Fair Pay and Career Growth: Key Drivers in the AM Industry’s Talent Landscape

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As “Salary” has consistently been reported as the number one motivator for changing jobs for more than 5 consecutive years (2024 AM Salary Survey Report), it is crucial to assess the general perception of salary competitiveness in the Additive Manufacturing (AM) industry. This article explores professionals’ satisfaction with their current compensation, reasons for perceived unfairness, and the broader trends influencing salary structures in AM in 2024.

Salary Satisfaction in the AM Industry

An overwhelming majority of AM professionals, 69.9%, felt that they were compensated “Just Right,” “Fairly,” or “Very Fairly” throughout 2023, when asked by Alexander Daniels Global as part of the 2023 AM Salary Survey. However, 30.1% of professionals still expressed that they are paid “Not Fairly” or “Not Fairly At All.” This perception of fairness has significantly improved over the past two years. The percentage of professionals feeling “Not Fairly” compensated has decreased by 50% from 2021 to 2023. Conversely, there has been a 34.4% increase among those who believe they are paid “Just Right,” “Fairly,” or “Very Fairly.” Despite this positive trend, approximately one-third of professionals still feel unfairly compensated.

Reasons for Perceived Unfair Compensation

To understand the reasons behind perceived unfair compensation, professionals were asked to identify all factors contributing to their sentiment. The two most cited reasons for feeling undercompensated over the past 12 months are:

  1. “I work too long hours for what I’m being paid” (34.8%), a 16.1 percentage point increase between 2023-2024.
  2. “Responsibilities have increased, but salary hasn’t” (61.8%), an 11 percentage point increase between 2023-2024.

These reasons, alongside toxic workplace culture, cited in a LinkedIn poll as the top motivator for changing jobs, highlight a sense of under-appreciation among AM professionals.

Addressing Industry Benchmarks

Almost half of the survey respondents (49.4%) felt unfairly compensated because they were paid less than industry benchmarks. ADG’s candidate guide, released in 2022, aimed to address this issue by explaining how salary benchmarks should be used. This year’s salary survey report further breaks down salaries to help professionals understand their market position. Consequently, this perception has decreased by 7.3 percentage points.

Increasing Competitiveness of AM Salaries

In 2023, 38.6% of respondents to the same survey deemed AM salaries “Highly Competitive” or “Competitive” compared to other similar industries, a consistent 6 percentage point increase over the past two years. This perception is a positive indicator for the industry, that salaries and compensation overall are finding an equilibrium across the industry (inflation rates not considered).

Importance of Career Progression

In addition, “Career Progression” has emerged as the second highest motivator for changing jobs in 2024. A significant 83.5% of respondents consider career progression “Important” or “Very Important.” Professionals identified key skills gaps for improvement that they felt needed to be worked on to advance their careers:

  1. Knowledge of the wider market and business expansion opportunities (48.2%).
  2. People management skills (40.8%).
  3. AM business cases and applications (34.4%).

This trend suggests a talent pool aiming to enhance business acumen to stand out in the market. Additionally, some participants expressed a desire for “Learning Opportunities” or “Subsidized Learning,” perks not commonly offered by employers but valued by employees.

Salary Trends in 2023

Regional Salary Growth

2023 witnessed a continued flattening of salary growth across all regions, with growth in AM salaries lagging behind inflation:

– US & Canada: 3%

– APAC:3.6%

– EMEA: -0.3% (an improvement from -2.5% in 2022)

The tightening job market contributed to fewer job advertisements and an increase in individuals open to work, creating a buyer’s market for talent, subsequently flattening the rate of salary growth in the market.

Discipline-Specific Trends

Notable highlights in salary growth, as reported in the 2024 AM Salary Survey Report were as follows:

– Sales: Salaries grew by 11.2% (US & Canada), 2.9% (EMEA), and 11.6% (APAC), highlighting the importance of sales professionals.

– R&D and Engineering: Salaries increased by 3.3% (US & Canada) and 3.5% (APAC), indicating a continued need for innovation and talent acquisition.

– Software: Salaries declined by 2.9% (US & Canada), 4.6% (EMEA), and 8% (APAC), reflecting broader tech industry layoffs and an abundance of software talent.

The APAC region demonstrated relatively strong salary growth, outpacing both the US & Canada and EMEA. Significant growth was seen in sales (+11.6%) and service (+27.7%). However, with the Chinese economy struggling, this growth may slow through 2024.

In Conclusion

The AM industry has seen notable improvements in salary satisfaction and competitiveness, with professionals increasingly feeling fairly compensated. However, addressing perceptions of unfair compensation, particularly around workload and responsibilities, remains crucial. Employers can enhance satisfaction and retention by offering learning opportunities and clear career progression pathways. As the industry evolves, staying attuned to these trends will be key to attracting and retaining top talent.

If you found the insights in the article interesting or useful, Alexander Daniels Global are now collecting responses to the 2025 AM Salary Survey. You can take part as a Professional, or take part as a Hiring Manager / Employer on behalf of your organization.

That way, once ADG launches the 2025 report in Q4 2024, you will be among the first to get your hands on the most up to date data before it’s released to the rest of the industry.

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