Compensation by the Numbers

We want to help you determine if your compensation is correct for the market level in which you work
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The reason we provide the Salary Survey and its subsequent analysis every year is that we want to help you determine if your compensation is correct for the market level in which you work. It�s true that as you move up in market level, your compensation increases, but other aspects of the job change as well. For that reason, we always look at respondents answers within the context of their market size.

The topic of salary increases is almost important as that of salary. How many got raises, and of those that did, what was the percentage?

There are other important aspects of our business that we�re studying this year. Is there a looming retirement crisis? Is job satisfaction at an all-time low? Do our colleagues in other departments have any idea just what it is what we really do? Read on to find the answers.


One concern we hear from engineers often is that salaries aren�t high enough, considering the typical duties, skill sets, and the time needed to do the job right. The urgent nature of our business makes it different from many other lines of work, of course. There are two basic ways to make more money in this business: The first is to consider moving up the ladder, and becoming the department head (assuming you work in a department of more than one person). The second is to move up in market size. Yes�that does involve big changes in life�but that�s part of the nature of our work. It is show business after all�and more money can be made were the audience is larger. Our survey results show a clear relationship between market size and salary.

Salary distribution among respondents, markets 101 and below. Median is $55-59.9K.

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Salary distribution among respondents, markets 100 through 75. Median is $50-54.9K.

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Salary distribution among respondents, markets 74 through 50. Median is $65-69.9K.

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Salary distribution among respondents, markets 49 through 25. Median is $65-69.9K.

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Salary distribution among respondents, markets 24 through 11. Median is $70-74.9K.

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Salary distribution among respondents, top 10 markets. Exactly half were at $100K or above.

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Respondents receiving raises in last 12 months, per market grouping. Whether or not you got a raise appears to be related to market size once again. The last 12 months does not appear to have been very favorable on this aspect of compensation, unless you are in the top 10 markets. For those that did get raises (and those hoping to next year) we�re showing the average amount of the raises reported.

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Did you get a raise over the last 12 months?


Compensation is more than just pay, of course. Let�s take a look at the results provided by all respondents, exhibited on a per-market-group basis, for the secondary aspects of compensation, such as paid medical benefits, vacation, and overtime.

Respondents� benefits, on a per-market-grouping basis

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Many of you may not be aware that the rules regarding overtime for salaried workers are changing this coming December 1st. Right now, if you�re an hourly worker, you�re guaranteed overtime if you work over 40 hours per week (and in some states, over 8 hours in any particular day). �However, if you�re salaried, you�re only guaranteed overtime pay if you make less than $23,660 per year. After December 1st, when the new rule comes in to effect, the cutoff for automatic overtime for salaried workers will be raised to $47,476. Most salaried workers making less than $47,476 will be guaranteed overtime pay for working more than 40 hours a week. �For more details, study this web page: (


A large percentage of the respondents said they either do only contract work, or that they do �outside� work in addition to their normal jobs. Generally speaking, rates go up as the market gets larger, as one would expect.

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Of course it isn�t only the hourly rate that is important when you bill clients. Do you charge more for emergency or unscheduled work? Do you charge an hourly rate when driving too/from the work location? And, what about client relationships: Do you maintain contracts with them, and do you charge a retainer?

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We�ve broken down the results in a per-market-grouping basis; now let�s look at the universe of respondents.

What is the bar of entry for becoming a radio engineer? Unfortunately, we cannot say it is very high; but that is not to say that the skills necessary are minimal. In fact, that�s far from the truth. In many cases, radio station staff members� job duties evolve from one aspect in to the engineering realm. For example, many that start off in programming realize later on that engineering is a better way to make money at a radio station. Those that have technical aptitude can quickly find themselves working on studio projects, or IT projects, and those that have interest in transmission find ways to learn about it and how to deal with that aspect of the job. Eventually, management and other colleagues ask the question, implicitly at least: Can this person keep the station on the air? The bar of entry for radio engineers is usually a proven ability to do the job. If you want to make more money in the business, keep raising the stakes. Take on a larger market. Take on more stations. Take the time to learn more about technology, and use that new expertise to build your skill set. Look at it like a skills pyramid; at the bottom, you have those with the minimal skills. As you gain more expertise, you climb higher. There are innumerable ways of making your way up this pyramid, and what happens is the number of people with your combination of expertise and experience shrinks. That�s how you build a career, and increase your compensation along the way.

Percentage of respondents holding pertinent licenses or certifications Respondents to this survey have built their own skill sets in various ways. Question 17 of the survey asked whether or not the respondent has a college degree; question 18 asked those that responded �yes� if their degree was in an engineering discipline. About 64% answered �yes� to question 17, and about 57% answered �yes� to question 18. Thus, of the respondents, about 36% have a degree related to the field.

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What about other licenses and certifications that pertain more closely to the business?

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this result is that over 20% of the respondents hold neither certs nor an FCC license.

We asked a few questions that could be labeled as pertinent to �job satisfaction.� Question 26 read �On a scale of 0 to 100, how much do you like your job? 0 would mean you hate it; 100 would mean you love it.� The average answer among all respondents was 80. It seems that most of you like this work after all, despite its negative aspects.

Question 27 read �On a scale of 0 to 100, how well do you think you think your colleagues in other departments understand just what it is you do? 0 would mean not at all; 100 would mean perfect and thorough.� The average answer among all respondents was 55. It seems that some education is needed around the radio station. Clearly the majority if you think colleagues in other departments lack in understanding of just what it is we do. This could be a result of the loose set of standards regarding the field; the lines between what is truly technical (fixing a transmitter, as one example) and what is not (maintaining a vehicle fleet, as one example) are blurred. Working your way up the skills pyramid is probably the most effective way to remove yourself from a situation such as this (assuming you want to do that).

Age of survey respondentsImpending retirements of respondents One expected result of our survey is that the majority of the respondents are at least 55 years of age or older. In fact, about 64% of respondents fall in to that category.

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While we all know of the �graying� of our industry, what do respondents say about their impending retirements? Question 24 read �If you are planning on retiring, how many years out?�

Over half the respondents indicated their retirements were over 7 years in the future, and about 70% indicated they plan to keep working at least 5 more years. Is that a pending disaster for our industry? Or, is it a natural evolution that will benefit those that are looking for long careers in a field with what will surely be a diminishing need for personnel? We feel it�s more likely to be the latter.