2006 Salary Survey Results Show Pay Is Up

Salary increases and a healthy optimism among machine control professionals are the highlights of our 2006 Salary and State-of-Mind Survey. Check out all the data and our series of interviews here.

By Rick Pedraza

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Results from our "2006 Salary and State-of-Mind Survey" show annual base salaries and overall wage compensation for machine control professionals have escalated again after holding relatively steady the past few years. After a modest climb in 2005 that saw salaries rise 2.5% to a new high, the reported average earnings of controls professionals in the machine builder industry in 2006 is $76,876, a 5.5% rise over the previous year and the highest average earnings reported in the six years of our survey. 

The survey also shows that, although hands-on-experience is waning, concerns about job security are declining and the overall level of job satisfaction is improving. In fact, results show the general state of mind of industry professionals to be at a level not reached since the start of the new millennium.

According to the survey, average earnings for responding machine control engineers in all sectors of the industry are more than 15% higher today than they were before the economic slowdown that occurred in the manufacturing sector after 9/11. These findings come on the heels of employment figures released last quarter by the U.S. Department of Labor that showed unemployment in the manufacturing sectors to be at 4.6%, the lowest level in five years.

Salaries on the Rise% Change from 2005

Most of our respondents (66%) report being satisfied with the direction in which the industry is going, as well, and despite ongoing concerns about manufacturing and engineering services moving offshore, most respondents (54%) report feeling secure with their jobs and their companies. More than half received bonuses last year, contributing to the rise in pay.

State of Mind

Survey Highlights
Consistent salary increases during the past two years and a healthy optimism about where the future of manufacturing is headed are the high points of Control Design’s 2006 Salary and State-of-Mind Survey. An assessment of this year’s results shows the industry to be in a growth period again, with earnings for machine control engineers reaching new levels, but varying by specialty, age, experience and occupation.

Experience and education seem to count the most when it comes to overall earnings. The largest reported wage gains were experienced by the 55 and older group (8.5%), bringing the average annual salary for that group to $85,451. Those between the ages of 46-55 reported the next largest gains (4.5%) to nearly $80,000 a year. If you’ve been around the industry for more than 10 years, your average salary is up 3.5% this year to nearly $74,000.  Those entering the field, however, reported a decline in annual compensation (more than 10%), as did engineers with less than 10 years experience.

Salary by Age Group

For the second straight year, the average age of the control design engineer has climbed in the 46-55 year-old bracket (33.4%) In fact, there now are as many machine control professionals in the 55-and-older group (25.1%) than in the 36-45 year-old age group. Those between the ages of 18 and 35 comprise just 13.6%.

OutsourcingThe State of the Industry
Nearly half (48.2%) of all respondents to our survey reported their companies are outsourcing a portion of their work. However, the results also show no increase in the amount that is being outsourced from last year to this year. This could be a sign that outsourcing of manufacturing throughout the machine control industry is holding relatively stable, and our survey’s results from the past six years support this.

Still, there are worries among many respondents that outsourcing is responsible for a reduction in career opportunities. However, if you’re only catching the bad news, then you’re missing some of the good. The fact is that the industry can’t find enough machine control systems designers and integrators to hire who are experienced with the latest automation trends and technologies, such as lasers, micro-machining and nanotechnology used in machine building. 

With the job market and economy on the rise again, many companies are hiring, and offering raises and promotions. More than 46% of respondents said their companies hired this year, up slightly from last year’s total. Layoffs were down, too, by nearly 25% from 2005, while hiring freezes also declined.

Experience Gets the Money
The largest increases in earnings over last year were reported by controls engineers who have worked in the industry more than 20 years. This growing sector represents 33% of the total respondents to the survey.

Salary by Years in Industry

Nearly 90% of respondents report having some college education, and nearly 65% have obtained at the least a four-year college degree. 

Salary by Education LevelSalary by Degree Type

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