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Salary Report 2015Q4: Engineers in the Middle East


Typical Total Salary Package Earned by an Engineer in the Middle East:

There are numerous engineering job titles in the construction industry There are also many different geographical locations across the GCC to consider. So let’s take a look at the top 5 current most sought after production & engineering type roles in the Middle East:

  •          Structural Engineer
  •          Building Services Engineer
  •          Planning Engineer
  •          Safety Engineer
  •          Project Manager

As these disciplines can, in theory, be employed on the client, consultant or contractor side, and in multiple locations across the GCC, an average (all-inclusive) monthly salary has been identified below:

Structural Engineer

  • Structural Engineer (working towards being chartered): AED17K- AED25K
  • Senior Structural Engineer: AED25K-AED35K
  • Principal Structural Engineer: AED35K-AED45K
  • Project Manager (Structural): AED40K-AED65K

Building Services Engineer

  • Building Services Engineer (working towards charter-ship): AED17K-AED25K
  • Senior Building Services Engineer: AED25K-AED35K
  • Principal Building Services Engineer: AED35K-AED45K
  • Project Manager (Building Services): AED40K-AED65K

Planning Engineer

  • Planning Engineer: AED20K-AED30K
  • Senior Planning Engineer: AED30K-AED40K
  • Planning Manager: AED40K-AED65K

Safety Engineer

  • Safety Engineer: AED15K-AED25K
  • Senior Safety Engineer: AED25K-AED35K
  • Safety Manager: AED35K-AED60K

 Project Manager

  • Assistant Project Manager: AED20K-AED30K
  • Project Manager: AED30K-AED40K
  • Senior Project Manager: AED40K- AED55K
  • Project Director: AED55K-AED75K

On Average How Much More Money Can be Earned in say Qatar or Saudi as opposed to UAE?

Dubai and the other Emirates are generally seen as more desirable locations to live and work than their neighbours Qatar and Saudi. Whilst we’re on the subject, please don’t forget Oman and Bahrain (I’ve lived in both places) which are both fabulous locations offering good quality lifestyles all be it within smaller markets.

Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be an uplift in salary available by relocating to Qatar / Saudi over UAE. Today, both markets are very client driven and clients are highly prescriptive with their candidate requirements including minimum qualifications, previous GCC experience and maximum salary available. The attitude of some clients is  “take it or leave it” which doesn’t particularly promote candidate attraction!

The Experience Range that is in Most Demand:

The Middle East market has a need for high caliber engineers across many disciplines and levels of seniority however with the rigid criteria set by some employers as discussed above, positions are not that easy to fill and some positions on company or project organization charts remain unfilled for many months. Who does the work?  I do wonder some times.

Is Being Chartered Advantageous?

In general, qualifications are super important to secure a job in the Middle East however being chartered doesn’t appear to be so important here than say in Asia.  

Q& A

What are the factors affecting the salaries that can be secured in the Middle East for an Engineer?

a. Relevant experience
Having very specific and relevant experience is one of the key factors in securing that job. In the Middle East’s fast pace environment where the employer expects the employee to “hit the ground running” with little time for introduction, training or development, it’s imperative to know exactly what you are doing from the get go!  

b. Qualifications
Depending on the position you are going after, qualifications are King in the Middle East! Whilst in my mind there is no substitute for solid relevant experience it transpires that having a degree with no less than a minimum number of years of post-graduate experience is critical to land that plum role.

c. Supply & Demand
When the market is hot and demand outstrips supply, salaries do sky rocket! This is welcome news for qualified engineers in the Middle East during a boom. Sadly, we are not witnessing such a situation at present and as previously mentioned it’s client driven market with supply on the rise.        

Typically, how do bonus arrangements work?

Most countries in the GCC operate a gratuity system which is an end of service bonus calculated on the length of service of the employee. 

Are the best salaries being offered on the client side or the contracting section of the construction industry in the Middle East?

As a mid-career engineer, typically you can earn more money working for a contractor.

What type of project experience is paying the best salary at the current time in this location?

The Middle East offers civil infrastructure and “build” projects in equal measures! Salaries across both sectors are broadly comparable. 

Does being bilingual improve earning power in this location?

The language of business in the Middle East is English and you will generally be expected to have solid English verbal and written skills. That said, unless the position available only seeks Arabic speaking Arab Nationals (so much for diversity and inclusiveness!!) then there is no advantage in being bilingual in terms of earning potential. Of course understanding the local language can always be useful!

What type of previous experience and CV will get me the best salary offer?

If we want to get into the detail (after all that’s where the devil lies!), then of course this will depend on which discipline we are referring to.

However, in broad terms for any and all disciplines, the winning CV will include the following:

  • A reverse chronological career history (current job at the top) with no gaps all the way back to your qualifications including where and when obtained
  • A summary profile on the front page (there should only be 2-3 pages maximum), capturing the essence of whom you are, where you’ve been and  where you want to go…with your career.
  • Stable continuous periods of employment with reputable companies
  • Demonstrable career development and personal growth from those employment periods
  • Clear, concise explanations of your involvement, role and responsibilities in the company or on the project. Include project values.
  • Having experience on projects from start through to completion
  • Solid communications and interpersonal skills across multi-cultural environments
  • Experience of high value projects or projects similar to that of which a client typically works on

What factors will reduce my salary offer and employability?

In general, the reverse of what I’ve described above!

  • Job Hopping – This is a big one and although the down turn in a market sometimes dictates moves between companies (retrenchment etc), employers take a dim view of multiple moves within a short space of time (i.e. less than 3 years). They will be concerned how long you will stay with them?
  • Lack of career development.
  • The wrong type of experience for the employers’ needs
  • Lack of suitable / relevant qualifications
  • Supply & demand – that old chestnut!!
  • Poor presentation skills at interview. Do your homework and dress appropriately!

Will proven management experience increase my salary and employability?

Demonstrable experience of leading and driving project teams in a multi-cultural environment will always increase your employability.

To discuss the possibility of working in the Middle East in an Engineering role, please submit your CV here or send direct to richard@maximrecruitment.com with an overview of your preferences.

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