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Title: Compensation (new thread name)

Davis Parsons wrote:

I assume you are referring to your editorial in the February 2001 "Structure" magazine.  Your editorial was not poorly written but I disagree with your statements about structural engineers being poorly paid.

Dear Davis:

Your assumption is correct, but not your interpretation.  I think that I posted the entire editorial on the Listserv in early March as a service to those readers who don't receive STRUCTURE Magazine.  If not, I would be willing to do so if anyone wants to read the whole enchilada.  The paragraph that you refer to actually reads as follows:

"It is a myth that structural engineering is a lousy business and structural engineers are poorly paid.  Structural engineers are not prohibited from acting as the prime professional on any project, and many are now seizing that opportunity.  While fee pressure will never be eliminated, it can be effectively remedied by emphasizing value and by striving for better clients and projects.  Structural engineers normally are compensated at least as well as architects and civil engineers with comparable experience, and some earn more than $200,000."

In America, neither the general public nor the engineering profession guarantee any particular level of compensation to any of us.  Rather, we are compensated based upon our individual performance as engineers and as businessmen, as well as upon the consequences of the various career decisions that we have made.  If you feel that you are being poorly paid or are otherwise being treated poorly, you should do something about it.  Consider changing locations, employers, clients, and/or services.  Life is just too short to be miserable!

Another solution might be simply to change your yardstick.  Happiness and success don't need to be measured in dollars.  I have a friend who took the unusual step of posting his gross compensation on this Listserv a while back.  My federal income taxes are somewhat higher than his gross compensation.  Does that make me more successful?  I don't think so, and neither does he.  Although we are about the same age (50 something) and were raised in the same general area (Midwest), our interests, personalities, talents, and career choices are very different.  Nevertheless, both of us are quite satisfied with our respective lives and careers.  It boils down to the adage:  "different strokes for different folks."

You also complained of employers failing to pay for professional licenses, participation in professional societies, continuing education, etc.  This simply isn't the case in Dallas.  To the best of my knowledge, all of the mainstream employers of structural engineers here routinely bear all of these expenses.

In summary, I believe that nothing positive can be gained by whining and complaining.  If you are dissatisfied with your individual situation, do something about it individually.  If you feel that the structural engineering profession is not everything that it ought to be, do something about it collectively.  An excellent mechanism to achieve the latter is the NCSEA Advocacy Committee.  Six structural engineers from this Listserv have volunteered in the past 24 hours.  Are any more of you out there?


Stan R. Caldwell, P.E., F.ASCE
Chair, NCSEA Advocacy Committee
Vice President
Halff Associates, Inc.
8616 Northwest Plaza Drive
Dallas, Texas  75225
Phone:  (214) 346-6280
Fax:  (214) 739-0095
Email:  scaldwell(--nospam--at)
When I pass away, just cremate my remains, put the ashes in an envelope,
and mail them to the Internal Revenue Service.  Include a note stating:
"Now you have everything!"