Shawn Tan wrote:
> On Friday 12 October 2007 10:35:13 Xiaofan Chen wrote:
>> In Singapore, engineer seems not to fair well in terms of pay.
>> How about the situation in your country?
> I think that's generally the case everywhere. Like in the university that I'm
> in at the moment, most of the engineering students end up as i-bankers
> working in the city.
> I guess that the best way for an engineer to make more money is to become an
> entrepreneur, like those in Silicon Valley.
In general, I never made a lot of money as a salaried engineer, but as a
consultant engineer I did very well.
While I love being an engineer, in my next life I plan to be a doctor or
>>> In Singapore, engineer seems not to fair well in terms of pay.
>> I think that's generally the case everywhere.
It looks about right; engineers tend to be paid enough to lead
a comfortable existence, but not "well" compared to "professional"
and "management" jobs such as made up most of your list. Your
list leaves off the large number of people who exits well below
the bottom reported level, though: well above "average", just at
the low to middle end of "professionals."
The major successes come from entrepreneurs, profit sharing, and
"stars" like with actors and writers...
It'd be interesting to see the total number of dollars paid in
salaries on a per-profession basis. My general impression is
that there is more total money spent on engineers than on
other professions at about the same salary level...
On 10/13/07, William Chops Westfield <spam_OUTwestfwTakeThisOuTmac.com> wrote:
> On Oct 12, 2007, at 3:54 PM, Bob Axtell wrote:
> >>> In Singapore, engineer seems not to fair well in terms of pay.
> >> I think that's generally the case everywhere.
> It looks about right; engineers tend to be paid enough to lead
> a comfortable existence, but not "well" compared to "professional"
> and "management" jobs such as made up most of your list. Your
> list leaves off the large number of people who exits well below
> the bottom reported level, though: well above "average", just at
> the low to middle end of "professionals."
Well said. That is why I am still working as an engineer. Life is
not bad for me and I do not need to worry too much about people
management which tends to be more difficult in Asia than in
US due to some subtle culture difference. It seems to me that
there are less politics and stupid HR policies in US as far as I know.
> The major successes come from entrepreneurs, profit sharing, and
> "stars" like with actors and writers...
Not so easy here in Singapore...
> It'd be interesting to see the total number of dollars paid in
> salaries on a per-profession basis. My general impression is
> that there is more total money spent on engineers than on
> other professions at about the same salary level...
I think this is true for Hi-Tech companies like CISCO/
Microsoft/Intel/Siemens/etc. For those labor-intensive
industries, the wages paid for the production floor worker
will be the biggest portion.
On 10/13/07, Vitaliy <.....spamKILLspam@firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> >> The major successes come from entrepreneurs, profit sharing, and
> >> "stars" like with actors and writers...
> > Not so easy here in Singapore...
> How come?
Typically companies do not offer profit sharing like stock options and
benefits like 401k/pension/etc. However the government has a good
scheme called CPF (http://www.cpf.gov.sg/). Companies here do offer
benefits like group insurance, annual leave, medical leave etc.
The government is trying to foster entrepreneurship among the
professionals. So an engineer will go to set up a food stall selling
curry puff and dreams to be a millionare hawker. ;-) http://www.salary.sg/2007/millionaire-hawkers/
Because often engineers will hit a ceiling for their pay, so either
they become an manager or they leave the engineering profession
and go to the public sector to enjoy better job security and benefits.
On 10/13/07, Bob Axtell <engineerKILLspamcotse.net> wrote:
> In general, I never made a lot of money as a salaried engineer, but as a
> consultant engineer I did very well.
You use "did". How about now?
> While I love being an engineer, in my next life I plan to be a doctor or
Maybe a surgeon is better than being a dentist. It is a bit cleaner. ;-)
My wife was a doctor back in China and she told me the best
is ophthalmologist and then followed by a surgeon. The worst
Here in the UK is not that bad, but Engineering is not very well paid
either. My advice to kids is if you are doing it for the money then be
an accountant or go into company management.
Being Portuguese I also know that in Portugal is pretty bad to and that
is if you can get a job at all.
On 10/13/07, Luis Moreira <Luis.Moreiraspam_OUTjet.uk> wrote:
> Hi Xiaofan,
> Here in the UK is not that bad, but Engineering is not very well paid
> either. My advice to kids is if you are doing it for the money then be
> an accountant or go into company management.
In my last job the colleagues in UK told me that engineering was ok
in UK. They are all pretty experienced analog electronics designers.
Compared to the France, it is said the job opportunity is better in
UK but the UK engineers need to work longer time than their
European continental counterpart. Not so sure if this is true.
I was told that in Germany engineering is quite a good profession
because the demand is higher than the supply.
As far as I know, US engineers, enjoy quite good life, as long as
the company is not in a bad shape. This is what I learned from my
friends in US. At least they normally earn more than their supervisors
(professors) in the University. Here in Singapore, professors earn
much more than an senior engineer (2-3 times) and enjoy very good
> Being Portuguese I also know that in Portugal is pretty bad to and that
> is if you can get a job at all.
I do not know much about Portugal other than that they are pretty good
at soccer. ;-)
> Because often engineers will hit a ceiling for their pay, so either
> they become an manager or they leave the engineering profession
> and go to the public sector to enjoy better job security and benefits.
That happens more often than you think over here in the States, too.
Many not to the public sector, but certainly engineers leaving "pure"
engineering jobs for management once they've hit a certain point in
their careers, is common. Public sector jobs over here are typically
average pay, but getting dismissed from a public sector job is almost
unheard of. If you value job stability, you often look to the public
sector -- but not (usually) as a way to get rich. Public sector
CONTRACTORS however, can find extremely lucrative markets if they're
willing to jump through government bureaucratic procedures and
You mentioned that the U.S. has "profit sharing" for engineers
whereas you don't see that very often locall -- perhaps to some
extent we do, but real "profits" go to executives and shareholders.
Most corporations dole out some shares of the company to engineers,
but the executives know how to play with the numbers, and the overall
bottom-line monetary benefit is usually small to most non-key
engineers. Key engineers (say maybe 10 in a 1000 person company, if
that many) might make a bit of money, but it'll still be a relatively
small percentage of the profits of the overall corporation and the
executive management staff.
Often-times those key engineers also shoulder the biggest burden of
work when bringing new products and services to market -- and their
careers are on the line for every one of them. They under-perform,
they'll often be dismissed or demoted to non-key engineering status,
and allowed to remain in the engineering department, stripped of
their major decision-making responsibilities and design roles.
A real-world example, since my employer is a public corporation and
required to publish (but few read the information published)
executive salaries and compensation packages, as well as publicize
any major stock trades... the executive in charge of customer support
made over $1 million U.S. by selling stock options, and the CEO has
cashed out close to $5 million this year alone.
In contrast, my options have netted me about $4000 and at current
prices would net about $100,000 over the course of some period of
time just under 10 years. The $4000 came by me watching our stock
price carefully and selling at a 5 year high.
And after review of many other companies in the industry, I consider
my compensation package to be "better than average" when it comes to
company stock options.
Have you heard of the phrase, "The grass always looks greener on the
other side of the fence."? You may have a overly-optimistic view of
U.S. engineer compensation, at least in terms of profit-sharing and
company value. Engineers stopped being compensated for major company
value-add (unless they're working at a start-up or high-risk small
firm) in the late 1960's in the U.S., in my opinion.
I also feel it's one of the major reasons that companies have a
difficult time finding the super-smart engineers that they need.
That and the lack of corporate spending on "pure" research and
development that was typical in the 50's and 60's. It's hard to find
new/better ways of doing things when you don't have a dedicated staff
of "thinkers" just trying things. You might have "thinkers" in
today's corporate world, but they're not provided any way to easily
test their theories or get capital budget for equipment needed to try
SOME large corporations still do "pure" R&D, and they're often-times
the leaders in their fields. In my humble opinion, that's not by
chance -- it's because they invest in their business properly.
A good example of a company that gave up too much R&D and engineering
discipline might be the General Electric of the 1950's and 60's
versus the General Electric of today (although their engineering
culture is still strong).
Companies in the middle of that swing might be something like
Motorola -- a few new things, but not branching too far from the
trunk of the tree.
Intel and HP have held on to their R&D cultures through the times
when it was unpopular with their shareholders (Carly Fiorina at the
reigns of HP being a major exception!) and it has generally produced
profits for them, over the long-term. Both companies highly value
their engineering talent.
The old government-sanctioned monopoly of the Bell System had some of
the best engineering on the planet, but consumers demanded choice
(and thus, chaos) and got it. That story is still playing out... so
far, there are some shining examples of good engineering in telco,
and some real bombs... and consumers are in the cross-fire. Frankly
the old system had problems too -- I have drawings here of the
approved "AT&T Outhouse" somewhere on the hard drive. No kidding.
The outdoor bathroom had to meet engineering-spec or it wasn't put on
the site. (Thus proving that even when engineering is top-notch,
standardization and process-driven workflow can still kill you, by
making your products and services so expensive the consumers beg the
government to break you up.) Telco is a hard system to use as an
example because it's almost a "natural monopoly" in our telco-
connected world. (Telco includes Cable-TV infrastructure today, in
my mind... anyway.)
Portugal is also very good at food, drink, and the people are very
friendly, but unfortunatly sufers from a general vision of the future,
and investiment in education and technology development is pour. That's
why I left...
In the UK the investment from government and companies is still there,
so the oportunities are much better.
Exactly. I know others that do pizza delivery at night, because the background they have doesn't allow them to work nights doing anything related to the profession. And the problem is then....you make rather low wages delivering or some other service work, and so no matter what...you work 20 hour days....still cant make ends meet. So I consider myself very lucky in that I can do my day job, and go home at night and do it for someone else and triple my "hourly" wage. Sure, gets to you after a while, but the plan is to be debt free someday and then slow down. Maybe. :-) But the bottom line is.....there are not alot of other professions that allows you to do this kind of work with actually pretty low overhead and do OK finacially. Engineering....most forms of it.....allows this, and with the shortage of engineers in many fields....companies are willing to work with "after hours" types as long as they can solve the problems in a timely manner.