What is the starting pay for an entry level laboratory testing engineer?

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Juan at DeVry University asked: 

I have a Bachelor’s degree  in Electronics Engineering. What is the starting pay for an entry level laboratory testing engineer?

Hi Juan –

Salary questions are always a bit tricky because the right answer is always a product of geography, economics, candidate pool and candidate preferences.


Simply put, where you live matters, and what you can expect to earn will depend to some extent on where you live.  So, always take geography into account when reviewing salary data.


The laws of supply and demand will prevail.  If there is greater demand by employers for the degree and skills you offer than there is supply of available talent, the more employers will have to pay to get you.  Scarcity of available talent works in favor of the job seeker when it comes to compensation. Abundance of available talent works in favor of the employer.

Candidate Pool

Where you live matters; the supply vs. demand equation matters; and the depth and breadth of the talent pool matters as well. How do your qualifications stack up against those of other similarly qualified candidates in the applicant pool. How much experience do you have from internships and co-ops compared to others?  What is your GPA?  What qualities and characteristics do you offer that distinguish you from other BSEE candidates competing for the same job?

Candidate Preferences

Where do you want to live?  What types of companies and industries do you prefer?  In what types of work environments do you best thrive?  What type of corporate culture do you prefer?  Do you like large business or small business environments? Conservative or entrepreneurial environments?  Government, non-profit or corporate?    All of these are preferences. Your preferences are unique to you, and you preferences impact the types of jobs you will seek which, in turn, impacts the level of compensation you can expect.

See, your question is a lot more complicated to answer than it is to ask.  Here is one more complicating factor – timing!  The market changes over time, so the answers you get this year are probably somewhat different than the answers you would have gotten last year.  The job market changes regularly, so you have to pay attention to the most current data you can find.

Where can you find that entry-level salary data?

Ask your Career Center for your school’s employment reports on recent graduates.  These school-specific reports should include salary and employment outcomes data on your major and degree.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Salary Calculator and September 2012 Salary Survey are also useful tools for job seekers and employers seeking entry-level salary data.

The US Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop Salary Info is a good resource, and CareerLeak.comGlassdoor.comSalary.com and Payscale.com  all provide online salary information that may prove helpful.

One last bit of advice – look at multiple sources for data and compare what you get.  Do this, and you will be prepared to negotiate your salary when that time comes.

Good Luck!

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3 responses to “What is the starting pay for an entry level laboratory testing engineer?”

  1. Valerie Newcomer says:

    You once came and gave a lecture for my class with Dr. Ballard in Fall of 2009 and presented us with an excel document that helped us to calculate what we needed to earn in order to live the life we wanted to. That included our rent, bills, entertainment, savings, etc. Do you still have this document? I’d be very interested!


    • mattberndt says:

      Hi Valerie – I do have that document and will be writing a blog on that topic this week, which will include that spreadsheet. Keep an eye out for it!


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