Starter Salary for Electrical Engineering: What Can You Earn?
December 20, 2022 • 5 min read
Electrical engineering remains a popular field, and for good reason. It promises fascinating work, good job security and high salaries. Even new recruits often have a take-home income that affords them a comfortable lifestyle.
There are several factors that will affect your earnings, from your location to your resume and negotiating skills. Keep reading as we break down the average starter salary for electrical engineering and how you can command a higher wage — even if you don’t yet have any work experience.
Electrical engineering is a well-paid field, with a 2021 median pay of $101,780, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Of course, when you first start working, you’ll be looking at a more conservative salary. But with 90% of electrical engineers earning over $62,360, your wages are still likely to be above average.
Your starting salary will depend on numerous factors. However, if you’re wondering exactly how much you should aim for in salary negotiations, there are some insights available.
Jobs board Indeed collects user-reported data about how much electrical engineers earn. They calculate that entry-level electrical engineers will earn $86,461 on average, despite having less than a year’s experience.
Some of the factors affecting your wages may be out of your control. With other factors, however, you will be able to leverage them to achieve a higher starting salary.
In Jacksonville, Florida, electrical engineers earn an average of $130,986 a year, according to Indeed’s data. Meanwhile, in Louisville, Kentucky, wages fall to $83,160.
The state and city you live in can determine the starter salary you earn. Not only will wages reflect the cost of living, but in a bigger city, you might have greater access to opportunities. There may be more companies hiring electrical engineers or higher-paying industries, which in turn, will enable you to receive more job offers and better negotiate salaries.
Of course, when it comes to location, higher-paying isn’t always better. You also need to consider spending power. How much can you buy with your salary? What quality of life will it allow you? And then there are your personal preferences: where do you want to live?
Some industries are more competitive than others, which in turn leads to higher staff salaries. It’s not just about the industry, though. You also have to consider the type of employer you’re working for. Is it an established corporation? An up-and-coming start-up with limited funding? A non-profit? Or the government?
You might be a newcomer to electrical engineering, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you lack experience. If you worked as an intern or trainee during your degree, you can use that to negotiate a higher starting salary.
The higher your level of electrical engineering education, the better the starting salary you can earn. For example, if you have a master’s in electrical engineering, you can expect to be paid a higher wage than someone with just a bachelor’s.
The college you go to may also affect your starting salary. A recent study found that going to a more prestigious college can boost your starting salary by up to $80,000. Of course, you also need to weigh that against increased student debt.
When job hunting, what matters isn’t just your experience and academic background. It’s also about how you present it. A well-crafted resume and compelling cover letter can make you a more attractive applicant, which in turn, can lead to better salary offers.
Asking for a better starting salary can significantly improve your lifetime earnings. Applicants who are willing to negotiate, and who do it well, can end up with a much higher take-home pay.
Asking for a higher starting salary can be intimidating, especially when you’re new to the workforce. However, over half of employers are willing to negotiate entry-level salaries, so don’t let your lack of experience put you off. By asking for a more attractive starting rate, you could increase your wages by several thousand dollars in your first year alone.
To help you negotiate more effectively, follow these three guidelines:
Before you begin salary negotiations, make sure you know the average rate for newly graduated electrical engineers in your location and industry. If you can, try to find out how much the company typically pays its electrical engineers.
Take the time to consider what salary you would like to earn, as well as the salary range that you would find acceptable. Think about benefits and the work environment, too. You might decide that you would be happy to accept a lower salary if there’s a better work-life balance, more generous health insurance or a greater number of vacation days.
Once you know the salary you hope to earn, you can begin preparing the reasons why you should be paid that. Good reasons for a higher salary include:
- The going rate for electrical engineers with your academic background and/or in your location
- Your skills and professional experience
- The cost of living in your area
- Salary offers made by competitors
Employers expect to negotiate salaries, but it’s important to get the tone right. You don’t want to sound unsure or combative. Stress that you’re excited by the prospect of working with the company before making the case for a higher rate. You can also check out our guide to asking for a higher starting salary, which has example phrasing you can use.
The first step toward negotiating a better salary is creating a resume that highlights your best features. A well-written resume will net you more invites to job interviews and create a more favorable first impression of you. Not only will it increase the likelihood of a higher initial salary offer, but it could lead to more job offers overall, which will put you in a better-negotiating position.
Your resume should be customized to the role and company in question, professionally designed and machine-readable so that your application doesn’t get filtered out by applicant tracking software.
Our electrical engineer resume templates will help you craft a professional and polished resume. What’s more, our resume builder will walk you through customizing these templates to your background and skill sets, from suggesting the ideal structure to recruiter-approved phrasing. These tools take the guesswork out of resume writing, so you can apply for roles and negotiate salary offers with confidence.
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