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Return on Investment – 2019 SFPE Compensation Survey

The cost of education can be daunting to those about to embark on a degree.However, fire protection engineering salaries and benefits can often help those fears subside.Approximately every three years the SFPE conducts a compensation survey to gauge the compensation fire protection engineers receive.In 2019, the 19th survey was completed.

The 2019 survey had 1100 participants from 52 countries, with a heavy majority of respondents in the United States.  The median salary for full-time fire protection engineers is now $110,100.

Highlights from the 2019 Survey:

  • Median annual base salary for full-time employed individuals is $118,800; the total compensation including bonuses, commission, etc. is $127,200.
  • On average, participants received a 3% increase in base salary from the previous year.
  • Median salary for those with a professional engineering license is 36% higher than without it.
  • Robust benefits packages were reported.

Compensation

As with previous SFPE surveys, the respondents are well-educated — 2% have doctorates, 39% have master’s degrees and 54% have bachelor’s degrees. Approximately 6% of participants currently hold an associate’s degree, a technical certificate or have no post-secondary education.  The correlation between salary and work experience is statistically insignificant. This indicates there are many other factors driving compensation that should be taken into consideration when evaluating pay levels such as role, responsibilities, industry, education, performance, and geography.  Table 1 shows the median total compensation as related to the number of years of work experience.  The early years of work experience have been broken down further in Table 2.

Experience

Median Total Compensation

< 6 years

$84,465

6-10 years

$108,000

11-15 years

$125,000

16-20 years

$140,000

21-25 years

$148,000

26-30 years

$151,863

  • 31-35ears

$160,015

> 35 years

$152,000

 

Table 1: Total Compensation (Salary and Incentive) versus Years of Work Experience

 

Experience

Number of Respondents

Median Salary

0-1 year

18

$70,363

2 years

23

$75,504

3 years

28

$80,404

4 years

28

$82,250

5 years

33

$87,000

 
 
Table 2: Base Salary versus Early Years of Work Experience

 

In addition to the general recognition of competency, there are also salary benefits.  Table 3 shows the median salary for those engineers with a credential and those without one.

Experience

Median Total Compensation

PE/PEng

$136,034

Non-PE

$100,100


Table 3: Total Compensation (Salary and Incentive) for PE versus non-PE

 

Benefits

Many of the organizations that employ fire protection engineers offer excellent benefit packages.  These benefits include sick/holiday/vacation leave, medical/dental insurance, flexible spending plans, 401K plans, tuition reimbursement, and professional membership dues.  Table 4 shows common benefits reported in the 2019 survey.

 

Benefit Description

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

USA

401(k)

24%

16%

13%

89%

401(k) Company Match

34%

7%

13%

76%

Pension/Retirement Plan

55%

49%

6%

26%

Flexible Spending Account

11%

3%

0%

63%

Flexible Spending – Company Match

3%

3%

0%

18%

Medical Insurance

66%

32%

39%

71%

Dental Insurance

92%

15%

6%

88%

Company Paid Professional Dues

87%

24%

81%

75%

Tuition Reimbursement

50%

8%

19%

61%

Vacation/Sick/Holiday Leave

74%

55%

88%

93%

Flextime

42%

42%

50%

54%


Table 4: Benefit Analysis

 

It pays to be a fire protection engineer. Not only does becoming a fire protection engineer bring the personal satisfaction of making the world safe from fire, but it provides competitive income.

In 2019, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers conducted a salary and benefits survey of the fire protection engineering profession. Data from this salary survey show that:

  • Median income (including bonuses and overtime) for those working in fire protection engineering in 2019 was $118,800, a 6.4% increase since the previous survey was conducted in 2016.

Generous benefits are another reason to choose a career in fire protection engineering. The vast majority of respondents receive medical benefits, dental benefits, flexible spending accounts, retirement plans, tuition reimbursement and bonuses.

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