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Civil engineering salaries higher in 2008

According to a new survey that outlines compensation ranges and trends in the engineering industry, the median income for civil engineers is $78,000 a year, which represents an increase from $77,000 in 2007. The median income for all fields of engineering combined is $85,000, a 7.6-percent increase from 2007. The survey, which was conducted from April 1, 2007 to March 31, 2008, yielded nearly 15,000 responses from engineers across the country in a variety of fields and at all levels of practice.

"In light of these new survey results, it is obvious that the job market for civil engineers remains strong," said David G. Mongan, P.E., F.ASCE, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). "However, in order to maintain a pipeline of qualified civil engineers who can meet our nation’s ever-increasing demand for infrastructure service, salaries are going to have to become more competitive with other engineering and science-related fields."

Those survey respondents who are licensed professional engineers earned higher than average salaries, with a median of $92,100, and those with a professional engineers license and a second professional registration earned the highest salaries, with a median income of $106,675. Those engineers without professional licensing or certification earn significantly less, with a median annual income of $86,000.

The survey found that median income consistently increases with the increase in engineering experience. The median income for engineers with less than one year of experience is $53,000, whereas the median income for an engineer with more than 25 years of experience is $116,279—which represents a spread of 119 percent. Similarly, the median income increases with each additional level of education acquired. Survey participants holding a doctoral degree in engineering have a median income of $104,500, whereas those with only a bachelor’s degree in engineering have median income of $78,200. However, those holding a master’s degree in business administration (MBA), or an MBA in combination with another master’s-level degree, earn more than those who solely hold a master’s degree in engineering.

Overall, the median income for female engineers is $69,000. While the survey results show that among female engineers with more the 25 years of experience the median income is significantly lower than that of male engineers with similar experience—$106,534 and $117,000, respectively—the median incomes for female and male engineers with only four years of experience—$60,000 and $60,500, respectively—are much closer.

An engineer’s job function or the industry in which he or she works also has a significant impact on compensation. Those working in executive, administrative, and legal positions earn the highest median income ($129,000), while those working in drafting or estimation earn the lowest median income ($60,160). In the middle of the range are those in the areas of training/technical writing, production/quality management/maintenance, and project management/engineering/operations, with median incomes from $84,750 to $93,500.

Regionally, engineers in California, Hawaii, and Nevada are among the highest compensated, earning a median income of $94,900, while engineers in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho are among the lowest compensated, earning a median income of $73,000. The lowest median income by metropolitan area was found in Missoula, Mont. ($56,000), and the highest was found in Syracuse, N.Y. ($121,950). Rounding out the 10 top highest incomes by metropolitan area were: Brazoria, Texas, $113,440; Houston, $108,500; San Jose, Calif., $105,000; Santa Fe, N.M., $105,000; Jersey City, N.J., $104,750; Lowell, Mass./N.H., $103,500; Oakland, Calif., $103,000; Trenton, N.J., $101,355; and Portsmouth-Rochester, N.H./Maine, $100,650.

Rounding out the lowest 10 incomes by metropolitan area were: Corvallis, Ore., $57,750; Wichita, Kan., $60,371; Appleton-Oshkosh-Neenah, Wis., $62,500; Manchester, N.H., $62,500; Burlington, Vt., $62,750; Flagstaff, Ariz.-Utah, $62,882; Tallahassee, Fla., $64,530; Iowa City, Iowa, $66,693; Billings, Mont., $67,000 and San Juan, Puerto Rico, $67,000.

For more information on the 2008 Salary Survey or to purchase a copy, visit www.asce.org/salaries.