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Electrical Engineering: Disappointingly low starting salary Watch

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    TL;DR: Electrical Eng Masters graduate recently graduated, no work experience. Been offered a job at a local SME. I like the sound of what kind of work I would be doing but the pay is much less than I have come to expect as an Electrical Engineering Masters graduate (£14,000). He was non-specific when I asked him about how my salary could increase after the first year or two. Does this sound like they are trying to take advantage of me?
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    Hi there. I have a Masters degree from Leeds Uni with 1st Class hons.

    So I just had a job interview in response to a speculative application I made at a local power engineering SME in the Midlands (about 20-30 employees). During the interview I was shown a few technical schematics of various high-voltage protection relay circuits and other switchgear. I was very unfamiliar with the conventions with which they drew them, with many symbols having never come up during my Masters degree at Leeds Uni - so I was unable to make much sense of them. And although I know what relays are for, I am completely unfamiliar with their inner workings. Though I graduate with high marks, I also didn't manage to get any work experience while at uni (graduate schemes are very competitive)

    Besides the "what can you bring to the company", I received absolutely no generic interview type questions I expected, like: "where do you see yourself in 5 years", "describe a challenging project" or "describe how you overcame a problem or work difficult situation". It was just technical discussions of the schematics

    So he seemed to have a point when he said he couldn't offer me anywhere near the "early twenties" I was hoping for. I was expecting, due to my lack of work experience and this being a small firm, for him to bring me down to 18-19,000. But instead, right off the bat he said he could only offer around 13-14 grand initially, during the first year or two with training and familiarisation with the industry - mentioning ex-employees that entered as fresh graduates then left, despite the company investing in them, after a couple of years of training for "better opportunities". After I asked what kind of salary could I expect after that, he just said it would depend on what I could bring to the company. So a lack of a clear answer concerned me.

    We discussed a bit about what kind of work I would be doing, which to be honest I really liked the sound of. This is the first (possible) job offer I've ever had, so I know next to nothing about what I should be expecting. This company does the kind of electrical engineering work that I really like. And I have done some brief calculations and it seems doable for me to support myself and live fairly comfortably if I got the cheapest accommodation possible in Loughborough and commuted in from there.

    But I am thinking to myself, £14000 a year is like, less than minimum wage if I work full time hours. Shouldn't I be expecting better for spending 4 years in higher education and racking up £50,000+ in student debt? His reason for paying me less made sense, but i don't know for sure. Does this sound like they are taking advantage of me? Where else can I go for advice on this, as I know TSR isn't known for its many combined years of knowledge and experience in the electrical engineering industry.
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    I'm doing a placement year (Electronic Engineering) and I'm earning a fair bit more than that. From the sounds of it this guy knows that most people won't stay at the company for long so he's just hoping for cheap labour that he won't have to invest in too much. £14,000 seems that it would be below minimum wage so I would make sure you find out your hours and calculate your hourly rate to ensure that he isn't paying you too little. Average starting salary is £25,000 and with a first and a masters from a reputable uni I would be aiming for £25k-£30k. Unless you really think the job is worth it I wouldn't bother. You might be able to live comfortably but commuting from the cheapest place to live will cost a fortune plus you won't have any savings for the future such as buying a house, car, getting married, children etc. Plus you won't be able to start building up a good pension or anything like that.
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    I work in electronics industry and I am only getting £7.50 a hour. I don't have university grades, but I do have 4 years of hands on expirence, and about 10 years hobbyiest expirence. I can see a project/product from conception to production. That's design capture, PCB design, getting it ready for production, getting components sourced, EMC testing, other testing, doing all the documentation etc. Also metal work, pick and place machines along with the whole PCB assembly process, woodwork machines. A good skill set. But I have never been paid anything like what I think I should be getting paid.

    But I don't know how similar the jobs are and I was in electronics, and you seem to be going down the more electrical route.
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    How come you didn't manage to secure a graduate scheme?

    I have also recently graduated from Leeds uni with a 2.2 BEng and no relevant work experience. I've manage to secure 3 prestigious graduate schemes in my field. And I know many engineering graduates from Bradford uni, which is considered much lower ranking uni, in some awesome graduate programmes.

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    My friend graduated with a first in MEng Electrical Engineering and his first job is 27k starting salary with pretty good perks.
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    (Original post by rubaiet)
    How come you didn't manage to secure a graduate scheme?

    I have also recently graduated from Leeds uni with a 2.2 BEng and no relevant work experience. I've manage to secure 3 prestigious graduate schemes in my field. And I know many engineering graduates from Bradford uni, which is considered much lower ranking uni, in some awesome graduate programmes.

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    I applied for several but never got past the interview stage.
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    (Original post by The Good Doctor)
    I applied for several but never got past the interview stage.
    Do you mean you've made it through to the assessment centre? As for graduate schemes, you only get interviewed on the assessment day. If this is the case you need to work on your teamwork and social skills. If you haven't made it to the assessment centre, my first advice would be ignore advice given by the girls from engineering career centre. My experience with them is rather bad and they have no clue what they are doing.

