engineers are in high demand — so much so that local governments
looking to fill engineering positions, including in Washington
County, could run into trouble finding candidates.
some officials, including County Board Supervisor and
Transportation Committee Chairman Dan Goetz, worried.
Department’s assistant highway commissioner, for the last few
months, has been filled through contracted work. The contractor
works one full day a week, which is a fraction of what’s
typically required for the full-time role.
just high demand for engineers that is preventing the county
from hiring someone. County Administrator Josh Schoemann said
they have not hired a new assistant highway commissioner because
the county is currently weighing the possibility of combining
the Planning and Parks and Highway departments.
make sense to hire someone to potentially have that position
changed soon after as the result of a department merger, he
Highway Commissioner Scott Schmidt said it makes sense to look
into merging departments at this time, given the vacancies at
the commissioner and assistant commissioner roles. He said it’s
a possibility he would take on the commissioner role fulltime.
said the salary the county offers for assistant highway
commissioner “absolutely” factors into the the difficulties of
finding someone to fill that role.
said the private sector and Wisconsin Department of
Transportation take engineers away from the county as potential
hires. He said the county’s offered salary and compensation is
not as competitive in comparison.
Curras, chairwoman of the civil and environmental engineering
department at the University of Wisconsin- Platteville, said
from what she understands the DOT hired a lot of engineers in
those workers are starting to retire, the DOT is in mass hiring
mode once again.
months ago, the Transportation Committee tried to upgrade the
wages offered to the position, but was ultimately shot down in
the Finance Committee.
Board Supervisor and Transportation Committee member Ron Naab
supported the pay bump for the assistant highway commissioner.
graduating students at UW-Platteville with a degree in civil
engineering are making more than $50,000 a year on average.
he has heard of engineers upon graduating being able to ask for
more than $60,000 a year.
“I look at
that and go, ‘Wow,’” he said. “Everyone in the engineering world
tells me there’s a demand for every engineering specialty.”
engineers in Wisconsin average a wage of about $75,000 annually,
according to information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor
had a recent job posting for an assistant city engineer in its
Administrator T.J. Justice said they received three applicants.
According to the job posting, the city sought someone with a
bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with three to five years
of applications the city receives for postings such as this
depend on timing, nature of the job and what is out there in the
job market, he said.
conversations with the private sector, (finding and hiring)
engineers has been a challenge,” he said.
As far as
merging the Planning and Parks and Highway departments,
Schoemann hopes to have a decision made by October.
Reach reporter Alex Zank at