How much do you people work?

(pulls up a barstool, orders the cheapest beer on the menu)

I’ve been working 60-80 hour weeks for the last 2 years. Business owner of a new structural engineering company. Almost no time for family or friends. I make around 110k/year.

How much do y’all work and get paid?

When I owned my own company, I worked maybe 20 hours per week and paid myself a pittance. But I had young kids and husband had(has) a great job, so my flexibility was more critical than making money.

Now they’re older and able to function alone more often, so I have a full-time job for someone else. I started out working about 50-60 hours a week and it almost wrecked my family, and my boss told me to quit it because I was getting burned out, so now I’m careful with my 40 hours and go home on time. I make more than 10 times what I paid myself, which tells you how little I paid myself AND how well this new job pays.

What’s your goal with that money? Are you saving for a house/a car/early retirement/etc, or are you just making money? What’s most important to you at this point in life? If it’s a new company and not yet established, then I get it. If you’re established, then maybe relax on it a bit. At a minimum, I recommend setting an end date for working so much - Jul 1, 2020, or pick whatever day makes sense to you.

Good luck!

SLTA, thanks for your perspective. I really wish I could work 20 hours a week, but my business would flounder in NYC, where the building department is tough.

Like you mentioned, the problem is that I’m not established yet. My reputation is getting better, but it’s not solid. But I like your idea of an end date of hard work of July 1, 2020.

The most important thing in my life is to make enough to support my wife and kids, which I’m barely doing now, but the 2nd most important is to play videogames and work on my car by myself. And I feel like there’s no way I could make that happen. But with an end date of hard work, maybe it could happen.

I couldn’t imagine working for someone else at this point. Per ethics, I couldn’t submit to someone else’s idea of what is correct.

I get paid for 37.5 hrs per week but I’m at the office for 8-9 hrs a day. So I guess that’s 42.5 hrs at the office and then maybe another 8-10 hrs doing self-education or using background brain to solve problems at home.

I “work for someone else” and my scheduled hours amount to 37.5 per week. Once in a while, I will go over that- once in a while under that. The pay is reasonable for the effort I put in, but not extravagant.
FWIW, my experience has been that after about 60 hours a week, one’s effectiveness rapidly fades.

I work out of my home for 3 or 4 consultants; I’m slow right now and am down to 15 or so hours a week. When busy, I’m up to 80 hours (not often) a week. Income varies wildly from $40K to $160K per year.

When I was younger, there were times when I worked for months at 80 hours per week and no down time.

A couple of instances: when learning pre-tensioned concrete I studied TY Lin’s book… started Friday and finished Monday, working day and night and had about an inch of notes when I was done.

For the second phase of the Cornwall Centre, the developer wanted a guaranteed ‘upset price’ set of documents for Monday. I found out Friday morning… again day and night until 6:30AM Monday, but, the work was done.

I cannot do that anymore… that was more than 30 years ago. I still get about 5 or 6 hours sleep a night and have done that for nearly 70 years. Within seconds of waking, I’m as alert as I am for the rest of the day.


I run a consortium of 4 licensed engineers and two technicians. I bill about 20-30 hours per week…the rest of my 40+ hours is spent talking to clients, developing new work and forgetting to record time that I should bill!

Back in my corporate days, I worked 45-60 hours per week typically, with an occasional 70-80, depending on work mix. An example…doing amusement ride testing, we had to work at night into the early morning, but also still had the day work to do.

My pay depends on how many hours I bill. I get a percentage of the other consortium members fees to help cover overhead (office, equipment, etc.).

Thanks Ron… I’ve not been involved with management, by choice… I’ve always preferred the technical stuff.

Growing old… I have no control over this.
Growing up… same thing.


I find I can keep it down to 40-45 hours per week, where the official workweek is 40. The extra time sometimes gets paid as overtime, otherwise it gets banked. I have a lot of time banked up, so every once in a while I can take time off without using vacation.
I enjoy my work so it’s easy to do more.

@SparWeb …I agree…I enjoyed what I did, even when on fixed salary so I worked extra hours. I’ve gotten so much out of my varied career that I don’t consider the extra time a big deal. Now I can control the time I spend and it only affects my income…not some corporate mandate to bill time.

I worked power generation.

The easy work was scheduled maintenance; it was performed around the clock to bring a unit back. The crews worked two shifts for duration of 8 weeks. Engineers and supervisors put in more with turnover. It wasn’t till the last years I worked that one sector (Nuclear) regulated the hours and recommended not to exceed 72 hours per week (but turnovers were not included in that limit)

Then there were the forced outages . . .

@Ron I tend to include all my time including writing proposals, taking phone calls, etc. into billable hours, even if it’s lump sum. That way, the client doesn’t call 10 times with questions that take 3 hours each to resolve. Some clients need more work than others.

When I ran my own business, I paid myself a salary in keeping with the fees my business was generating. Over the years, that was quite variable but was considerably less than APEGA salary scales indicated I should be earning for my years since graduation.

My hours of work were also quite variable. I was never much good at developing new clients, so when my established clients were busy, my office was busy and worked long enough to keep up with the projects at hand. There were other times when there was very little engineering work to be done and it was difficult to keep my staff busy doing billable work.

Now that I have retired, I can tie it down much more accurately. I work zero hours and get paid zero dollars per month.


APEGA has reported industry salaries as “averages” rather than “medians”.
Important difference.
If you ever see someone fret that they don’t make the average from these salary surveys (in any province) remind them that one jerk who exaggerates his salary will blow the average for the entire category.

Yes, SparWeb, it doesn’t take many to completely skew the results when average values are used.

Maybe the associations don’t want to use median just to encourage other people to become engineers…

Just a thought…


Consider the self-serving feedback loop when the report exaggerates results, then one takes those results to employers to justify salary increases.

I am not against raising salaries, but inflated statistics are not a reason.