Four years ago, EC&M launched its inaugural “2019 Electrical Salary & Career Report.” To track job satisfaction and career development in the electrical industry, we embarked on a second survey this year to not only establish benchmarks for historical compensation data in the electrical industry but also to take the pulse of electrical professionals on many related factors that play into career contentment. Again for the 2023 survey, we split up the sample audience into the same four demographic groups, which garnered more than 1,300 responses: electrical contractors (600); industrial facility (269), commercial/institutional/educational or CIE (221), and engineering (243).
Before we dive into how electrical professionals rate their salary, fringe benefits, and employment packages, let’s take a look at how content the typical American worker is with their career. According to “Job Satisfaction 2023” from The Conference Board, U.S. job satisfaction reached an all-time high in 2022. The study, which found improved satisfaction across nearly all 26 components measured, revealed that non-compensation factors, such as work-life balance, outpaced improved pay and benefits every time. Overall, 62.3% of American workers were satisfied in 2022. Up from 60.2% from 2021, this marks the highest level recorded by this think tank since it started the survey in 1987. Based on average salary data from Forbes, using the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary nationwide for the general population this year is $59,428. In September 2023, about 134.17 million Americans were employed on a full-time basis (those who work 35 hours per week or more), according to Statista.
Based on this year’s EC&M survey findings, a few trends quickly jumped out, including: pay increases were commonplace across the board with all four demographic segments; the majority of survey respondents got a bonus in 2022 and expect to receive one in 2023; most characterized their work as satisfying; and employer support was typically deemed strong. However, when compared to 2019 survey results, work/life balance definitely emerged as a top concern for electrical professionals, exposing a potential juxtaposition that pay increases and satisfying work don’t necessarily trump job-related stressors. Another related highlight was the number of respondents who indicated they would recommend the electrical industry to a young close relative or family friend. In 2019, only 7% said they would not recommend the electrical field as a career; this year, that number jumped to 33%. What’s behind this change in perspective, especially when you consider the overwhelming majority was somewhat or extremely satisfied with their jobs, and more than 75% strongly or somewhat agreed they “love their current job”?
According to Veteran Freelance Writer Tom Zind, who also analyzed and wrote the 2019 career piece for us, maybe times have changed. “A life-altering pandemic, the Great Resignation phenomenon, higher inflation, back-breaking educational costs, and a reassessment of what’s important in life may have also intervened,” he writes in the special report. “Many workers have taken a step back, looked at their lives, and lamented paths not taken or reimagined their futures — and maybe glimpsed those of their loved ones as well — with a calculating eye.”
Turn to this month’s cover story for more in-depth coverage and analysis on employment trends in the electrical industry.