For the second year in a row, inflation outpaced growth in U.S. engineering salaries, according to the IEEE-USA 2023 Salary and Benefits Survey. That’s the first multiyear dip in real income since the 2000s.
In current dollars, the median income of U.S. engineers and other tech professionals who were IEEE members grew 6 percent from US $160,097 in 2021 to $169,000 in 2022, excluding overtime pay, profit sharing, and other supplemental earnings, the just-released report indicated. But with inflation taking off during the survey period, average salaries in real (2022) dollars dropped $3,585, after a drop of $3,723 the previous year. To calculate the median, IEEE-USA considered only respondents who were tech professionals working full-time in their primary area of technical competence, a sample of 3,992 people for the latest survey.
Who is the typical IEEE member? He (and I use that pronoun intentionally) is 50-year-old white male with 25 years of work experience who supervises at least one person. IEEE’s demographics actually hit a milestone this year: It’s the first time since IEEE-USA began collecting this data in 1972 that women made up more than 10 percent of the respondents.
Women nibble at gender gap while ethnic gaps increase
The gender gap in pay, which has long been apparent when IEEE-USA conducts salary surveys, shrunk by $7,100 in 2022, though men still significantly out-earn women by an average of $26,800. Meanwhile, the gap in earnings between non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic African American tech professionals grew by $7,000 to $21,500, while Asian and Pacific Islander respondents came out on top for the second time in the survey’s history.
Consumer electronics is back on top
What fields of engineering are most lucrative? After getting knocked out of the No. 1 spot for 2021 by solid-state and other circuits engineering, consumer electronics came roaring back for 2022, with a median salary of $230,217. Salaries for those working with solid-state circuits slipped slightly, while those for professionals involved in other circuits and devices took a big hit.
Pacific region extends lead
In spite of the reports of tech workers fleeing the San Francisco Bay area, the Pacific region extended its lead over New England for highest median tech salaries. In fact, salaries for New England and for the West South Central region, which includes Texas, slipped slightly.
More engineers are satisfied with their jobs—and salaries
After a big dip in reported job satisfaction in 2021, engineers surveyed by IEEE-USA are feeling better about their jobs—and their salaries—again, but this satisfaction index has yet to climb back to the level it reached in 2019 and 2020, in the heart of the pandemic.
IEEE-USA offers its full report for purchase here.
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Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.