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Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

An interesting blog post on the IEEE website:


RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

In my personal opinion, that IEEE blog item reads like piece of crap.

It seems to be making the argument that the income disparity that we see in America today is somehow being caused by STEM workers earning more than non-STEM workers. Their argument just doesn't hold water, or are they suggesting that the 1% are somehow all engineers and scientists? Besides, their solution is NOT to increase the compensation for non-STEM workers but rather to drag down the wages of engineers and other STEM workers. Well, if this has no impact on the wages being earned by the 1% then this will only make income disparities WORSE since it will ultimately undermine even further the earning potential of the middle-class, where most STEM workers generally find themselves after getting their degrees and finding those supposedly higher-paying jobs.

Anyway, that's my humble opinion, for what it's worth...

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

Hear, Hear John Baker. Well said.

Eastern United States

"If a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death!"
~Code of Hammurabi

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

For all it’s worth, I have seen quite a few STEM people making less than unionized janitor.
Article seems to be total garbage.
And by the way, whatever happened to free market and ability to sell my skill to a highest bidder?

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

My reading of the blog is that it is highlighting the efforts of large companies to suppress STEM wages
through any means available.

Funny how that free market thing just takes a back seat when it hurts instead of helps the fortune 500.

An interesting link from the article.

Also note that the phrase "labor shortage" as applied to any level of job is nonsensical in an economics
perspective. Whatever labor is desired can be obtained by just paying more, which is the rub.

Yeah that free market rhetoric is only for the top and not the individual.

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

In first grade, I learned that the reward for doing hard work well was more hard work. Not much of an enticement.

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

Ok, so other than 2dye4 who actually read to the end of the article?

Toward the second half it was clearly debunking the premise of the title and what folk like Alan Greenspan have been claiming.

From what I've seen H1B (and even the student guest worker visa version) are pretty close to being indentured servitude which in turn isn't that far from modern slavery which I thought something had been added to the Constitution about but my memory must be playing up. Very few of the H1B's I've seen are truely astounding 'world leading' talent etc from what I've seen.

Now, if the question had been "Are Senior Executives & Wall Street Types Overpaid"...

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

I got a mail from the IMechE today, asking about "STEM" workers in Aus being hard to find.

- Steve

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

KENAT, I have made a standing offer to run any company into the ground for half of what the current CEO gets:)



RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

It sounds like some people need to take an economics course or two. Yes if we allow more workes from other countries here, the cost per worker will go down (most people know that).
People who are paid less spend less, so you have fewer customers. Also as you allow more workers here, there are fewer workers for jobs in other countries. So people who are less qualified will fill those positions (you thought imported stuff is crap, just wait).
The people who are most qualified will gravitate to better paying jobs, leaving most companies with lower paid people, who are less qualified (Why does this copier keep breaking).

Why don't we just allow more business people and pay the business people less. Same with lawyers.

Apperently there is a shortage of truck drivers, so if pay decreases below that of truck drivers, then people will gravitate there.

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

I see your IEEE blog post, and counter with a well-researched, very poignant article from IEEE Spectrum:


Preaching to the converted here: the people who profit from an oversupply of engineers have been complaining about engineering shortages since the 1930s. See the sidebar of the article for the quotes, one per decade, from now until then.

There's no shortage- there's an oversupply of massive proportions, well beyond the needs of the marketplace. That's why engineering compensation has slipped relative to every other professional. The median salary of an Ontario teacher is now greater than that of a Level D (experienced) engineer.

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

Thanks Kenat. Without your post, I would not have read the article. Now I did, and get your point.

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

Would you believe anything Alan Greenspan says? His assigned agenda is to supress and destroy the US economy. Destroying STEM workers in the US is just another part of that agenda.

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

Didn't the oath that we swore to uphold as engineers state that we would passively standby and watch as our wages and jobs were taken away? Since we engineers have too much integrity to resort to such maneuvers as withholding our labor to protest, we could issue strongly worded memos to our company bosses. Our sistren and brethren in the AMA, ADA, ABA and a few trade unions seem to understand a little about controlling entry into the labor pool.

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

Quote (dvd)

Since we engineers have too much integrity to resort to such maneuvers as withholding our labor to protest, we could issue strongly worded memos to our company bosses.

Have you heard of this: Link

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

Checker Hater,
Work to rule, only works, if the rules in place, are contradictory, and incomprehensible.thumbsup

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

Don't you have ISO 9000?

The joke I remembered before going to Wiki:
"Do you know what Italian Strike is? They go to work and don't do anything."
"How is it different fron regular days?"

My apologies to all hard-working Italians out there...

