Increasing your engineering salary is more than just wondering, “How can I get my company to increase my salary?” There are many roads to achieve this, but they all require a solid plan. Whether you’re a recent graduate or a veteran with twenty years of experience, a plan will help focus on the steps required to achieve your mechanical engineering salary, and should include the following three critical elements: internal training, formal education, and negotiation.
Option 1: Get a promotion
The most direct path to a higher engineering salary is a promotion, which is going to require internal training. Most companies offer internal training available through one of three platforms: desktop computer training, classroom training, or on-the-job training. Larger corporations may offer all of them, while the only option at small companies may be informal on-the job training.
Start by researching the skills and training requirements needed to move to the next highest position and develop a training plan to accomplish them within a reasonable time frame. By completing training (preferably on your own time), you’ll gain the ability to negotiate a higher salary during performance evaluations, as well as become a candidate for an internal promotion.
In my experience, there is no “right time” to speak with a manager about your intentions. Whether it’s before or after completing training, will not change the position being available or the company being able to afford your pay increase request. It’s best to be proactive in every position; this will ensure being ready when the position (or salary increase) become available.
Option 2: Improve your skills and qualifications
Next, let’s consider how you might obtain a considerable jump in salary. This will take time, more training, and education. When I started my first engineering position it was a two year development program. During those first two years I completed every available training module offered for the position I was hired into. In addition to that, I took the majority of the training modules for managers at my company. I made sure to complete my daily responsibilities and finish training in my spare time from a work laptop.
That was the easy part. The hard part was working on my Masters of Science in Robotics while working 45 hours a week. But, it was worth it. Within two years I fast-tracked myself to a $10 K raise upon graduation, and qualified for a management level research position for an additional $12.2 K annually. This includes gaining two years of work experience in different positions.
Option 3: Sideways shift
If you’ve tried the normal routes to salary increases with no progress, try looking in different departments at your company. Networking is extremely important when looking to change departments internally. You’ll have an advantage with internal changes because you can email, call, or walk over to a hiring manager and speak with them directly about the position.
Option 4: Get another job
As a last resort, you can always look to see what other companies have available. Update your resume with your current experience and begin researching companies that have a need for your expertise. Make sure to include a well-researched, personal covering letter for each position; it’s never a good idea to just copy and paste the same email and cover letter to every open job. Eventually you will find that position at the salary you’re looking for. Getting an offer from another company may also give you some leverage to request a salary increase from your current employer (although I wouldn’t push it too hard).
Getting that increase will always take time and effort. The more effort you’re willing to put in, the greater the reward you can expect down the road. While these methods are not the only ways to increase your pay, they’re a good foundation to get you started on your own path to a higher salary.
Engineering salary overview
In order to command a better engineering salary, it is key to be open to change and improvement. The work you put into yourself and your career will be returned with better positions, more responsibilities, and (most importantly) more money. By looking forward and planning how to make yourself a better and more desirable candidate, you will be far more likely to command a higher salary.