What is the ideal salary for an engineer

Starting salary: That's how much engineers earn when they start their careers

What is the starting salary for engineers and other technical graduates? What can I earn as a young professional? The current salary study by INGENIEUR.de provides the answers.

Earn well as a beginner

Photo: panthermedia.net/zimmytws

The engineering profession pays off financially: This is not just a felt perception, but can also be determined by fixed salary figures. Good salaries can already be negotiated as a young professional. Graduates can use the latest study results from INGENIEUR.de to prepare ideally for salary negotiations. The gross starting salaries listed are based on data from around 2,200 young professionals who took part in the INGENIEUR.de salary test in 2019. According to this, career starters earn an average of 48,500 euros as specialist or project engineers. The average annual salary is thus 500 euros higher than in the previous year.

However, the starting salaries for engineers vary greatly depending on the profession, industry, degree and company size - and here there were greater fluctuations compared to the previous year than the overall average. It is therefore worth taking a detailed look at the surveys.

Master, Bachelor, Diploma: Degree is an important factor in salary

The academic degree or the respective degree has a clear influence on the level of the starting salary for engineers. Accordingly, the average starting salaries for engineers with a master’s degree at a technical college or university are the highest. A master’s graduate from a (technical) university starts with an annual gross fee of 50,725 euros - a FH master’s is worth 49,413 euros. A Bachelor graduate usually receives around 45,000 euros.

Masters graduates have long since overtaken engineers in terms of starting salary. A diploma from a (technical) university is rewarded with an average of 48,000 euros.

The free salary test is available here for successful salary negotiations.

Engineers in the chemical & pharmaceutical industry get the highest starting salaries

For years, companies in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries have been among the most generous employers. Their employees already received an average first salary of EUR 51,000 in 2016. The German chemical and pharmaceutical industry pays its skilled workers the highest starting salaries. With an average wage of 56,950 euros, this industry is ahead of vehicle construction (52,560 euros). In this industry, the average starting salary has increased significantly compared to the previous year: at that time it was 52,837 euros.

Engineers entering electrical engineering start with a salary of 51,600 euros (previous year: 49,600 euros). Colleagues in the construction industry earn 45,415 euros per year - that's around 900 euros more than in the previous year. Career starters in engineering and planning offices start with an annual gross of 43,793 euros - the starting salary is slightly below the previous year's value.

Starting salaries for engineers by industry
Chemical and pharmaceutical industries56,950 euros
vehicle construction52,560 euros
Electronics & electrical engineering51,600 euros
Mechanical and plant engineering49,440 euros
Energy industry48,000 euros
Information technology48,000 euros
construction industry45,415 euros
Engineering and planning offices43,793 euros
Source: Salary test for engineers 2019, www.ingenieur.de/contentstest/

The bigger the company, the higher the starting salary

The construction industry shows it clearly: small or medium-sized planning offices pay less than large industrial companies. This system runs through all industries. The bigger a company is, the higher the average salary it pays to its employees.

Ranking: Engineers earn the most in these regions

The current salary study by INGENIEUR.de has shown that, statistically speaking, there are no deviations at all from this rule of thumb. While beginners in micro and small companies with up to 50 employees earn 45,600 euros gross annually, medium-sized companies already pay 1,400 to 3,500 euros more. There is an average of 25% between the starting salary of a small company and that of a large corporation.

A high entry point: a job as a project manager pays off

Get on as high as possible: That is the motto of many prospective engineers and graduates from other technical fields. As a project manager, you can already earn very well at a medium-sized company. University graduates often start out as trainees - but a job as project manager is not impossible at the start. Those who already have practical experience and references have a good chance.

The salary study by INGENIEUR.de shows that trainees generally earn 46,373 euros gross. The trainee program can last twelve months, and in some companies up to two years.

Salary increase in the first years of employment

Most of the young professionals are employed as specialist or project engineers. Engineers with no professional experience earned an average of EUR 48,396 gross in these positions in 2019. Project engineers with three to five years of experience earn an average of 53,300 euros.

A project manager with work experience of less than two years can count on 51,500 euros.

Internships for your career

It is like in all branches and professions: a career as an engineer doesn’t come naturally. Prospective engineers should complete internships and gain professional experience during their studies. Writing a thesis in a company of your choice can also open doors. The next steps on the career ladder can be quickly climbed through continuous, successful projects. The success of starting a career also depends largely on the application. Many engineers face the challenge of skillfully presenting themselves.

Directly to the internship exchange of INGENIEUR.de

Conclusion: starting salaries for engineering professions are negotiable

The starting salary as an engineer is subject to the following factors:

  • study graduation
  • Subject
  • intended position
  • Industry of the employer
  • Company size
  • Employer's location

Anyone who tries to correctly estimate their own salary for the first engineering position is well advised to know the most important influencing factors and facts.

Download the applicant guide for engineers: How your career start will be successful

The most important results from 2020 are available for free download in the brochure “Salaries for Engineers”. The complete study "Engineer salaries 2002-2019" can be purchased as a PDF for a fee.

You will find numerous positions for young professionals on our job exchange. You decide individually which factors are most important to you.


A contribution by:

  • Peter Seven

    Peter Sieben is content manager and responsible editor for ingenieur.de. After an internship at the Funke media group, he worked as an editor and reporter in various departments. He writes about technology, research and career topics.

  • Sarah Janczura

    Sarah Janczura is content manager and responsible editor for ingenieur.de. After an internship with a focus on social media, she worked as an online editor in a digital agency. She writes about technology, research and career topics.