Electronic Design

The EE Profession: Dreams Versus Reality

It's your job to bring other people's dreams to life. But have you made your own dreams come true yet?

Perhaps better than most people, engineers understand the difference between dreams and reality. After all, they're often presented with someone's dream (in the form of a design specification) and then are asked to make it real.

Engineers face a similar challenge in their own careers. Like everyone else, they have a picture in their minds of how they'd like their careers to go. Then they're confronted with what's possible and what isn't. So, they have to "engineer" their professional lives much the same way they engineer the products they create.

Each year, the editors of Electronic Design turn the engineer's analytical eye on the profession itself by conducting our annual Reader Survey. This special issue is based on that research, and its intent is to give you the insight you need to better "engineer" your career in a world of harsh realities and finite constraints.

Looking Beyond This Year's Numbers

As we've done in the past, this year we took a close look at how compensation (salaries, bonuses, and benefits) varies across several parameters, including company size and type, job functions and titles, geographic region, engineering experience, age, gender, and level of education.

We wanted to look at how things are changing - and how they're staying the same - so we included many of the questions from our previous annual studies. But this year we also looked at some of the "dream jobs" that drive interest in engineering today.

We asked if you had a dream job in mind as you were prepared to become an engineer, as well as whether you've had the opportunity to work in your dream job. We were also curious about your opinions on what tomorrow's dream jobs will be and what social issues you think engineering can influence the most.

This year we also expanded our survey to tackle another topic of keen interest to many engineers: continuing education. What are some of the ways you go about staying smart about engineering? Does your company reimburse its engineers for college tuition and other education expenses? In your view, are companies doing enough to support continuing education for engineers? Did your schooling adequately prepare you for the jobs you've had? And how well-prepared for the job are today's graduates?

We investigated many other issues as well to help you see how your own work life compares to that of your peers. So this year we're providing you with fresh insight about a wider range of topics than ever, including:

  • How many years you've been in your current position - and how satisfied you are in your present job
  • How you think your compensation package stacks up against those being offered by other employers
  • Which issues have affected your working conditions most during the past year
  • What online activities (blogs, social networking sites, etc.) you participate in
  • Whether your company is investing more or less in R&D this year - and if you believe that investment is adequate

We'd like to thank all the Electronic Design subscribers who participated in this year's survey. Nearly 3000 of you, our biggest response ever, took the time to answer our questions and share your insights. Your participation and candor made it possible for us to offer you this comprehensive, informative issue on the state of the engineering profession. We hope it provides you with a clearer perspective on how you and your colleagues are doing, where the profession is headed, and what's going on in the industry as a whole.

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