Readership reports on the industry, job satisfaction, and compensation

Nov. 30, 2023
The vast majority of survey takers reported being satisfied [33%], very satisfied [24%], or extremely satisfied [29%] with their current position.

NASHUA, N.H. – This fall, Military + Aerospace Electronics reached out to our readership to put our finger on the pulse of how experts saw the health of their profession as a whole and in their compensation as individuals. Our readers saw themselves as satisfied with their work and pay compared to the American worker as a whole and as a majority in the mil-aero technology industry. 

While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says more than 34 million Americans have quit their jobs already in 2023, nearly 90% of survey respondents reported keeping the same job at the same company that they had in 2022. 

Just 11% said they experienced a change in title or employment status compared to 2022. Of that 11%, just over 39% left their previous employer for other opportunities, with approximately 22% earning a promotion with their current employer. Another 17% reported reassignment because of internal restructuring or layoffs, while 13% noted they had an involuntary separation from their employer.

With a nationwide labor shortage, a lot of focus is on attracting and retaining talented employees regardless of sector. Seven out of 10 surveyed in the mil-aero technology sector noted their company was as focused on employee retention this year compared to 2022. One way to entice employees to stay with a company, of course, is through their rate of pay and other benefits. 

The vast majority of survey takers reported being satisfied [33%], very satisfied [24%], or extremely satisfied [29%] with their current position. Approximately 38% of those surveyed reported receiving a pay increase, while nearly 44% had their pay hold steady, and another 8% reported their company adhering to a salary freeze. Nearly half of those who received a raise saw an increase of 6% or less. 
It wasn't all good news, however, as approximately five percent of respondents noted a salary decrease, with more than seven percent saying all bonuses were scuttled.  More than 40% said they would not receive a bonus this year, with approximately 20% saying they would take home a bonus of less than $5,000. Another 16% indicated a bonus of $10,000 or more. 

The largest cohort of survey takers had an income between $100,000 and $124,999 at 21%, with others making between $124-149,999 [11%]; $150-199,999 [19%]; $200-249,999 [14%]; and approximately 10% making $250,000. The remainder of respondents anticipated making less than $100,000 this year. 

Eye on engineering
Overall, many see a path to more money in their profession. When asked whether they thought a career in engineering had the same potential for salary advancement as it had five years ago, 71% answered in the affirmative, with the remainder saying prospects were worse. This is reflected nearly identically in responses to the question whether they would consider leaving the engineering profession, with 72% saying they would not, and the remaining 28% saying they are or would consider it. 

Of the more than a quarter of respondents indicating they would consider leaving the engineering field, the largest selection [41%] cited higher salaries elsewhere as a reason, while more than 37% expressed being burned out at their current position. Multiple reasons could be selected, and other prominent responses included a desire to try something different [31%], having more free time [22%], or finding work they find more fulfilling or satisfying [20%] elsewhere. Another 16% expressed that they are nearing retirement age as their reason for considering leaving the field. 

The number seeking higher salaries is nearly identical to the number of those who think they are not adequately compensated for the work they currently do [39%], with 61% of respondents saying they receive payment equal to or more for the work they provide.  For those who said they were underpaid, nearly three in five said a pay increase of 11-25% would bring them into the realm of fairly compensated, with one in five saying a raise between 25-50% would do the same. 

Still, a vast majority of those surveyed [93%] indicated that they would recommend engineering as a career path for a young person choosing a profession. A newly-trained engineer will likely find a job market with ample openings, as more than three in four mil-aero professionals express their belief that there's a current shortage of engineers, with nearly half [46%] of companies looking to add the number of engineering positions, and 41% maintaining their roster of engineers. Approximately 13% of those surveyed say their company plans to scale back engineering staff. 

While most firms are looking for new hires with at least some engineering experience, including three [44%] or five [42%] years, less than 15% are after new hires with 10 or more years’ experience. More than 70% of respondents noted their companies have had difficulty finding qualified candidates for open positions. This is most evident in the systems engineer [47%] sector, with software engineers right behind at 46%. Radio frequency [36%], digital [31%], and embedded systems [30%] engineers are also seeing a significant shortage of qualified candidates in the labor pool. 
Insightful experts

Experienced insights
Of those currently working surveyed, 55% were employed full-time for a company, while nearly 20% were self-employed.  Approximately 30% of respondents worked in design and development engineering, with another 9% working in engineering management. Another 25% worked in executive or operating management, with other respondents working in other engineering fields such as test and measurement, process, and civil engineering. 

Survey takers were largely well educated and experienced, with 60% reporting education higher than a bachelor's degree, and 21% informed that they earned a four-year degree. More than 50% of respondents are age 60 or older, with another 21 percent 55 to 59 years of age. More than 4 out of 5 survey takers identified as male. Finally, the largest cohort of respondents work for a company with 1,000 or more employees [30%], while 23% have 10 or fewer employees. In between, 15% work for companies between 100 and 500 employees.  Military + Aerospace Electronics would like to thank everyone who took the time to lend us their insights and opinions! 

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