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    (Original post by rubaiet)
    Do you mean you've made it through to the assessment centre? As for graduate schemes, you only get interviewed on the assessment day. If this is the case you need to work on your teamwork and social skills. If you haven't made it to the assessment centre, my first advice would be ignore advice given by the girls from engineering career centre. My experience with them is rather bad and they have no clue what they are doing.

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    Lol, it's true. 4 out of 5 of the engineering careers people at my uni were ladies.
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    (Original post by The Good Doctor)
    Lol, it's true. 4 out of 5 of the engineering careers people at my uni were ladies.
    I didn't mean to say ladies are not good enough career advisors. What I meant was the girls at Leeds uni engineering career centre are specifically incompetent.
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    (Original post by rubaiet)
    I didn't mean to say ladies are not good enough career advisors. What I meant was the girls at Leeds uni engineering career centre are specifically incompetent.
    My mate really didn't like them either. When we were in 2nd year (2014), we often had to attend 9am lectures by the blonde one. He hated it so much that one day he just noisily jumped over one of the desks and stormed out half way through it. Everyone was like da*** is he doing?
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    (Original post by The Good Doctor)
    TL;DR: Electrical Eng Masters graduate recently graduated, no work experience. Been offered a job at a local SME. I like the sound of what kind of work I would be doing but the pay is much less than I have come to expect as an Electrical Engineering Masters graduate (£14,000). He was non-specific when I asked him about how my salary could increase after the first year or two. Does this sound like they are trying to take advantage of me?
    ___________________

    Hi there. I have a Masters degree from Leeds Uni with 1st Class hons.

    So I just had a job interview in response to a speculative application I made at a local power engineering SME in the Midlands (about 20-30 employees). During the interview I was shown a few technical schematics of various high-voltage protection relay circuits and other switchgear. I was very unfamiliar with the conventions with which they drew them, with many symbols having never come up during my Masters degree at Leeds Uni - so I was unable to make much sense of them. And although I know what relays are for, I am completely unfamiliar with their inner workings. Though I graduate with high marks, I also didn't manage to get any work experience while at uni (graduate schemes are very competitive)

    Besides the "what can you bring to the company", I received absolutely no generic interview type questions I expected, like: "where do you see yourself in 5 years", "describe a challenging project" or "describe how you overcame a problem or work difficult situation". It was just technical discussions of the schematics

    So he seemed to have a point when he said he couldn't offer me anywhere near the "early twenties" I was hoping for. I was expecting, due to my lack of work experience and this being a small firm, for him to bring me down to 18-19,000. But instead, right off the bat he said he could only offer around 13-14 grand initially, during the first year or two with training and familiarisation with the industry - mentioning ex-employees that entered as fresh graduates then left, despite the company investing in them, after a couple of years of training for "better opportunities". After I asked what kind of salary could I expect after that, he just said it would depend on what I could bring to the company. So a lack of a clear answer concerned me.

    We discussed a bit about what kind of work I would be doing, which to be honest I really liked the sound of. This is the first (possible) job offer I've ever had, so I know next to nothing about what I should be expecting. This company does the kind of electrical engineering work that I really like. And I have done some brief calculations and it seems doable for me to support myself and live fairly comfortably if I got the cheapest accommodation possible in Loughborough and commuted in from there.

    But I am thinking to myself, £14000 a year is like, less than minimum wage if I work full time hours. Shouldn't I be expecting better for spending 4 years in higher education and racking up £50,000+ in student debt? His reason for paying me less made sense, but i don't know for sure. Does this sound like they are taking advantage of me? Where else can I go for advice on this, as I know TSR isn't known for its many combined years of knowledge and experience in the electrical engineering industry.

    That is about half what someone with a master's in EE would get here. My masters is in communications - not power. I went back to school to get a MSEE after about 18 to 20 yrs experience in communications with a BSEE. After i got my Masters, i left the Federal Government, and went to a private company. At the time [1987 or so], i was getting about $89,000 USD pa. Our taxes here are considerably lower than those in the Uk too. Now, someone in communications [satellite earth terminal design for example] - this is what i do part time now - i'm partially retired - would get about $120,000USD - on a full time basis. If overseas, you'd have to figure in the overseas differential [20% to 80%, depending upon location], as well as living allowances. It would not be unusual to get full meals and quarters provided, in a 'less desirable' area - just to entice employees to take the assignment. Currently, if employed overseas, i'd have [i think] about $139,000 USD of salary tax free. I'd not start paying US taxes until i went over that amount - which i would, of course, if working full time. I think the Uk has similar exemptions but i'm not up on the details. You need to check the 'status of forces' agreement with the host government to be sure. Also, check on the medical coverage situation. If you need to be 'med-evacued' from your foreign post, who pays for it?? Where i was, the US military hospitals were 'tasked' to take care of us. They did ok. Cheers, and good luck!!!
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      That's very low. You should renegotiate this or if that fails and u have no other option - take the job, and then consider switching after a few months. I'm not going to tell you how valuable work experience during uni is, since you've already graduated, but try and get as much w.e. now in this industry.
     
     
     
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