Put a spanner in your works

An Engineering Council survey shows most engineers to be happy with their lot. Philip Schofield looks at the nuts and bolts

Contrary to popular perceptions, engineers enjoy their work and are well paid and secure. Engineering also offers an excellent route into top management. It is easy to understand why more than 68 per cent of engineers would recommend engineering as a career for a young man, and 62 per cent would do so for a young woman.

The evidence comes from the Engineering Council's recently published '1997 Survey of Professional Engineers and Technicians'. More than 10,000 engineers registered with the council were questioned for the survey, carried out every two or three years for the council by the independent Electoral Reform Ballot Services, the research arm of the Electoral Reform Society.

The survey showed that in the last financial year, chartered engineers earned an average of pounds 40,131 including bonus and overtime payments. Earnings had grown by 12.6 per cent in the previous two years. The retail price index rose by 4.7 per cent in the same period, so real earnings growth was 7.9 per cent.

However, this average hides wide variations. One in 10 earns pounds 23,500 or less, while one in 10 earns pounds 60,000 or more. Introducing the survey, Mike Heath, the Director General of the Engineering Council, said that the average salaries quoted were "likely to be on the conservative side, as the very highest earners tend not to return survey questionnaires". However, he added that 23 chartered engineers in the survey claimed annual earnings of pounds 250,000 or more.

Incorporated engineers and engineering technicians also saw real growth in earnings. The average earnings of incorporated engineers has reached pounds 29,918, real growth of 7 per cent over two years, while engineering technicians earn pounds 26,311, real growth of 13.7 per cent, or four times the rate of inflation.

In addition, 41 per cent of chartered engineers have either a company car for their sole use or money in lieu. Fewer incorporated engineers or technicians have a company car - 32 and 27 per cent respectively. Other fringe benefits are very similar for all three groups. All enjoy an average of 26 days annual leave in addition to bank holidays, while 82 per cent belong to a company pension scheme and 16 per cent to non-contributory schemes.

Only 1.4 per cent of all engineers were unemployed, compared with 2.3 per cent two years ago. This is an exceptionally low jobless level.

The main type of work for chartered engineers is senior management (28 per cent), with 5 per cent of survey respondents being chairmen, chief executives or managing directors. The next most important areas are consultancy and project management, at 14 per cent each.

A significant proportion of incorporated engineers also work in senior management (23 per cent) and in project management (14 per cent). The main field of work for engineering technicians is maintenance and repair (24 per cent) although considerable numbers - 17 per cent - are in senior management.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of chartered engineers are members of a trade union, while 42 per cent of incorporated engineers and 39 per cent of technicians are union members.

The survey explored the main reasons why engineers had taken up their careers. Just over half cited the desire to be creative and enjoying problem solving, and well over a quarter said it was because they were good at maths and sciences. There was little difference between the ages, although young people were slightly more likely to have taken up engineering to be creative and solve problems, while older engineers were more likely to have done so due to the influence of family or friends. Graduates and postgraduates were more likely to have taken up engineering due to being good at maths and sciences. However, the desire to be creative and solve problems remained the most common denominator.

The level of satisfaction among engineers with their careers to date was also examined in the survey. Most - 85 per cent - expressed satisfaction with their initial training, and about four in ten of these said they were very satisfied.

More than six in ten are also satisfied with their training in new techniques, and just over two-thirds are pleased with the technical opportunities they had received. As might be expected, chartered engineers are more likely to be satisfied with the technical opportunities given them (70 per cent) than incorporated engineers (62 per cent) or technicians (56 per cent).

Just under six in ten expressed satisfaction with their career development to date, with the highest level of satisfaction (62 per cent) being among the chartered engineers and the lowest (50 per cent) among the engineering technicians. Those in the 35-44 age group are marginally the least satisfied.

Finally, almost two-thirds of the engineers in the survey (63 per cent) claimed to be at least fairly satisfied with the salary and conditions they have received to date. Chartered and incorporated engineers are slightly more likely to be very satisfied than engineering technicians.

Perhaps the most convincing proof of engineers' overall satisfaction with their lot is their willingness to recommend a career in the profession to young men and women. About two-thirds of both chartered and incorporated engineers and almost three-quarters of engineering technicians commend their work to youngsters looking at career options.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
people Ex-wife of John Lennon has died at her home in Spain
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £32,000+

£18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?