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# Asking for a raise after a year

## Asking for a raise after a year

(OP)
To Experienced Structural Engineers,

I am working at a small structural engineering firm as a project engineer, and deal with the design of residential & commercial mostly wood frame buildings in California. I have been working at this firm for a year now. I get 30$/hr. Most of the projects I go over the budget due to challenges of the projects and my lack of experience. Because I go over the budget at most of the projects, I am hesitant to ask for a raise now even though I put all my energy and effort into my job. My boss has not told me anything about my performance yet, no feedback on that. How would you guys ask for a raise in this scenario ? -- I started studying for PE to increase my value and knowledge in structural engineering. Thanks ! ### RE: Asking for a raise after a year Maybe you should be focusing on the the work you are doing now and resolving the budget issues before studying for your PE. Once you can get the budget right then you may have some grounds for asking for that raise. Regards Ashtree "Any water can be made potable if you filter it through enough money" ### RE: Asking for a raise after a year You should ask your boss for a few minutes of his time to discuss your performance. It’s important to get feedback at this stage of your career. Feel out the conversation...if it’s a positive review, it might be a good time to also ask for a modest raise. ### RE: Asking for a raise after a year We're in Arizona, where the cost of living is a hell of a lot less, and we start new grads at more than$30 an hour. Now residential wood frame buildings tend to be commodities and the bottom line is king, but if your performance is satisfactory, you deserve a raise. They're not hiring someone to replace you for that salary.
As far as going over budgets, there's two reasons; Either you're slow or the budgets are too low. How far do you go over? Does everyone get the same budget? When you start meeting the budget, will they lower it again?
If your boss won't give you a raise, someone else will. This place sounds like an engineering sweatshop.

### RE: Asking for a raise after a year

I wouldn't ask for a raise until you figure out why your projects are going over budget. Is it typical of your peers to go over budget? It is possible to put in a lot of effort but be inefficient and ineffective. This can improve with experience.

Don't assume a PE license means a raise. It can make you more marketable if you decide to move on.

I used to count sand. Now I don't count at all.

### RE: Asking for a raise after a year

I cant comment on salary as I know CE/SEs tend to be among the lowest paid engineers, however, I would point out that most see their biggest jumps in income during the first ~5-10 years of their career while theyre learning the profession. After that most folks tend to plateau. JMO but I would expect a raise every year during that period in addition to the usual 3-5% inflationary increase.

### RE: Asking for a raise after a year

Dursunlutfu,

A few thoughts from someone who is (more or less) about ten years down the line from where you are:

1. Your value to the (I'm guessing) small company you work for likely will not increase after you are licensed. Sad but true in most cases - They already have someone who is a PE stamping and reviewing drawings (your boss). Most firms will at least give a nominal increase for passing your exam but most require you taking on additional responsibilities (Acting as Team Lead, Project Lead, PM, whatever your firm calls it) to substantially increase your compensation. Before you become overly concerned with achieving greater compensation at this firm, I'd ask you to look around and see if the backlog is sufficient to sustain another "boss". If not, you'll likely need to change jobs soon anyway (assuming you want to continue to progress your career) and it probably doesn't make much sense to rock the boat. Note, it can be (unfortunately) common at small firms to "churn" junior engineers - going through another batch every few years or so.
2. Don't concern yourself too terribly about going over budget - For an SE this is the phase of your career you should be concentrating on becoming a competent engineer. Learn the codes, learn what information is likely to govern in what instances and how to become high yield with your time (learn what you can get away without checking vs what you need to check every project and learn the "rules" of using "engineering judgement"). Your boss should be giving you regular feedback here - If he's not, ask for it. This feedback is the only thing of real "value" you'll get out of this period of your career (certainly not compensation).
3. Again, I don't know your specifics but $30/Hr in California does sound a bit low (As a data point, I started at$24/Hr in South Carolina in 09' when it was definitely a sellers market). If your in one of the major cities I imagine it's pretty hard to get by on that. If your interested, there is lots of work of similar type in other, less costly areas of the country (I'd personally suggest the Midwest). If your not getting overtime pay, be sure to limit the overtime you work to a reasonable amount (I'd say 45 hours/week at a max is a reasonable expectation for your position).
4. A lot of Jed's advice is on point. I worked for a sweatshop in my first four years but I did get a lot of good mentorship out of it which gave me the ability to fish (instead of a fish) for the rest of my career. I'd suggest focusing on the former instead of the later - the money will come in time. For your specific focus (residential/commercial), a good way to gauge if your budgets are small or your spinning your wheels is comparing your personal performance to other competent engineers in your area. I am not in California, but my firm (which does the same style of work) generally averages around $1500-$2500 per sheet for our drawings.
5. Right now, the best advice I can give you is try hard, learn as much as you can and network like crazy. You should be going to every ASCE/SEA/NSPE/ACEC or other professional event you can find. One of the folks you meet at these events will likely be who hires you after you pass the exam.
Hope this is useful to you - Huck.

### RE: Asking for a raise after a year

Closed mouths don't get fed

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