1. Not finding help here? Sign up for a free 30min tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Engineering Engineering salaries

  1. Jan 22, 2009 #1
    so i'm interested in Optical Engineering and they have starting salaries of $58,000-$70,000. I want to hear some of those stories of how much real engineers will make

    Please...nobody say anything from BLS...they said that the average doctor makes like $150,000 and in reality a radiologist could actually get a low end job paying over $350,000 straight after their residency...and surgeons make way more and real lawyers get paid prolly twice the "average" used on BLS...so please...no BLS
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2009 #2
    The key word is *could*. Statistically a doctor could make more than $150,000, but it's not as likely. Also you're taking into account special sub-divisions, not you're typical practicing doctor. I think BLS is fairly accurate and the starting salary probably is in that projected ball park.

    That being said, if you're asking for this to make a judgement on career I'd like to say that you should do what you like, not how much money you will make.
  4. Jan 23, 2009 #3
    you say it like there aren't very many doctor jobs out there paying much over $150,000. Check out the job offers at various sites or even for the average salaries of most specialties at mdsalaries.blogspot.com I've looked into this, I've researched this and I know that a typical doctor, without specializing will start at about $120,000 on average and within maybe 5 years will reach almost 200. So as much as you want to believe your ridiculous claim that a doctor "could" (as if they have to be really good to attain such high numbers) get a salary over the BLS figure, it is dead wrong.

    Also, I never said that I was going to base my decision to choose a career on the salary, all I said was that I think this is a pretty nice starting salary and I asked if there other engineering specialties that have that kind of income at first. Oh, and in case you haven't noticed we're in a recession and it isn't going to get better over night so factoring the salary into your decision is actually smarter than you think. Though it isn't the best reason because there is a possiblity of hating the job, it is still a very good reason to consider in case I need to have enough money to survive I don't want to be stuck making $12 an hour because that's what I like to do.

    And my last thing to say other than that you were assuming a lot, is that my background points me directly at some kind of science, I took 6 science classes in high school and was never bored, I am very competent at math and I studied Anatomy and Physiology so hard during the year I took it that I could and actually have taught it (though to small groups, but taught it none the less). I'm very intelligent and I love science. So I figured it would be a pretty good idea to look at the highest paying science related careers to see if there is anything I like (as a member of a science community you should respect the desire to want to see what else is out there and as a human you should also understand the absolute need for money...you know...in case I want to be able to afford eating or something) Everyone on this site always says that it doesn't matter what you make as long as you're happy, but the thing is that in surveys the people who rate their happiness in the 8's and 9's chose their job for the cash...the 10's didn't, but I'd say that an 8 or 9 isn't a bad trade off for being financially secure, because you're going to hate not being able to afford new clothes, a nice place to live, and anything other than ramen noodles.

    And fyi...80% of engineers love what they do and would definitely want their kids to be engineers, so why not choose the highest paying specialty of engineering when chances are you'll love doing it.
  5. Jan 23, 2009 #4


    User Avatar

    Try getting a salary over BLS no matter how good you are in a location that is not a big city. There is an implicit assumption that youre talking about working in a big city.
  6. Jan 23, 2009 #5
    If you're not in college yet, most engineering degrees have the same classes the first two years or so. So why don't you take a few classes and see if higher mathematics is for you. It's not for everybody, no mater how smart you are. Have you had exposure to optics in physics? You'll get the basics in Physics II (usually a second year course).
  7. Jan 23, 2009 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    What are you calling a "real" engineer?

    The range you have looks just about right to me for a starting salary. Of course it depends on the industry you want to work in. I work in the Oil and Gas industry and we have really inflated salaries when compared to others working in different industries doing relatively the same thing.

  8. Jan 23, 2009 #7

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Chemical engineers probably make more, especially *petroleum* engineers.
  9. Jan 23, 2009 #8
    Well...to the guy who said something about big city doctors...you need to check rural salaries too...they are pretty big too.

    By real engineers I mean people who are doing engineering, not what they heard from some website, I just wanted 1st person account of being an engineer.

    Umm...I've done physics and loved it.
  10. Jan 23, 2009 #9


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    That's what drew me to chemical engineering. Such jobs are common in Maine in the pulp and paper industry, so I thought I could continue to live here and make pretty good money. I changed my major after a couple of years, dropped out of college, and thanks to field experience and a good work ethic, I ended up as a process chemist in a brandly-new pulp and paper mill. I got promoted to research projects after about a year or so, and a couple of years later, ended up as the lead operator of a brand-new high-speed fine paper machine, making 3x as much money. No degree.

    To the OP: take the core engineering curriculum, and decide whether to specialize in a year or two. You might be surprised where you end up. (Robert Burns: "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley")
  11. Jan 23, 2009 #10
    I meant "could" as in there is a 50% chance to be higher and a 50% chance to be lower, that's why it's a middle salary.

    Also, just so you know pretty much any engineering salary is enough to live on quite well. I'd know what did you do after school activity wise? I worked constantly because my mom only makes about $20k a year, so trust me when I say that you could live comfortably on a salary in the engineering profession so you might as well pick the one you like the most is all I'm saying. There's nothing wrong with exploring your options, but the way you make it seem is that you're only motivated by money which is not the best outlook to have.

    My experience is a Co-Op but my salary was only about $3000 a month.
  12. Jan 24, 2009 #11
    Very funny. Anyways, the BLS usually reports median values, not averages. It's a very important distinction.

    From the BLS website:

    Really, if you were actually interested in the financial outlook of these different professions, you'd be asking what their time-weighted lifetime earnings are, not what their salaries are. Salaries can be really, really bad measures of the financial value of a career. Usually in engineering it does alright, but for the others it should only be mentioned within context.
  13. Jan 24, 2009 #12
    Yes but 66% of all statistics are made up.
  14. Jan 27, 2009 #13

    Never do anything for the money. It's not what it seems.
  15. Jan 28, 2009 #14


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Not very good advice... we all make compromises and personal choices, and the wages we can make in our chosen profession is a BIG factor for most people.
  16. Jan 28, 2009 #15


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    A few other things to point out:
    (1) Reported salaries and actual salaries can be very different - especially for professions like medicine and law where the professionals may incorporate themselves and report only modest salaries for tax purposes (while at the same time driving the company Ferrari).

    (2) Are differences in median salaries between engineering disciplines all that different? Last I looked the standard deviation looked to be about $5000.00 per year. After taxes, that probably doesn't amount to much of a difference at all, which is why people are offereing the advice to pursue the field you enjoy the most.

    (3) Education is only one of many variables that determine your financial status in life. Other very significant factors include your ability to negotiate, your ability to network and communicate, your work/volunteer experience, personal drive, geography, and timing (a lot can change in the years between when you start your degree and when you finish).
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Engineering salaries