Amazing stats from Alberta's latest engineering salary survey
Anyone who has ever lived in Calgary knows that there are a lot of engineers who call this city home. In fact, there are almost 40,000 engineers registered in Calgary, more than double Edmonton and far more per capita than any city in Canada. Calgary is an engineer’s mecca, making up over 3% of the city’s population, rivalled only by Silicon Valley (at 4.5%) but far ahead of Houston (2.2%) and double the rate of Boston (1.7%). In fact, the whole province of Alberta is a really great place for engineers to practice their trade.
Engineers flock to Alberta for 2 main reasons:
- There are lots of really good engineering jobs in the province, and
- The salaries are really, really good.
So just how good are they?
Anecdotally, every engineer will tell you they make so much more than they did in Ontario/BC/Quebec (insert province of choice here). There are so many more opportunities, better benefits, more vacation time, lower taxes and better growth prospects. And APEGA (The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta) has all the data to back it up.
Every year, APEGA publishes a very comprehensive salary survey of its 75,000 members. The results, compiled from 13,500 respondents, reveal some very interesting statistics. Salaries and bonuses are obviously the meat and potatoes of the report. But there are several other important take-aways that reveal why Alberta is an engineer’s paradise.
1. The corner office is full of engineers
This isn’t a surprising statistic for anyone who lives in this province. According to a recent study by recruiting firm Pearson Partners International, 40% of oil and gas CEOs in Canada graduated from an Alberta university and over 60% of those CEO have either an engineering or geosience degree. Engineers make up a good portion of the senior management and executive teams in Alberta corporations. That translates into lots of opportunities for professional growth and career advancement. And they make the big bucks to show for it, averaging $400,000 a year including perks and bonuses.
So if you’re looking to become the next CEO of Suncor or Imperial Oil, skip the business degree and consider becoming an engineer instead.
2. Oil and gas producers still pay the highest salaries
If there’s any debate on where the best paying jobs are, survey results should put this issue to rest. As in the previous years, clearly oil and gas producers pay better than EPCs, consulting firms or manufacturers. And when energy prices are in the toilet, they tend to be very slow to cut salaries, slash benefits and de-staff employees. In fact, the survey shows that producers pay about 10% better than the provincial average when it comes to base salaries for engineers.
3. Geoscientists outearn engineers at almost every level
Petroleum geologists and geophysicists hit the occupational jackpot in Alberta, and in much of the world for that matter. Geoscientists know where the oil is located, how much of it is there and whether or not it can be economically extracted. Since there are few geoscientists out there, they make a spectacular salary, on average earning 25-30% more than an engineer at an equivalent level. And they have no trouble climbing the corporate ladder either.
Did you know: the president of Shell Canada is a geophysicist!
4. Engineering/geoscience students outearn the average Canadian worker
Unpaid internships are not much of an issue in Alberta, and certainly not a problem for engineers. Engineering and geoscience co-op students earn an average of $1,100 to $1,200 a week. That’s more than the average Joe, who earns only $957 a week. And their earning potential only gets better as they move up the food chain, earning an average of $3,000 a week for non-managerial positions.
5. Women earn equal pay for equal work
How many stories have you read about women earning less than their male counterparts? That’s certainly not the case across Alberta’s engineering professionals, and certainly not in the oil and gas sector. For an industry much maligned by the media for reckless destruction of Mother Earth, at least we can confirm they believe in pay equity. In fact, for the second year in a row, women slightly out-earn men at the senior management level.
So for any young people out there pondering future career aspirations, consider a degree in engineering or the geosciences. We think it's the best job on Earth. And there's no better place to work and live than Alberta.
At the very least, you'll have a much better shot at paying off those student loans in a timely fashion . . .