What is the Average Salary for a Sustainment Engineer in the Engine Industry?

What is Sustainment Engineering?

Sustainment Engineering

Sustainment Engineering is a profession that involves the creation, maintenance, and modification of equipment, systems, and assets to ensure their long-term use and sustainability. It is a crucial component of the military and aerospace industries, as it involves maintaining one of the most expensive assets worldwide. The primary role of a Sustainment Engineer is to ensure that the equipment, system, or asset remains operational and functional over an extended period while minimizing the cost of maintenance and repair.

Sustainment Engineering encompasses the management of the system or equipment’s life cycle, including the design, development, production, testing, integration, installation, operation, maintenance, and disposal. It involves identifying and evaluating the effects of critical support elements such as logistics, manpower, training, support equipment, technical data, supply and maintenance, and facilities.

Sustainment Engineers apply their knowledge of engineering principles, project management, logistics, and systems engineering in maintaining the equipment and system’s readiness levels while balancing affordability, reliability, and performance. They work with various stakeholders such as equipment manufacturers, suppliers, logistics providers, and the end-users to ensure that the equipment meets the user’s requirements.

The critical objective of Sustainment Engineering is to optimize the system’s maintenance and support through Life Cycle Sustainment Plans (LCSPs) that are integrated into the initial design phase. It entails conducting feasibility studies, cost analysis, risk assessment, reliability analysis, and maintainability analysis, among others, to ensure that the system remains operational at minimal cost without compromising performance.

Other Sustainment Engineers’ roles include identifying and developing required technical data such as manuals, procedures, and maintenance instructions, designing and developing modifications to ensure the equipment remains operationally relevant in changing operating environments, and managing obsolescence to ensure the equipment’s life expectancy is maximized.

Given the criticality of Sustainment Engineering roles, the salaries for such professionals are relatively higher than other engineering disciplines. The average salary for a Sustainment Engineer in the United States is $88,482 per year, with a salary range of $63,000 to $122,000 per year. According to Payscale, Sustainment Engineers with over ten years of experience earn an average of $104,000 per year.

Sustainment Engineering is a crucial profession in high-end technological industries, and its demand is only set to grow as the ever-increasing need for optimization of costly and complex systems and equipment continues. A career in Sustainment Engineering requires an in-depth understanding of technical and management domains and offers excellent opportunities for career growth and job security.

Qualifications and Education Requirements

Sustainment Engineer Degree Requirements

Education is a crucial factor that determines your starting salary and growth opportunities as a sustainment engineer. While formal education requirements vary widely by industry and employer, most employers require a bachelor’s degree in engineering, computer science, or a related field.

One of the best ways to enter this field is to obtain a degree in a field related to engineering such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, aeronautical engineering, or similar disciplines. Candidates with a master’s degree or doctorate in engineering can expect to earn a much higher salary. In addition, degrees in related fields such as computer science, mathematics, or information technology can also prove beneficial in this profession, especially if they are coupled with relevant experience.

Along with the educational qualifications, certain certifications showcase your expertise and knowledge in sustainment engineering. For example, the International Society of Automation Technical Certification Program provides several certifications in the field of automation and control systems, including Certified Control Systems Technician (CCST) and Certified Automation Professional (CAP). Some software vendors also provide product certifications that demonstrate proficiency in their respective software platforms.

In addition, Sustainment Engineers need to have a strong understanding of the systems they are maintaining or developing. To better prepare aspiring candidates, employers often seek those with practical experience through internships, co-op programs, or previous work experience in related fields. This experience can include hands-on experience with maintenance in the field of software and hardware systems, understanding of database design and administration, and knowledge of programming languages such as C++, Java, or Python.

As for personal qualities in a sustainment Engineer, the ideal candidate should have strong communication, problem-solving, and collaboration skills. It’s essential to excel in teamwork since you will most likely work alongside multiple departments, stakeholders, and vendors. Being able to communicate complex technical information in easy-to-understand terms is also a vital aspect of being successful in this field.

In conclusion, a career as a Sustainment Engineer requires a combination of education, experience, and requisite skills related to the industry. While a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering or Computer Science is the bare minimum requirement, obtaining a master’s or doctorate degree and relevant certifications can significantly enhance long-term career prospects and salary potential. Aspiring candidates must have a practical understanding of the maintenance process, along with hands-on experience in a related field, to have the edge in growing and succeeding as a sustainment engineer.

Factors that Affect Sustainment Engineer Salary

salary and benefits

Aside from the level of education and years of experience, various factors may affect a sustainment engineer’s salary. One of the most significant factors that can influence a sustainment engineer’s pay is the industry they work in.

It’s not a secret that the industry you work in has a significant impact on your salary range. For a sustainment engineer, their income can significantly differ from one industry to another. For instance, sustainment engineers working in the aerospace and defense industry tend to have higher salaries as compared to those in other industries. The Department of Defense pays sustainment engineers in the U.S. well as they deal with various military equipment and systems’ maintenance, repair, and overhaul.

The size and location of the company can also influence a sustainment engineer’s salary. Larger companies tend to pay more than smaller ones, making it more feasible to have better compensation packages and benefits. Also, the job location is a crucial consideration when it comes to salary negotiations. In the US, areas with a higher cost of living tend to pay more than those with a lower cost of living.

Another factor that can affect a sustainment engineer’s salary is the complexity of the nature of their work. If the sustainment engineer is handling complex equipment and systems that are sensitive and critical, they are likely to earn more as compared to those handling simpler systems. Complexity of work may depend on the industry, company, and the nature of the equipment being handled.

