2012 Salary Survey: It's time to turn insight into action

Plant Engineering 2012 Salary Survey

Bob Vavra

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before. Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

> > View all of the charts and data points for the 2012 Salary Survey here.

That brings the average salary to $110,608, a 10% increase from 2011 and the highest average salary ever recorded. Some of the factors in that increase could be the explosive growth in oil and natural gas manufacturing in the U.S. over the past year. Salaries in the North Central region, which includes the natural gas-rich Dakotas, jumped more than 14% over 2011, and salaries in the Southwest, Mountain and Pacific  all topped $100,000 for the first time.

One other factor in the salary increase could be the years of experience the plant manager brings to the job. The 2012 Salary Survey shows 59% of respondents are over age 50; 38% are over age 55. That experience leads to higher wages over time; 71% expect a pay raise of at least 1% in 2013, and 18% expect a pay hike of more than 4%.

But with an experienced workforce of that size, retirement looms on the horizon, as does manufacturing’s single biggest issue. For the eighth straight year, lack of available skilled workforce is the biggest single threat cited by plant managers, and once again, there was no other issue that even came close.

To analyze this year’s Salary Survey data, we’ve organized it under three broad categories: Who We Are, What We Earn, and What We Think. We’ve also included insights from some of manufacturing’s brightest minds and industry leaders in our Industry Voices reports.

Turning data into action is a continuing challenge on the plant floor. We hope this year’s Salary Survey spurs action to address some key issues, to gather different points of view, and to help us understand this industry a little better.

Industry Voices

Local views on manufacturing’s global issues


As 2013 begins, global manufacturing is both more interdependent than ever before. An economic issue in Europe creates a ripple effect worldwide. Supply chain problems in China or California can threaten customers anywhere on the planet. Political or labor unrest is no longer limited to just one corner of the world.

At the same time, the challenges for U.S. manufacturers and their supply and association partners remain significant. While we may have stepped away from the Fiscal Cliff, there still are political divisions and a real need to streamline and standardize our tax and regulatory systems.

We asked some of the world’s top manufacturing experts, from a variety of disciplines, to comment on where we’re at in U.S. manufacturing, where we’re all headed, and how we can get there with a minimum of disruption.

Click through the list below to read through our panel of experts. Their insights create a clear roadmap to help navigate the challenges of 2013 and reach a destination of growth and success in the new year.


Click Here to View the 2012 Salary Survey Charts and Graphs