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

Is that somewhat like the saying "We pretend to work, They pretend to pay us."?
I believe this was a saying from Russa on how communisism worked.

It just sounds like controlling people, the oposite of freedom.

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

So---we want to disuade the best and brightest from entering the fields that create and build everything we use everyday from roads to houses to bridges? Really? That seems like a really dumb idea.

I feel we as engineers are often looked at as a scourge. We want to do things right (and have a professional responsibilty to do so) but that often costs money. Do you want the best employees offering the best and yes, most cost effective (not cheap always!) solutions? Then that costs more money. MBAs don't like that because in their mind it hurts their bottom line. In the long run I'd argue their bottom line is far stronger with solid professionals on board rather than bottom of the barrel slackers cutting corners to make the quartley earnings look good and make their investor conference call go smoothly.

Does Greenspan want to drive down the wages of Doctors, CEOs, other high level executives? Wonder why not??? We all know that how the sausage is made is the secret that keeps Jimmy Dean in business. I bet the CEO doesn't know the secret, but the mid-level grunt grinding the meat sure does. Point: Without CEO, company keeps selling sausage. Without the grunt mixing, they stop selling sausage because it's no longer Jimmy Dean but some other "guesswork" recipe.

And when did STEM get this "HIGH PAID" label? Yeah, we are "well paid" but certainly I could argue to my two little boys when they start making those career path choices that a trade or business direction will make them as much or more money for far less education and unpaid effort then a STEM occupation will garner. I am almost 10 yrs out of college and they could make the same as me now 2 yrs out of high school with a trade. So why bother if it's about money??

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

Quote (HornTootinEE)

MBAs don't like that because in their mind it hurts their bottom line.
They don’t see it (or pretend not to see) because gains and losses are in different accounts.
Force your engineer to release raw, unfinished design, report completing your R&D 2 weeks early, saving money.
Then, because of the flaw that could be caught given some time, re-work or even scrap mold that cost as much as you pay your engineer in a year. The money still coming from the owner’s pocket, but thru different channel, so everybody is happy.

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

HornTootin- we're our own worst enemies. We settle for fees or salary when we should be taking a slice of the value we create. And we also don't like to hear that our skills are a dime a dozen - which in market terms, they certainly are. That's why our compensation has fallen to the basement of the licensed professions.

Should we dissuade the best and brightest from a career in engineering? It's like anything. If it's your true passion, go for it- the top 10% of engineers, similar to any profession, can make a very nice living. If it isn't your passion, take a look at the stats and make up your mind on a rational basis. Smart kids have options.

I certainly wouldn't recommend engineering to a kid who wasn't passionate about what engineers actually do. The risk and investment in educational effort and cost are disproportionately high to the monetary reward, compared with many other options they could pursue, passion aside. There are no guaranteed meal tickets for fresh grads any more, but engineering has the lowest match rate of any of the professions in Canada, i.e. fewer eng grads work as engineers than teaching school grads work as teachers or anything else resembling a true profession. That should tell you something, and it isn't that engineering is such a fabulous preparation as an educational path that it makes you qualified for all sorts of work. Surveys of 4th year eng students indicate that the overwhelming majority of them- over 90% of them- want a career in engineering when they graduate. Most of them don't end up there, and it's not all by choice.

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

That's an interesting thought. I wonder what the picture is around the globe of engineering graduates who want to work as engineers but have not found a suitable position within a year (say) of graduating?

http://www.engineersmedia.com.au/journals/aaee/pdf... seems to suggest that in 2006 31% of engineering graduates in Australia worked as engineers, and perhaps the same again in related fields. That doesn't answer my own question, I'll do some more digging.


Greg Locock

New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

GregLocock: the 2006 figures for Canada were that 29% of eng grads worked as engineers, and 42% total worked as either engineers or "managers"- that could be anything from CEO to manager of a fast food restaurant I guess. They take 42% as the "match rate".

I don't have the exact number at hand, but it was something around 20% of eng grads worked in areas for which they were obviously overqualified by education: as technicians or technologists, in the trades etc. That's a very high rate of people who are obviously under-employed. Of the remaining occupational categories subdivided in the StatsCan data, it's tough to know whether those people are properly employed or underemployed.

Our Tory federal government likes to make decisions based on ideology, and doesn't like pesky data getting in the way. Accordingly, they killed the mandatory long-form census in 2011, so the 2006 census data is the last good data we're getting. Try doing national forecasting and planning on the basis of a census where only those who really feel like it bother to fill out the survey- it's nuts.

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

Why aren't these people discussing if sports players or CEO's are over paid?

RE: Are STEM Workers Overpaid?

I can not think of a single product launch that failed because engineers' salaries were too high.

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