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So I'm in the final stages of negotiating a new job with a fairly large MEP consulting firm (>100 million yearly gross), and I'm going to be going into salary negotiations next week with them.  I'm fairly certain that I've been underpaid at my previous firm (<50 person firm), so I'm trying to make sure I don't take a low salary again and actually get up to market average.  So here's where I currently am sitting:

Salary: $89.5k, no bonus, no profit sharing. Benefits are also pretty lackluster (Grandfathered in High Deductible high deductible health plan that does not have an HSA, 1.5% 401k match, 3 weeks PTO)

Location: Denver, Colorado

Experience: 9 years

PE: Licensed in 4 states, including Colorado

Responsibilities: Only PE in remote office, so I have to review all drawings, stamp and sign, as well as oversee 4 other engineers. I also have to manage the office in general. This includes things like managing CAD licensing, dealing with building maintenance issues, managing employee transit passes, etc. On top of those responsibilities, my designs were responsible for somewhere around ~$210,000 in billings this year. Some more will be billed in January (~$20,000, maybe more).

 

For the new job, I'd be opening a new branch office for this company. Right off the bat we'd only be 4 engineers total, but I'd be the Mechanical and Plumbing technical lead for the office, as well as have some office management responsibilities (although far less than I currently do) and obviously overseeing the younger engineers.  The company does have dedicated clients in the area already, but through some weird occurrences, several Architects found out I was moving companies and said they wanted to follow me to my new firm.  This means that I'd have ~$100,000 in MEP work right away if the company wants it, with likely another 300-500k for the rest of the year. This company is also supposed to have a pretty solid benefits package and they give bonuses yearly.

So with all that in mind, and from what research I've been able to do on it, I'm thinking of trying to get a $100,000 base salary, but I'm not sure it's appropriate for my role.  If anyone who is (or has been) in a similar situation/city can give a bit of feedback to say if I'm being unreasonable, I'd appreciate it.

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1 hour ago, NikR_PE said:

Since its a big firm, you should be able to see the salary range they offer on glassdoor.

Also check out the salary survey on this forum.

I've done both of those, but there's only a few MEP salaries on the survey here (none in my city) and they don't have a tone of salaries posted on Glassdoor.  Plus, because they have offices in all sorts of different CoL areas, it's hard to say if the averages they do have are all that accurate.  The only one they have that seems like it would be for my position posted at around 130k, which I suspect means it's more like a 20-25 year person.

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On 12/14/2019 at 4:26 PM, DenverEngineer said:

I've done both of those, but there's only a few MEP salaries on the survey here (none in my city) and they don't have a tone of salaries posted on Glassdoor.  Plus, because they have offices in all sorts of different CoL areas, it's hard to say if the averages they do have are all that accurate.  The only one they have that seems like it would be for my position posted at around 130k, which I suspect means it's more like a 20-25 year person.

What's the harm in shooting for that?  You technically are going to have two roles in this new office: office manager and lead PE.  Though you say you're going to have 'less' office manager work in this position, you are opening a new branch for a large company.  There are going to be a lot of expectations, probably including BD to up your backlog at the location.  Though the branch is small, if it is located in Denver, I can easily see them wanting to aggressively grow that location due to where it is located (middle of the country) and the new talent that is flocking there.  Also, it sounds like you'll be solely responsible for stamping things (potentially using all 4-stamps if the company is big enough and has overflow).

I say aim for the $130k salary (or maybe $115k if you want to be more conservative).  Worse comes to worse, they counter-offer.  If they're really interested, I don't think they'll withdraw their offer since they're getting an experienced PE with office manager experience (which is way less common than you think).

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On 12/16/2019 at 12:04 PM, DenverEngineer said:

Alrighty then, seems like I should actually be a little more aggressive with my asking price! Thanks for weighing in on this one folks!

Sorry for the late-ish response to this, but you should absolutely be asking for substantially *more* than $100K given your experience! To provide some context, I am currently still in school and have ZERO years of full-time working experience, and I recently signed an offer for $72.5K, plus $6K profit sharing and a much more generous benefits package than what you described - and this is even before the company I signed with was aware that I had passed the PE exam! (Still won’t be eligible immediately for the actual license due to missing the work experience requirement.) 

Anyway, that’s just to provide some context for you. Don’t be afraid to be aggressive in asking for what you are worth!

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you can estimate the billing for the office, this can let you know if/when you have priced yourself out of the job.  100-140K isn't that unreasonable when you are now in a management/BD role.  Given revenue for the year vs. employee base salaries can vary from 1.8 to 3.0+ depending on industry and firm size.  1.7 to 2.0 is typical in large oil and gas (industrial work) engineering companies, but the caveat is they let you go once work slows down (unless you are a key employee).  Factors of 2.5 to 4.0 are common in commercial firms - therefore you often make less in that world with the expectation of greater stability.  If you can attribute 400K of billing to yourself alone, then asking for 135K is financially viable (this is an important thing to understand about the business decisions that drive salaries).  I was quite surprised leaving the commercial world for industrial O&G world how much more people were paid (often less qualified than those I worked with in commercial), but it all comes down to HOW the business is run.  For highly cyclical work, if you can afford to miss a few months every couple of years you will do significantly better, especially appealing as you reach financial independence. 

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