Engineering compensation is not limited to your base salary. IEEE tracks four other broad components of income as well as a large number of added benefits. For appropriately employed engineers working full time, commissions and bonuses can add value to base pay. Those kinds of rewards can fluctuate widely from one year to the next.
Small additions to base pay are reported by some members of IEEE from second jobs or overtime. For older engineers, retirement plans and profit sharing become significant, especially when engineers retire from one job but continue to work full time somewhere else (retired military officers, who are often qualified engineers, are a good example).
Most engineers enjoy excellent benefit packages, covering all of their health and retirement needs and frequently providing full health coverage for dependents. Stock options may be a factor and their use is reported to be rising. What the options are worth is a matter of speculation.
Career Path Forecast
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, electrical engineers are expected to have employment growth of 2 percent between 2008 and 2018. Although strong demand for electrical devices -- including electric power generators, wireless phone transmitters, high-density batteries, and navigation systems -- should spur job growth, international competition and the use of engineering services performed in other countries will limit employment growth.
Electrical engineers working in firms providing engineering expertise and design services to manufacturers should have better job prospects.
Electronics engineers, on the other had, are expected to experience little to no employment change over the same projections decade. Although rising demand for electronic goods -- including communications equipment, defense-related equipment, medical electronics, and consumer product -- should continue to increase demand for electronics engineers, foreign competition in electronic products development and the use of engineering services performed in other countries will limit employment growth. Growth is expected to be fastest in service-providing industries -- particularly in firms that provide engineering and design services.
Involvement with associations is an excellent way to explore a potential career path. In addition to the obvious networking benefits, many groups offer materials and resources to help fine-tune career decisions. Many associations also support student chapters which help offer students insight and experience in their chosen field.