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Civil Engineering - We need to talk about money

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  • I spoke with the head of school of engineering in DIT over the weekend. They have a class of 30 graduating this year which is more than TCD and UCD combined. Fluck me.




  • I don't know about the rest of the country but i'm with a multinational consultancy in Cork. Things were lean enough the past 2 years but since January things have taken a turn for the better.
    The carpark outside is bursting at the seams where 2 years ago it would be only 2/3's full. The most recent development is 5 new people having started here yesterday. There have been across the board not insubstantial raises too of >15% in most cases from what I hear.

    Might we be turning the corner?




  • I don't know about the rest of the country but i'm with a multinational consultancy in Cork. Things were lean enough the past 2 years but since January things have taken a turn for the better.
    The carpark outside is bursting at the seams where 2 years ago it would be only 2/3's full. The most recent development is 5 new people having started here yesterday. There have been across the board not insubstantial raises too of >15% in most cases from what I hear.

    Might we be turning the corner?

    From a pure employment perspective - certainly.

    The amount of positions you see advertised has increased substantially over the last 6-12 months, likely on the back of various big IW and Motorway projects kicking off. BUT... following a recent tender we lost to a ridiculous bid, it's evident consultancies are still 'buying jobs' to keep cashflow going.

    Don't see fees and/or salaries increasing substantially while such practices continue.




  • Am 12 yrs qualified, CEng civil / environmental, I have a senior (director in all but name) role in an SME consultancy.

    There's an incredible dearth of talent at the moment. Salaries are in the middle of rocketing driven by a boost in workload and anticipation of more, but simply put there arent enough good engineers to go round at the moment. We lost a very mediocre guy to another company for a ridiculous offer. We'll be tabling 10%+ increases to staff over the next few months to keep staff on kilter with whats going on in the marketplace. We've gone looking for graduates and everyone of value had had a job tied up since last November. One particular specialism must have seen salaries go up by 20-30%+ in the last 12 months, driven by anticipation (not actual delivery) of work coming out of one particular politically unpopular institution whose future looks less than rosey...?!

    The worrying thing is (as mooted in previous posts) - fees are continuing to drop. Personally I'm unclear as to how consultancies can increase a significant overhead by say 10% + but continue to buy work, especially consultancies who remain leveraged to the hilt.

    There is definitely a big problem coming about in terms of supply of good staff. My worry is that the demand is anticipatory rather than actual. In our own instance we have cash in the bank and I think we'll see this little bubble out, but if people don't quit the race to the bottom of the fee pile and / or the anticipated glut of work doesn't arrive (the 2 are linked...a lot of the companies most active in taking on expensive new staff are the ones buying the work in my recent experience), we're (as in the industry rather than my wee firm) going to wind up being back laying off staff we can't afford to keep, again.




  • The worrying thing is (as mooted in previous posts) - fees are continuing to drop. Personally I'm unclear as to how consultancies can increase a significant overhead by say 10% + but continue to buy work, especially consultancies who remain leveraged to the hilt.

    Great post - but what's the solution?

    Personally, I'm a bit away (in terms of experience) from a Director role within my consultancy but it makes my blood boil that the decision makers continue to cut the throat of others whilst barely scraping by.

    Not one to advocate a cartel scenario, but industry leaders need to have a round table discussion regarding fees and what our skills are worth as a minimum.

    As professionals, we're worth far far more than what we're selling ourselves as.


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  • onrail wrote: »
    Great post - but what's the solution?

    Personally, I'm a bit away (in terms of experience) from a Director role within my consultancy but it makes my blood boil that the decision makers continue to cut the throat of others whilst barely scraping by.

    Not one to advocate a cartel scenario, but industry leaders need to have a round table discussion regarding fees and what our skills are worth as a minimum.

    As professionals, we're worth far far more than what we're selling ourselves as.

    Its a strategic decision on what margin you want to make (need..). I can see why in say a multidisciplinary consultancy tendering for a multidisciplinary project that an MD would cut the sh*te out of a civils fee knowing he'll get good margin on say M+E, an in an "I'm alright jack" way the MD will be grand and his civils dept can swivel.

    Equally though theres a cycle of small SME's continuing to drive prices down (because they can - less overheads) but the multinationals are following them, and beating them, and its a self sustaining destructive cycle. I tendered for a pitifully small job a few weeks back, tenders were 2 SMEs and one multinational, the MN won by a solid 20% on a job that the total fee was under £3k...that company probably couldnt pay the admin to set the project up internally for the money they won the work at.

