular rewards accruing to an engineer. Companies, I know about, range from online skills portals, biomedical implants, consultancy in very niche areas such as subsea, design of nifty consumer appliances (Dyson). And so on. Obviously, for every success story there are 99 other massive failures. And there is often a lot of heart break associated with forming these companies.

Life and business is never easy is it?

So when are you going to set up your own entrepreneurial venture?

An interesting comment from Clint Jr. Murchison on money:

Money is like manure. If you spread it around it does a lot of good. But if you pile it up in one place it stinks like hell.

Yours in engineering learning,

Steve 

Mackay’s Musings – 7th July’15 #572
125, 273 readers – www.eit.edu.au/cms/news/blog-steve-mackay


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