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What Do You Guys Think I'm Worth?

  1. Dec 20, 2011 #1
    What do you think I’m worth?

    The company I currently work for hired me as a new graduate right after completing my BSME in 2003. I work for an engineering firm in the power distribution sector similar to Bechtel or AREVA. My company designs, modifies and or upgrades power distribution plants (mainly fossil and nuclear). I have specifically worked in the nuclear side of the firm as a mechanical engineer since I started. Since joining the firm I have obtained several higher education degrees which thankfully my employer has paid for.

    1999 – High School
    2001 – AAS, Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology
    2003 – BS, Mechanical Engineering
    2006 – MS, Mechanical Engineering
    2009 – Ph.D, Mechanical Engineering
    2012 – MBA, Business Administration – expected graduation date 5/2012

    I also have my professional engineering license, PE. Essentially my name can be written, Dr. Mike Anderson IV, MBA, PE (which I never actually write my name like this).

    I was originally hired in 2003 at a fairly low entry level engineering salary – mid 40k’s. I have since not really seen the raises that I would have expected based off of my credentials that I picked up over the last 8 years. I am of course incredible grateful for my companies liberal continuing education program which has saved me a ton of money. Without them the only letters behind my name would be roman numerals as in “IV”. ;-)

    My question to everyone is once I graduate in May 2012 what do you guys think I should be paid? In other words, how much am I worth? I know this is a very subjective question but never the less it is a valid one. Not many people hold a Ph.D, MBA, and a PE in the private engineering sector and more specifically the nuclear power sector.

    I’m contemplating on switching jobs in the near future and would like an idea of a salary range I should be looking for. If anyone has any follow up questions then please post. I respond promptly.

    Thanks all and Happy Holidays!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2011 #2
    This is a tough question. I don't believe that you should be paid based on your credentials, but based on the responsibilities of your employment. I think you're in an interesting position because you now risk becoming overqualified for a lot of positions in industry. Does your current employer know that you're unhappy with your current salary? It seems that they've invested a great deal into you, and would probably be willing to negotiate to keep you. It strikes me as odd that they'd pay for all of that schooling and then let you go without a fight.
  4. Dec 20, 2011 #3
    I agree with dacruick. If you have a PhD but enter a position where you have little responsibilities, you will get paid less than when you have a master degree and become a group leader.

    Negotiate a higher salary during your annual performance meeting, if you have one. If you don't have one, schedule a meeting yourself. Now (end of year, start of new year) is a good time to do so, even if you consider switching jobs.
  5. Dec 20, 2011 #4
    Thanks a lot guys. Really, thanks. I totally agree that pay should be based off of what you contribute to the company and not what your credentials are, i.e. responsibilities vs. credentials. I'm a very humble person and do not consider myself any smarter than the guy sitting next to me with the bachelors degree who's been doing this work for 20+ years.

    However, any new job would have to set a base pay based off of credentials and previous work experience. Therefore, they would have to hire you based off of what they feel you are worth and credentials should dictate this. In my line of work, "we" are billed out to the client (utility) in order to successfully complete modifications, upgrades, etc. The amount our company charges the client is based off of credentials. In other words, the PhD will make my company more money than the normal Bachelors of Science. The difference between what my company pays me and hour and how much they charge the client for my services is called the "burn rate". The burn rate is always higher for MS's, PhD’s and PE's. Simply meaning, I make my company more money regardless of my responsibilities or work ethic, etc. Sounds silly but it's true because when you are one engineer among many your contribution is always small regardless of responsibility. Therefore, you may not be rewarded necessarily for hard work or going above and beyond.

    Here is where I am going with this. I don't truly enjoy what I do. I'm not challenged. Also, my company requires that I travel from job site to job site about every 2 or 3 years. The pay is good because in addition to my low salary I am also paid per diem or expenses plus the added perk of continuing ed. However, I've decided I want to settle down in one place after this assignment is up. Unfortunately, this will almost certainly force me to leave this company. That being said, surely the next company will have to have a ball park salary in mind based off of what they feel I can provide to their company. This would have to be based off of merit and work experience. But we all know anyone can fluff a resume but you can't flux credentials.

    I apologize if I seem like I’m rambling.
  6. Dec 24, 2011 #5
    If you don't move to management and bring in projects i.e. money, you won't get much increase in salary beyond a certain point. Credentials are only marketing tools for a company. There are many PhD holders in the engineering community, really.
  7. Dec 26, 2011 #6
    www.glassdoor.com is a standard reference for this sort of thing.

    Also in most employment situations, you should never make the first offer. The prospective employer makes the offer and hopefully you get into a bidding war between several employers. The major point in knowing what the market rates are is so that you don't accept an underbid.

    MikeAnderson: . That being said, surely the next company will have to have a ball park salary in mind based off of what they feel I can provide to their company. This would have to be based off of merit and work experience.

    It usually doesn't work this way. What happens is that the company figures that they want person with skills X and Y for which they are willing to pay Z. If you fit X and Y, they invite you in, and tell you what Z is. If you don't fit X and Y, your resume gets trashed. One problem right now is that companies are trying to cut costs and so are looking for a lot of entry level people.

    One problem that you may run into is the problem of "overqualification" which can be a really annoying problem in a tight labor market. For example, it's possible that once you get an MBA that you may want to change your resume so that people "ignore" your Ph.D. and work experience because this may price you out of the salary/skill range that a company is willing to hire for.
  8. Dec 26, 2011 #7
    It also would be a good idea to talk to your supervisor about lifestyle issues if that's your main motivation for moving. If the company sees you as an important enough asset, they'll change the work to make you happy. If not, you don't lose much as long as you are tactful. Also the more you know about the companies finances and HR process, the better off you are. For example, the company may bill more for Ph.D.'s, but are the in a situation where customers are deciding to just go with the bachelors?

    I've also found that in large companies, one's immediate supervisor really wants you to make more money. The politics of large companies are such that if you get a raise, your boss will get a raise, and the conflict usually comes with your boss and HR/finance that set the salary rules.

    One other issue. I wouldn't publicly post information saying that you are unhappy with your job with your real name. HR and supervisors read forums too.

    MikeAnderson: . But we all know anyone can fluff a resume but you can't flux credentials.

    In fact it's quite difficult to convincingly fluff a resume, but aside from that, one has to be careful with the issue of overqualification. Sometimes to get a job, you want to *de-emphasize* a credential which can be tricky.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
  9. Dec 28, 2011 #8
    As the saying goes, they don't pay you to chill.
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