The demand and supply dynamic also plays a significant role in determining a sustainment engineer’s salary range. For instance, if there is a high demand for sustainment engineers in the market, the salary is likely to be high. On the other hand, if the market has a surplus of sustainment engineers, the salary range tends to go down as the employers negotiate the best deal they can get.

Alongside these factors, benefits are a critical consideration when it comes to a sustainment engineer’s salary. Some benefits that such engineers may negotiate for may include health insurance, a retirement plan, paid time off, bonuses, and other compensations. These benefits may vary depending on the company’s size, location, and the industry.

Therefore, as a sustainment engineer, it’s essential to conduct research on the above factors and gather information on market pay ranges to make better negotiations. It’s also vital to keep abreast of the latest industry trends, including new equipment, regulations, and procedures. By doing so, you are in a better position to earn a fair and reasonable salary while enjoying the benefits that come with the job.

Sustainment Engineer Salary Research and Statistics

sustainment engineer salary

Sustainment engineers, also known as support engineers or maintenance engineers, are responsible for ensuring that a company’s products or services operate smoothly and efficiently. They are essential in maintaining the quality and reliability of a company’s products, equipment, and processes. As technology becomes more advanced, the need for sustainment engineers is growing, and as such, the salary for this position is on the rise.

The average salary for a sustainment engineer in the United States is around $80,000 per year. However, this can vary greatly based on factors such as location, experience, education, and industry. For example, sustainment engineers working in the aerospace and defense industries tend to earn more than those working in other industries, while sustainment engineers with advanced degrees or certifications can earn significantly more than those with only a bachelor’s degree.

In addition to the base salary, sustainment engineers may also receive additional bonuses, such as performance bonuses based on meeting or exceeding goals or project completion bonuses. They may also receive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.

According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor, the average base salary for a sustainment engineer in the United States is $80,792 per year. However, this can vary significantly based on location. For example, sustainment engineers in San Francisco and New York City can earn over $100,000 per year, while in other cities, such as Houston and Atlanta, the average salary is closer to $70,000 per year.

Furthermore, the survey found that experience is a significant factor in sustainment engineer salary. Those with one to three years of experience typically earn around $72,000 per year, while those with five to nine years of experience can earn up to $90,000 per year. Those with ten or more years of experience can earn over $100,000 per year.

Education is also a crucial factor in sustainment engineer salary. Those with a bachelor’s degree typically earn around $75,000 per year, while those with a master’s degree or PhD can earn significantly more. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a sustainment engineer with a master’s degree is $98,459 per year, while those with a PhD can earn up to $130,000 per year.

In summary, sustainment engineer salary can vary significantly based on factors such as location, experience, education, and industry. However, the average salary for a sustainment engineer in the United States is around $80,000 per year, with the potential to earn significantly more based on qualifications and experience. As technology continues to advance, the demand for sustainment engineers is expected to grow, making it an attractive career choice with good long-term potential.

Tips for Negotiating Salary as a Sustainment Engineer

Salary Negotiation

As a sustainment engineer, you play a crucial role in ensuring that complex systems operate efficiently for an extended period. Your expertise in designing, maintaining, repairing, and monitoring systems makes you highly valuable to your employer. You, therefore, deserve a fair salary that reflects your skills, knowledge, and experience. Salary negotiation is an essential aspect of your employment process that determines how much you earn. Here are tips to help you negotiate the best salary:

1. Research Your Market Value

Market Value

Determining your market value helps you understand the salary range you should expect for your skills and experience. Several websites provide salary information for different professions, including Glassdoor, Salary.com, and Payscale. Researching your market value gives you a baseline for initiating salary negotiation with your employer.

2. Highlight Your Accomplishments and Credentials

Credentials and Achievements Tips

When negotiating your salary, it’s crucial to demonstrate the value you bring to the organization. Highlight your credentials, academic qualifications, and certifications that make you unique. Also, outline your past achievements in your field, such as developing innovative solutions to complex problems, reducing costs, or improving processes. When you prove your worth to the company, you are more likely to get a better salary offer.

3. Negotiate Flexibility and Benefits

Flexible Work Hours

Salary negotiations don’t only revolve around the amount of money you will earn. You can also negotiate other perks that make your work experience more fulfilling. These include flexible work hours, telecommuting, vacation days, sick leave, bonus, and retirement benefits. Identify the benefits that matter to you and discuss them with your prospective employer. You may not get everything you want, but you can come to an agreement that meets your needs.

4. Show Enthusiasm and Confidence

Confident Man in Interview

Your attitude and demeanor during salary negotiation can significantly impact the outcome. Show enthusiasm for the company and position you are applying for, and convey confidence in your qualifications. You can do this by speaking clearly, maintaining eye contact and body posture. Demonstrate that you are willing to work hard and go above and beyond to deliver quality work.

5. Be Prepared to Walk Away

Walk Away Tips

It’s essential to know your worth and the value you bring to the table. If you are negotiating with an employer who undervalues your skills or doesn’t want to meet your salary expectations, be prepared to walk away. While it may be challenging to turn down a job offer, accepting a lower salary than you deserve may lead to dissatisfaction and financial strain in the long run. Remember, a job should benefit both parties, and if your prospective employer isn’t willing to appreciate your worth, it may not be the right fit.


Salary negotiation is an opportunity to secure fair compensation and benefits for the skills, knowledge, and experience you bring to your job as a sustainment engineer. Adequate preparation, confidence, and knowledge of your market value can help you get the best salary offer. Remember, both the employer and employee need to benefit from the employment process, and negotiating salary is a critical aspect of achieving this balance.

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