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High starting salaries for young engineers in Denmark

Companies are hungry for engineers, and new engineering graduates can feel this, especially in their bank accounts. Newly qualified engineers are enjoying some of society’s highest wage increases in Denmark. 

Today, an engineering graduate can go straight from university and out into the job market with a starting salary of €5,500 per month, plus bonus schemes and employee benefits.

After ten years in the job market, most monthly salaries round-up to a healthy €8,000, meaning engineers belong to an industry with one of the highest lifetime incomes.

If you look at an average engineer’s salary, the lowest earning 10% earn around €8,000 a month, before bonuses and employee benefits, while the highest 10% earn around €10,750.

In 2020, the newly graduated cohort of engineers - despite a year with Corona - have achieved a remarkably large wage increase of as much as 8%, according to the most recent payroll analysis among 26,891 engineers in Denmark (IDA payroll statistics 2020).

“These are good times for young engineers. Their knowledge and skills are needed in all corners of society. We can see this through the rising wages, and the low levels of unemployment,” says Mikael Bergholz Knudsen, head of department for Electrical and Computer Technology at Aarhus University.

Unemployment rates for engineers are about 2-3%, and there is no prospect of the engineer shortage stopping in the coming years.

According to Mikael Bergholz Knudsen, however, both the unemployment and salary levels also reflect that young engineers come from university with a lot to offer.

“There are really large wage increases for the youngest engineers in the job market, and of course that is due to the fact they are highly skilled and can create great value in companies, almost immediately. This has been very clear, in our experience,” he says. 

The hunt for talent begins at university

At Aarhus University, it is clear that engineering students are in high demand. Here, getting an employment contract before graduation is more of a rule than an exception.

“Companies are beginning the talent-hunt earlier and earlier. Many of our students get several job offers as they approach their final exams. It’s really something we can notice,” says Mikael Bergholz Knudsen.

One of the companies on the hunt for skilled engineers is Systematic A/S.

“We are aware that there is fierce competition for young engineers in Denmark. For us, it therefore means a lot that we can build a relationship with them, while they are still students,” says Louise Daa Løfquist, Employer Branding Specialist at Systematic A/S.

Companies abroad have are also turned their attention to Aarhus’s engineering students.

HR-manager Birgit Høj Lorenzen from the Swedish-owned group Saab tells us:

“Our business is based on technology, and therefore our ability to attract skilled engineers is absolutely crucial. We want to connect with them while they are still students, and we do a lot to offer them attractive internship opportunities with us.”

Students: The salary is not the most important thing

One of the young engineers that has felt the companies’ demand for him is Kåre Jensen, a civil engineer in Computer Technology, from Aarhus University.

“Everyone from my year group was contacted by companies before they had graduated from their engineering Bachelor. There was not a single one who had not gotten a permanent job offer, before they got their diploma. It feels really good, and it is cool to see that there are so many possibilities,” he says.

For Kåre, though, it is primarily his burning interest in space research, and not a fat pay check, that motivates him in the long run. So when he got the opportunity to participate in the university’s space program, he didn’t have any doubts about studying further to become a Master of Science in Civil Engineering.