Engineers like certainty

Engineers like certainty. There is, after all, nothing probabilistic about Ohm’s Law. However, even as career conditions show improvement following an intense recession and a less-than-vigorous recovery, engineers may have to learn to live with uncertainty.

"Second quarter of 2014 saw a net gain of 38,000 engineering jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 1.6% - lowest since 2007"

Cash-rich corporations are less than eager to take on the fixed overhead that comes with rehiring—and thus continue to embrace offshore outsourcing. Signing bonuses/incentives for new engineering hiresDownward pressure on wages and other compensation also continues in the form of H-1B visa workers. And it’s anyone’s guess on how extensively economic slowdowns in markets such as Europe and China will dampen growth prospects for U.S. companies going forward.

That said, the numbers in Electronic Design’s 12th Annual Salary & Opinion Survey should give engineers cause for optimism. According to this year’s nearly 3000 survey participants, the profession stands in relatively good health. Most engineers feel reasonably compensated, satisfied with their current position, and sufficiently challenged by their work. They are less fearful about losing their jobs than beforehand, too.

"Average total compensation is up slightly in 2014 - up 1.3%"

How intellectually challenged you are at workAs professional troubleshooters, though,engineers are also alert to potential bugs in the program. Their concerns include working conditions, shortsighted management, and inadequate support on the part of their employers for the continuous education that’s essential in a fast-moving world. They also have strong opinions about outsourcing.

So it appears that engineers will simply have to learn to accept some degree of uncertainty in their lives—even as they attempt to rigorously eliminate it from the performance of their designs. The good news is that in a world fraught with risk, the engineering game offers much better odds than most.
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  • Editorial features: The Outsourcing Issue, Where Are The Good U.S. - Produced Engineers?, Is Engineer Production Abroad Any Better?, and The Gender Divide
  • How today’s engineers stay up-to-date with technology
  • Strategies engineers use to get ahead in their careers and move up the ladder
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