SAE Study: Engineer Salaries, Employment Prospects Improve in 2012


DETROIT—The relative strength of the U.S. economy compared to other regions of the world is reflected in the latest biennial SAE International salary study, released this week during the SAE International 2012 World Congress. While the overall strength of transportation and mobility industries has strengthened the employment prospects for technical applicants around the world.

“As the transportation equipment industry moves out of the recession and back into a hiring pattern it’s good for both employees and employers to know the prevailing wage for comparable levels of expertise,” says Bill Cariello, manager, Web Strategy & Operations at SAE International, and co-sponsor of the study with SAE International’s Publications department. “I find it particularly gratifying that SAE International members enjoy an advantage in both income level and income growth over non-members. Regardless, this study is a reflection of our commitment to serving the entire global mobility engineering community.”

Salary Depends on Location

Around the world, the mean salary for engineering and related technical positions in mobility industries increased from $89,700 in 2010 to $91,800 in 2012, or 2.3 percent. Engineers in the U.S. fared better than the global average, enjoying an average base salary increase of $6,000 or 6.3 percent from $95,700 in 2010 to $101,700 in 2012. Within the U.S. mobility industries, commercial vehicle engineers and related positions received a 12 percent increase, with the average salary jumping from $100,200 in 2010 to $112,200 in 2012. The automotive industry also enjoyed a healthy 10 percent increase, with the mean salary jumping from 107,000 in 2010 to 117,600 in 2012. The aerospace industry followed, with salaries rising from $109,200 in 2010 to $112,300 in 2012 for a 2.8 percent increase.

Mobility professionals outside of the U.S. weren’t so lucky. Based on the 2012 salary study, the mean salary for engineers working outside the U.S. decreased from $74,900 in 2010 to $70,500 in 2012. For the first time this year, SAE International is publishing salary data by country. According to 2012 data, mobility engineers working in Germany are the highest paid on average ($105,700), followed by the U.S. ($101,500), Australia ($98,900), Japan ($97,800), and Canada ($91,700).

Other key findings include that SAE International members in the U.S. ($102,300) make more on average than non-members ($101,500); female SAE International members working outside the U.S. ($86,500) also make more than their non-member associates ($85,500); and females in the U.S. continue to see salary gains, with their mean salary increasing from $80,500 in 2010 to $91,600 in 2012.

Also, in a sign that the economy may be improving, only 54 percent of U.S. full-time employees said they experienced downsizing, cuts to benefits or pay, or one of five other adverse conditions — a decrease from 81 percent in 2010. The employment outlook in Europe, Asia, Canada, Central, and South America also appears to be improving. According to full-time employees working in these locations, only 41.9 percent say their company implemented one of the eight changes, down from 61.7 percent in 2010.

The 2012 SAE International Salary Study is the only survey of its kind to explore levels and changes in compensation and employment for technical employees in the automotive, aerospace, and commercial vehicle industries. This second biannual study is based on an email survey issued to 55,000 mobility engineers and related technical employees around the world. Survey recipients were both members and non-members of SAE International. They were asked a series of 30 questions about their industry, company, educational backgrounds, job responsibilities, compensation, retirement, ethnicity, and more. Out of the initial sample, 5,628 answered the survey, resulting in an optimal margin of error of +/- 1.3 percent with a 95 percent confidence level.

The full report and an online interactive salary calculator can be accessed for free at .

SAE International is a global association of more than 133,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries.