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Why Do Civil and Mechanical Engineers Have Lower Starting Salaries than Software and Computer Engineers?

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This is a great question that I’ve pondered during my 20-year technical recruiting career. The best answer I can give is simple supply and demand dynamics. There is more demand for software and computer engineers than civil and mechanical engineers. Looking at CareerBuilder’s Supply and Demand tool, here are a few statistics that may help from the Minneapolis, MN area as an example:

·         Civil Engineers: Job Postings = 3,402 Active Candidates = 255

o    Difference: 3,147

·         Mechanical Engineers: Job Postings = 12,355 Active Candidates = 1,548

o    Difference: 10,8707

·         Software Engineers: Job Postings = 34,556 Active Candidates = 2,230

o    Difference: 32,326

·         Computer Engineers: Job Postings = 23,047 Active Candidates= 1,100

o    Difference: 21,947

As you see, there is a higher demand (Postings) than supply (Candidates) for software and computer engineers vs. civil and mechanical engineers.

But there is great news for Civil, Mechanical and Architecture professional. The supply and demand for these backgrounds continue to increase this year with no letup in sight. Ask any HR or technical manager about the availability of strong candidates and they will confirm this is harder than other.  With this increased demand with reducing supply, salaries will gradually rise this year as anyone in the job market will attest.


-Tom Goettl is VP at George Konik Associates, a technical recruiting firm in Minneapolis, MN