    There are some very short sighted fear-driven or utterly speculation-driven decisions being made out there at the minute imo, and a serious lack in places of any far sighted strategic view of where we as paid individuals and as a professional industry want to place ourselves. It's not a very good reflection on "us" as an industry.




  • onrail wrote: »

    As professionals, we're worth far far more than what we're selling ourselves as.

    Unfortunately, you're not.
    You are worth what the market is willing to pay. The market is saturated.
    It's not nice, but it's the reality.

    When demand comes back, your earnings will rise, perhaps then you will feel satisfied for what the market is offering.

    This is capitalism - ireland is still exiting the biggest property BUBBLE the world has ever seen.
    Bigger than the tulip mania.

    Embrace it.




  • onrail wrote: »
    As professionals, we're worth far far more than what we're selling ourselves as.

    Agree with your comment re market saturation - perhaps I should rephrase:

    "As highly numerate, highly educated, articulate and dedicated professionals, working in a high pressure and litigious industry; we as individuals are underpaid when compared to counterparts in careers with similar demands"




  • Just to give you a perspective from someone who did leave.

    I qualified in 2005 from TCD, worked for 5 years as a site engineer. Really enjoyed the work but hours were long.

    I was made redundant in 2010, applied for a trainee accountant role with the top 10 accountancy firms. Got a trainee contract and started my Accountsncy exams through the trainee contract in 2010. Started on €20k but salary increases every year when passed exams. Qualified as an accountant in 2014 with wages up to €45k at that stage.

    Now earning close to €70k with bonus, decent pension on top of that.

    The engineering qualification/ experience on site has definitely helped me progress. Some of the people who I qualified as an accountant with would still be on 45k now as they lack real world experience as such.




  • apeking wrote: »
    Just to give you a perspective from someone who did leave.

    I qualified in 2005 from TCD, worked for 5 years as a site engineer. Really enjoyed the work but hours were long.

    I was made redundant in 2010, applied for a trainee accountant role with the top 10 accountancy firms. Got a trainee contract and started my Accountsncy exams through the trainee contract in 2010. Started on €20k but salary increases every year when passed exams. Qualified as an accountant in 2014 with wages up to €45k at that stage.

    Now earning close to €70k with bonus, decent pension on top of that.

    The engineering qualification/ experience on site has definitely helped me progress. Some of the people who I qualified as an accountant with would still be on 45k now as they lack real world experience as such.

    Great to hear - and fair play. You'd need to be working a fair few years (and be good!) to earn that in CE!

    Problem with me (and I'd imagine many others like me) is that it's difficult to take such a plunge to that temporary 20k - whether it be circumstance or pride!

    Sounds a bit insensitive, but redundancy would almost be a welcome 'shove' for some...


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  • Does anyone have any guidance on current salaries for different levels of experience? I'm finding it difficult to gauge whether what my current employer is paying me is on par with other companies.

    I have roughly 4 years experience in civil/structural engineering, not chartered but I will be applying chartership next year. I am a hard worker and I am driven to succeed, which I think they know.

    I understand that there is a lack of engineering graduates coming out of college and hope this puts me in a good position, but if I ever sit down to discuss my salary with my company I would like to know what I can be realistically paid.

    What kind of salary bracket would you expect for an engineer with 4 years experience in the construction industry?




  • Does anyone have any guidance on current salaries for different levels of experience? I'm finding it difficult to gauge whether what my current employer is paying me is on par with other companies.

    I have roughly 4 years experience in civil/structural engineering, not chartered but I will be applying chartership next year. I am a hard worker and I am driven to succeed, which I think they know.

    I understand that there is a lack of engineering graduates coming out of college and hope this puts me in a good position, but if I ever sit down to discuss my salary with my company I would like to know what I can be realistically paid.

    What kind of salary bracket would you expect for an engineer with 4 years experience in the construction industry?

    There are a couple of salary surveys available but your best bet is to go on Irishjobs.ie and see what people are willing to pay for engineers with similar experience as yourself. It's likely to be a bit above what you're on now to draw people to switch but there's no better way to find the market rate.




  • Dunphus wrote: »
    There are a couple of salary surveys available but your best bet is to go on Irishjobs.ie and see what people are willing to pay for engineers with similar experience as yourself. It's likely to be a bit above what you're on now to draw people to switch but there's no better way to find the market rate.

    I would recommend the various free online salary surveys. Many advertised jobs do not give the salary, or your impression can be skewed by a low sample depending on how often you look at it. Many higher, better paid jobs, I feel never make it to those openly advertised sites.
    My experience is that the surveys give a pretty accurate picture of what I have experienced both for myself and others.




