In their professional lives, engineers always strive to come up with optimal, elegant solutions to complex problems. The engineering profession itself, however, doesn't lend itself easily to such solutions.
The influx of H-1B workers and a continued trend toward offshore outsourcing have made many readers of Electronic Design cynical and pessimistic. Yet the rewards of successfully fulfilling a need and getting reasonably well compensated for it instill in many a downright love for their chosen career. So, engineers may be even harder to figure out than a spectral transform for a large Boolean function.
Electronic Design has once again undertaken its annual Reader Profile Survey so we can give you fresh insight into what's going on in a profession that faces so many problems and holds so much promise. We took a close look at how compensation varies across several dimensions, including company size and type, job functions and titles, geographic region, and engineering experience—along with age, gender, and level of education.
To see how things are changing—and how they're staying the same— we kept many questions from our previous annual studies. But this year, we also expanded our survey to include a new topic of interest: the flow of engineers coming into the U.S. by means of H-1B visas.
We sought your views on this growing phenomenon and its impact on your career. Are foreign workers hired ahead of other engineers? Do you feel they threaten your job? Do you think the government should more tightly restrict the number of H-1B slots for engineering positions? And given the opportunity, how you would change guest worker legislation?
We also investigated some other new issues so you could see how your own work life compares to that of your peers. So this year, we're providing fresh insight about a wider range of topics, including:
- Whether your organization has difficulty finding qualified analog engineers—and if so, the ways you're addressing the shortage and reasons why analog engineers might be getting harder to find
- How many different companies you've worked for in your career
- If a career path in engineering and the potential for salary advancement is as promising today as it was five years ago
- How many promotions you've had at your current place of employment
- Whether you're being challenged intellectually with the engineering projects you work on at your present job
- How much emphasis your organization is placing on employee retention this year as compared to a year ago
- How you rate your present job security
- Whether a headhunter has tried to recruit you—and the conditions that would make you open to such recruitment efforts
- The impact outsourcing is having on engineering professionals
- Whether your organization receives government funding for research and development and the technology areas where you think the government should be increasing its R&D investments.
We hope this information gives you a clearer perspective on where your career is going—and what's going on in the industry as a whole. We'd also like to express our sincere appreciation to all the Electronic Design subscribers who took the time to tell us about themselves. More than 2500 of you shared your insights about the issues that matter most to you and your colleagues. That participation made it possible for us to offer you this information-packed report on the state of the profession.