How Often Do Engineers Get Promoted? Top Strategies & Tips

Engineers Get Promoted

Getting promoted is a strive for many. The positions at the bottom of any organisation are many. But, as soon as you start going up in the organisation hierarchy, those higher positions are limited, which means only a select few that is considered the best can get those positions. This makes most engineering jobs highly competitive. The more important question than how often engineers get promoted is why they deserve the promotion and the new salary.

In general, the high performers in any organisation get a promotion every 2-3 years. The new salary can be anything between 15%-30% increase on the current salary. For an engineer to be promoted, they must have the experience and the skills to take over the new position that alight with company culture and goals.

While because there are only a few positions when you start to scale any organisation. The peers who do not get promoted usually move to different organisations. This pattern is very common in tech companies. It is even easier to get a higher salary by changing jobs than getting a promotion in your company.

This is a detailed study we did when We Asked 1000 Engineers How Often They Change Jobs. The results were shocking to see that most engineers change jobs every 3-5 years and move to another company to do the exact same thing. The only difference is a higher salary, higher position and more benefits.

The above is a simple way to explain what engineers do to get a higher salary, change jobs, and wait for a promotion. The latter is very unpredictable and depends on how much influence you have on management and your ability to negotiate.

We explained 4 steps to get around it here: How To Negotiate Your Engineering Salary – 4 Effective Tips. This will give you steps to break down the promotion subject with your boss.

The following explains steps you can do today to be in the top 1% of your organisation and get the promotion you deserve within 2 years.

Why Should You Get Promoted?

Engineers Get Promoted

Getting promoted is a question that you should be asking yourself. You should be able to answer the following questions if you feel it is your time for promotion.

  • Do you feel you added value to this company to deserve a promotion?
  • Do you feel you will continue adding value to this company to deserve a promotion?
  • Are you coachable enough to be trained for this new role?
  • Are you able to manage people effectively?
  • Are you passionate about this new role?

Why Should They Promote You?

This is the vetting process for every manager who wants to give a promotion to one of their engineers:

  • Is his/her attitude fit the company structure?
  • Does he/she have what it takes in terms of skill to take over this role?
  • Can he/she improve client relations?
  • Can he/she increase productivity?
  • Can he/she train people?

If you can answer those questions, you are ready for a promotion. The following explains the do’s and don’ts to show your boss you are promotion ready.

4 Ways To Show Your Boss You Are Promotion Ready

Engineers Get Promoted

1- Bring revenue and value to your organisation

Successful engineers are the ones who create value and bring profit back to their organisation. This can be in the form of improving a product, or user experience, bringing more clients, developing a new product etc.

2- Make your boss’s job easier

If you succeed at automating or taking some pressure off your boss, you instantly become one of their favourite employees. When you are the manager of a team, you are responsible for people and also responsible for bringing profit. Often those managers are busy, so when you come in and solve one of their problems, you show them that you value their time.

3- Communicate effectively with your boss

This means that you can express yourself freely with your boss and be able to make decisions and discuss important things about work. This leads to a strong relationship based on trust and respect between the boss and the engineer. This ultimately leads to mentorship.

Every engineer needs a mentor to be successful. If your boss is not your mentor yet, check this link to learn what you are missing on: The Top 5 Reasons Why You Need A Mentor In Engineering.

4- You energise the team and manage them effectively

It is a good way to show your boss that you mean business by taking charge of difficult situations, managing the team, and elevating their morale. This shows your boss that you care about the work.

5 Mistakes To Avoid If You Are Trying To Get Promoted

Engineers Get Promoted

Just as there are good practices, there are many bad things you should avoid.

1- Acting selfishly

Acting selfishly shows that you only care about yourself, which shows your boss that you are not a team player and not a good fit for this promotion. Employers want to see confidence more than skills, and engineers usually make that mistake. They care too much about technical skills but have zero people skills, making them intolerable and not a good fit for a higher management position.

You should avoid other things, such as jealousy, anger and fear, which do not portray a confident individual.

2- Giving your boss the “I deserve a promotion” talk

Nothing can lower your image than the “I deserve a promotion” talk. It is always the same scenario: “I have been working in this place for blah blah years, and I saw blah blah get a promotion last blah blah, but I have been here longer and blah blah blah give me a promotion now”.

If you must speak to your boss, there are other ways of opening that subject, and it definitely does not start with I deserve a promotion because promotions are earned, not given. It is related to your attitude; for help, read 9 Reasons Why Passion Is More Important Than Money & Status.

3- Threatening that you will leave this company

This is a childish act of trying to get what you want; in most cases, it does not get you the promotion. Now, if you are very valuable to this organisation, then you could speak to your supervisor or mentor to help you get that promotion.

But in most cases, this attitude shows neediness and gives your boss a reason to let you go by not giving you a promotion. Many engineers like to think that they are extremely valuable because they know how to do certain things that others do not.

Just read The Shocking Reality Of Job Security In Engineering to see how disposable engineers can be. So only resort to this level if you are very confident about your skills.

4- Gossiping about the potential of a promotion

A stupid way of getting some attention that you do not need. Why would you gossip about something that is not confirmed? This can bring jealousy and envy from your peers, or worst, this gossip gets to your managers, who might decide not to give you the promotion. Promotions are earned, not given, so you should focus on doing your work instead of gossiping.

5- Giving your boss a personal reason to get promoted

While life can be tough and many have families or mortgages to look after, that is not a reason for you to get promoted, but it might be a reason to get a raise. What is happening in your personal life has nothing to do with your performance or the likelihood that you deserve a promotion.

But if you must, speak to your boss about the potential of getting a raise instead of a promotion. There is a higher chance of making them more sympathetic in this situation and more likely to give you a raise.

3 Signs You Will Be Promoted

Engineers Get Promoted

1- You are getting more work and responsibilities

It is a no-brainer. If you are a top performer in your organisation, more people will trust you with more work because they know they will get a good job in return.

2- The company is investing in you

Things such as paying for courses specific to your job, or your master’s or PhD degree fees, and buying you new tools and programs you requested.

3- You are asked to train other engineers

They want you to pass the torch to the next generation and teach them your skills so they can be as good as you and for you to be their role model.

Joseph Maloyan

Hi, this is Joseph, and I love writing about engineering and technology. Here I share my knowledge and experience on what it means to be an engineer. My goal is to make engineering relatable, understandable and fun!

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