4 Reasons Engineers Quit High Paying Jobs

According to a survey by the career site Monster, most people leave their jobs because they want to make more money. Thanks to the current stable economy and a surfeit of open positions, record numbers of Americans across all sectors are leaving their companies.

However, engineers have slightly different motivations when seeking to change companies. Indeed, because engineering graduates rank among America’s best-paid workers, they tend to leave jobs more often for non-financial reasons than their non-engineering counterparts.

Here are four factors that cause engineers to quit their jobs.


Generally speaking, people who have chosen to spend several years of their lives studying various engineering disciplines tend to be problem solvers. Instead of feeling frustrated when confronted with an inefficient system or malfunctioning equipment, they seek out a solution.

Consequently, one thing engineers really can’t stand is clocking in for jobs that aren’t challenging. Workers with inquisitive and pragmatic mindsets need to be presented with novel challenges regularly.

Indeed, an OfficeTeam survey found that 40 percent of American workers quit jobs they find boring. As such, the Harvard Business Review recommends that executives work to ensure that the roles and assignments of their employees are meaningful and challenging.

Bad Leadership

Another factor that drives engineers to leave ostensibly good jobs is bad leadership. The 2018 study by Digital Ocean found that 47 percent of surveyed designers left a firm because a weak manager oversaw it. For professional makers, the positives of good pay and challenging assignments can't always overcome the impact of a bad boss.

Forbes notes that disagreeable leaders can transform eager workers into dissatisfied ones in three ways. Primarily, bad bosses tend to reject their workers' suggestions and brush off their complaints. They also lack adequate communication skills which would allow them to articulate their vision to team members. Meanwhile, poor executives fail to acknowledge their subordinates with bonuses, raises, or even individual praise.

Over time, engineers who feel ignored, confused, and undervalued lose faith in their leaders. Ultimately, this nudges them to find employment elsewhere.

No Growth and Development Opportunities

Career advancement has always been significant to American workers. However, according to LinkedIn, 87 percent of millennials say that professional development is a priority for them. When that priority isn’t met, talented staffers will seek employment elsewhere. Indeed, Digital Ocean reports that 49 percent of engineers have left a job because they felt there was a lack of growth and development opportunities.

In 2018, millennials became the largest demographic in the U.S. workforce. As such, more and more young engineers will leave companies that don’t let them advance. With opportunities everywhere and salaries on an upswing, budding makers don’t see the value in staying in dead-end jobs. To be honest, it's hard to blame them.

To address this problem, managers need to ensure that their A+ engineers know they are on a career track that will allow them to realize their ambitions.

Obsolete Technology

In Glassdoor’s 2018 Best Jobs in America report, engineering disciplines represented 4 out of the 10 top careers. One reason all of those designers are happy with their job is that their employers utilize up-to-date software and equipment. Studies suggest that another factor causing makers to exit a company is being forced to work with obsolete technology.

Dice Insights found that workers at companies where operations run on outdated tech are 450 percent more likely to quit their jobs than those who work for more forward-thinking organizations. Another survey of professional engineers revealed that 31 percent of its respondents left employers that saddled them with insufficient, old tech.

Indeed, the report notes that out-of-date equipment prompts resignations at higher rates than low pay. Accordingly, executives should provide their best engineers with cutting-edge tools if they want them to stick around.

The Congressional Research Service reports that 6.9 million Americans worked as engineers in 2016. Given the number of individuals involved, there isn't a singular strategy for retaining top designers.

However, by demonstrating strong leadership, offering career advancement opportunities, updating equipment regularly, and providing challenging assignments, organizations will likely minimize the turnover rate of engineering talent. In doing so, everyone wins.

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