Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey, 2018

Career Update 2018: Engineers are getting paid more and a greater percentage expect to get increases in 2018, but the technical challenge and a general feeling of accomplishment remains the highest factors for job satisfaction.

By Mark T. Hoske and Amanda Pelliccione, Control Engineering May 15, 2018

Engineers are getting paid more in 2018 ($100,339 compared to $96,045 for 2017 survey respondents), and 75% expect to get a salary increase in 2018, according to respondents to the Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey for 2018. That’s up from 69% who expected an increase in 2017. Additionally, technical challenge and feeling of accomplishment both rank higher than compensation for job satisfaction criteria.

As figure 1 shows, almost 20% expect 4% or more for a salary increase in 2018 (up from 13% in 2017); 7% expect an increase more than 6% (up from 4% in 2017); 23% expect the same (29% did in 2017); and just 2% expect a salary decrease (equal to 2017).

Upward salary pressures correspond with strong U.S. manufacturing results, more than 19 months of growth as of March, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) monthly purchasing manufacturers’ index (PMI).

Survey methods

Survey respondents for the Control Engineering Career and Salary Report for 2018 were invited to anonymously provide their annual compensation information and opinions on the current state of their facilities and industries. The 2018 Control Engineering Career and Salary Report reflects data gathered from 331 automation professionals; margin of error is +/- 5.4% at a 95% confidence level.

For non-salary compensation (figure 2), 21% expect an increase (down from 27% in 2017); 15% expect an increase of 4% or more (10% in 2017); 9% expect more than a 6% increase (6% in 2017); 58% expect about the same (62% in 2017); and 11% expect less (same as 2017).

For base salary compensation, the minimum was $25,000 (same as 2017) and the maximum was $342,000 ($216,513 in 2017), for 299 survey respondents providing this information. For non-salary compensation, the 2018 average received among 299 respondents was $10,091 (up from $9,594 in 2017); among the 68% receiving a bonus (203 respondents) was about the same as 2017, and the average was $14,863 (up from $14,216 in 2017). The highest bonus reported, as figure 3 shows, was $344,000.

Bonus criteria

By a significant amount, the two leading criteria for bonus compensation was company profits, 73%, and personal performance, 62% (Figure 4), which is a significant shift from 59% and 43%, respectively, in 2017.

Other significant criteria from 35% to 25% include product profitability, safety metrics, new business, sales increase, quality metrics, and plant or line productivity. Graphic shows five other double-digit criteria, least among them energy efficiency at 11%.

Technical challenge, accomplishment

Rank order of job satisfaction factors (Figure 5) year over year remained the same for the top four: technical challenge, feeling of accomplishment, financial compensation, and relationship with colleagues. (The top two usually remain solidly ahead of financial compensation except during an economic downturn.)

Location moved into the fifth spot, up from eighth in 2017, which is perhaps in line with various reports of more workplaces offering work-at-home options. Statistically within the margin of error are the next four criteria on the list: benefits, flexible work hours, job security, and feeling of recognition. Flexible work hours was added to the list in 2018 and made a strong debut at seventh in the ranking.

What should get emphasis

The survey asked respondents what areas do and should get emphasis within their organizations. There continues to be a significant disparity between what does and what should receive emphasis. Top three areas that do get emphasis are budget, profits, financials (an addition in 2018 based on write-in entries in 2017), automation and controls, and operations.

The top three areas that should get emphasis are automation and controls, customers and sales (another new entry in 2018), and for third, it’sa statistical toss-up among operations, product development, and safety.

The 2018 respondents also noted that training and education, often identified as most lacking measured by overall percentage, should get more than three times the emphasis it currently does.

Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media, Data provided by CFE Media research director, Amanda Pelliccione,


  • Engineer salary survey, career report
  • Average salary increased
  • More salary increases are expected.


See additional information and career advice for engineers linked below and past salary surveys.

Now available: the full 2018 Career and Salary Report… including respondent regions, titles, functions, company size, staffing, energy, cybersecurity, outsourcing, and salary and non-salary compensation benchmarks by age, education, number of years with employer and industry, by job title, by job function, and by employees managed, among other information.

Below, see links to Advice from survey respondents; Women in engineering; The future of work; Engineering career ROI, and prior Salary and Career Reports.