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Re: The Myth of Inadequate Structural Engineering Compensation

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Scott Maxwell wrote:
Dennis,

I do not believe Bill believes that sole-proprietors are "bottom
feeders"...I believe his intent was more to express how some (which did not
include himself) might construe such engineers.  And I do not necessarily
think he meant it as a derogatory term.  I believe he meant it as more of
"those who make their living working at the lower end of the structural
engineering pay scale"...

This is what I have observed over my career, which is much more varied than the typical, at least here in Houston where so many are limited to petrochem/heavy industrial, and most every structural guy stays in his "niche."

The more "boring" the job, the higher it pays. Yeah, that seems counterintuitive, but think about it for a bit (as I have).

To me, the most "boring" work involves miles of repetitive pipe racks, very few buildings, mostly steel framing that doesn't even tend to be optimized by the structural engineers. Foundations that are pro forma. Limited requirements as to interaction with other disciplines so long as the piping fits. Yeah, I'm describing your typical refinery, chemical plant, etc.

The most "interesting" tends to be buildings, next bridges, and next things like forensic work. These all make a lot less than our petrochem brethren.

There are some exceptions: offshore tends to be both challenging AND lucrative (ironically, that's the one area of practice in which I have no experience at all).

I've found that large custom homes are the most interesting of all - but the builders, unconstrained by building code enforcement here in Texas, won't pay you squat for doing it. I've done plenty of those jobs where I later figured I earned about $2.50 per hour. But it WAS interesting.

So, by "bottom feeders" I do indeed mean "the stuff that's just too cheap for other folks to do."

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