  • How are things going in Dublin now folks? I'm hearing plenty about a shortage of Engineers for housing and infrastructure - is this having any impact whatsoever on pay?




  • onrail wrote: »
    How are things going in Dublin now folks? I'm hearing plenty about a shortage of Engineers for housing and infrastructure - is this having any impact whatsoever on pay?

    depends on what experience bracket you fit in to.




  • godtabh wrote: »
    depends on what experience bracket you fit in to.

    Out of interest:

    1. Grads
    2. Pre-chartered (4-6 years exp)
    3. 10 years experience CEng

    Any ideas? I fit into (2) myself




  • I was looking a year or so ago and 37-40k was about the salary for a few ones I applied for. 6 years experience civil in consultancy. There was still a race to the bottom tendering 6 months ago so doubt salaires would have risen considerably




  • thebsharp wrote: »
    I was looking a year or so ago and 37-40k was about the salary for a few ones I applied for. 6 years experience civil in consultancy. There was still a race to the bottom tendering 6 months ago so doubt salaires would have risen considerably

    So, after all this talk of skills shortages and trying to lure students into construction... salaries are still dreadful




  • One of the multi-nationals was offering about 45k but with no overtime the hours worked would have meant being less well off overall. Reluctantly I chose to leave the civil profession.




  • thebsharp wrote: »
    One of the multi-nationals was offering about 45k but with no overtime the hours worked would have meant being less well off overall. Reluctantly I chose to leave the civil profession.

    To where or what, would you mind me asking?


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  • I'm working as a project manager in the energy sector, pay is just over 50k so not leaps and bounds more but the sector has a more positive outlook. Some of the Irish companies involved are making big progress overseas which is great to see as well. My position is focused on delivering projects so I envisage this kind of role opening doors to a number of industries if I work hard at it and keep developing.

    I keep hoping as a country we'll start taking civil infrastructure investment more seriously.




  • thebsharp wrote: »
    I'm working as a project manager in the energy sector, pay is just over 50k so not leaps and bounds more but the sector has a more positive outlook. Some of the Irish companies involved are making big progress overseas which is great to see as well. My position is focused on delivering projects so I envisage this kind of role opening doors to a number of industries if I work hard at it and keep developing.

    I keep hoping as a country we'll start taking civil infrastructure investment more seriously.

    How do you find hours and stress levels? I always get the impression that project management positions are fairly intensive?

    Fair play to you getting out of Civils though. We'd all be on the same ship if we had the financial/personal freedom to take a leap of faith




  • onrail wrote: »

    How do you find hours and stress levels? I always get the impression that project management positions are fairly intensive?

    Its rare if ever you will find a high paying job that isnt stressful. Companies are going to give you lots of money to have an easy life. The higher up the food chain you go the higher the stress and the higher the reward (relatively speaking).
    onrail wrote: »

    Fair play to you getting out of Civils though. We'd all be on the same ship if we had the financial/personal freedom to take a leap of faith

    Its not as big a job as you think.




  • Is this seen across the other engineering sectors ? Even if it's not directly associated with construction. It hard to find a college in the country that doesn't do engineering so I can see why the supply is so high.




  • Software engineering doesn't see this, or anything even close to this.




  • Dunphus wrote: »
    It's soul destroying alright. Mind you, we can give up our lives, work 70+ hours, become associates and make 60k if we want.

    To be honest I have no idea what the wage will be through my career though it seems the time is right for people to move company.

    EDIT: Some people to move company if they want to chase money that is. I'm not saying that's what I'm planning on doing. Re-reading my post I see it might come across that way

    60k for 70+ hours a week :confused:

    that's no reward




  • lawred2 wrote: »
    60k for 70+ hours a week :confused:

    that's no reward

    It's reality in Civils I'm afraid:mad:




  • Sparks wrote: »
    Software engineering doesn't see this, or anything even close to this.

    Nor commissioning or automation.




  • lawred2 wrote: »
    60k for 70+ hours a week :confused:

    that's no reward

    If that's your reality that's a pity.


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  • In Ireland, there's very few industries where you won't be putting in a decent shift to earn that kind of money. Only one or two people I know get away with it and their jobs are still tough.

    Government/semi state engineering jobs pay well for reasonable hours but most positions advertised are fixed term contracts these days.

    In terms of the working population as a whole, I'd say a very small % of individuals earn above 60k, and that includes people having had increments right the way up until retirement.


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