Engineer Salary Overview

A recent job search with the keyword "engineer" found listings for over 33,000 available positions. Engineering means anything from working with computers to designing bridges and skyscrapers to managing and overseeing complex projects for companies.

Location: Perhaps the most important factor contributing to the average salary for an engineer is where the position is located. Larger cities like Chicago and New York are higher-paying than less population-dense areas with a smaller asset pool. The highest paying cities for engineers right now are San Francisco, Boston, Baltimore and San Diego. "In larger cities, or higher cost-of-living areas, these numbers will be at least 10-25 percent higher," assures the EngineeringSalary.com website.

Average salary: With salaries ranging from an average of $55,000 annually for a maintenance engineer to $124,000 for a senior engineer of materials science, starting salaries range from $23,000 for computer support technology to $59,000 for a job in communications.

Tips for advancement: As with any career choice, advancement depends on keeping up with changing technology related to the field, increasing your value to your employer by keeping current with trends in the industry and furthering your education, and being aware of the changes in the market in your area. Flexibility is essential to building and keeping a strong professional relationship. Networking is the key to keeping opportunities open. As with many professional careers, many positions are filled by individuals who are familiar with the company. Most importantly, be aware of the average salaries and benefit packages in your area and don't be afraid to ask for a bump in salary if your experience and responsibilities indicate you deserve it.

Perks: A benefits package may include health insurance, a retirement plan such as a 401(k), paid vacation and holidays, performance bonuses, a sign-on bonus, paid continuing education opportunities and life insurance. The compensation package varies greatly from one company to another and from position to position, but on average the benefits package should represent 10 percent to 15 percent of the overall salary.

Tips for getting a raise: First, know your worth. Research average salaries in your area for comparison. Even in a tough economy, employers are less likely to want to hire new talent rather than hold on to their established engineers. Next, make a list of points supporting your request. Have you been asked to take on more responsibilities since your last increase in salary? Have you invested personal time into getting a more advanced degree or professional certification, which increases your value to your employer? Also consider negotiating for better benefits, more vacation time, or other job perks.

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