- By Melissa Landon
- March 03, 2021
This excerpt of the 28-page Automation.com 2020 Salary Survey report reflects the early effects of pandemic-related economic upheavals for engineering, business and technical professionals in manufacturing and industry.
What if I’m the only one who gets paid 11 cents an hour, and everyone else in a similar role makes more? We know you’re thinking this (or something similar and maybe slightly less exaggerated), and that’s part of the reason why Automation.com annually surveys its global audience of industrial automation professionals. Another reason is change—salaries are affected by a range of factors, some of which change over time.
Overall, the survey indicates a slight increase in global salaries over 2019 levels. A survey emailed to our global audience in November resulted in almost 2,000 responses; 60% of respondents were from the U.S. Nearly 64% of respondents indicated they received or expected to receive an increase in total compensation in 2020 over 2019. However, nearly half (47%) of those expecting an increase anticipated it to be less than 4%.
To find out how your salary compared to your global peers in 2019, see Figure 1. It reveals that about 22% of all respondents made $59,999 or less; 25% made $60,000 to $99,999; and 41% of respondents made between $100,000 and $174,999. Just over 10% of respondents reported making $175,000 or more in 2019.
Figure 1: Worldwide 2019 gross salary report for automation professionals.
To compare your 2019 salary to U.S. automation professionals’, see Figure 2. It reveals that about 20% of U.S. respondents made $89,999 or less; about one-third made between $90,000 and $124,999; and one-third made $125,000 to $174,999. Fifteen percent of U.S. respondents reported making more than $175,000 in 2019.
Figure 2: 2019 gross salary report for respondents living in the United States.
The pandemic and the workplace
By many measures, 2020 has been an unprecedented year of disruption, uncertainty and change. Awareness of the novel Coronavirus began in the spring, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals, local and national economies, individual businesses and global supply chains continue even now. Suddenly, remote work, on-site social distancing and sanitizing, and extreme production flexibility became important considerations, so this year’s survey asked a few open-ended questions about automation professionals’ experiences during this pandemic.
Unlike retail commerce, restaurant businesses or the travel industry, reports are that most industrial companies are weathering the pandemic storm well. Plenty of answers to our survey indicated either a lack of change in workplace situation or just a positive regard for companies’ efforts to maintain normalcy for employees.
For example, one respondent noted, “I believe my company has handled the pandemic about as well as we could.” Others have report seeing negative effects of the pandemic; one respondent simply said, “The pandemic has made in-person work very difficult.”
Whatever your personal experience of working through the pandemic, it seems other automation professionals are experiencing similar things. Specifically regarding salary, respondents said:
“[Our] entire management team had 20% salary reduction from Jan-Sept. 2020. [It has been] I recently restored to the original rate as we are slowly recovering.”
“Salary reduction…moved to working remotely. No bonus and no salary increase in the form of cost of living or merit increase.”
“[I had] four unpaid leave weeks in 2020.”
“Salaries are very low and sporadic.”
A number of respondents reported layoffs, furloughs, and other gaps in employment due to COVID-19:
“Sales have tanked. [We were] forced to let contractors go. Furloughs for some employees.”
“[I was] furloughed due to project re-evaluation.”
“Yes, I got laid off. I found a better job.”
“I started by own business after being laid off!”
For some people, working remotely was a necessity in 2020; for others, it was just more of the same. “The pandemic has forced me to work from home two days a week in support of children who are on a hybrid school schedule,” one person wrote. Another said, “. . . In automation, we are used to working remotely—therefore, no change.”
Nearly half (48%) of respondents indicated they had the ability to do their job remotely, while 25% said they did not. More than one-quarter (26.8%) said they were working remotely at the time they took the survey earlier this year.
As offices and plants adapt to new safety protocols, it will be interesting to see how the workplace changes in 2021. One survey respondent noted: “[We] worked from home during the initial phase [of the pandemic] . . . we returned to our small office a couple months in. We wear masks and sanitize. The workload has remained consistent, and our company has creatively and effectively enacted policies to keep people safe.”
The full 28-page salary survey results report includes figures that breakout salary data by factors that influence salary, such as job function or years of experience. It also reports salary trends both globally and only for U.S. respondents. We hope these analyses gave you some insight regarding how your salary measures up to others across the globe based on a variety of factors. If you’re interested in historical salary data, see the Sept/Oct 2018 Salary Survey.
We hope you will participate in Automation.com’s next salary survey, which will be conducted this fall. Your participation will help us see how the pandemic—and everything that came with it—continues to affect automation and control professionals’ salaries and experiences. Will the results be good or bad? Since we don’t know yet, we’ll just leave you with one final comment from a respondent describing his feelings regarding the pandemic:
“Good and bad. Good…home with the kids and wife. Bad…. Work is ALWAYS home, too.”
Download the full results of the salary survey.
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