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2009 Salary Survey

2009 Salary Survey

Oct 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Erin Shipps

It’s a tough year to talk about money. Many people in the U.S. have been affected by soaring unemployment rates, either in their own career or someone they know. Many more have seen reduced hours, changes in titles and responsibilities, and pay cuts. So, yes it is a difficult to talk about, but maybe it’s also encouraging to know you’re not alone and that overall, there were no enormous changes when we compared this year’s survey with last year’s results.

Reflective of the economy this year, more respondents are concerned with job security and benefits, not to mention pay. Take a look at the benefits chart on page 32 and see how your job stacks up. As far as job security goes, take heart; according to Fast Company, IT/engineering is one of the top jobs for 2009. And as we found out from last year’s survey, your job description becomes more IT-related every day. Nearly everyone is suffering in the salary category this year; take a look at our engineer’s salary chart on page 30.

The good news is, you probably still care about your job. While some people have become desensitized to their responsibilities because of pay cuts and a lack of appreciation, many respondents to our survey put just as much emphasis on a new equipment budget as they did on their own salary. Others are frustrated with everything from management and communication to training, hours and office conditions. Second in line to salary is the need for help and a great deal of respondents expressed how crucial it is to have more hands on deck in engineering. However, a good number had nothing to complain about, and that is always good news.


Let’s start with salary. The typical respondent to our survey earns and estimated median income of $52,500. Regardless of job title, salaries in larger markets are higher. Only 27 percent of respondents received a salary increase during the past 12 months (last year it was 62 percent) and the average salary increase was 7.2 percent. Compared with last year, it seems that regional directors of engineering, station chief engineers, and station/staff engineers/tech titles generally went up in salary, while the others fell.

Estimated Median Salaries for Staff Engineers (click to enlarge)

The estimated median salary for staff engineers below Top 50 jumped up a couple thousand dollars from last year and Top 50 engineers are actually earning less than they have in the past four years.

Contract engineers in general are charging more. Last year 77 percent of contractors were charging less than $69 per hour. This year only 63 percent are under $74. Now, 23 percent are charging $75 to $99 per hour.

Estimated Median Salary by Job Function (click to enlarge)

— continued on page 2

The entire report is available for purchase through Penton Media.

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2009 Salary Survey

Oct 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Erin Shipps


Certification is always a touchy subject in the radio engineering community. SBE certification is up this year among station chief engineers, and other titles, but down among regional directors of engineering and station/staff engineers/tech titles. Overall however, all respondents still average 23 percent certified, the same as last year.

Estimated Median Salaries by SBE Certification (click to enlarge)

And even though it is proven statistically that SBE certified engineers earn more salary ($20K more for Top 50 and $15K more below Top 50), some respondents still don’t find it necessary. In fact, 49 people specifically stated they saw no need for certification in our write-in answer portion. Others mostly cited money and time as reasons they are not certified.

Percent Holding SBE Certification (click to enlarge)

Training and program delivery

When it comes to training, most respondents prefer taking online courses/seminars, reading trade publications and books. However, probably due to the economy, fewer are able to attend regional/local conventions, SBE meetings and national conventions. Still, 43 percent of you have not attended a broadcasting and/or educational seminar in the past two years.

Training Preference (click to enlarge)

For the most part, respondents would like more training in IT and networking, RF, HD Radio, automation, streaming and new technology in general. Radio magazine will try to help with these topics in the upcoming year.

As for new methods of program delivery, the use of both Internet streaming and podcasting has stabilized after the dramatic growth seen between 2007 and 2008. An emerging technology, doubling in usage since last year, is the use of cell phones for delivering live information.

Method of Program Delivery (click to enlarge)

— continued on page 3

The entire report is available for purchase through Penton Media.

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2009 Salary Survey

Oct 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Erin Shipps

Benefits Received (click to enlarge)

Contract Engineer Average Hourly Rates (click to enlarge)


On Aug. 25, 2009, Penton Media e-mailed invitations to participate in an online survey to a total of 3,583 subscribers of Radio selected on an nth name basis from the category �Radio Station/Network.� To encourage prompt response and increase the response rate overall, the following marketing research techniques were used: A drawing was held for one of four $50 gift certificates. A link was included on the invitation to route respondents directly to the questionnaire. The magazine name was used on the invitation to tie the study effort to Radio magazine. A follow-up e-mail was sent to non-respondents on Sept. 2, 2009.

The entire report is available for purchase through Penton Media.

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