Engineering Grads: How to Negotiate Your Starting Salary

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It’s your first engineering job. Your interview is a few days away and you’re getting all sorts of advice. But what you really need is some help in negotiating your salary. The job posting simply stated: competitive.  And the hiring manager didn’t say a word about salary when he invited you for the interview.  So how do you go about negotiating for the salary you want?  Some tips to help you through this unfamiliar territory:

Do some due diligence. Scour the web for similar firms and try to find out what the salary range is for newly minted engineers. A good site to check out is  Industry networking groups (of which you should already be a member of) will have postings about entry-level salaries in your field. Connect with members of your various professional organizations and find out who is paying what for grads. Develop a bracket and place your salary demands in the center of the bracket. If the job posting specifically asks for a salary, give them the bracket—not the exact figure. 

Let the employer bring up salary. If the interviewer asks what you’re looking for in terms of salary, ask them for a range, not a specific number.  This tells the employer you’re flexible and that you’ll work with them. Don’t be argumentative and mention that company A is paying this, or that company B is paying some huge salary to new grads. 


Negotiate salary with your "equity."  Once the topic of salary comes up, you need to know that most employers will start at the bottom of the range. This is where you sell your abilities—anything that separates you from other job candidates. You need to add any skills, knowledge and internship “equity” into the negotiations at this point to ratchet up to a higher salary within the pre-established range.  

Do not bring benefits into the equation. These are most often a given. Health and life insurance, 401K, they're pretty much non-negotiable and “company standard.” Office size, expense accounts, company car, ski condo in Aspen—all are reserved for experienced engineers and managers, so they don’t come into play. Keep the negotiations on point—salary. Incidentally, this is not the time to bring up bonuses, which are based on performance, of which you have no track record as a newbie. 


Follow up with a written agreement. Once you orally agree on a salary, job title and duties, ask the employer to spell things out in writing—an email or snail mail letter.  You can simplify things for the employer by drafting this agreement letter yourself and asking them to simply sign off on the key terms of the job.

If you have any suggestions for young engineering grads regarding salary negotiations, feel free to include them in the comments section below.



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  • Tanya s
    Tanya s
    im sorry i didnt clearly get a understanding of the comment section but whom ever the person you know or have a estimate amount you think you are worth ,experience or just how hard of a worker you are as of me i would sale my eagerness to succeed. I am a hard worker , I am one of the first ones at work and one of the first ones eager to stay stay and be one of the last ones leave. I get the job done by stepping up to the plate to completion.
  • Tanya s
    Tanya s
    i understand clearly , I thought it was very thoughtful and useful it helped me to a least have idea how to go about a job interview in my field.
  • brian b
    brian b
    very helpful something to i can used thank you
  • Thorne K
    Thorne K is a good website for salary ranges
  • Tushar M
    Tushar M
    Hi, good for tips. this is very simple to understand & it will help all type of people who are experience or newly enter into the market   
  • Muhammad Danish
    Muhammad Danish
    Thanks for the advice but as i am in pakistan so there are very short jobs available so the question of bargaining the salary doesnt arise sir one have to accept the salary that the employer gives.
  • kenneth n
    kenneth n
    young engineering graduates should be given a chance for the well being of the energetic  youths to continue building the company and attaining the set goals and objectives.
  • Alex Kecskes
    Alex Kecskes
    Keep in mind that no  two salary negotiations are alike.  Every company,every job is unique. Getting too far "down in the weeds" in negotiating tactics can be counter productive. What may work for one job,one applicant,may not work for you. It simply takes practice and doing your homework--as far as what other companies are offering and what you can bring to the table in terms of talent, experience and capabilities.
  • Arlene Morrow
    Arlene Morrow
    this was generic, and not very helpful.  the actual negotiation and some parrying returns would be more helpful.. Actual information is always welcome, and instructions with specificity are wanted:  I find it not helpful to be told to negotiate, and then be given no instruction or example.  Please flesh this out a bit.  the reason we are in engineering is we are not GREAT with people and the whole process of being of use but not used.
  • Terrell P
    Terrell P
    article was well written, with information that will really help the beginners out. These are the types of articles more successful should bow down and read.
  • Alex Kecskes
    Alex Kecskes
    Thanks for all your comments.
    Thanks for advice
  • mohamed a
    mohamed a
    that s perfect and excellent
  • yudi k
    yudi k
    yes i agree
  • Shoaib a
    Shoaib a
  • Tamunofiniarisa B
    Tamunofiniarisa B
    It is absolutely endearing and helpful. I have honed my abilities with the tip.
  • Sreekumaran P C
    Sreekumaran P C
    very good and this will be quite useful to persons seekinf for new jobs.

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