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Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

(OP)
I'm a newly minted PE. I've done a lot of reading about raises associated with receiving one's PE license and I know there is a large variation in raises/bonuses depending on your industry, public/private, responsibility etc. I received our company's standard bonus but what I would consider a measly COL adjustment during our recent salary adjustments.

In my opinion, I've been underpaid for the last two years. This is based off of one coworker's salary, online salary websites, and a posting for an entry level public sector job that is nearly 10% higher than my salary as a PE. Last year I talked to my manager after a glowing performance review and he agreed that I was underpaid. I received a mid-year raise and was expecting to make up the gap when I received my PE. It didn't happen. I didn't bring up my concerns at my recent review because we discussed it last year and I couldn't make a strong argument that my responsibilities had changed.

Recently, it's come to light that I will likely be part of a project that requires me to review and seal a bunch of simple designs for a client. Now I feel even more taken advantage of. I would like to say "No stamping without a raise" but that has quite a few downsides. Realistically, the job will just go to someone else and I will be marginalized. It will look like blackmail. The other option is to give the project my all, then ask for a raise by pointing to the additional responsibility I took on.

I don't want to hold my stamp hostage, but the reality is, I am assuming a lot of legal responsibility for my employer by stamping designs. I don't want to do that while simultaneously being treated poorly in regards to salary.

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

Usually the principals or partners stamp the plans.

Do they plan on making you a partner so you can do this?

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

2

Quote:

Usually the principals or partners stamp the plans

absolutely not true

either find a new job that will pay what you want or do the job you have. if that means stamping plans, them stamp them

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

Why do you have to wait until your yearly review to ask for a raise?
Your responsibilities just changed (stamping).

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

It's always a mistake to know what your coworker's salaries are.

Chris, CSWA
SolidWorks 14
SolidWorks Legion

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

Ask for a raise unless you were hired with this explicit condition stated (i.e. we expect you to get your PE license and stamp drawings for us). This is like asking an insurance company if you could add a new car onto your insurance policy with no additional cost. They wouldn't accept the increased liability without some compensation and neither should you. In addition, you effectively just jumped from Engineer I to Engineer II job descriptions. Thus, you could conceivably ask for more money than before if you were being hired at a new company. Your current company should take this into account. I'd only consider this fair if you were overpaid or have amazing benefits before getting your PE.

Maine Professional and Structural Engineer.
(Just passed the 16-hour SE exam, woohoo!)

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

2
More importantly than asking for a raise, ask for liability and errors and omissions insurance.

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

Really good point by Mint! Demand a copy of your company liability insurance and make sure you are actually covered!

Maine Professional and Structural Engineer. www.fepc.us
(Just passed the 16-hour SE exam, woohoo!)

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

(OP)
Thank you all for your responses. I can't see how to multi-quote, but I want to address a few things.

1. Our company is pretty big and most of the people stamping work are not principals. I can see how that is more common in smaller companies, though.
2. I didn't go digging for salaries. Certain careless project managers send out fee and cost estimates with billing rates for everyone who is working on that project. I would never use that info in negotiations, but our salaries aren't really secret.
3. Good point on the errors and omissions insurance. I will look into that.

As far as the stamping or no stamping goes, it sounds like members are kind of split on which way I should go. I look forward to any other opinions!

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

Don't keep your stamp hostage, stamp and sign the project, make it a success, that will give you the confidence to walk in and demand a raise. If not, start looking. Everybody wants a PE

knowledge is power

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

If you feel taken advantage of, the best solution is to stomp your feet, and go home to bed. Refuse to come back to work until you get the raise you obviously deserve.

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

To me, using "billing rates' from a cost estimate is not a very good way to conclude a co-worker makes more money than you. Billing rates usually are a roll-up of salary, benefits, supervision, and overhead. Cost estimates could have come from a project several years ago, or be for projects several years in the future (escalation difference). Plus, some cost estimators are notorious for building in hidden cushions, like inflated billing rates. Maybe you have an apples-to-apples comparison, maybe you don't. There can be a lot of variables at play here.

Good luck,
Latexman

Technically, the glass is always full - 1/2 air and 1/2 water.

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

Uhm, er, ahhhhhhhhhh.

Have you walked into your boss's office at a convenient time (NOT on a Friday afternoon after quitting time!!!) and asked him, "I am starting to seal drawings as a PE for this project, what do I need to do to get my next pay raise?"

