From time to time I run a salary survey. Readers on Embedded.com and subscribers to my newsletter responded to the most recent one at the end of 2009, and I've finally compiled the results.
The data sample is pretty big. 983 responses passed the sanity filters. Surprisingly, over 60% are from the USA. I expected more from emerging countries, but only 9% were from India/Asia and only 2.5% from emerging countries like in Eastern Europe.
We're getting old. At least those of us in the West. In Europe and the USA the average age of an embedded engineer is just a hair over 40. Canada is close and Australia/New Zealand not far behind. Other than Europe and the US, nowhere else had engineers over 60, and only here in the States were there any respondents 65 or over.
In India, Asia, and the emerging countries the average age is under 30.
There's a lot one can read into these figures. Engineering undergraduate enrollment in the USA continues to decline, which, when one considers how the firmware content of products is growing, worries me. In some countries engineering is considered a stepping stone to management, so a lower average age is inevitable.
In many countries salaries increase somewhat linearly with the years of experience reported. Important exceptions are the US, Europe and Canada, all of which show either a plateau or even a drop-off at 25 to 30+ years in the work force. In these areas, after about a decade and a half stop expecting much in raises for the rest of your career.
American engineers are somewhat less happy with their careers than in 2006, the last time I gathered such data. Those in Australia/New Zealand are, just as before, the happiest on the planet with Canada and Asia closely behind. I found no significant correlation between happiness and income, except for those deliriously jolly folks down under. There it does seem money buys happiness.
The complete survey results are here.
Jack G. Ganssle is a lecturer and consultant on embedded development issues. He conducts seminars on embedded systems and helps companies with their embedded challenges. Contact him at . His website is