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2016 Microwaves & RF Annual Salary & Career Report: All Quiet on the Compensation Front

2016 Microwaves & RF Annual Salary & Career Report: All Quiet on the Compensation Front

Although concerns and challenges exist, the RF/microwave industry is continuing to provide stable salaries along with high job satisfaction.

What’s some of the good news that we received in this year’s Microwaves & RF Annual Salary & Career Report? For one, 90% of those who responded report being satisfied in their current position. This high number seems to indicate that the RF/microwave industry is a good one to be a part of.  The same number (90%) also said they would recommend engineering as a career path to a young person. As one respondent explained, “The field is wide open. The possibilities are only limited by a person's interest in advancing.” Another noted, “You can work on new technology and influence the future in a positive way. You can continue to learn and grow—and often achieve fulfillment doing worthwhile things.”

This year’s survey—the third for Microwaves & RF—consisted of a total of 1,393 respondents. Job titles varied among those surveyed, allowing insight to be provided from a range of perspectives.

On the Other Hand

Not all the respondents were so optimistic. Despite the high level of job satisfaction, work environment concerns were voiced. One respondent said, “There is constant pressure from management to force cookie-cutter solutions where they clearly don’t fit.” And another bemoaned “the lack of good design discipline and commitment to good products.”

Information Everywhere

Keeping up with the latest technology is another common theme, proving that an engineering career involves lifelong learning. Many of those surveyed continue to educate themselves in various ways. White papers, publications, webcasts, and seminars were the most commonly used forms of education. Other methods include engineering videos, textbooks, and more.


One prevalent challenge among respondents is finding the time to stay current with engineering information. Moreover, some expressed dissatisfaction regarding the quality of published information. One respondent stated, “There is too much information on the web. Often times, this information is vague, not detailed, or is inaccurate. The challenge is to verify and validate the information.” Another noted, “Much of the information is veiled advertising. Products are often made to seem better—or easier to use—than they turn out to be.” Yet another respondent offered, “It takes work to recognize value when there are also many ‘fluff’ articles and emails.”

Salaries and Age

In terms of compensation, the average base salary was reported to be $110,844.81, and 68.2% of respondents said they felt adequately compensated for what they do. Furthermore, the average bonus came out to $4,182.68.

The survey also demonstrated the need to bring young engineers into the industry. Just over 40% of respondents are age 60 or older, with an average age of about 53. With many engineers approaching retirement, the industry clearly needs a next generation of engineers who will continue to drive RF/microwave technology in the future.

Overall, the survey results present the RF/microwave industry in a positive light. While not everything is perfect, engineers seem to be both well compensated and satisfied at the same time. With that being said, the industry appears to be in good shape.


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