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

I have to concur with Latexman. Billing rates on project estimates are a crummy way to infer salary. I know I worked for a company that billed me at a higher rate than a couple of junior engineers that made more than me (I found out after we both had left the company in question).

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

Or, with newly minted PE waving in hand, "I just received my PE. I am starting to seal drawings as a fully qualified PE for this firm, what else must I do to get a promotion and raise to compensate me for this huge increase in responsibility and service?"

Good luck,
Latexman

Technically, the glass is always full - 1/2 air and 1/2 water.

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

Commensurate is the word I was searching for! "I just received my PE. I am starting to seal drawings as a fully qualified PE for this firm, what else must I do to get a promotion and raise commensurate with this huge increase in responsibility and service?"

Good luck,
Latexman

Technically, the glass is always full - 1/2 air and 1/2 water.

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

If I happen to learn of a colleagues pay I do 3 things. I do the job I was hired for at the rate I agreed to do it for no one forced you to accept that wage. I keep that information in my back pocket for an appropriate time- I always felt review/ salary adjustment came once a year unless additional responsibilities were asked and even then I usually did them the first time and made sure I succeeded so I was able to show my value. Most importantly I made it very clear when I hired in that I don't beg for increases if the company cannot see the value in my services and professionalism, I can and will find someone who will. This last point I don't ever waver in, that doesn't mean during review I don't discuss what I feel I am worth but I don't beg or hold hostage my services.

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

In regards to the 69Firebird's post "I keep that information in my back pocket for an appropriate time

I would be very cautious of bringing up any one else's salaries when negotiating your own. I say this because I took a close look at my previous company's confidentiality policy. I was surprised to see that discussing your salary with coworkers was against the company confidentiality agreement. I wouldn't be surprised to see that clause in other company confidentiality agreements either.

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

@purplemonkey

It's definitely in the company's best interest to not have salary information discussed, but it's definitely not in the employee's best interest. There's also the matter of whether that's an enforceable clause or not (I don't know). They can put whatever they want, but afaik at least a lot of non-compete clauses aren't worth any more than the paper their printed on in many states.

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

I've always worked on the premise that if two employees discuss their respective salaries at least one of them will go away from the conversation unhappy- because we will overvalue our own contribution relative to everyone else.

As a chem eng/metallurgist the first part of any answer I give starts with "It Depends"

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

Best time to discuss salary is right after a coworker leaves, catch up and buy them a beer a few weeks into it. You can hopefully get 3 data points: what they were making, what they are making now, and what the counteroffer was. Assuming they were a peer, and the new position is similar to the old, fair market compensation is somewhere in the middle.

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

Purplemonkey,

The clause about discussing salary is probably illegal and not enforceable. It was a major labour rights issue that was established in most countries quite a long time ago. I suspect you're in the US, where the National Labour Relations Act gives everyone the right to discuss their wage. The Labor Relations Board has defended that right.

I don't care enough to look up proper references at the moment, but see here:

http://www.npr.org/2014/04/13/301989789/pay-secrec...

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

Why are you putting up with low wages as a PE? Employers shouldnt be able to take advantage of PEs so much. When you think about how the market works, its not just you that suffers when employers get away with underpaying you. Keep in mind you aren't going to get rich by being somebody's employee, but you did indeed just become more valuable to your employer

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

TLHS, I actually believe its the first amendment that protects those rights. Do we still go by that set of laws?

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

The first amendment stops the government from writing laws that restrict free speech. It would prevent the government from writing a law restricting discussion about salaries. It doesn't stop your employer from threatening to fire you if you talk about your salary.

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

Sorry TLHS I was under the impression that he had a public sector job, and I was trying real hard to make a jab at the government.

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

You say your new project will require you to "review and seal drawings for a client". Be careful with this. The laws of many states do not allow this, and it would be considered plan stamping in most as I know it. You need to be in responsible charge of the designs (meaning you have complete control over final decision making with regard to the plans) or you must do it yourself. Checking someone else's work and sealing it is not quite within that definition, especially if the people doing the design work are at another company.

I may seem to be turning the argument a bit and getting off track, but it may be an important distinction that you can use in your plan to present an argument to your boss. You also need to make sure you only seal items that you consider to be in your area of expertise. Since you say the designs are simple, maybe you are covered on those issues.

RE: Believe I'm underpaid - do I have to seal drawings?

At least here in Indiana, and I think in most States, a public employee's salary is public knowledge. You can search online and find out the salary of any employee of the State's agencies. It's a little scary in this day and age of identity fraud.

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