Salary snapshots

March 2012 » Features » SALARY SURVEY
Civil engineers' median salaries climb in the East and West, drop in the Central United States.
Bob Drake

Each year, ZweigWhite publishes the results of a salary survey to help firm leaders, managers, and human resources directors compare salaries in their own firms to salaries in other similar firms. Data are included for all types and levels of staff, from engineers, architects, construction managers, and technicians, to administrative, operations, and management staff, ranging from entry-level through principal status.

For 2012, survey results are available in the following three regional publications (see Figure 1):

  • Northeast & South Atlantic, including Puerto Rico (in cooperation with American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) state chapters in Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York);
  • Central (in cooperation with ACEC state chapters in Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wisconsin); and
  • Mountain & Pacific, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam.
Figure 1: Three ZweigWhite 2012 Salary Survey reports cover engineering firms in three major regions – Northeast & South Atlantic, Central, and Mountain & Pacific.

Survey data indicate a reversal of the trend from 2010, when median salaries increased for civil engineers in the Central region but decreased for civil engineers in the East and West U.S. regions (see Table 1). In 2011, survey respondents across almost all titles in the Northeast & South Atlantic region and in the Mountain & Pacific region reported increased median salaries; respondents in the Central region predominantly reported median salary decreases.

Title
2008
2009
2010
2011
Northeast & South Atlantic Region
Entry level
$50,400
$51,453
$50,500
$51,945
Project engineer
$64,886
$65,423
$64,500
$66,312
Project manager
$81,761
$83,448
$86,738
$85,964
Department manager
$109,489
$110,669
$101,581
$105,768
Principal
$131,918
$132,590
$128,419
$136,744
Central Region
Entry level
$47,810
$47,754
$50,170
$50,357
Project engineer
$63,805
$62,764
$63,731
$63,000
Project manager
$79,209
$79,532
$83,267
$80,621
Department manager
$94,789
$94,088
$100,000
$97,000
Principal
$114,750
$116,570
$127,250
$120,500
Mountain & Pacific Region
Entry level
$54,078
$53,585
$51,500
$56,820
Project engineer
$71,097
$70,575
$67,000
$72,206
Project manager
$88,770
$89,246
$87,544
$92,000
Department manager
$104,920
$104,011
$105,000
$110,000
Principal
$127,374
$131,751
$130,182
$132,080
Table 1: Trend in civil engineers' annual median base salary

One encouraging note: Median civil engineering base salaries reported in 2011 across almost all titles in all regions are greater than those reported in 2009, indicating some widespread – albeit modest – recovery. The lone exception is department managers in the Northeast & South Atlantic region.

Median civil engineering base salaries reported in 2011 across almost all titles in all regions are greater than those reported in 2009.

The summary results for civil engineers' salaries extracted from the ZweigWhite reports and presented in this article also are broken out into median and quartile values to provide greater perspective (see Table 2). As explained in the reports, "The median is the middlemost value of all the responses, meaning that half of the responses are equal to or greater than the median and half are equal to or less than the median. The lower quartile marks the lower 25 percent of the values, meaning that one quarter of the responses is equal to or less than the lower quartile and three-quarters are equal to or greater than the lower quartile. The upper quartile marks the upper 25 percent of the values, meaning that one-quarter of the responses is equal to or greater than the upper quartile and three-quarters are equal to or less than the upper quartile."

Title
Lower quartile
Median
Upper quartile
Northeast & South Atlantic Region
Entry level
$47,667
$51,945
$56,496
Project engineer
$60,560
$66,312
$75,064
Project manager
$76,828
$85,964
$97,201
Department manager
$95,555
$105,768
$130,176
Principal
$114,400
$136,744
$154,440
Central Region
Entry level
$47,112
$50,357
$53,462
Project engineer
$56,722
$63,000
$71,885
Project manager
$72,840
$80,621
$90,390
Department manager
$85,280
$97,000
$105,000
Principal
$99,840
$120,500
$134,244
Mountain & Pacific Region
Entry level
$52,000
$56,820
$61,013
Project engineer
$64,094
$72,206
$78,500
Project manager
$83,000
$92,000
$101,920
Department manager
$97,163
$110,000
$125,000
Principal
$110,772
$132,080
$151,840
Table 2: Civil engineers' annual base salary

In 2011, for all titles except principal, civil engineers' median base salaries are highest in the Mountain & Pacific region and lowest in the Central region (Table 2). Principals in the Northeast & South Atlantic region reported the highest lower quartile, median, and upper quartile salaries – $114,400, $136,744, and $154,440, respectively.

The complete ZweigWhite 2012 Salary Survey reports also provide a breakdown of salaries by average years of experience, firm size, and state/region (some states are aggregated). The reports include detailed information about typical duties, responsibilities, and education for each title to help ensure apples-to-apples comparisons of salaries between a firm's staff and those in the survey.

In addition to civil engineers, the ZweigWhite reports include data for structural, electrical, and mechanical engineers; geotechnical engineer/scientist; environmental engineer/scientist; traffic/transportation engineer; planner; GIS professional; architect and landscape architect; construction manager; instrument person I; survey technician; field survey party chief; project surveyor; survey department manager; civil engineering technician; mechanical engineering technician; CADD operator; GIS operator; and field technician, as well as administrative and executive positions.

Obtain more information and purchase the regional ZweigWhite 2012 Salary Surveys at www.zweigwhite.com/p-1115-salary-surveys-of-engineering-firms-2012.aspx.


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