What factors set career expectations and drive job satisfaction for engineers? In 2017, the National Science Foundation surveyed 9,348 engineers from various disciplines on what aspects of engineering jobs they rated as most important. Their responses were broken down by their highest level of degree, which illustrates some interesting differences in viewpoint based on level of education.
|% OF RESPONDENTS RATING
ELEMENT AS VERY IMPORTANT
|Degree of Independence||53||58||61|
|Opportunities for Advancement||45||51||53|
|Level of Responsibility||37||44||44|
|Contribution to Society||33||41||51|
Data Source: National Science Foundation, 2017 National Survey of College Graduates, accessible at: https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvygrads/
Clearly, salary, benefits, and job security are key expectation drivers, along with opportunities for intellectual challenge. The degree of job independence is also very important to a majority of working engineers, along with job location.
Somewhat surprising is that the level of responsibility and ability to contribute to society were of relatively lower importance, although the more advanced the degree, the more satisfaction was derived from serving society.
The survey also looked at the comparative levels of satisfaction with each element. Not surprising, the respondents were less satisfied with their salary, benefits and opportunities for advancement across all three degree levels. The characteristics generating the highest levels of satisfaction were their degree of independence, job location, and for Ph.D. engineers, intellectual challenge and contributions to society.
The data suggests IEEE can best serve its members (at least in the United States) by focusing on driving improvements to salary and job benefits, and providing access to training and information that will enhance job security and reinforce intellectual challenge.